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When the temperature plummets, it's time to dig your spoons into nutritious congee
By Victoria Fei

IN winter, the climate is dry and cold, people get less exercise and the immune system can run down. That's why health care is so important this time of year.

For Chinese people, there's nothing more nutritious than congee to start the day. The popular Chinese porridge comes in so many different styles. We present a few recipes here to give you food for thought this winter.

Pumpkin lily porridge

Ingredients: 100 grams of washed rice, 250 grams of peeled pumpkin (winter squash) cubes and 50 grams of lily petals.

Steps: Boil the rice, then turn heat down to a simmer until the grains are cooked. Mix in the pumpkin and lily petals, add a dash of sugar and let simmer a bit longer.

Nutrition tip: Pumpkin is very nutritious, low in fat and easy to digest.

Peanut congee

Ingredients: 30 grams of clean peanut kernels immersed in water overnight and 100 grams of washed rice.

Steps: Boil the peanuts and rice together, then simmer until both are soft.

Nutrition tip: Peanuts are rich in protein, amino acid, vitamins and lecithin. They nourish the blood and can lower cholesterol and high blood pressure.

Osmanthus chestnut porridge

Ingredients: 50 grams of chestnuts (shelled and washed), 100 grams of rice and a handful of osmanthus flowers

Steps: Boil the chestnuts and rice, add some sugar and the osmanthus, and then simmer until all ingredients are soft.

Nutrition tip: Chestnuts are a rich source of protein and vitamins. They are said to improve the functioning of the spleen, stomach and kidneys. They are particularly suited to the health of elderly people.

Red date glutinous rice porridge

Ingredients: 250 grams of glutinous rice, 15 grams of red dates, 50 grams of barley and 40 grams of Chinese yams (washed and mashed).

Steps: Boil the barley in water until tender. Then add the glutinous rice and red dates and simmer until tender. Mix the porridge and mashed Chinese yam and when the mixture comes to a boil again, add sugar to taste.

Nutrition tip: Red dates are rich in Vitamin C, which is considered good protection against winter colds. Glutinous rice can strengthen the spleen and stomach, while barley is good for the stomach and kidneys. Chinese yams are rich in cellulose and in mucilage that can help prevent fat deposits.

River eel porridge

Ingredients: 500 grams of river eels (cut at the neck, gutted and cleaned; dump the tails; scald the eels in hot water), 150 grams of glutinous rice ( immersed in cold water for half an hour). Some shallots, ginger and rice wine.

Steps: Boil the eels with shallots, ginger and rice wine in water until tender. Pick the eel meat from the bones and remove the shallots and ginger from the soup. Using another pot, and boil some water. Put in the rice and soup and simmer until they become porridge. Mix eel meat in and add some salt and gourmet powder. Heat the porridge until it comes to the boil again.

Nutrition tip: Eels are said to be nourishing for the brain and in cleaning fat buildup from arterial walls.

Longan millet congee

Ingredients: 15 grams of longan pulp, 200 grams of millet

Steps: Wash the longan pulp and millet and boil them together in water. Then simmer until soft.

Nutrition tip: Longan fruit is said to nourish the brain, benefit the heart and spleen, and help soothe nerves.

Qianshi porridge

Ingredients: 50 grams of qianshi, or gordon euryale seeds, 200 grams of washed rice.

Steps: Boil the qianshi and rice together in some water. Then simmer until thick and tender.

Nutrition: This porridge is considered especially beneficial for the spleens and kidneys of elderly people.

Pork liver and spinach porridge

Ingredients: chopped liver and spinach

Steps: The pork liver should be washed, pierced and left to soak in salty water for more than 30 minutes to remove any toxic elements. During the soak, the water should be changed several times. Mash the liver.Boil rice porridge until it becomes thick. Then add mashed liver and simmer awhile. Add spinach and remove from heat after three minutes. Add salt but no other seasoning.

Nutrition tip: This is a favorite for mothers to make for their children to help prevent anemia and promote growth. Pork liver is rich in iron and helps nourish the blood and protect the eyes. Spinach is also good for the blood.

Congee restaurants in Minhang District

Xiao Minhang Chicken Porridge

Address: 27 Luoxiang Rd

Tel: 6477-7675

Yi Jia Porridge

Address: 1088 Caobao Rd

Tel: 5428-0331

Xin Qi Congee (Hongmei Rd Store)

Address: 2129 Hongmei Rd

Tel: 2420-5876

Xin Qi Congee (Shuying Rd Store)

Address: 866 Shuying Rd

Tel: 54326059

Chicken porridge of the Wangs

Address: 1439 Caobao Rd

Tel: 5478-6626

Customer Service: (86-21) 52920164