Chinese Porridge to Promote Sleep
Chinese porridge or congee is a thick soup that made from grain. There are various ways of making and serving congee, and no special skill is required. Congee can be sweet or salty, thick or thin, with many or few ingredients, it all depends on your own preference.
Congees have been used in TCM since ancient times, and physicians advocated eating them to nourish the body and promote health. Grain foods give us the essential nutrients to maintain our daily activities, TCM claims grains are mainly neutral in nature, and support the spleen and stomach functioning. A plain congee is easily digested and can act as a tonic when special ingredients are added. For example, mulberry congee nourishes the whole body and promotes the production of blood; chestnut and longan congee replenishes the heart blood and kidney essence; Chinese arborvitae kernel congee promotes sleep and bowel movements; coix seed and lotus seed congee relieves loose bowels.
For insomniacs, congee can be served as breakfast, a late dinner or bedtime snack. Some simple recipes are listed below.
Glutinous rice and wheat congee
Prepare glutinous rice (50g) and wheat (60g); bring 2000ml of water to the boil, add the ingredients, and simmer under low heat for 50 minutes or until the liquid turns thick, add sugar to taste. Serve in the morning and at dinner. The congee is suitable for the whole family; it helps relieve symptoms associated with nervous breakdown and promotes sleep in adults, also benefits children by encouraging the appetite, arresting sweating and preventing waking during the night.
Prepare fresh mulberries (30g, remove the stem) and glutinous rice (50g), bring 1000ml of water to the boil, add the ingredients, and simmer over a low heat for 50 minutes. Add rock sugar to taste, and serve in the morning. This congee is suitable for people with insomnia, dizziness, blurred vision and ear ringing. TCM believes that the symptoms are due to blood and yin deficiencies inside the body, and can be seen in health problems like neurasthenia, anemia, and hypertension.
Lily bulb congee
Prepare lily bulb (dried 30g or fresh 60g), red dates (10 pieces) and rice (60g), bring to a boil with 2000ml of water, and simmer for 50 minutes so that it turns into a thick soup. Add rock sugar to taste, and serve hot in the morning and evening. In TCM, lily bulb is the usual ingredient for promoting sleep, relieving hot flashes, arresting dry cough and enhancing mental functioning. This congee is suitable for insomnia, menopause, recovery from febrile diseases and coughs.
Chestnut and longan congee
Prepare chestnut (10 pieces, peeled and chopped), longan aril (15g) and rice (50g), bring to a boil with 2000ml of water, and simmer for 50 minutes. The congee replenishes kidney essence and heart blood, which improves the quality of sleep.
Longan, lotus seed and yam congee
Prepare lotus seed (30g), longan aril (30g), lily bulb (20g), Chinese yam (20g), red dates (6 pieces) and rice (30g), bring to a boil with 2000ml of water, and simmer for 50 minutes. Add brown sugar to taste, serve hot in the morning or evening. The ingredients nourish the heart and calm the mind; the congee helps relieve insomnia, dream-disturb sleep and palpitations. It also promotes the appetite.
Prepare euryale seed (10g), red dates (10 pieces), hyacinth bean (10g), longan aril (10g), coix seed (10g), lily bulb (10g), lotus seed (10g), Chinese yam (10g) and rice (60g). Soak the ingredients in water for 2-3 hours, bring to the boil with 2000ml of water, and simmer for 50 minutes. Add sugar to taste, and serve in the morning or evening. This nutritious congee promotes digestion and absorption, enhances a restful sleep, and is especially good for the weak, the elderly and children.
Lily bulb and apricot congee
Prepare fresh lily bulb (50g), apricot (10g) and rice (50g), bring to a boil with 1500ml of water, and simmer for 50 minutes. Add rock sugar to taste, and serve in the morning or evening. This congee is suitable for insomniacs who have a dry cough.
Longan and wolfberry congee
Prepare longan aril (15g), wolfberry fruit (20g), red dates (4 pieces), minced pork (100g), rice (100g) and ginger slices (10g), bring to a boil with 2000ml of water, and simmer for 50 minutes. Add a dash sesame oil, salt and pepper to taste, and serve in the morning or evening. This congee is suitable for people have insomnia, dream-disturbing, palpitation, forgetfulness and fatigue.
Preserved duck egg and mussel congee
Clean and peel a preserved duck egg, cut into several pieces; wash dried mussel (40g) thoroughly; and prepare rice (100g). Boil 2000ml of water in a pot, add the ingredients and simmer for 50 minutes. Add salt, ginger juice and pepper to taste, serve in the morning or evening. This congee nourishes yin, promotes blood production and clears body heat, which helps relieve insomnia, irritability, swollen gums and sore throats.
Lotus seed and glutinous rice congee
Prepare lotus seed (100g), euryale seed (100g), glutinous rice (40g), lotus leaf (one piece). Boil 1500ml of water in a pot, add the ingredients and one cup of low-salt chicken broth, cover with a lotus leaf on the top and simmer for 50 minutes. The lotus seed invigorates the heart and spleen, the euryale seed invigorates the spleen and kidney; and both ingredients calm the mind. The lotus leaf helps clear heat in the body. This congee enhances the spleen and stomach, and clears heart fire. It is suitable to serve for dinner during a hot summer. TCM believes that summer heat is one of the reasons for insomnia in this period.
Yam and yolk congee
Prepare Chinese yam (30g), one egg yolk and rice (40g). Boil the yam and rice with 1500ml of water, simmer for 50 minutes, turn off the heat, add in the egg yolk and stir quickly. Add salt to taste, and serve in the morning or evening. This nutritious congee tonifies the whole body, reinforces the brain and promotes sleep. TCM recommends it for those who experience insomnia, irritability, hot flashes, spiritual fatigue and chronic diarrhea.
Ingredients: mutton (750g), ginseng (4g), astragalus root (15g), Chinese yam (30g), red dates (10 pieces), dwarf lily-turf tuber (12g), rice (250g), rice wine (10ml) and ginger slices (5).
Method: First decoct the ginseng, dwarf lily-turf tuber and astragalus root with 700ml of water under low heat for one hour, keep the solution and discard the ingredients. Chop the mutton into pieces, boil 1000ml of water in a pot, add in the wine and ginger and mutton, blanch for 5 minutes and then take out the meat. Use another pot to boil 2000ml of water, add the rice, yam, red dates, herbal solution and meat, simmer under low heat until the liquid turns thick and the mutton thoroughly stewed. Add a dash of pepper, salt and sesame oil to taste, divide into several portions; it can be eaten in the morning and evening.
Benefits: This congee replenishes qi (vital energy) and promotes body functioning, which is suitable for people with low spirits, limb coldness, insomnia, poor memory and dizziness. TCM suggests eating this congee in winter season. Because the congee is warm in nature, people suffering from hot flashes are not recommended to consume it.
Astragalus and ginseng congee
Ingredients: astragalus root (15g), ginseng (3g) and chicken meat (150g) and rice (80g).
Methods: Cut the astragalus root into slices, and boil with 400ml of water for 15 minutes to make a solution. Grind the ginseng into a fine powder. Slice the chicken meat and marinate it with desired amount of salt, sesame oil and ginger. Use a pot to boil 2000ml of water, add in the herbal solution, ginseng powder, meat and rice, simmer under low heat until the liquid turns thick.
Benefits: The congee replenishes qi, invigorates the organs and promotes sleep, and is suitable for people in poor health who have insomnia, memory problems and excessive sweating. The congee is warm in nature, people who have hot flashes are not recommended.