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.

Pick 3

Eat protein. Don’t eat sugar. Exercise 4 times a week- but don’t forget to stretch afterwards. Sleep 8 hours per night. Meditate every day. How many of us have an unending list of “shoulds” that we try to incorporate into our lives to stay healthy? How many of us get so overwhelmed that we forget it all together and revert to our old habits?

In this age of information, we are inundated with information about the “best” ways to eat, exercise and spend out free time. We can even find all sorts of advice for how we should think about things. And sometimes, we can even do a decent job at incorporating a good deal of these healthy activities into our day. But, when we are spending an inordinate amount of time or brain space on practicing all these “healthy rules”, it can feel as though our lives revolve around trying to do the right thing for our wellness. Or, like many of us, we are so overwhelmed with responsibilities and activities, the “healthy rules” get lost among all the other things on our to-do list and it seems futile to focus in our health.

Prioritization is necessary for deciding which health goals we are working toward and which can wait. It is ok to not be working on every part of our health at all times. In fact, many times, it makes us much more successful at achieving our goals and incorporating new habits if we only choose a few to focus on. It helps us feel less overwhelmed and keeps our expectations reasonable.

Try listing all of your health goals and all of the things you want to do on a daily basis that will move you towards healthier habits. And then, pick 3. Only 3. Maybe choose the 3 that feel easier to achieve. Maybe choose the 3 that you believe are going to have the biggest impact on your health. Maybe choose the 3 that you have support from family and friends around. Truly, it is up to each of us to prioritize which 3 activities are the best for us.  Then, commit to them for some period of time before reevaluating and seeing if you need to make any changes to your plan. But, when you choose 3,  you can let the others go for a bit and fill that time focusing on other things that bring you joy like friends, family, nature and pets- because these things are truly adding to our wellbeing every day.

IHD offers guidance on prioritizing through Health Coaching with Amy and health consults with Jennifer. Contact us anytime so we can help you choose your 3!

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!