Dietary Suggestions for the Winter

Dietary Winter Blog

To guard against the cold and flu season, it’s important to eat warming foods. Soups, stews, oatmeal and congee are great choices. Avoid eating raw or chilled items and drinking cold beverages with ice. This is not the best time for a juice fast, but if you are juicing, add ginger to protect the stomach. Generally though, save cold, raw foods and juice cleanses for the Spring.

Foods that are warming—leeks, scallions, onions and garlic—keep the body warm from the inside out. Ginger, cinnamon and black pepper are also appropriate now.

In China, congee is one of the most well known dishes for improving digestion and keeping warm. Congee has similar qualities to oatmeal, but instead of oats, it’s made with rice and usually not as thick. Congee warms the interior and strengthens the stomach. It’s especially good for people who are fatigued or who have poor digestion, or for people who are easily chilled or may be coming down with a cold. When modified, congee can be served for lunch or dinner, or as a light snack.

Best of all, congee is easy to make. It can be cooked in a crock-pot or slow cooker with very little preparation.


Congee with Ginger


  • 1 cup long grain white rice
  • 6 cups water
  • 2 cups organic chicken or vegetable broth (you can add more broth or water if you prefer a thinner porridge)
  • 1 inch piece of fresh ginger root, peeled, and cut into thin slices

Place all of the ingredients above in a crock-pot overnight with the setting on low heat. By morning all the rice will have broken apart, resulting in a porridge with a natural, mild sweetness.

In a breakfast congee, you can also add walnuts, wolfberries (goji berries), raisins or dates.

To make a more savory porridge for lunch or dinner, modify the basic recipe by adding chicken (or pork) and vegetables.

  • 6 cups water
  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 ½ pounds bone-in chicken legs or thighs, skin removed and trimmed of excess fat
  • 1 cup long-grain white rice
  • 1 inch piece of fresh ginger root, peeled, and cut into thin slices
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • chopped scallions and cilantro

Place all ingredients except the cilantro and scallions in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook at a lively simmer, stirring occasionally, until the rice has completely broken down and the mixture is creamy (about 1 hour). Or place in a crock-pot on low for overnight cooking.

Before serving, remove the chicken and place on a cutting board. When it’s cool enough to handle, shred the chicken into bite-sized pieces, discarding the cartilage and bones.

Return the chicken shreds to the pot. Stir with additional salt and pepper to taste. Ladle into bowls and garnish with cilantro and scallions. For added flavor roasted, salted peanuts and/or soy sauce can be added.


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