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Cinnamon-Walnut Congee

Cinnamon-Walnut Congee – makes 3-4 servings

See below for more about the wonderful health benefits of walnuts and their importance in Chinese Medicine.

1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup uncooked short-grain rice, rinsed and drained
1/4 teaspoon salt (optional)
4-5 cups water
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, or to taste
1-2 teaspoons honey or other natural sweetener, or to taste (optional)

1. Combine the walnuts, pecans, rice, salt (if using), and water in a pot.
2. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer, covered with the lid slightly ajar, for 45-60 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add a little extra water if the congee is drying out and/or threatening to stick to the bottom of the pot.
3. Add the cinnamon and cook for 2-3 more minutes.
4. Add the honey, if desired, then serve.
5. ALTERNATIVELY, just put everything in a crock pot like John does and let it cook overnight!

Anyone with cold extremities, weakness, impotence, diarrhea, low back pain, poor memory, insomnia, or frequent nighttime urination.

This dish harmonizes the Heart and Kidneys, augments the Kidney essence, and strengthens the Spleen qi.

Kernels of TCM Wisdom: Nuts for Nutrition

(The recipe for this season is Cinnamon-Walnut Congee.  Here is a great article about the health benefits of nuts from a Chinese medicine perspective:

Eat nuts for your heart, brain, and reproductive system – that’s where your “innate essence” is stored. “Warm” energy nuts are especially good in cold winter.

Nuts are a well-known health food and traditional Chinese medicine recommends nuts as part of a healthy diet, especially in winter as nuts are hot/warm yang energy foods. Eating nuts when it is cold can help reinforce energy, though eating too many nuts in warm weather can cause excessive internal heat.

Nuts are loaded with vitamins, nutrients, and unsaturated fatty acid and can help promote heart health, reduce cancer risk and fight problems of aging, according to Western medicine.

TCM considers nuts especially good in reinforcing the kidneys (the term for kidneys and the reproductive and urinary systems). Nuts promote brain health, sharp thinking and generally build up health.

All nuts are good for you. Walnuts, almonds and chestnuts are especially popular and part of TCM dietary therapy.


Nutrition: Rich in protein, fat, vitamins and minerals. Most of the fat in walnuts is linoleic acid, a nutritious unsaturated fatty acid that helps lower cholesterol and prevent hardening of the arteries. The vitamins B and E and phospholipid in walnuts can help delay cell aging and improve memory. Microelements like calcium, zinc, cooper and chromium are essential for metabolism.

TCM function: Walnuts are a “warm” food that benefits the spleen (the term for the digestive system), reinforces blood and kidney energy, nourishes lungs and benefits spirit (the term for brain function). It is widely used to relieve coughing, frequent urination and poor memory.

The surface of the walnut resembles the crinkled brain surface, so it is believed to benefit the brain. This is based on the ancient theory that eating things that resemble parts of the body can actually benefit that body part.

Walnuts also nourish the skin and help prevent gray hairs, according to “Kaibao Bencao” (“Materia Medica from the Kaibao Era”) by Liu Han, TCM doctor in the Song Dynasty (960-1279).

Eating a few walnuts every day as snack is recommended for everyone, but don’t eat more than 100 grams, lest it cause indigestion. Eating a few when you feel tired can act as a pick-me-up, relieving fatigue and stress.

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