Drinking Congee for Cold Season

With fall quickly approaching, we should be getting ready for cold season. Of course, the best plan is to not get sick by keeping your stress low, sleeping and eating well and washing your hands often. However, in the event a cold does make it past your immune system, it is best to be prepared with a tool box to fight with!

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, Congee- or rice porridge- is frequently used to deliver medicinal herbs or foods into the body in a gentle and easily absorbed way. Depending on the condition of the patient the doctor will suggest specific herbs, spices or foods to be added to the congee to treat the ailment. Congee is made with plain white rice and should be cooked until it is thin enough to drink.

Here are 2 recipes I often prescribe for colds and cough that are common in the fall and early winter months:

For the beginning stages of a cold with chills, low grade fever, body aches, mild headache, congestion and a mild cough

Ingredients:

5 Whole Scallions
15g (about 4 or 5 one inch slices) Fresh Ginger Root

100g (1/2 c) White Rice (not long grain)

Cook rice into a porridge. You can do this over low heat on the stove on in a crock pot. It will take about 2-3 hours. Mash the scallions and ginger into a pulp (a quick trip through the food processor will work too). Add pulp to porridge and simmer for 20 more minutes. Divide into 2 or 3 doses and warm drink every 4 hours. Add water to reheat if needed.

 

For a cough with phlegm and wheezing with possible vomiting of phlegm

Ingredients:

60g (3/4-1 cup) Chopped Fresh Mustard Greens

100g (1/2 c) White Rice (not long grain)

Wash and cut mustard greens. Add to rice and cook into a porridge. You can do this over low heat on the stove on in a crock pot. It will take about 2-3 hours. Divide into 2 or 3 doses and warm drink every 4 hours. Add water to reheat if needed.

Balancing the Yang

Those of us who practice Chinese Medicine look at everything as being a balance between Yin and Yang. When we refer to Yang, we are speaking of things that are warming, active, outward focused, creative and energetic. Yin refers to things that are cooling, inward focused, calming, grounding, restorative. The balance between the two is essential to health in all aspects of our lives.

Chinese medicine also views the seasons as having Yin or Yang qualities. For example, Summer is a very Yang time of year when the weather is warm, we are more extroverted, we stay awake for more hours of the day. Winter, is certainly a more Yin time when the weather and daylight encourage us to sleep more and to spend less time at home instead of socializing.

It is important to remember that we can work to balance these seasonal influences when we feel symptoms arise. It is certainly possible for the Summer months to aggravate any Yang conditions like anxiety, skin rashes and insomnia. And while we may be feeling more energetic, it is possible to over exert that energy, leaving us exhausted and prone to colds or viral infections by the end of the season. The way we combat the heat and high Yang energy of the summer is with cooling Yin foods and calming Yin activities.

Some cooling Yin foods to combat the heat of the Yang Summer include cucumber, celery, zucchini, watermelon, cantaloupe, tofu, yogurt, lemons and mung beans. A few of my favorite recipes are this Watermelon Salad and this Cucumber, Yogurt and Dill Cold Soup. 

Some calming activities to balance the high energy Yang activities of summer include yoga, walking, slow swimming, meditation and Qi Gong. Read more here about Yin Yoga and Qi Gong.

Hopefully you can include some of these to help you stay cool during this hot Yang season. Happy Summer!

We are fortunate to have neighbors who share our interest in promoting healthy foods as part of a healthy lifestyle. Haley from Happy Leaf Kombucha shares her knowledge of how fermented foods can add a great benefit to our heath. Never tried kombucha? Check out the Happy Leaf tap room next time you are in the neighborhood!

Happy Leaf Kombucha

Fermented foods are foods that have gone through the process of lactofermentation. This is a food preservation technique that adds probiotic goodness to raw foods. It breaks down components in the food, making them more easily digestible and creates beneficial enzymes and b vitamins as well as various probiotic strains.

Kombucha is a lightly fermented tea, rich in probiotics and b vitamins. Ours begins with a green and black tea and organic sugar, and a SCOBY (symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast). This floating colony then eats the sugar and turns the sugars to probiotics. The end result after the open air fermentation is kombucha! The majority of sugar is processed out during the ferment, leaving only 0-2g on average per glass. Kombucha is a wonderful alternative to alcohol and sodas alike, as it has a fizzy, sparkling quality but also an interesting fermented flavor. We flavor ours with organic cold pressed juices and infuse herbs, there are endless flavor combination possibilities!

Fermented foods and kombucha seem like the latest fad to some people, but the truth is, fermentation is an old tradition practiced all over the world and has been preserving foods and keeping people healthy and balanced for centuries, it’s only just now sparked an interest in our modern society. The process and tradition of fermenting and eating live foods has sharply declined in recent years, in which we drink pasteurized milk instead of raw milk, and quick vinegar pickles and krauts instead of aged and fermented alternatives.  

Fermenting food and drink is a means of preservation, as well as introducing probiotics, vitamins and enzymes to the body to aide in overall health. Fermented foods are super easy to make at home, and cost a fraction of what they cost in stores! 

    ~Haley Burkhall, Taproom Manager