I have some theories about this. The family was hit by a pretty nasty stomach flu about a month ago and frankly, I’m not sure I’ve fully recovered. My appetite is off and my energy level is incredibly low. Given the severity of the flu, I’m pretty sure any good flora in my digestive system was totally wiped out. Follow this with a week of eating out, two birthdays, a week of PMS-ing (I crave chocolate cake when I PMS – and typically give in) and Valentine’s day, and I have pretty much destroyed my gut.
So what is a girl to do?
I have a couple of tactics. First I will be using my home made raw milk kefir as a tonic to restore all those good bacteria that may or may not be absent. Even though my goat is nearly dried off, she is giving me enough milk still to make a few cups of tea a day and about 1 cup of kefir with each milking.
The other big gun I have? Congee. Now a good many of you may not be familiar with congee. It is something I was introduced to during my training in TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) and again when I traveled to China. It is, in my opinion, a delicious porridge made of long cooked rice and sometimes a combination of rice and millet. The grains are cooked for upwards of twelve hours (basically overnight) until they develop a gelatinous consistency. Typically the ration of rice to water is somewhere between 1:6 and 1:8, but sometimes I go up to 1:10 in order to get a soupy quality. It is occaisionally amended with protein in the form of eggs or pork, and even has veggies mixed in from time to time. I generally prefer it with a fried egg and this is how I ate it this morning.
The idea of congee is best understood as part of the TCM theory about the digestive system in general. Chinese Medicine envisions the digestive system as akin to a campfire. The idea is that at night, while asleep, you allow the fire to burn down to embers due to lack of fuel. When you wake up in the morning, you want to put the right kind of fuel on your fire to keep it going, i.e. something that won’t put the embers out! If you think of food as fuel, you can imagine that the type of fuel you’d want to put on low embers would be kindling…something that will catch quickly and bring the fire up to flame. Think of congee as kindling. If you’ve ever eaten a bowl of oatmeal only to be hungry a few hours later, you can understand the analogy. It is easily digested and turns efficiently into energy.
Basically what I am attempting to do is stoke my digestive fire. I am hoping that the combination of congee and pro-biotics will jump start my system and will allow me to fully recover from the combination of stomach flu and overindulgence! It also tastes delicious…especially with an egg.
The recipe I used is very basic, but I have included it anyway. I have experimented with different grains such as amaranth or barley, and have even added beans just to mix it up but to be honest, I like the basic the best.
3/4 c rice, rinsed
1/4 c millet
8 cups water
Combine the grains and the water in a crock pot and put on your lowest setting overnight. Serve warm with a fried egg or anything else you might think tastes good!
This post has been my contribution to Real Food Wednesday, hosted this week by Cheeseslave.