Eastern medicine traditions are the oldest medical systems in the world. Ayurveda, for example, is the world’s oldest known healing tradition, and it has paved the way for many traditions to follow after it, including Greek medicine, from which our modern Western medicine originates.
There is a lot of ancient wisdom that comes from these old healing traditions, and many of their therapies and remedies have been tested over thousands of years. Throughout the centuries, Eastern medical traditions came to realize something very important, something that we in the west have only recently begun to catch onto—good health starts in the gut.
If our gut is out of balance, and our digestion disrupted, then we aren’t properly breaking down or absorbing the nutrients that we are consuming. Additionally, this undigested food can become a source of toxicity to our body. As a result of poor nutrition and built up toxins, every other system in the body suffers. This is why it’s so important to get our gut health in order, as it is at the root of all our health.
One Eastern medicine remedy for improving gut health is congee. Congee is a healing porridge that is easy on the stomach and offers a gentle and highly digestible source of nutrients. Congee is used as a traditional breakfast food and digestive remedy. Congee is a soupy rice mixture that forms the base of a number of therapeutic foods and can be tailored to meet your individual needs.
Health Benefits of Congee:
- Easy to digest; gives the digestive system a break from hard to digest foods
- Helps soothe the digestive system
- Provides an accessible source of energy for the body
- Improves bowel regularity
- Warms the body
- Boosts metabolism
- Enhances milk production in breastfeeding mothers.
- Helpful for recovery from stomach flu/virus and food poisoning.
- According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, it nourishes the stomach and spleen meridians and helps to tonify chi and blood, helping to increase strength and energy.
How to Make Congee:
There are a few different ways to make congee.
The easiest method involves an instant pot or rice cooker. For this option, simply add short grain white rice (also called sushi rice) and vegetable broth, coconut milk, or water in a 5/1 liquid to rice ratio, then cook on manual for 15-20 minutes. If using a stovetop pot, use the same liquid/rice ratio and cook until soft and soupy.
That’s it! Pretty simple huh?
You can also add more ingredients to make it more diverse or nutritious. People often add more vegetables, protein, fat or spices into the mix to make it a more substantial meal. However, if you are eating congee because you are fighting off a stomach bug (link GI detox product here?), severe illness, or have a compromised digestive tract, then skip the extra ingredients for now and just keep it simple with extra vegetable stock, rice, a veggie and minimal spices.
Common vegetables added to congee:
Common spices added to congee:
- Black pepper
- Green onion
Congee is simply a soupy rice mixture, and as such, can be made in innumerable different ways. If you prefer a sweeter congee, you can cook the rice in coconut milk and add cinnamon and apple or banana. If you want a more savory congee, you can cook the rice in vegetable broth and add in some garlic, ginger, turmeric, black pepper and salt, along with a few vegetables.
You can experiment with congee and try different varieties until you find the recipe(s) that you like. Regardless, this is a great recipe to know when you are fighting a stomach bug, are dealing with a digestive disorder, or just want to give your gut a little more tender loving care.