Medicinal Porridge ("Congee")
What is Congee? Known as 'Jook' in many parts of Asia, Congee is similar to what American's call porridge. Quite simply, it is any whole grain cooked for a long period of time. Often times, spices, fruit, and other foods are added during cooking or before eating. It's an excellent choice for breakfast. It's easy to make and delicious!
Why is it an "excellent breakfast choice"?
Strengthens Digestive System: In Chinese Medicine, the foods we eat have specific energetics. It’s often common sense: cinnamon is warming, peppermint is cooling, etc. Foods also act on the energy systems of our organs. Whole grains strengthen the ‘spleen’ and ‘stomach’ organs or what we call the 'middle burner'. The 'middle burner' in Chinese Medicine can be translated as 'metabolism' or ‘digestion’.
Promotes Overall Health: When we ingest food and drink, our ‘middle burner’ has the job of transforming the raw matter into ‘qi’ and ‘blood’ (ie. nutrients) and transporting it around the body to carry out all types of routine functions. The process of transforming the raw matter into nutrients is made easier if what we ingest is already cooked and warm because it requires less work as, your body first needs to heat everything up before it can be digested. Since, congee has been cooked overnight, the cooking process has already done all the work that your body would have had to do! The energy that is saved is then available to spend on other processes like, self-healing, thinking, etc.
Kick-starts Metabolism: When you eat congee, you may feel hungry just a couple hours afterward. This is because your body had such an easy time digesting it, that it is now ready for more! Think of a wood stove. You’ve gotten the coals nice and toasty and now, the fire is hungry. The best part is that now you’ve got the fire burning, your next meal will be much easier to digest! This is your metabolism at work.
Supports Brain Function: Grains are full of prebiotics (which promote the growth of probiotics, the healthy gut flora that is responsible for all types of processes in the body). 90% of Serotonin, the ‘feel good’ chemical is made in the gut, as are many other neurotransmitters. Taking care of the digestive system has a direct effect on moods. It is especially effective for insomnia due to an overactive mind that ruminates on (“chews”) the same thoughts over and over instead of falling asleep. (side note: there is a fantastic herbal formula for this pattern as well!)
How do I make it?
In a small crock pot, combine a whole grain of your choice and water to the ratio of 1 cup grain: 4 cups water
Add spices in whole form, if desired (ex. Entire cinnamon stick, ½ banana with peel)
Cook on low overnight and wake up to a warm, easy-to-digest breakfast
Add other flavorings if desired
Whole Grain Suggestions: Brown Rice, White Rice, Basmati Rice, Oat Groats (Steel Cut oats are okay if oat groats are not available), Buckwheat, Quinoa, Barley
Spice Suggestions (to put in with the grain overnight): Cinnamon Stick, ½ Banana with peel, 1 Apple, deseeded and cut into quarters with peel, Slices of fresh ginger, Entire nutmeg, 3-4 Cardamom Pods, 4-5 Black Peppercorns
Flavoring Suggestions (to add to the congee in the morning): Brown Sugar, Molasses, Powdered Cinnamon, Powdered Ginger, Salt and/or Pepper
There is much flexibility within this recipe. Try different ratios of grain: water and different spices/flavorings as you with
There is no need to soak the grains prior to using them since, they are cooking overnight