I recently read The Blue Zones Solution: Eating and Living Like the World’s Healthiest People by Dan Buettner and ever since I’ve been even more mindful of including some key ingredients in my meals:
- Shiitake mushrooms
- Brown rice
- Ginger & turmeric
- Sweet potatoes
There are other “blue zone” foods, of course, but since I particularly enjoy these, it’s been easy to incorporate them to an even greater extent into my diet.
Buettner’s book focuses on 5 different areas around the globe – called Blue Zones – where the people live healthfully and energetically into their 100s. Although the diets vary between the Zones, there are certain similarities between the groups such as daily moderate exercise (lots of walking, gardening), not over-eating, eating from their gardens and/or locally, and forming close bonds with friends and community. Lots of whole fruits and veggies (along with moderate amounts of oil and even some animal products) keep these lucky centenarians active in body and mind. Now, I’m not sure that I want to live into my 100s, but I’d absolutely like to feel good and to stay active into my old age, whatever that age may be.
This easy recipe for comforting and savory congee makes for a richly-flavored breakfast that gets your day started off with many of the “blue zone” foods and it’s a great way to take a break from sweet morning foods. This would also make a soothing food for when feeling under the weather; that ginger and black pepper bite is wonderful on a sore throat.
- 1 cup brown rice (I used long grain), soaked in water overnight, rinsed and drained
- 3 cups water
- 3 cups low sodium vegetable broth
- 1 small onion, diced
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 1" piece of fresh ginger root (peeled), grated
- 3 Tbsp. tamari or low sodium soy sauce
- 1 tsp. nutritional yeast
- 8 shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and thinly sliced
- 1/4-1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
- Large handful of baby kale, or other green
- Cilantro, for topping, optional
- Chopped scallions, for topping, optional
- Add all of the ingredients, except for the kale and toppings, to a medium-sized pot. Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat so that the rice is at a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 60-90 minutes, or until rice is tender and most of the liquid has cooked off (but not dry). About 10 minutes before cooking has finished, stir in the baby kale.
- Taste and adjust seasonings. Divide between four bowls and sprinkle with optional toppings.
- Pre-soaking the rice isn't necessary, but I've gotten into the habit. It speeds up the cooking time and I think makes for a moister end product.
- You can also use dried mushrooms. Just chuck some in with all of the other ingredients.
- This can be made in a rice cooker as well.
- Updated 11/25/2016: I've also made this in my Instant Pot. Just chuck everything into the pot - including the kale. Reduce the amount of liquid to 3 1/2-4 cups and cook for 10 minutes. Release the pressure after about 6 minutes. The consistency of the rice will be different (not as puffy), but it's absolutely delicious.