Congee is a thin porridge of rice (or other grain) and bone broth. It can also be made with water but I don’t suggest that! It is traditionally made 1-part rice to 5-6 parts broth. Although it is said to be better to air on too much broth; than not enough so I go about 7 parts broth!
I had not heard of congee until my naturopath gave me a hand out about it. We were discussing my poor digestion. She has an extensive background in Chinese Medicine and mixes that into her practice. Chinese herbs have been a part of my care while working with her and I love how she explain the philosophy behind it. In Traditional Chinese Medicine the stomach rules holding the food, while the spleen is transportation and transformation of the food. Their ability to work properly is considered so important that the human body rests on the proper function of the spleen and stomach. A bowl of warm rice congee fortifies the spleen, balances the stomach and is a great meal. Congee becomes a great digestive tonic. It is easily digested and absorbed. It is considered a cooling qi and blood tonic, making it great for those who are chronically ill or inflamed. My favorite fact in the hand out was that it can augment lactation as well. Yay for easy food for new moms!
The range of ingredients used in preparing congee are endless and also vary with geographic origin. In China, congees are typically flavored with chicken, pork, fish and seasoned with ginger and green onions and cilantro. In Japan, porridges are flavored with mushroom, scallops and shrimp, while in Korea the rice soup is enhanced with sugar, dates and pin nuts. Even dairy products, coconut milk and various spices are incorporated into the porridge in regions of India.
I went to Pinterest to find all my congee options and many very of course. You can add many things to congee in order to make it savory or sweet. These are add ins for common “issues” from the book Paul Pitchford’s Healing With Whole Foods.
My favorites are:
Ginger- warming and antiseptic to intestines: used for deficient cold digestive weakness: diarrhea, anorexia, vomiting, indigestion
Quinoa-warming, strengthening for the whole body: highest protein and fat content of all grains (technically a legume), high in calcium, iron, phosphorus, B & E vitamins.
Taro Root: Nutritious: aids the stomach and builds blood.
Yogurt & honey- Beneficial to the heart and lungs
Just start! Don’t overthink it. I suggest starting out with a basic 1 cup rice to 7 parts broth ratios. Add a little ginger, salt and pepper and simmer for a minimum hour or 5-6 hours! From there you have a large batch and can add to it what you want for that specific serving. When you do eat it again add a bit more broth to reheat it. I personally can eat a serving cold for lunch with other warm foods. Maybe you put veggies over it for lunch, with some garlic and avocado. Maybe you add coconut milk, cinnamon and berries for breakfast. There are so many possibilities. I made a Pinterest Board you can check out!
Here are two simple recipes I love!
I am a Doula, Childbirth Educator and certifying Nutritionist. Essentially I am a women's health nerd. I have struggled with Autoimmune issues for the last 10 years, and more recently fertility issues. This along with my birth work, has driven me to self research. I have added a blog to my site in hopes of giving resources to clients or those interested in these topics. I would love feedback and comments.
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