Winter in Chinese Medicine is considered the most yin of the seasons. Yin energy is dark, cold, slow and inward. At this time of year slowing down and nourishing our bodies is a way to help nourish our yin energy.
Winter is associated with the Kidneys.
The Kidneys are said to house our most fundamental energy and also house our will power. Our will power helps us to focus our intention. The winter, especially this time of year - near the winter solstice - is a great time to think about what our intention is around our lives and health.
How do we find peace in our lives?
How would we like to adjust our lives to be our most healthy selves?
Nourishing the kidneys and yin energy can be done through rest and restful activities.
This time of year is a great time for going inward towards self discovery. Ask the question: How do we want ourselves to move forward in the new year? Self reflection can be done through meditation, journaling or moving meditation such as Qi gong or Tai chi or other soul nourishing activities. This is the time of the year to slow down and nourish ourselves physically and spiritually. Winter is quiet and still, the time to calm our mind, relax our emotions and nourish our spirit.
Bones are associated with the Kidneys.
In Chinese nutritional therapy, drinking bone broth can help nourish the bones and deep Kidney energy called Jing. Jing is produced by bone, and extreme prolonged stress, working long hours, and drug and alcohol use can all deplete the Jing. Bone broth along with rest can help to nourish this type of energy in the body.
Consider trying to make a bone broth at home!
It is an enjoyable and satisfying process. It is not as labor intensive as it sounds and if you have a crock pot it’s even easier! The upside to making your own bone broth is you can customize and use whatever spices and veggies you enjoy. It makes your house smell great and you can feel healthy eating the broth. It is warming and nourishing to the body.
A recipe guideline is:
2 carrots chopped medium
2 celery stalks chopped medium
1 medium onion chopped medium
2 cloves garlic
I always add bay leaves, thyme, oregano and I may even add rosemary depending on how I am feeling!
3.5 lb beef or chicken bones or combination of both (I often use my leftover rotisserie chicken from Whole Foods!)
salt - I love Himalayan pink sea salt
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar or lemon juice - these are said to leach minerals from the bone to get the most goodness!
I add whatever veggie I have in the fridge as well. I love parsnips, chard or kale stems. I may also add herbs like a handful of nettle, a strip of astragalus or a burdock root. Sometimes I will add seaweed like kelp or wakame.
You can be creative and use what spices you like and what veggies you have!
Place the bones in your slow cooker. The bones should fill up about 3/4 of the slow-cooker.
Chop your vegetables and garlic, no need to peel. You can also add vegetable scraps (like chard stems). You'll be straining these out before consuming the broth.
Fill the slow-cooker with water. Season with a generous amount of salt (about 1 teaspoon).
Add 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar or lemon juice (you won't notice the taste). Some people say to soak for an hour before cooking. I never do!
Cook on low and cook for 18-72 hours.
Strain the broth through cheesecloth or a strainer and cool. A good broth will usually have a layer of fat on the top, and will gelatinize when thoroughly cool. Remove the fat with a spoon and discard.
Enjoy the process and feel nourished by the end result! Use this winter to nourish yourself!
Megan Burns (L.AC., MAOM, RH AHG) is a licensed Acupuncturist and Chinese Herbalist. She is a professional member of the American Herbalist Guild and Academic Dean of Daoist Traditions College of Chinese Medical Arts.
Megan has a firm belief that our bodies possess an innate wisdom to heal, and she is honored to serve as a guide for her clients. She integrates her knowledge of herbal medicine (Western and Chinese), Aromatherapy, Food Therapy and Chinese Medicine to support each client based on their individual needs.