Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Congee in Autumn

Autumn is a season of cool dry weather. Flu, allergy, constipation, dry skin and nose are common. It's time to nourish the organs and keep them moist. Congee is the ideal food for that. Experts in traditional Chinese medicine suggest congee cooked with various ingredients, from chrysanthemum to chestnuts.

Congee, a rice porridge or gruel made with lots of water, reinforces the digestive system and nourishes other organs. Traditioanally, it's made with white rice that has been milled. Nowadays, however,  brown rice is more popular and more nutritious. As it converts to energy more slowly,  it's more suitable for people with diabetes without spikes in sugar levels.
Eating low-calorie congee regularly can decrease the risk of obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease and other cardiovascular problems. Writing this, I remember in my hometown in the past, common people used to have two congee meals and one more solid meal everyday to save money. It turns out that people lived longer and healthier then.

Ingredients commonly added in the fall include pears, turnips, black sesame, white woodears ( a kind of fungus), lily root and chrysanthemum; all are cooling (containing yin, or cold energy) and moistening. You can get creative by adding other nutritial ingredients such as walnuts, red jujubes, adzuki beans, mung beans, and different grains. It can be flavored with brown sugar. It can also be eaten with a pinch of salt and pepper, if you have diced ham in it.

Note: To have any medicinal effect, it must be eaten regularly. That said, it's still a kind of food to keep you healthy. It shouldn't be used as prescribed medicine.  It's not advised to eat congee three times daily, since it contains less energy than rice of the same weight.

Diabetics shouldn't eat too much white rice congee since it quickly raises the blood sugar.

Sweet cold congee, though tasty, is not recommended for the elderly, children and those suffering "pathogenic cold" (yin energy) problems. Too much cold congee undermines the digestive system. 

Adapted from Cultural

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