Congee - Congee or rice soup is an excellent source of nutrition when illness strikes.
Traditionally known as hsi-fan or "rice water", congee is eaten throughout China as a breakfast food. It is thin porridge or gruel
consisting of a handful of rice simmered in five to six times the amount of water. Although rice is the most common fgrain for
congees, millet, spelt, or other grains are sometimes used. Cook the rice and water in a covered pot for 4-6 hours on warm,
or use a crockpot. It is better to use too much water than too little, and it is said the longer congee cooks, the more powerful it becomes.
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This simple rice soup is easily digested and assimilated, tonifies the blood and the qi energy, harmonizes the digestion, and is demulcent,
cooling, and nourishing. Since the chronically ill person often has weak blood and low energy, and easily develops inflammations and other
heat symptoms from deficiency of yin fluids, the cooling , demulcent and tonifying properties of congee are particularly welcome.
It is useful for increasing a nursing mother's supply of milk. The liquid can be strained from the porridge to drink as a supplement for
infants and for serious conditions.
Other therapeutic properties may be added to the congee by cooking appropriate vegetables, grains, herbs, or animal foods in with the rice water.
Since the rice itself strengthens the spleen-pancreas digestive center, other foods added to a rice congee become more completely assimilated,
and their properties are therefore enhanced. Listed below are some of the more common rice-based congees and their specific effects.
Aduki Bean - Diuretic: curative for edema and gout.
Apricot Kernel- Recommended for coughs and asthma, expels sputum and intestinal gas.
Carrot- Digestive aid, eliminates flatulence.
Celery - Cooling in summer, benefits large intestine.
Chestnut - Tonifies kidneys, strengthens knees and loin, useful in treating anal hemorrhages.
Fennel Root - Harmonizes stomach, expels gas, cures hernia.
Ginger - Warming and antiseptic to viscera, used for deficient cold digestive weakness, diarrhea, anorexia, vomiting and indigestion.
Leek - Warming to viscera, good for chronic diarrhea.
Mustard - Expels phlegm, clears stomach congestion.
Salted Onion - Diaphoretic, lubricating to muscles.
Pine Nut Kernel - Moistening to heart and lungs, harmonizes large intestine, useful in wind diseases and constipation.
Radish - Digestant, benefits the diaphragm.
Pickled Radish (salt) - Benefits digestion and blood.
Brown Rice - Diuretic, thirst quenching, nourishing, good for nursing mothers.
Sweet Rice - Demulcent, used for diarrhea, vomiting and indigestion.
Scallion Bulb - Cures cold diarrhea in the aged.
Sesame Seed - Moistening to the intestines, treats rheumatism.
Shepherd's Purse - Brightens the eyes and benefits the liver.
Taro Root - Nutritious, aids the stomach, builds blood.
From "Healing with Whole Foods" by Paul Pitchford.