If you're feeling under the weather and don't know what to eat for breakfast, or struggling with a chronic illness and don't have an appetite in the mornings, it's time to get familiar with rice porridge!
This rice porridge recipe is going to convince you that everyone should be able to make it at a moment's notice. You'll learn why it's so healing and unique in comparison with most of the other information available on the internet. This is ancient knowledge for our contemporary age. Not-so-secret secrets to maintaining and improving your digestive strength and health, all while providing your body with the necessary nutrients to function at its best.
It's a super easy yet satisfying dish that can be made without much effort at all, especially if you own a slow cooker or crockpot.
So if you're looking for the healthiest breakfast alternative you can find that's not going to leave you feeling cold, bloated and lethargic, and if you're curious as to why such a simple dish can be so powerful, read on.
What makes rice porridge so special?
Rice is a bland food that helps soothe your stomach while the porridge itself is warm and comforting– exactly what you need when you're not feeling your best!
Rice porridge nourishes weak digestion
Moistens conditions of chronic dehydration
Soothes digestion and can help relieve diarrhea
It helps to treat inflammation or heat pathologies, and when struggling to fight off an infection or chronic inflammation.
Who else ought to eat rice porridge?
anyone who may have stayed up too late or is nursing a hangover,
after an extensive or overly-rich dinner the previous evening,
those especially young, old or convalescing at any stage of life,
best of all, it can help a sensitive stomach gain back its strength over time.
Rice porridge is a staple food in many cultures and has been eaten for centuries. It's known as Congee in China, Jook in Hong Kong, Okayu in Japan and so on...
It is a simple dish made by cooking rice in water or stock until it breaks down and becomes a thick and creamy porridge. It's most often eaten for breakfast but can also be enjoyed as a light meal at any time.
You can find lots of interesting tasty recipes on the internet, but I'm going to share the most basic recipe with you here, as simple is best for your stomach when you're not feeling great. Using stock in rice porridge is lovely for a more substantial meal, but is not recommended for daily use as stocks can be rich and too greasy.
But carbohydrates are bad aren't they?
Grains may have gotten a bad rap in recent years, but they're still an essential part of a healthy diet. The key, of course, is moderation and skilful handling, two points that have been forgotten in our modern culture! Remember, all natural foods have the potential to heal, sustain, or poison us, depending on how they're treated. Even the purest water on the planet can kill us if we overdo it. Much of the internet information about anti-nutrients and phytic acids in grains making them bad for health are actually neutralized with correct soaking, fermentation and cooking techniques. Then of course there is the issue of timing and dosage!
Below you will find a list of porridge recipes written in order of the most easily digested (and therefore best if you’re feeling unwell) to the most complex and most fibre rich (requiring a stronger stomach). I hope you enjoy them!
The best breakfast for when you're sick
If you're feeling unwell, the best breakfast to help you get back on your feet is white rice porridge. There are so many benefits to eating white rice porridge, especially when you have a sensitive stomach. When people have been suffering for a while, their digestive powers tend to be weakened, and they can tend towards heat conditions or develop inflammatory diseases. Rice porridge nourishes, moistens, and cools; it harmonises and soothes an overtaxed system. For this reason, rice porridge made from white rice is very very healing for chronically unwell patients. The rice helps the body absorb liquid (you could think of rice porridge as slow-release water) and makes the porridge easy to digest. It's so easy to digest, it requires hardly any effort at all from the body, which makes the porridge just the next step up from fasting, leaving the organs the energy they need to function and repair. The carbohydrates in rice also provide energy and help to regulate blood sugar levels.
White rice porridge recipe (with fresh ginger)
There are many different recipes for rice porridge, but the simplest and easiest to digest is made with medium to long-grain white rice. Basmati rice is also an excellent variety, particularly for phlegm and mucous conditions and for those who are overweight. Avoid short-grain white rice and Arborio or risotto rice, as they are too sticky for porridge and make it harder to digest. Likewise, you cannot use leftover cooked rice for this recipe; it just doesn't work.
Use a 1:10 ratio of rice to water. I recommend 1/2 cup of medium to long-grain white rice with 5 cups of cold water to feed two people.
Place rice and water in a pot on the stove with high heat, without the lid.
Add two slices of fresh ginger (roughly the size of a 10 cent piece)
Once at boiling point, turn the heat down to a medium simmer
Simmer for about 45 mins
Serve and eat hot.
By far the easiest way to make rice porridge. This dish is simple to make and can be tailored to your own tastes. All you need is a slow cooker and some basic ingredients. Set this up the night before to wake up to a steaming hot bowl of cooked breakfast (who doesn't love that?). As each slow cooker is slightly different, you may need to muck around initially to get the correct water to rice ratio and temperature settings. But it is really very easy.
Add 1/2 cup white rice and 5 cups of water to the slow cooker, with two to three slices of fresh ginger.
Set the cooker to the low setting for 4 hours and then the keep warm function for 6 hours.
If the porridge is too dry in the morning, add some boiled water and mix through to well combined and creamy in consistency.
Serve hot and enjoy with any of these simple topping ideas.
Porridge topping suggestions
Add a dash of tamari or Soy sauce (it's delicious!)
For nausea, use a zester to add a touch more fresh ginger
Fresh ginger, tamari and spring onion are a traditional Chinese recipe for colds and flu
Add a couple of boiled eggs sliced or chopped on the rice porridge. This is great for busy, hard-working people needing the extra protein and also nursing mothers. If you're too busy in the mornings or just not up to boiling eggs before a workday, try this for Sunday prep:
Bring a medium-sized saucepan of water to a gentle boil, carefully add the required number of eggs and cook for 4 minutes.
Drain and plunge into cold water to stop the cooking process.
Boiled eggs will store in the fridge for up to 5 days.
When ready to use, re-heat the unpeeled eggs in boiling water for 30 seconds.
Sprinkle some black sugar (available from some good Asian grocery stores) or use Rapidura sugar on top. These sugars have most of the sugarcane mineral and vitamin content still intact. This is an excellent option traditionally eaten by young women in China to help nourish their blood around period time and is helpful for some kinds of period pain.
This is an excellent alternative to white rice if you have sensitive digestion but really want the goodness of whole grains. And it's delicious! Known as the "queen of the grains", it can flush excess fluid retention through stimulating urination but is at the same time hydrating and nourishing. Millet is remarkable for its anti-inflammatory qualities and helps soothe gluten damage in the gut. It can be helpful in morning sickness, and because of its high silica content, millet is the go-to grain for helping people maintain strong and flexible bones.
To serve two people, use 1/2 cup millet to 5 cups of water.
Wash the millet, straining through a fine sieve, till the water runs clear.
In the morning, refresh the water and bring it to a boil.
Simmer for 30 -45 mins
Serve hot with any of your favourite toppings
Brown rice porridge
If you're looking for an energising, nutritious breakfast that can help with apparent stagnation and constipation, look no further than brown rice porridge. This fibre-rich dish is a little harder to digest than white rice porridge, but it contains all the nutrients and bran of the rice grain, as well as some fantastic healing powers. With a strong stomach, you can achieve anything with this powerful food!
This recipe is a little trickier to cook, and you'll need to use a pressure cooker. This is to ensure the outer skin of the grain is adequately cracked open and made into a smooth, creamy porridge. It's a common mistake to undercook brown rice, making it tougher on the digestive system. Note: this porridge recipe is not recommended for unwell patients or anyone with a weakened digestive system.
Rinse 1/2 cup brown rice, then place in a bowl covered with water and soak overnight.
Place the rice and 5 cups of water into the Pressure cooker
Cook for about 25 minutes, then let the pressure release naturally; this may take another 20 minutes
Check for the right consistency, adding boiling water if it looks too dry.
Serve hot and season with your favourite toppings.
Serving suggestion: Gomasio (Toasted sesame seeds lightly pounded with a bit of sea salt) and some chopped Umeboshi plum.
Although oats are not the best option if you're feeling unwell, they’re worth a quick mention, as oats do make an excellent porridge to have on regular rotation in your kitchen, especially in the cooler months. There's just one thing, though...soak the oats overnight!
Soaking the oats overnight has always been very important but has been done away with since the “invention" of instant or quick oats. The overnight soaking will significantly improve the flavour, the texture and most importantly, the digestibility of the grain. Many people who feel they can't tolerate oat porridge will find it very pleasant once it's been appropriately prepared. The added benefit of soaking overnight is that the natural probiotics begin to proliferate, which will further support gut health.
Place the required amount of oats in a bowl and cover with plenty of water.
You can add a spoonful of natural yogurt or just the whey for added flavour and digestive goodness and to really ramp up the probiotic factor.
Then let sit uncovered on the kitchen bench until ready to use the following morning.
Never cook oats with milk, always use water. Plenty of water; you need the oats to soak up as much water as possible; dry stiff oats are no good.
Simmer the oats in water until cooked and top with your favourite toppings.
There you have it - three amazing, healing breakfast porridges that will get your day started on the right foot. If you're feeling a bit under the weather, any of these delicious dishes will help to soothe and heal your body. They're all simple to make and can easily be adapted to include your favourite toppings. So next time you're feeling sick, skip the take-aways or vegemite toast and make yourself a big bowl of rice porridge instead!
Nothing in this world is at it seems. Except, possibly, porridge.
— Stephen Fry
Disclaimer: If you are unsure about the content of this blog, try it for yourself or seek further advice. This information is not intended to be medical advice.