Congee (Rice Porridge) Food Challenge – Gastroparesis
My niece recently contacted me if I’m up for a food challenge….one of her friends has gastroparesis and my immediate response is yes. You might ask what is Gastroparesis? Gastroparesis, or paralysis of the stomach, refers to a stomach that empties slowly. The cause of the disorder is not known in many individuals who suffer from gastroparesis.
In reading about gastroparesis, I found that the type of food one can eat is limited, reducing the meal size is essential, increased number of meals to 4-6 per day is needed to maintain adequate nutritional intake. My task is to create food that follows strict dietary guidelines.
Foods to avoid
- Fruits – apples, cherries, pineapple, plums, berries, coconuts, figs, oranges, persimmons, citrus juices, canned fruits with skin, and dried fruits.
- Vegetables – all raw vegetables; cooked vegetables with skin, green beans, green peas, potato peels, sauerkraut, cabbage, cauliflower, celery, eggplant, onions, pepper, pea pods, turnips, water chestnuts, zucchini, and Brussels sprouts.
- Bread & grains – bran/whole grain cereals.
- Nuts and seeds.
- Legumes/dried beans – baked beans, lentils, soybeans, oatmeal, whole grain rice, cereal, and bread
- High potassium foods such as bananas, oranges, kiwi, leafy greens, and broccoli.
- High phosphorous foods include dried beans, peas, nuts, and liver.
- Vegetables – cooked and, if necessary, blenderized/strained, vegetable juice (tomato, V-8); well-cooked vegetables without skins (acorn squash, beets, carrots, mushrooms, potatoes, spinach, summer squash, strained tomato sauce, yams)
- Fruits – apple juice, cranberry juice, grape juice, pineapple, prune juice, canned fruits without skin (applesauce, peaches, pears)
- Fats & oils – any type of fat, but only in small amounts
- Beverages & milk (milk products) – juices, Gatorade, soft drinks, milk products if tolerated…skim milk, products made with skim milk, low-fat yogurt, low-fat cheeses, milkshakes, and puddings
- Soups – fat-free, consommé & bouillon, soups made from skim milk, and fat-free broths containing pasta or noodles and allowed vegetables
- Bread & grains – breads & cereals, cream of wheat, pasta, white rice, egg noodles, low-fat crackers
- Sweets & desserts – hard candies, caramels, puddings & custards made from skim milk, frozen yogurt, fruit ice, gelatin, ice milk, jelly, honey, syrups
I have been thinking of how can I prepare food that restricts me from using fatty foods and oils. Fat is limited to 50 grams per day, and fibrous foods are restricted, because many plant fibers cannot be digested. I have to tailor recipes that I’ll be creating on a case-by-case basis since the degree of gastroparesis may range from severe and long-standing to mild and easily corrected. The other potential problem here is I don’t have direct contact with my niece’s friend and therefore can only suggest food recipes and receive feedback if it works.
One recipe I can think of immediately is Rice Congee (rice porridge). This can be purchased in any Asian restaurants/markets with food court. This meets the approved food guidelines…rice, chicken broth, fish or chicken….can be consumed for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Congee is my go to meal when I don’t feel well and somehow it has some medicinal effect.
If congee soup does not upset your stomach now you have a recipe you can purchase or prepare when you have the time. It’s pretty easy to make and you can have it for the next couple of days.
Congee (Rice Porridge)
- 3 ½ to 4-lb chicken, cut into serving pieces, including back and giblets (exclude liver)
- 10 cups water
- 3 tablespoons Chinese rice vinegar or medium-dry sherry (can be omitted or use rice vinegar)
- 3 (1/4-inch thick) slices fresh ginger, julienne
- 3 scallions, halved crosswise, thinly sliced
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup long-grain rice
Bring chicken and water to a boil in a 5-quart heavy pot, skimming froth. Add wine, ginger, scallions, and salt and cook at a bare simmer, uncovered, 20 minutes, until breast meat is just cooked through. Transfer 1 breast to a bowl and continue to cook stock at a bare simmer, skimming froth as necessary, 2 hours and 40 minutes. Meanwhile, cool chicken breast long enough to remove skin and bones, returning skin and bones to stock.
Cool breast through a large sieve into a large bowl and discard solids. You should have about 8 cups of broth – if less, add water; if more, cook longer after adding rice. Return stock to a cleaned pot and add rice. Bring to a boil and stir. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered until consistency of oatmeal, about 1 ¾ hours, stirring frequently during last ½ hour of cooking. Congee will continue to thicken as it stands. Thin with water if necessary.
Season congee with salt. Serve topped with chicken or fish and accompaniments (fine julienne of fresh ginger, thinly sliced scallions, coriander).
The ultimate comfort food. I have been sick all week, and this was the only thing I craved to warm up my tummy. The Cantonese tradition seems to be, to cook until all the rice grains have dissipated. My favorite way to have it is with chunks of fish. The wonderful thing about it is its versatility – you can put anything in it – from pickled vegetables to dried scallops, any sort of specialty meat, mushrooms, or just leave it plain. Great stuff to warm the soul…..
Ciao for now!!!