Whole Living Daily

Eat for Qi Simple Chicken and Barley Recipe

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Last week’s chicken stock turned today’s Chicken and Barley!  I think I have finally found a way to articulate exactly why home cooking promotes and supports good health.  Real food begets real food begets Qi – the vital force which maintains, drives, governs and protects all living things and activities.

DNA, metabolic rate, congenital factors are all preordained but Qi – Qi is there for the making.  What we chose to and not to eat is really the only control we have over the internal workings of our systems.  Qi is derived not only from the foods we eat but also the way we cook.

When we select wholesome ingredients and prepare them in a mindful generous manner we sow the seeds of Qi.  When we zap take out in the microwave – we do not.  Dining out may be great fun and convenient but the food - in general - lacks root or connection to who we are and what we need.

This meal is really nothing more than a few leftovers pulled from the fridge.  However, it is to health and digestion what a good night’s sleep in one’s own bed is to the soul.

I can hardly call this a recipe.  The barley is cooked in homemade chicken stock.  I toasted 1 cup pearled barley in a saucepan with a little melted butter just until it smelled sweet and delicious.  I added 3 cups of chicken stock, brought saucepan to a boil and then reduced heat to a simmer—about 1 hour cooking time—or just until tender.  The shredded chicken came from my stock making.  I warmed it up slightly in a ladle of stock.  String beans are at their peak – as is acorn squash.  Try it roasted in a hot oven with olive oil and a sprinkle of sea salt.


Frances Boswell is a licensed acupuncturist at her practice, Qi Sera Sera Acupuncture, in New York City. She focuses on a lesser-known branch of Traditional Chinese Medicine, which identifies poor diet as a common cause of disease. Traditional Chinese Medicine understands that the importance of food goes beyond ingredients' vitamins, mineral, nutrient and caloric content—food has its own energetic and spiritual role in our health. Frances' aim is to teach this ancient wisdom, apply it to everyday cooking, and work with patients to modify their diets, in addition to acupuncture, to help them live, eat, and be well. Contact Frances here.

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