Replenish Your Qi with Congee
by Sarah Zagorce and Emily Andrews
Having low energy, feeling unmotivated, and doing your best to ward off sickness is quite the norm for this time of year. Less sunlight and colder temperatures can leave you vulnerable to infection, depression, and Qi depletion. As we all know, proper nutrition and hydration are essential to help combat these unfavorable conditions. Lucky for you, this simple Traditional Chinese Medicine staple will help make your food preparation easy, while also providing ample nutrients to keep you healthy and energized.
So what exactly is congee? Congee is a popular dish found throughout many Asian countries. In most, it is a household staple. Known to the western world as porridge or gruel, congee simply involves cooking a grain with extra water or broth for a long period of time until the point of being soupy. Although congee is usually eaten for breakfast to enhance energy circulation, it may also be eaten as other meals. This is especially beneficial for those who are weak, chronically ill, or recovering from surgery. Depending on the therapeutic needs of the individual, congee may be sweet or savory. Although it is traditionally cooked with rice, it may also be made with other grains or by combining them.
What are its benefits? In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the Spleen is the organ that governs metabolism and turns food into Qi. Through the use of slow cooked grains and root vegetables, congee helps warm the digestive system and nourish the Spleen, making it easier for the body to properly absorb nutrients and supplement energy. Due to this high digestibility factor, congee is strongly recommended for people with weak digestion, fatigue, or poor appetite. Being that congee is warm, it also helps warm the body, aiding in detoxification by promoting the body to sweat. This is very helpful at the onset of illness. When bone broth is used as the liquid, the kidneys benefit. Since the kidneys regulate bone in TCM, joint health is enhanced. Bone broth also assists in building blood and improves hydration by providing electrolytes.
Given the bioavailability of various vitamins and minerals, congee improves health, wards off sickness, and helps restore energy. It is easy to make and easy to modify. If you need help combatting the blues this winter, try a bowl of congee or two. Your Qi will surely thank you!
Savory Congee Recipe
1 cup of brown/basmati rice
6-10 cups of water or bone broth
1 clove of minced garlic
1 small piece of minced ginger
Add all ingredients together in a crockpot and cook on low for 6-9 hours.
Add other veggies such as onions, carrots, sweet potatoes, squash, and/or mushrooms before cooking or mix in frozen organic corn and spinach after cooking.
Add raw sausage, chicken, or other meat before cooking and break up or shred, then mix before serving. (Always choose whole or minimally processed ingredients.)
Garnish with green onions