Healing our bodies with food is what Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has been doing for over 2,000 years so it’s safe to say that TCM is the OG when it comes to boosting your immune system naturally. As we’re all hunkered down at home and spending more time in the kitchen, we thought we’d tap into the knowledge of Jalashree Pradhan, licensed Acupuncturist and practitioner of Chinese Herbal Medicine with Lakepointe Wellness, to give us a delicious immune-boosting recipe that we can create at home.
Ever heard of congee? If not, you’re not alone! Congee is a popular rice porridge that is traditionally eaten for breakfast throughout China. Delicious and nutritious, congee is a combination of specific grains, beans, vegetables, meats, eggs, and Chinese herbs. It promotes healthy digestion, good health, and can even be used to support treatment and healing from a variety of illnesses. In Chinese Medicine, every food and herb has specific qualities and properties that are linked to the body’s meridians, or energy channels. It’s said our “qi” or life force energy flows through these channels. When our qi is blocked or disrupted, illness can result.
This Basic Congee recipe contains healing foods and herbs and is good for nearly everyone. It’s a great baseline and can be used as a starting point for your own creations. Congee can also be made with specific, more medicinal herbs and foods for individualized healing; we recommend working with a TCM practitioner for personal herbal recommendations.
- 1 cup of white rice of choice
- 6-8 cups water or chicken broth
- 2 tbsp minced ginger
- 2 tbsp minced garlic
- 2 tbsp scallions thinly sliced
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 1 tsp tamari or pinch of salt
- 1 tbsp sesame seeds
- 1-2 sheets of nori
- Sliced pears
- Pumpkin seeds
- Rinse the rice well (until the water runs clear).
- Place the first 4 ingredients in a large pot. Bring to a boil and then simmer on low heat, covered, for about 2 hours, stirring occasionally to make sure it isn’t sticking. The congee is ready when the rice is soft and the consistency is that of a porridge. Add more water if it looks too thick.
- Serve in individual bowls and season with the sesame oil and tamari. Garnish with the scallions, sesame seeds and crumbled nori sheets. Or, for a sweeter lung and digestion boosting option, add pears, pumpkins seeds and a drizzle of honey.
Note: A crock pot or slow cooker also works very well for congee. You can even leave it to cook overnight for a warm and nourishing breakfast. It’s said that the longer it cooks the more “powerful” it becomes.
Jalashree loves to add a fried egg, sautéed shitake mushrooms with arugula and the Trader Joe’s “Furikake” Japanese seasoning and a pinch of homemade hot sauce for a nourishing meal.
Another one of her favorite congee recipes, prepared with Astragalus and other Chinese herbs, helps to strengthen the immune system, promote healthy digestion, and helps prevent cold and flu. Note: This version should not be taken once cold or flu symptoms begin. The basic congee, without the medicinal herbs, is a great option to support recovery from a cold or flu, or after you already have symptoms.
Jalashree’s Immune Boosting Congee
- 1 oz (4 pieces) of Astragalus root (Huang Qi)
- 8 Chinese dates (Dao Zao)
- 2 tbsp Goji berries (Gou Qi Ji)
- 1-2 tbsp fresh minced ginger (Sheng Jiang)
- 4 pieces of dried tangerine peel (Chen Pi)
- 1 cup white rice
- 6-8 cups water (depends on how thick you like your congee)
- Dash of ground cinnamon
- Dash of ground cardamom
- Raw honey (optional)
- Asian pear or other pear of choice (good for the lungs)
*Do not exceed the recommended dosage of the herbs. Although there are no major drug interactions with Astragalus, if you have a known illness or health concern it’s best to consult with Jalashree or your own health care practitioner.
- Rinse the rice well (until the water runs clear).
- Place the first seven ingredients in a large pot. Bring to a boil and then simmer, covered, for about 2 hours, stirring occasionally to make sure it isn’t sticking. The congee is ready when the rice is soft and the consistency is that of a porridge. Add more water if it looks too thick.
- Remove the Astragalus root and tangerine peels.
- Serve in individual bowls with sliced fresh pear and a dash of cinnamon and/ or cardamom on top. Add a dab of ghee, coconut oil, or butter and honey if you desire. If you didn’t use tangerine peel, grate a bit of orange rind on top instead.
If you’re interested in learning more about TCM or ordering any of these Chinese herbs, please contact Jalashree at 612-396-2997, or make a dietary and lifestyle consultation appointment through Lakepointe’s website: www.lakepointe.janeapp.com.
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