Thursday, May 15, 2014

The Congee Diet

A week ago, I spoke with an old friend who told me she had lost weight and solved a few more chronic health problems through about nine weeks of adopting a congee based diet. I had heard of congee from a long since vanished practitioner of Chinese medicine I knew many years ago.

Congee is basically a gruel traditionally made of rice; a rice soup . The heart of understanding congee is in the proportions. The basic rule is 1/4 cup of rice to 4 cups of water: 60 grams of rice to 950 millilitres of water. [I actually have been using 1/3rd cup rice or other dry food to 4, sometimes 5 cups of water.] That produces less than 4 cups of gruel when finished [about 5 cups]. It takes at least four hours to produce congee.

Now, let's make it a little more interesting. Let's try 1/4 cup of lentils with that 1/4 cup of rice. Let's make it brown rice too. According to the rules that would make 8 cups of water and the time it takes to boil it all down into congee, about four hours. Some people will not abide any beans or legumes in their congee or indeed in their diet. Quinoa is sometimes mentioned as a substitute. I intend on trying this too. The combinations for this stuff are endless.

What I have done already since beginning this diet is make five batches of congee. The first started as just described. I use organic products and filtered or spring water because the cooking process is going to concentrate anything I put into my congee pot.

In addition to the basic ingredients, I add spices, salt and pepper and add no more liquid and I also add up to a cup of fresh frozen organic veggies again without any additional liquid.

Instead of rice, I have used farro, an organic alternative grain to barley, which cooks up a little faster. The second and third batches used farro instead of rice. If you cook it long enough, each grain turns into a small puff ball and then bursts. The lentils will cook down and disintegrate first.

The only fat in congee is whatever tiny amounts you choose to add for taste. Frankly, it doesn't need any, but I might add a tiny amount of some fat or oil and mix it in right before I serve it. I mean a tiny amount too, a teaspoon is the absolute limit.

The last batches have been based on organic white rice (very nice as rice by itself) and organic lentils of various kinds. This last batch used cilantro and celery run through a small food processor I have that is quite handy for such things.

It's been a week now and already I'm noticing changes. I've had a chronic infection in my head for years affecting hearing in my left ear. The doctor said it was an infection or an allergy. Congee diets are known to remove toxins, remove allergies and restore health and vigour. The idea is to replace as many meals as one possibly can each and every day with congee.

The amazing facts are that congee takes so little food, is so cheap to make and so beneficial long term that it's amazing more people haven't discovered it. I'll update this page to let you all know how I proceed.  Oh, my daughter found out what I've been doing and has decided to join me on this little diet adventure.

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