Revamp Your Mornings: Discover the Ancient Chinese Breakfast Secret for Long-Lasting Health

If you’re like most Americans, your morning probably begins with a blood-sugar-bomb breakfast made from heavily processed, genetically modified grains like cereals filled with sugar or corn syrup. Alternatively, you might even be opting for a greasy combination of bacon, ham, sausages, pancakes, toast, muffins, or those dangerously habit-forming sticky buns. Unfortunately, these classic American breakfast choices have severe implications on your health. Issues like hypoglycemia, diabetes, and immune system deficiency arise from these meals that wreak havoc on your blood sugar levels and places significant stress on your adrenal glands.

So what’s the solution? It’s time to look across the ocean to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) for some new breakfast inspiration through the ancient practice of porridge, known as “congee” or “jook.” TCM champions the use of food as a form of medicine, utilizing items such as roots, barks, fruits, seeds, flowers, and tubers, and jook stands as a leading example of this philosophy in action.

In its most basic form, jook is a bland, stomach-nourishing porridge made from grains or beans, like red beans, mung beans, aduki beans, millet, wheat, barley, corn, or long-grain rice. The most common base, though, is polished white rice, which acts as a blank canvas for what may be added to it — soy sauce, a poached egg, scallions, seafood, and other tasty ingredients.

Preparing jook is simple. Start with a ratio of one part grain to five to eight parts water, depending on your preferred consistency. To prepare your first batch, try six parts water to one of grain and experiment from there. Typically, if you’re cooking something else with the grain, you’ll need more water. Jook can be simmered on the stove for two hours or even cooked overnight in a slow cooker.

While plain jook makes a great breakfast on its own with some added protein or veggies, its real power is found in its ability to be transformed into a medicinal porridge. By adding select herbs, fruits, roots, or other supplements, you’ll get a custom-made meal filled with healing benefits catered towards your specific needs.

If you’re seeking relief from a sore, swollen throat, cough, and phlegm, or constipation, a jook made with burdock seeds can do the trick. Those suffering from nausea and vomiting caused by pregnancy or a lingering illness might benefit from a jook filled with nutrient-rich bamboo shoots and slices of ginger root.

There are countless jook recipes catered towards specific ailments, whether its internal medicine, gynecology, pediatrics, dermatology, pain and inflammation, or chronic conditions like obesity, anemia, diabetes, high cholesterol, or heart disease. While these ingredient options may not all be available in your local supermarket, you can typically find them in Asian supermarkets and health food stores, or even order them online.

If you’d like to learn more about ancient Chinese jook porridges, there are numerous books available on the subject, not to mention online resources and local TCM practitioners you can consult. Expand your breakfast horizons with this tried and true method, and experience the incredible health benefits that come with it. After all, it is the most important meal of the day.