We are all guilty of running out the door without having breakfast. That extra sleep is so tempting and often we leave ourselves without enough time to eat before we head out to enjoy our day. Chinese Medicine (like Western Medicine) is very pro-breakfast. Your digestion is akin to a stew pot simmering on the stove. By eating in the morning, you start the digestive process and get your body ready to take on the day. Or to continue with the analogy, you need some fuel to start your cookstove. Give your digestion a good kick start! Now, where Chinese Medicine is different from Western Medicine is our advocacy of cooked foods, especially in the morning. Imagine the cook pot again and think of it as just starting to simmer. Small bubbles are rising to the top. Now, if you dump a quart of cold, icy liquid into your pot, it is going to stop boiling. Your body is going to have to work extra hard just to get that water heated up again and digest that food. This is especially strenuous first thing in the morning when there isn't a lot of fuel for the cook pot anyway! By eating warm, cooked foods in the morning we help make it easy for our digestion to get going.

So, what to do? Here are some basic porridge ideas for good breakfast meals.

Oatmeal

Oatmeal with Goji Berries

1c oatmeal

1/4 c goji berries or raisins

1 tbsp of crushed walnuts (optional)

1 1/2 c water

1 spoonful of brown sugar (to taste) or honey (even better)

Yogurt, milk or coconut oil

Bring the oatmeal, goji berries (raisins) and water to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 5-10 min. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking to the bottom of the pan. Remove from heat and add sugar (honey) and yogurt (milk etc). If you are allergic to dairy, try adding coconut oil instead. It is important to have some fat in your breakfast or you will end up hungry very early in the day.

Congee for Nausea or Weak Digestion

1 c cooked rice (a good way to use up rice leftovers!)

1 c water

3-4 slices of ginger (can be removed before eating)

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 spoonful of brown sugar or honey

butter or coconut oil to taste

Cook the rice and water together in a pot on the stove. Bring to boil and reduce to a simmer. Add the ginger and cinnamon. Cook for 5 min, stirring occasionally. The longer that you cook the congee, the thicker it will become, just be careful and don't let it burn! You can add more water if it becomes low, it should be slightly soupy in consistency. Remove from heat and add the brown sugar (honey) and butter or coconut oil.

Savory Congee

1 c cooked rice

1 c water

1/4 tsp salt

butter or coconut oil to taste

Top with:

1 tsp sesame oil

1 tbsp soy sauce

Sliced green onion, Seaweed flakes or fresh chives

Toasted sesame seeds (optional)

A few drops of Chili oil or a pinch of chili flakes

Cook the rice, water and salt together in a pot on the stove. Bring to boil and reduce to a simmer. Cook for at least 5 minutes and longer if you want the congee to be a little thicker. Remove from heat and add the butter and toppings. It is faster to cook in the morning if you prepare the topping recipe the night before.

Give these a try and your digestion will surely appreciate being treated kindly during its most delicate moment in the morning.

Ann