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Bowl of Kidney Jing, anyone? Fresh bone broth straight from my pot.

Traditional Chicken Bone Broth: A Recipe To Build Qi And Blood For Immune Building, Fertility, And Postpartum

Bone broths are a staple in many cultures, and when done the old-fashioned/traditional way, you really reap the benefits.  And, on a Chinese Medicine level, bone broths have been popular for being bigtime Qi & Blood builders.  Why?

Traditional bone broths are nutrient-dense, and include calcium, potassium, magnesium, and incorporate the marrow of the animal.  Marrow helps our Jing essence (essence from the Kidney).  Bone marrow is produced by Kidney Jing, so infusing it in bone broth is like drinking a cup of Jing.  This is why I always recommend a cup o’ Jing daily to my fertility patients, since Kidney Jing is crucial to boosting a woman’s chances of getting pregnant!

Why do Chinese Medicine practitioners like myself make such a big wahoo about Kidney Jing?  Because we are all born with it, the essence we’re given from our mother and father, and as we grow older, we dip into this “bank” of energy essence we’ve received.  When we work too hard, when we party too hard (especially with the hard drugs), when we go for days without sleep, when we’re majorly stressed from work, our partners, or our lifestyle, we make a Jing energy withdrawl from our “bank”.  This is when our Kidney essence becomes deficient.  We feel exhausted.  Women expend much Jing giving birth, and, for men, they lose Jing when they ejaculate.  As a side note, this is why male martial artists have traditionally disciplined themselves from ejaculating, in order to retain strong Kidney essence.  So, yes, developing strong Kidney Jing, and making constant deposits into our energy bank, is a good thing!

We can make a deposit into our Kidney energy bank by eating well and cultivating Qi (though Qi Gong, Tai Qi, meditation, etc.)  There are even Kidney Qi building foods!  Every Chinese Medicine organ has their own kind of Qi, and the Kidney Qi/Jing controls growth of bones, teeth, hair, brain development and sexual maturation.  In addition, the Kidney is involved in building Qi and Blood in the body, and when the Kidneys are out of balance, we are more prone to fear and depression.

When do you need to build Qi & Blood?:

  1. When you’ve been working yourself ragged, and are exhausted
  2. You have partied hardy way too much
  3. When you’re sick (yes, Momma was right!  Although, this version packs an extra punch, due to including the chicken feet, head, long cooking time, etc.)
  4. When you need to strongly boost your immune system (such as during recovery from cancer procedures)
  5. When you want to get pregnant (and may be having difficulty doing so)
  6. When you are recovering from postpartum (it helps speed recovery)
  7. When you feel the need for deep nourishment

I got this recipe when I took a class through The Traditional Nutrition Guild, to which I belonged.  Hannah Springer conducted the class.  She is chef of The Oliver Weston Company, a home delivery service of traditional prepared foods.  She used the following recipe for chicken bone broth, based on the one found in the book, “Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats”.  I first learned about this book during my graduate studies at Pacific College of Oriental Medicine, and have learned much from it ever since.  In general, I recommend this book for getting nutrient-dense food into your diet!  It is that much of a rockstar.

Warning:  Chicken heads and feet pix to come!  (If this kind of stuff makes you squeamish, don’t say I didn’t warn you!)

CLASSIC CHICKEN STOCK

  • 1 large onion, peeled and quartered
  • 2 large carrots, coarsely chopped
  • 3 ribs of celery, coarsely chopped
  • Several sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 2-3 fresh bay leaves
  • Bones from at least one whole chicken, supplemented with 1 lb. chicken feet and several chicken heads, if desired. (You may also buy only the bony parts from the farmer – try for 2-3 lbs. of bones and feet for a very large pot of stock (8-10 quarts), or use one whole stewing hen. You may also use the carcass from a roasted chicken, or roast the raw chicken parts before using. Using heads will impart your stock with great benefits from the thyroid of the animal, and using feet will make your stock highly gelatinous and nutritious. Make sure to chop the chicken into parts, so that the marrow and nutrients release more easily into the broth.)
  • 2-4 tbsp. vinegar (approx. 1 tsp. per quart of water)
  • You can also include some Chinese Herbs (this is not in the original recipe) – a good one to include is Gou Qi Zi/Goji Berries (which you can get in Chinatown or a local health food store, since they’re so popular now they actually stick it in trail mix!).  This herb will help build blood and Yin, so it is a Liver/Kidney tonic.
Onions, carrots, celery, sprigs of thyme, and bay leaves... check!

Onions, carrots, celery, sprigs of thyme, and bay leaves… check!

Extra pound of chicken feet. We Chinese Medicine practitioners love chicken feet!

Extra pound of chicken feet. We Chinese Medicine practitioners love chicken feet!

Make sure to clean chicken feet, parts, and head thoroughly!

Make sure to clean chicken feet, parts, and head thoroughly!

Place everything in a large stainless steel pot and add cold filtered water to cover (keep in mind that if your pot is completely filled with bones you will not end up with much stock; it’s best to use a large pot and make sure the water covers the bones and veggies by at least 4 inches). If you have time, let stand 30 minutes to 1 hour; otherwise skip this step.  After 9 hours of cooking, that meat was thoroughly cooked and falling off all on its own!

My broth almost runneth over! Bringing my pot to a boil.

Removing the scum that rises to the surface upon boiling.

Removing the scum that rises to the surface upon boiling.

Bring to a boil uncovered so that you can see the scum that rises to the top and remove it. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer on very low heat for about 8 hours (the proper temperature will just make gentle bubbles rise to the surface; do not allow the broth to boil vigorously or it will be very cloudy and not appetizing).

9 hours later - nutrient-dense bone broth. Voila!

9 hours later – nutrient-dense bone broth. Voila!

Remove all solid pieces (you may give your dog or cat the skin). Strain the stock into a large bowl(s) and allow to cool on the counter so you can add salt to taste. Store the cooled, salted stock in pint- and quart- sized containers in the refrigerator (glass) or freezer (plastic), depending on when you plan to use it. To thaw a frozen plastic container of stock, simply hold the container under hot running water for a minute, turning to allow all sides to loosen. When the frozen block of broth is no longer stuck to the sides, put it into a pot and thaw over low heat. Chicken broth stored in the refrigerator will last 1-2 weeks; simply reboil for a few minutes before using if keeping it longer than five days. If stock develops a sour flavor it is past its prime and should be discarded.

In addition to my large bowl, I have amassed a collection of containers for my stock, some of which I will enjoy this week, and others to freeze.

In addition to my large bowl, I have amassed a collection of containers for my stock, some of which I will enjoy this week, and others to freeze.

Uses for chicken stock (and other meat stocks) include: gravy for pan-fried and oven-roasted chicken; reduction sauces (flavored with wine, herbs, and butter/cream if desired); for cooking whole grains, potatoes, vegetables, and beans; for braising meat; and for soups and stews, including crock pot meals.

I have to admit that this was my first time cooking with chicken feet and seeing the head of the chicken.  At first it was a little off-putting, but then, I was overwhelmed by a sense of gratitude for the chicken providing me nourishment with its carcass.  I blessed the chicken, as well as the other ingredients, which really brought meaning to this stock.  A dish is more nourishing when it’s made with love and gratitude!

I brought the mason jars to work, and nourished myself as I was performing Acupuncture and Reiki sessions!

Enjoy the recipe, and share it with those you love!

As always, I’d love to hear your feedback, so feel free to drop me a comment, below.

With Kidney Jing love,

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Copyright © 2013 by Alcantara Acupuncture & Healing Arts. All rights reserved. You may quote, copy, translate and link to this article, in its entirety, on free, non-donation based websites only, as long as you include the author name and a working link back to this website. All other uses are strictly prohibited.

All information on this website is my own opinion, and not to be taken as medical advice. Reliance on any information provided on this website is solely at your own risk. Please refer to your medical practitioner before making any medical decisions.

25 Comments

  1. jonahewell
    May 14, 2013

    Reblogged this on Jonah Ewell Acupuncture & Martial Arts and commented:
    A great article by my colleague Margarita Alcantara about bone broth. Just a few modifications I would recommend:

    -Chop the thigh bones in half with a large cleaver before cooking – this helps release the all important marrow.
    -Remove the meat of the breast and legs after it’s thoroughly cooked, usually a little more than an hour and a half. If you leave it in for hours and hours it turns to mush and can’t be eaten. Of course you should return the bones to the pot to cook for many more hours!
    -This type of recipe is infinitely customizable with the use of Chinese herbs. Ask your acupuncturist which herbs are best for you!

    Reply
    • Margarita Alcantara, M.S.Ac., L.Ac., Reiki Master
      May 14, 2013

      Thanks for reblogging my post on Traditional Chicken Bone Broth! Those are great modifications.

      Reply
      • jeanne
        October 4, 2013

        From a TCM perspective, what do you think of mixing chicken and beef bones or using primarily beef bones in building jing?

        Reply
        • Margarita Alcantara, M.S.Ac., L.Ac., Reiki Master
          October 5, 2013

          Hi Jeanne,

          Thanks for your question! Chicken carcass is usually the jing-builder of choice in TCM, since it has a high concentration of red marrow, which is an important source of nutrition and immune support. This is why it’s often preferred when making bone broth to address fertility, postpartum, or immune building. But, beef and lamb bones may give you a nicer broth. The main goal is to get the nutritive benefits of the marrow, no matter what type of bones you use. So, as long as you’re getting in the marrow of chicken and/or beef, it may simply come down to a matter of personal preference!

          Enjoy your jing, and good luck!
          Margarita

          Reply
          • Jeanne Fuqua
            October 5, 2013

            Thanks for the reply! Now I remember that chicken has more red marrow, it makes sense it’s the better choice. I take Chinese nutrition this semester in school at NESA!! I can’t wait!

            Jeanne

            >

      • Denise Lopez
        January 6, 2015

        Hi Margarita,
        I have just made this broth for fertility. Is there a recommendation on when to start drinking the broth? Should I start on a certain day of my cycle? I am on day 19 now, should I wait till I start my new cycle?
        Thank you for this recipe!
        Blessings, Denise

        Reply
        • Margarita Alcantara, M.S.Ac., L.Ac., Reiki Master/Teacher
          January 6, 2015

          Hi Denise,

          You can start now, no matter where you are at in your cycle. It is always a good thing to have bone broth! And, for promoting fertility, I recommend a cup of it a day. Thanks for reading!

          Good luck,
          Margarita

          Reply
          • Denise Lopez
            January 7, 2015

            Thank you so much!

  2. Margarita Alcantara, M.S.Ac., L.Ac., Reiki Master
    October 6, 2013

    Hi Jeanne,

    I remember loving my Chinese nutrition class when I took it! Enjoy your class.

    Best,
    Margarita

    Reply
  3. Why You Are No Good For Others If You Don’t Take Care Of Yourself | Alcantara Acupuncture & Healing Arts Blog
    December 9, 2013

    […] that is associated with the Kidneys when they are unbalanced). As I explained in a previous post, “Traditional Chicken Bone Broth: A Recipe To Build Qi And Blood For Immune Building, Fertility…, “the Kidney is involved in building Qi and Blood in the body, and when the Kidneys are out […]

    Reply
  4. How Overwork Can Tax Your Kidneys | Alcantara Acupuncture & Healing Arts Blog
    February 2, 2014

    […] In Chinese Medicine, the main Kidney function is to store Essence, and govern birth, growth, and reproduction. Kidney Essence, or Jing, is something we’re born with, and is given to us by our mother and father. I talk more about Kidney Essence, as well as how to supplement it with delicious bone broth in my previous post, “Traditional Chicken Bone Broth: A Recipe To Build Qi And Blood For Immune Building, Fertility…. […]

    Reply
  5. Barbra Stephens
    March 9, 2014

    This looks amazing! I love your site, I have really been into holistic health since I was diagnosed with…well, a plethora of conditions. Broth is one thing I have to eat so settle my stomach. Thank you so much, I wish I was in New York, I would definitely come to see you!

    Reply
    • Margarita Alcantara, M.S.Ac., L.Ac., Reiki Master/Teacher
      March 10, 2014

      How fabulous that you’ve discovered bone broth as settling for your stomach! I’m sure you’re reaping the nourishing benefits of the broth, as well. Thank you for stopping by, and liking my site. I’ve started to check yours out, as well! May you experience more health blessings.

      Reply
  6. How Acupuncture Helps You Love Your Locks | Alcantara Acupuncture & Healing Arts Blog
    March 13, 2014

    […] In Chinese Medicine, the Kidneys manifest in the head hair, and the relative moistness and vitality of head hair are also related to the Kidney Essence (or Jing). (To read more about Jing, and why bone broths are so nourishing to the Kidney Essence, check out one of my previous posts, “Traditional Chicken Bone Broth: A Recipe To Build Qi And Blood For Immune Building, Fertility….) […]

    Reply
  7. When Healers Get Fibroids: Part III: 8 Ways To Heal Body, Mind, And Spirit After Laparoscopic Myomectomy | Alcantara Acupuncture & Healing Arts Blog
    March 24, 2014

    […] And, last, but not least, build up your Kidney reserves with bone broth. I posted a recipe for it at, “Traditional Chicken Bone Broth: A Recipe To Build Qi And Blood For Immune Building, Fertility…. […]

    Reply
  8. Holly
    April 3, 2014

    where can I get chicken feet and heads?

    Reply
    • Margarita Alcantara, M.S.Ac., L.Ac., Reiki Master/Teacher
      April 3, 2014

      Hi Holly,

      If I recall correctly, you live in California, right? Chicken feet and heads can be easily found in your nearby Chinatown. And, depending on where you live, you may be able to source them from your local Farmer’s Market or a traditional food club.

      Happy hunting!
      Margarita

      Reply
  9. Alcantara Acupuncture & Healing Arts How Acupuncture Helps You Love Your Locks » Alcantara Acupuncture & Healing Arts
    April 23, 2014

    […] In Chinese Medicine, the Kidneys manifest in the head hair, and the relative moistness and vitality of head hair are also related to the Kidney Essence (or Jing). (To read more about Jing, and why bone broths are so nourishing to the Kidney Essence, check out one of my previous posts, “Traditional Chicken Bone Broth: A Recipe To Build Qi And Blood For Immune Building, Fertility….) […]

    Reply
  10. Traditional Chicken Bone Broth: A Recipe To Build Qi And Blood For Immune Building, Fertility, And Postpartum | Albany Acupuncture Health Center
    January 13, 2015

    […] Click here to read Margarita’s full article and bone broth recipe –> […]

    Reply
  11. Bone Broth for Building Energy and More - woodenspoonwellness.com
    January 14, 2015

    […] of Infertility.” Acupuncture Today. October, 2012, Vol. 13, Issue 10; Margarita Alcantara, “Traditional Chicken Bone Broth: A Recipe to Build Qi and Blood for Immune Building, Fertility, and P….” May 6, […]

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  12. Post-partum during Winter in Melbourne is… | Ilana Sowter Acupuncture
    July 3, 2015

    […] Chicken Soup – easy and simple for the new mother, keep the ingredients simple with ginger, spring onion, rice, salt, slow cooked to get the nutrition from the bones. Here’s a nice recipe. […]

    Reply
  13. Low N' Slow 72 Hour Bone Broth Elixir - 31 Ways
    February 28, 2016

    […] properties. It’s also said to boost your Qi (which is “vital energy”). Here, Margarita Alcantara does an excellent job at explaining […]

    Reply
  14. katie
    May 26, 2016

    I have a Hmong recipe and add to basic recipe: lemongrass, garlic, parsley, ginger, and lime leaves (aromatic towards the end of cooking).
    I start on the stove in large stock pot, then when boiling for a while transfer to crockpot, on low and cook for 2 days, adding new garlic, carrot and aromatics morning of day 2. I then strain, and can in pint jars.
    My daughter requested it for postpartum after baby#2. I made a fresh batch each week with an Amish organic chicken. I boned it, and cut all the large and small bones in half, severing the ‘knuckles’ to expose more marrow, and of course adding the cider vinegar. The chicken meat we used for a casserole or other meal.
    The Hmong/Vietnamese grocery stores have so many aromatic items to add – you can get really creative!

    Reply
    • Margarita Alcantara, M.S.Ac., L.Ac., Reiki Master/Teacher
      May 26, 2016

      Hi Katie,

      Thanks for sharing your recipe with us! That sounds so yummy and nourishing.

      Blessings,
      Margarita

      Reply

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