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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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Brussels Slaw

Brussels Slaw

Maybe your kids will eat Brussels sprouts after all. Try this slaw instead of the traditional cabbage version. As long as you have a food processor with a grater or shredder blade, this is easy and fast. If not, you can grate the vegetables by hand but it will take more time. You can also adjust the honey or lemon in it to your preference for sweet or tangy. Even tastier if it gets an overnight in the fridge.
Brussels Slaw
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Crunchy, tasty alternate to the usual cabbage slaw.
Servings Prep Time
6-8 cups 15 minutes
Servings Prep Time
6-8 cups 15 minutes
Brussels Slaw
Print Recipe
Crunchy, tasty alternate to the usual cabbage slaw.
Servings Prep Time
6-8 cups 15 minutes
Servings Prep Time
6-8 cups 15 minutes
Ingredients
Servings: cups
Instructions
  1. Wash the vegetables thoroughly. Trim the Brussels sprouts stumps to remove ragged or dirty edges. Peel carrots and trim ends.
  2. Using a grater attachment on a food processor, shred/grate the carrots and Brussels sprouts. Place the grated vegetables in a large bowl, and add raisins and hemp seeds. Stir to evenly mix.
  3. Whisk the mayonnaise, olive oil, lemon juice, and honey to an even consistency in a small bowl, or place in a pint glass jar, seal with lid and shake til smooth.
  4. Pour dressing over the vegetables and toss thoroughly. For best flavor, let the slaw rest covered in refrigerator for an hour at least and overnight if possible.
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Dairy Free Creamy Coconut Rice Pudding

Dairy Free Creamy Coconut Rice Pudding

Soothing, easy to digest, helpful for kids who need to gain weight, or a low sugar treat for any occasion. Cook this longer to make it even more digestible and nourishing. In Chinese medical tradition, congee is a slow-cooked, white rice porridge used as a base for many ailments, and for weak digestion in particular. Medicinal herbs are often added to congee. This recipe emulates that tradition with ginger (anti-inflammatory), cinnamon (modulates blood sugar), cardamom (eases nausea and constipation), and adds easy-to-assimilate coconut fats. Raisins, though a higher FODMAPs food, become more digestible here also, with long slow cooking. For further sweetening, this recipe calls for maple syrup and coconut sugar in small amounts. Coconut sugar has a lower glycemic index than cane sugar. It also adds inulin, a pre-biotic for healthy bacteria strains in the gut, along with some zinc, iron, and short chain fatty acids that benefit the large intestine. Organic stevia is always an option, for those unable to tolerate any sugars. In that case, use 2-5 drops for the entire recipe, or to your taste. Lastly: Brown rice is a suitable option here for those with no digestive issues; cook it even longer, up to 2 hours, and increase the liquid in the recipe. Otherwise, use a good quality organic white rice.

“But it’s not Paleo! It’s not GAPS! It’s not SCD!” True, it isn’t. But if there is one thing I’ve learned in my decades working with babies and kids, it’s that there is no dogma. Every child is different, every gut is different. Individualizing care for each child, each gut, each circumstance is what works best. Don’t forget to bend the rules, to find what works for your child.

Dairy Free Creamy Coconut Rice Pudding
Print Recipe
A slow cooked soother for tender digestion. Ready to eat after 45 minutes of cooking, but cooking longer is fine also, as long as you continue to add liquid to keep the porridge from drying or burning.
Servings Prep Time
6 people 20 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
45 minutes 45 minutes
Servings Prep Time
6 people 20 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
45 minutes 45 minutes
Dairy Free Creamy Coconut Rice Pudding
Print Recipe
A slow cooked soother for tender digestion. Ready to eat after 45 minutes of cooking, but cooking longer is fine also, as long as you continue to add liquid to keep the porridge from drying or burning.
Servings Prep Time
6 people 20 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
45 minutes 45 minutes
Servings Prep Time
6 people 20 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
45 minutes 45 minutes
Ingredients
Servings: people
Instructions
  1. Place a medium sized pot on stove. If you are using fresh minced rather than powdered ginger, soften this in the pot first, with a teaspoon of ghee or coconut oil, for 5 minutes, on low-medium heat. Then add coconut milk, almond milk, cinnamon, cardamom, maple syrup, coconut sugar, and vanilla. Stir and heat together on low-medium heat until well blended. Do not boil.
  2. If you are using powdered ginger, heat the milks gently. Blend in powdered spices, maple syrup, coconut sugar, and vanilla. Stir and heat to steaming but not boiling.
  3. Add the cooked rice and mix til evenly blended. Turn up heat to medium high until just boiling, then reduce heat to low simmer. Liquid should just cover rice. Add more coconut milk if needed to cover rice. Add raisins.
  4. Whisk the egg with a small amount of almond or coconut milk. Add to the pot, mix well.
  5. Cook on low heat for 45 minutes to an hour, stirring occasionally. Add more liquid if needed, or if you would like a softer porridge: Use additional almond milk, coconut milk, plain coconut water, or water as needed. Serve warm.
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