Congee/Jook/Rice Porridge

February 4, 2014

One of the reasons I like to travel to Asian countries is the food.  It took me about 5 days to actually find rice porridge in Thailand thanks to an included breakfast buffet at my first hotel, but it was well worth the wait.  My first variety had rice, fish (white, mild), parsley, spices, and a side dish of oil and spices.  Other varieties I found had vegetables, chicken, and pork.  The basic method of preparing any congee variation is to boil rice in a lot (6-12 times the amount of rice) of water, until the rice has softened and broken down.

Traditional Chinese Medicine suggests congee to those with a weakened digestive system or who are recovering from illness, but it’s also eaten daily by the general public in Asia.  Read the rest of this entry »

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In eating in accordance with the seasons, we should now be turning our focus to making dishes that are well cooked and warming in nature.  As the temperature drops, we can aid our bodies in digestion by adding more warming herbs and spices and consuming dishes that are well-cooked and warm (as opposed to raw and/or chilled).

If your hands and feet feel particularly cold after a certain meal, chances are it was too cold in nature for your body.  If you feel warmness in your extremities and body after a meal and have good energy, that particular dish helped to support, not extinguish, your metabolic fire.  Matt Stone writes a lot about this topic.  Although he speaks in terms of thyroid and metabolism, many of his observations correlate to the ideas of spleen and kidney yang in terms of Traditional Chinese Medicine. 

The following recipes are intended to serve as a base or outline.  They are the result of my own personal trials.  They will continue to evolve as I hope your creations do too.  The important part is the effort.  Good ingredients cooked with good intention make healthy food.   I particularly like these recipes because they are both vegan and paleo friendly, dairy and gluten free, and yummy!  Read the rest of this entry »

A lot of my patients who are parents ask me for ideas of snacks for their kids.  Since these foods are often packed for lunch or eaten on the go, convenience is a considered factor.  Unfortunately, most convenient snacks are processed experiments disguised as food.  Scientists work hard to make them highly palatable, usually by playing to our preferences for fat, salt, and sweet flavors.   In order to cheaply make a lot of product that has a long shelf life, inferior ingredients are chosen then enhanced by sugar/salt/fat until they taste so good we can’t help but to crave more.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, each organ system has a corresponding flavor.  For example, the heart’s associated flavor is bitter, and the spleen’s flavor is sweet.  One must eat the right balance of the 5 flavors (bitter, sweet, acrid, salty, sour) in order to nourish each organ system.  Eating too much of 1 flavor or not enough of another flavor can create an internal imbalance.  So, it’s not that “sweet” is bad.  But too much concentrated sweet, for example, can damage the spleen.

The proper way to eat sugar is when it’s consumed in its “protective gear,” the way Mother Nature packaged it.  Read the rest of this entry »

I have written about the importance of eating in accordance with the seasons as well as the importance of eating cooked vegetables and the effects of eating too many uncooked, raw vegetables especially for those with weakened digestive systems.  Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) encourages those with weakened digestive systems to focus on easy to digest, cooked, and warming foods while reducing or eliminating too many raw, chilled, and cooling foods.  Why do I write so much about this topic? Read the rest of this entry »

In the current state of my ever-progressing diet, I eat a (mostly) whole foods diet. I say “mostly” because I do have the occasional cracker or pita chip, eat out a few (1-3) meals a week, and like to have a slice of pizza (but only in NY or NJ!).  Trading chemicals, pesticides, and hormones found in processed conventional foods for the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that are dense in real foods seems an obvious choice for better health.

Wheat is cheap in part because it is subsidized by the government.  Farming techniques have favored a strain that is higher in gluten (a protein found in wheat) than in years past.  Gluten adds to a product’s texture and chewiness and overall marketability, but also tends to be difficult to digest – especially for those with weakened digestive systems.  Unfortunately, wheat is also the most present grain in our country’s food supply.

But all grains are not created (or hybridized or modified) equally.  Read the rest of this entry »

Eggs:  They got a bad rap for some years due to their “cholesterol raising, heart disease-promoting” saturated fat.  But in fact, properly raised eggs (you can find them pasture-raised at your local farmer’s market) were and continue to be a healthy option.  Use caution to avoid over-consumption of commercial eggs which are high in Omega-6 (inflammatory) fats. Read the rest of this entry »

Everyday recipes should include few ingredients and steps.  One can either make a big batch for multiple leftovers, or prepare with ease after a long day.  Roasted cauliflower is convenient and tasty:

1-2 heads of cauliflower

Salt, pepper, garlic powder

Olive oil, preferably in a mister Read the rest of this entry »