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What Is Congee and Why Should Your Kids Eat It?

What Is Congee and Why Should Your Kids Eat It?

What is congee, and why do I recommend it to my clients? Congee is a great way to ease a delicate gut and evolving biome toward diversity and improved digestion. Long revered as a salve for digestion in Traditional Chinese Medicine (earliest reference dates back to about 1000 BC), congee is a low cost, versatile, delicious food that’s easy to add your weekly recipe staples. I am a huge fan and here is why:

  • Congee starts with rice – the main ingredient – and is cooked with much more liquid than usual (such as bone broth or chicken stock). It is also simmered much longer, until the texture is like porridge. This makes it very easy to digest.
  • When the body isn’t preoccupied with digesting complex meals, it can better absorb nutrients.
  • This can be incredibly healing for children who are coping with reflux, loose stool, gas, and leaky gut – even kids who are moving off of elimination diets due to FPIES, a condition which often strictly avoids rice. Congee however is more digestible, and may work well.
  • Since the rice grains absorb a high volume of collagen-rich liquid during the cooking process, the porridge is hydrating and nourishing to the lining of the GI tract.    
  • Congee works as a savory dish or a sweet soother. Use it as a breakfast porridge: Just omit the garlic from the recipe. Stir in raisins, which you can soften as well by microwaving with water for 1 minute before adding to congee. 

Typical congee recipes use long grain rice and animal protein based broths in a slow cooked method, and need hours for the starches in the rice to break down and absorb the cooking liquid. I recently discovered an Instant Pot recipe which cuts the cooking time down considerably. Try it and share your comments below!

Instant Pot Congee
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You will need an Instant Pot for this version of congee. Bonus - that means it cooks in 20-30 minutes instead of 2-4 hours with traditional stove top simmering (which is also great, just slower). Use organic ingredients, and don't forget to rinse and drain the rice before cooking.
Servings Prep Time
4 servings 15 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
30 minutes 30 minutes
Servings Prep Time
4 servings 15 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
30 minutes 30 minutes
Instant Pot Congee
Print Recipe
You will need an Instant Pot for this version of congee. Bonus - that means it cooks in 20-30 minutes instead of 2-4 hours with traditional stove top simmering (which is also great, just slower). Use organic ingredients, and don't forget to rinse and drain the rice before cooking.
Servings Prep Time
4 servings 15 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
30 minutes 30 minutes
Servings Prep Time
4 servings 15 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
30 minutes 30 minutes
Ingredients
For Savory Congee...
For Breakfast Congee...
Servings: servings
Instructions
  1. Rinse rice under cool water.
  2. Combine all ingredients in the Instant Pot, except honey or maple syrup. Add that to taste after cooking, if you are making a breakfast congee.
  3. Close and lock the lid. S
  4. Set the pressure cook / manual setting on high for 30 minutes.
  5. When ready to serve, add in any extras you like: For savory congee, try minced scallions, minced cilantro, or minced pork or chicken. For breakfast congee, try raisins (cooked with the congee or added after), berries, bananas, maple syrup, or honey.
Recipe Notes

For traditional stovetop cooking, place all ingredients with rinsed rice in a large pot on stove. Cover rice with broth and bring to boil. Reduce heat to steady simmer and add liquid throughout the next two hours, whenever the liquid cooks down to expose the rice. Stir to keep from sticking to bottom of pot.

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Paleo Tuna Pesto

Paleo Tuna Pesto

Tuna Pesto? It’s a good recipe in a pinch.This recipe comes from a cookbook I was gifted many years ago, of traditional Italian pasta sauces. One of the recipes called for a can of tuna, which sounded awful, until I tried it. It’s delicious. Merging that recipe with a basil pesto – minus the Parmesan and boosted on lemon – produced this recipe below.

Most of us are not eating a lot of tuna these days. But I keep this recipe in my rotation because it is so easy and fast to make, and it’s versatile – it can pair with anything from gluten free pasta (for picky eaters working on transition away from grains) to green beans, cauliflower, on a baked potato, or in a soft tortilla. You can also vary the nut or seed choice; my favorite is raw sprouted pumpkin seeds, but classic walnut or pine nut are wonderful too; raw sunflower seeds work as well. Use unseasoned, raw seeds or nuts for best flavor.

Note: Worcestershire sauce can be tricky to find gluten free, and without stuff like corn syrup – but it is a major piece of the puzzle in this recipe’s flavor. Don’t skip it. Find The Wizard’s brand gluten free, organic, vegan version and keep it on hand for this and other occasions calling for this complex condiment. In the US, Lea & Perrins claims to be GF also.

Paleo Tuna Pesto
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An unexpected variation on the usual pesto! If your family tolerates nuts, try this with walnuts or pine nuts. This recipe suggests enjoying with cooked vegetables, but it is so good that it also works as a crostini spread, packable school lunch dip, in soft tacos, or on pasta.
Servings Prep Time
4 people 15 minutes
Cook Time
15 minutes
Servings Prep Time
4 people 15 minutes
Cook Time
15 minutes
Paleo Tuna Pesto
Print Recipe
An unexpected variation on the usual pesto! If your family tolerates nuts, try this with walnuts or pine nuts. This recipe suggests enjoying with cooked vegetables, but it is so good that it also works as a crostini spread, packable school lunch dip, in soft tacos, or on pasta.
Servings Prep Time
4 people 15 minutes
Cook Time
15 minutes
Servings Prep Time
4 people 15 minutes
Cook Time
15 minutes
Ingredients
Servings: people
Instructions
  1. Start your vegetables: Green beans, cauliflower or Romanesco are delicious with this sauce. Steam, roast, or sear to desired doneness, about 15 minutes. While these are cooking, assemble the sauce.
  2. You will need a food processor or immersion blender to make this sauce. Place half the olive oil in first, then add the drained tuna, sunflower seeds, lemon wedge (washed first), Worcestershire, and herbs. Slowly add the remaining olive oil, and process until smooth.
  3. When buying tuna, look for a product that has these specs
  4. Once blended, here is the consistency you're after. Adjust salt and pepper at this point to your taste
  5. Toss sauce over warmed vegetables and serve.
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Pork and Turkey Thai Veggie Meatballs

Pork and Turkey Thai Veggie Meatballs

Sounds like a mouthful of a combination, but boy does it work. Ground turkey, ground pork, shredded sweet potato and shredded carrot, lots of fresh ginger… and more. Once you’ve got all these ingredients, these meat and veggie balls are easy enough. Serve over whatever works – gluten free noodles, basmati rice, or as a slider on a Paleo bun.  Another grain free option is to make buns with Chebe mix – perhaps not precisely Paleo, but tasty and easy. With the sauce, this is a great meal. Kids who like spicy will go for these, and you can dial up or down the heat according to your family’s palate.

Pork and Turkey Thai Veggie Meatballs
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A spicy twist on the usual meatball, with a savory blend of turkey and pork
Servings Prep Time
6 people 25 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
25 minutes 10 minutes
Servings Prep Time
6 people 25 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
25 minutes 10 minutes
Pork and Turkey Thai Veggie Meatballs
Print Recipe
A spicy twist on the usual meatball, with a savory blend of turkey and pork
Servings Prep Time
6 people 25 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
25 minutes 10 minutes
Servings Prep Time
6 people 25 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
25 minutes 10 minutes
Ingredients
For The Meatballs...
For The Sauce
Garnish
Servings: people
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. For the meatballs: Peel the sweet potato and wash and peel the carrots. Using a shredder attachment on a food processor, shred both. You can also use a grater to shred by hand.
  3. Place shredded veggies with the rest of the meatball ingredients in a large bowl. Use your hands or a potato masher to combine.
  4. Heat a large oven safe saucepan or skillet to medium high heat (an iron skillet is perfect for this!). Place in it 1-2 teaspoons coconut oil or sesame oil. Using an ice cream scoop or large spoon, shape meatballs. You will have 12-15 large meatballs. Brown them on all sides.
  5. While these are cooking, in a medium bowl, blend all sauce ingredients together with a wire whisk, until evenly combined. When meatballs are browned, remove from heat, and pour the sauce over them.
  6. Place the meatballs in sauce, in the saucepan, in the preheated oven for 15-20 minutes, or until cooked through. Garnish with chopped cilantro and green onions.
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Chicken Curry With Green Beans And Potatoes

Chicken Curry With Green Beans And Potatoes

Don’t be daunted by the longish ingredient list – it’s mostly spices, which are worth picking up at a better bulk spice shop. Turmeric, curry, and cumin give immune supportive compounds and warming flavors to this recipe, so feel free to use them liberally, along with healthful garlic and ginger. Once the chopping is done, this recipe is a one pot dinner that is easy to make. Serve with rice, quinoa, or cauli-rice. Vary the vegetables in this dish as much as you like. Another good combination is to use sweet potato with chard or beet greens, or orange or yellow bell pepper with breadfruit. Options are as varied as your imagination!

Chicken Curry With Green Beans And Potatoes
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Servings Prep Time
6-8 people 30 minutes
Cook Time
30 minutes
Servings Prep Time
6-8 people 30 minutes
Cook Time
30 minutes
Chicken Curry With Green Beans And Potatoes
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
6-8 people 30 minutes
Cook Time
30 minutes
Servings Prep Time
6-8 people 30 minutes
Cook Time
30 minutes
Ingredients
Servings: people
Instructions
  1. Mix powdered dry spices: Cumin, curry powder, turmeric root, salt, and paprika and set aside.
  2. Melt coconut oil in large skillet that is 3-4 inches deep. Add minced onion, garlic, ginger root, and turmeric root, and cook on medium heat until softened but not brown.
  3. Add tomatoes and chicken broth, and turn up heat to bring to a steady simmer. Add potatoes. Option: You may instead microwave your chopped potatoes until soft, then add them to the skillet, to make this part faster.
  4. Add green beans, coconut milk, and chicken. Simmer for 10 minutes.
  5. After 10 minutes, add dry spices, red curry paste, and honey or coconut sugar. Mix well, and continue cooking for 10 more minutes.
  6. Just before serving, add cilantro and stir through. Serve curry over rice or quinoa.
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