A Congee Kick

First, I must take you back to when I met Dr. Gordon Saxe at UCSD. I first chose a random primary care doctor with UCSD because my insurance covered it. She was super smart and super nice but she knew right away that I wasn’t going to listen to her.

She had asked if I wanted her to prescribe me thyroid medicine since I mentioned my pituitary and thyroid problems and I told her “No thanks!” I fixed my thyroid by eliminating foods like sugar and gluten that were making me tired. So she sent me directly to UCSD’s Center for Integrative Medicine.

I made my appointment which was a couple weeks out. I had also contacted UCSD to do a story about juicing. I was curious about all these juicing fads and wanted to cover the health benefits or harms of juicing, thinking it may help our viewers decide if it was the right choice for them. A UCSD doctor agreed to talk on-camera and he said cold-pressed juices may get you the quick and instant vitamins  you need but to blend fruits and vegetables will provide the full benefits of the food. That interview was on a Thursday. Friday I had my appointment with an integrative doctor and guess who was sitting there? Yup, the same doc!

We had a 2 hour talk. I told him all about  the fizzling of my health and my slow progress. Dr. Saxe didn’t do any kind of tests, instead he listened and he would take occasional notes. By the time he asked all the questions he needed, he had a prescription…ish. He told me to start with Congee.

Congee is rice (preferably brown) that you cook with a lot of water for 1-2 hours. You let it boil and put more water in it if necessary. It turns to a soothing goop. This goop, Dr. Saxe said, will serve as the mud at the base of your plant. You need good soil to have a healthy root, stable stems, and green leaves. You get the analogy, right?

He also wanted me to boil plain chickpeas for up to 2 hours in water until they become super smooshy too. This becomes like a homemade hummus. He also said to feel free to add cold-pressed olive oil and curry. I instantly went home and did both.

Smooshy rice and smooshy chickpeas actually make a very fulfilling and hearty combo. I then added smooshy lentils to the mix. Then when I got used to that, I added black beans and avocado. This was an interesting way of testing to see if my stomach was gaining any strength.

Fiber usually hurts a weak stomach like mine. So I used to steer clear of beans, but being vegan that left with a sad state of a plate. So Dr. Saxe told me to start with the softest of soft beans and work my way up.

He said to always keep congee in the mix since I have a lot of re-soiling to do. So I proudly have rice with every meal possible, even with breakfast if I can get away with it. Why don’t more restaurants do fun stuff to rice? They can put cinnamon in it and top it with berries for a delicious brunch or they can add other herbs like dill or maybe even onions and garlic to change it up.

And for all of you who think rice has way to many carbs and worry that you should eat it sparingly… you’re wrong! Eat it like you mean it and love every little bit of it! It has the nutrients and enzymes that’ll give you a great gut. A great gut turns into healthy metabolism, blood, joints, etc. So please, understand the importance of your insides.

Oh, and I haven’t gained a single pound on this congee kick. There’s no denying the ancient Asian culture knew a thing or two about healthy eating, I’m glad people like Dr. Saxe have taken the time to study all of the different remedies from different countries and eras, so he’s able to choose from a smorgasbord of advice. But first things first, smoosh up that rice!


Neda Iranpour

About the Author

Neda is an Emmy-award winning evening Anchor in San Diego, a cyclist, a marathon runner, a WBFF Pro & a member of the vegan club. She loves to share stories, including her own!