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Sucking the marrow out of life

Vanilla Bone Marrow Custard

Children are honestly, the best clients I could wish for. They are gorgeous, clever and always entertain me. Treating children gives me a rare privilege to improve a child’s health and wellbeing not just for their childhood but into their adult years.

I developed this pudding recipe with a very special little client in mind. She is nearly 8 years old and her mother brought her to me with concerns that she had fallen off the growth chart. This beautiful child was bright, happy and meeting all her learning and social milestones but her growth rate had the doctors also concerned. The child was a very fussy eater and all efforts from her mother to nurture her with the best diet were not met with appreciation. Lunch returned home mostly uneaten, and dinner was a battle.

Many children are fussy eaters but when the deficiencies start to present themselves, parents really need to start to look outside the food pyramid. Finding clever ways of getting the maximum amount of nutrients in every mouthful can be challenging. The temptation by parents to just try and get calories into the child with “empty foods” is counterproductive. If the food lacks nutrition, it simply feeds the deficiency. Overly restrictive diets can be dangerous as it doesn’t take much for a child with low body weight to fall into malnutrition.

Bone marrow is one of the most nutrient dense foods you could incorporate into your family’s diet. It is rich in calcium, iron, zinc, phosphorous, B vitamins, vitamin K and vitamin A. Bone marrow is a good source of phospholipids and methionine which are required for cognitive function and healthy neurological development. Methionine supports our brains development of serotonin, so bone marrow is a supportive food for those who suffer with mood related disorders.

Bone Marrow as a traditional medicine: Traditionally, in Scandinavia bone marrow was used to treat paediatric conditions such as failure to thrive, iron deficiency anemia and leukemia. The Alkylglycerols (AKG’s) in bone marrow are shown to increase white blood cell count.

Dr Brohult was a Swedish oncologist working with children diagnosed with leukemia. In an effort to support normal white blood cell levels she fed her patients calves’s marrow. Although, the results were inconsistent her patients did respond to the marrow. Many patients white blood cell count returned to normal and their energy levels were greatly improved.

Iron deficiency anemia is very common in my little clients and they do not always respond well to iron supplementation. Supporting their nutrition with nutrient dense foods such as bone marrow can assist in restoring their iron levels.

Bone marrow is nutritionally supportive for anyone who has chronic fatigue, poor immunity, inflammatory bowel diseases or anemia. It is a wonderful restorative food for anyone who has suffered a long term illness or influenza.

Feed the family bones! As we are now fast approaching flu season it is a great time to embrace an age-old superfood. Try adding bone marrow to soups, casseroles, curries, pasta sauces or just simply roasted. My kids love osso buco and beef and vegetable soup made with the beef shin.

Bone marrow is an excellent first food for babies. Scoop out the cooked marrow bone and add it to mashed vegetables. I can assure you that they will love it more than any bland rice cereal.

Vanilla Bone Marrow Custard


  • Dairy Free: use coconut cream and it will still be luscious.

  • Savory: omit honey and add ½ cup of Parmesan or Gruyere cheese and chopped chives. This would make a delicious entree or even breakfast with a slice of sourdough and smoked salmon.

  • Chocolate pudding: click on this link for recipe, its really good.

For some of my fussy little friends the idea of a custard that is bursting with vitamins and minerals is just the treat they need. Desserts don’t have to be full of sugar and nutritionally deficient. They can be a clever way to boost children’s nutrition, not that adults don’t enjoy a good pudding every now and then. Ask your butcher to cut the marrow bone in pieces or down the middle so it can be easily extracted. If you are making this pudding for babies omit the honey.


  • 1 kilo of beef bone, this is typically the shin bone.

  • 6 egg yolks

  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla paste

  • 2 tablespoons of raw honey

  • 250 mls of cream or full cream milk

  • Butter for greasing

  • Nutmeg and cinnamon

Roast bone pieces in the oven for about 40 minutes at 180 degrees. The marrow should be soft and easy to scoop out. Separate egg yolks and whisk the honey, and vanilla paste until it is smooth.

Heat cream in a saucepan over a gentle heat until it looks like it is almost going to boil. Add bone marrow to cream and whisk until it is well incorporated. You may wish to use a stick blender if there are lumps still floating around.

Whisk cream and egg mixture together until thick and smooth. Pour into greased ramekins and dust with nutmeg and cinnamon. Bake custards in a baking dish with water that comes half way up the sides of the dishes. Bake for about 40 minutes, leave to cool and then refrigerate for about 3 hours.


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