Congee, Shi-Fan (literally, rice water) or Jook. Whatever name you give it, rice porridge has been the foundation of nutritional healing since…well, we started playing with fire and cooking. It is my first recommendation for anyone who is weak or ill, whether young or old.
Congee is a eaten by millions as a breakfast food. The simple gruel is served with a variety of side dishes, shredded vegetables and fish, shredded meats and pickles. Besides being a great morning start, congee is a fantastic healing food. It’s simply rice and water or maybe broth. Other ingredients may be added to create a specific result.
Sounds boring right? Sometimes simplicity is the best approach to healing. I always consider the client’s digestive vitality first in any treatment. If they have problems absorbing nutrients for whatever reason, be it illness, chemo or radiation treatment or constitutional weakness, they will not transform the food they eat into healing nutrient qi. In these cases, simple foods cooked for a long period place less of a burden on the digestive system.
Who can benefit from congee?
Anyone. I’ve seen it work wonders with toddlers on acid reflux medicines to seniors battling dementia and those just fighting the common cold. There is no magic, it is just simplicity.
Healing benefits of congee
Rice is neutral to warming, and very few people are allergic to rice. It tonifies the Qi and Blood and harmonizes the Middle Burner (your digestive system), the Stomach and the Spleen. Water balances our PH, detoxes and nourishes Yin.
1 cup of rice to 6 cups of water cooked for 6 hours. That’s it. Okay, honestly, you don’t have to cook it that long, but I guarantee you will absorb it better the longer it is cooked.
You can added ingredients to congee to create a more specific healing benefit. Usually, the addition is about 1/2 to 1 cup of the particular item.
Here are a few examples.
- Aduki beans – Great for gout. Aduki beans dry dampness (edema and phlegm). They treat Kidney and Bladder problems, like retention.
- Black sesame seeds & honey – Jing (essence) nourishing.
- Carrot – Good for chronic indigestion and diarrhea.
- Celery – Cooling, reduces hypotensive conditions like Liver Yang Rising, ringing in the ears and hot tempers.
- Dry ginger – Diarrhea and vomiting from cold conditions, anorexia, nutritional impairment.
- Fennel – Use for nausea and vomiting. Fabulous for stimulating digestion and appetite
Fresh ginger – Cold and flu with chills.
- Leek – One of my favorite foods to reset the metabolism. Leeks warm and tonify the digestion they also treat chronic diarrhea.
- Marrow stock (use in place of water) – Wonderful for anemia and Blood deficiency. Tonifies qi, blood, deeply nourishes.
- Mung bean – Cools summer heat (heat stroke), cuts fevers.
Onion or scallion – Clears phlegm, opens the sinuses and lungs, clears out colds, treats diarrhea. Use for allergies and chronic phlegm problems.
- Radish – Cools fevers and heat in the digestive tract. Use with ulcers, GERD, and also allergies.
- Sweet rice – Tonifies the Stomach, Spleen and body overall
- Spinach – Harmonizes and moistens the organs, sedates and lowers rebellious Qi (GERD, acid reflux).
So, if you are feeling a bit down or battling a serious disharmony, don’t hesitate to simplify.