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According to traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), foods are just as herbs that can be selected and prepared appropriately to tonify, cleanse and regulate the body.—Source

Congee is a traditional breakfast dish that is also an excellent healing food.

It is especially beneficial for people with sluggish digestion, inflammation, and stressed adrenals. It is a slow cooked porridge most often made with rice and water, but it can be made with other grains or sometimes made with beans and grains, like aduki beans and rice. The neutral quality of congee balances yin and yang and serves as a base for delicious toppings that can be arranged according to taste and/or condition.

How to Make Congee

Use 1 part rice to at least 8 parts water. Wash the rice. Stovetop method:  add rice and water to a heavy pot on the stove, boil for 45 minutes to help break down the rice, then simmer for as long as needed for rice to break down to make a creamy porridge, at least 1 1/2 hours. Crockpot Method:  Put rice and water in crockpot and cook on low overnight, or 4-5 hours on high.

To this simple base, you can add broth, ginger, scallions, steamed sweet potato or pumpkin, and fermented vegetables for a savory congee. Or you can simply add chopped red dates for a sweet congee.


Strengthen spleen and stomach

Tonify qi and blood

Clear dampness

Eliminate toxins

Soothe Inflammation

Congee is a fortifying dish for people recovering from illness and is wonderful for new mothers. It is especially comforting in these cold winter months. Give it a try!


5 Ways to Make Rice Porridge and Congee


Today we’re sharing a guest post written by one of our patients, W.E. Gaille describing her health turn-around after changing her approach to eating. 

I woke up another morning with a head full of snot. Gasping for air through my routinely clogged nose, I grab for a tissue like I’m chopping wood, bracing myself for the inevitable sickness that would follow me into another winter. I’d buy vitamins, breath-right strips— even that cherry red stuff you spray in the back of your throat to numb your cough away (at least till morning). I’d be feeling awful and sorry for myself, so I would get escorted to some delicious soup, to heal my aching sickness away. What kind of soup? Anything warm and tasty because that’s what a congested person needs, right? Comfort food. There’s no way that hot, delicious soup could further provoke my “standing room only” sinuses. But, it would get worse, and then I’d have a cigarette once it got better. Then it would get worse. Then I’d have a bowl of cereal, with milk. Guess what? It got worse. Over and over, year after year, I’d run into the same brick wall. I’m not a doctor, nutritionist, nor am I particularly keen on a disciplined way of life. So, I figured I was genuinely cursed to spend my winters sniffling, sneezing, and hocking. 

Then by the grace of the snot gods, I was befriended by a doctor at the Nest who made the simple suggestion of changing my diet to rid myself of this evil curse. The idea was basic: cut out dairy from my daily routine. WHAT?! What will I put on my bacon burgers? What will I mix my cereal with? What will I do on Fridays when creamy clam chowder takes a firm hold of my will power? As I listened to the doc make case after case as to why this would almost certainly fix my problems, I begrudgingly took notes. One thing at a time I slowly switched my mucus causing staples to a surprisingly delicious array of foods I’ve now come to love.

What a simple idea, “you are what you eat”, but good lord, is it ever so true. So, if I wanted to stop having a head full of snotty discomfort, I’d have to stop putting it there. I got some almond milk, I didn’t buy ANY cheese, I ate soups that weren’t creamy, I quit drinking beer (in horrifyingly large amounts) and got my kicks on red wine or vodka. I didn’t even get a loaf of bread. I waited to see what would come of this preposterous suggestion that I, along with you, are in fact subject to exactly what we put into our bodies. Then one day, I saw it. I felt it. My god, ITS REALLY REAL! I have control over how this is going to go. I rolled through my first winter without getting sick—not once—which had never happened before, and it felt magical. I even began craving my new line of foods, and sort of just forgot about cigarettes and bacon cheeseburgers. I lost weight, I had energy, and I could sing! I didn’t have to spend days in bed recovering from my mystical plague. 

*I suggest you get all of your food from the organic section, and the produce section. The rest of that stuff isn’t food.

I still bump into things that I don’t know are causing me to teeter towards mucus buildup. Instead of snacking on peanuts, I learned to move it over to almonds. Effective, simple, and real. Now I don’t stop asking questions about what I’m about to eat. I read the labels on the back of everything to ensure I can pronounce what’s in it. Picky? You could say that. It’s only our life source, so I’m fine with being picky about that. Plus it tastes the best! No more fake foods with 14-letter, unpronounceable ingredients. With a handful of sickless winters under my belt, I’m now what you may call a “believer”. I make simple suggestions to my friends when they are feeling the hurt, to maybe change what goes in if they do not like what’s coming out.

I’m no saint when it comes to healthy living, with a general lifestyle of great excess and sudden famine. A tendency to fall asleep on dirty floors, and regularly turning a blind eye to the sun, never letting it interrupt my fun. But: food is the key! Also your farts quit smelling as awful. I haven’t had a room-clearing fart in many months. In fact, I can get away with farting just about anywhere. Can you see the win, win, win situation I’ve found myself in? Five years ago I wouldn’t have imagined myself being or thinking this way. I’m sure glad it happened sooner rather than later. Now I get to spend the rest of my life in my prime, looking hot and feeling hotter. And when I do start to feel my sinuses acting up, maybe from a night out in a smoky bar room, I know to go for a cup of ginger tea in the morning, instead of a cream-of-chicken-sourdough-bread-bowl.

So, maybe next time you’re licking your wounds over a pumpkin spice latte, just remember, these powers are in YOUR hands. YOU are driving this big body around, and when it speaks, you should listen. You’re the only border patrol to keep all the worldly evils from walking themselves right into your mouth. If you’re sick of getting sick and tired of getting beat, I beg of you this—think before you eat.


In our last post we discussed ways Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) can strengthen confidence and well being and also remove obstacles like pain and stress. In this post we will show more ways you can gain a stronger can-do spirit through TCM by getting rid of what is weighing you down and taking time for your health.

Better Sleep

In TCM, problems with sleep indicates a fundamental imbalance of Qi, or energy. There are a variety of reasons you may be suffering with sleep issues and a TCM diagnosis can help pinpoint what is occurring with your particular constitution. Our energy meridians indicate the balance between our organs, blood, and energy. Someone who has difficulty falling asleep or who wakes up every morning at 3AM usually has an imbalance in the Liver Meridian. Excessive worry or dream disturbed sleep indicates an imbalance of the Spleen Meridian and so on. A practitioner will help determine where your imbalance is to come up with a unique treatment plan that utilizes acupuncture and a custom herbal medicine formula.

A study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found that :

  • Acupuncture was superior to medications regarding the number of patients with total sleep duration increased for [greater than] 3 hours.
  • Acupuncture plus medications showed better effect than medications alone on total sleep duration
  • Similarly, acupuncture plus herbs was significantly better than herbs alone on increase of sleep rates. There were no serious adverse effects related to acupuncture treatment in the included trials.

Treating insomnia with pharmaceutical sleep aids can be immediately helpful but will only treat the symptom, not the imbalance, and can have unwanted side effects. Acupuncture can give you the long-term healing you need.

Help with Change/Addictions

Auricular (Ear) Acupuncture is such an effective tool for fighting addiction it is used in more than 2,000 drug and alcohol treatment centers in the US. Lincoln Hospital in the Bronx, N.Y has 35 years of experience with this treatment and delivers 100 acupuncture treatments per day!

You may not need help transitioning out of substance abuse, but the same protocol, modified for each individual, is helpful for easing the discomfort of quitting smaller habits. We often use it to help our patients quit drinking coffee or smoking. It is also helpful for sugar withdrawal. If you need to make big changes in your diet, we recommend acupuncture treatments to help you with withdrawal or detox side effects like headaches and cravings.

Time for Self-Care

Take time to pamper yourself! Acupuncture treatments can be deeply relaxing and together with the aroma therapy we use with each treatment, your session can feel like a spa visit. The bonuses are that you are healing underlying health imbalances, boosting your immune system, and strengthening your confidence. You deserve it!

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