Tag Archives: chinese custom



5 Foods to Help You Stay *COOL* this Summer

summer beach ballsWhen it comes to cooling down, air conditioning or a fan is the first thing people often turn to, but not everyone has that luxury.  Believe it or not, there’s a way to cool yourself down by eating certain foods.  In an article by Devon Brown on TimeOut.com, she speaks to Soho Chinese herbalist and acupuncturist Mia Hatgis (check her out on acumamamia.com), who discusses 5 different foods you can eat to help cool off.

watermelon1.  WATERMELON – When dealing with thirst, low energy, headaches and dizziness, watermelon can help.  Chinese herbalists use watermelon to prevent or recover from heatstroke.  The fruit increases the amount of fluid in the body.  Hatgis states, “Composed of 93 to 96 percent water, watermelon allows the body to generate fluids, maintains electrolyte balance and induces urination, which is a very efficient way of clearing heat from the body.”

mung bean2.  MUNG BEAN – Mung bean is very popular in China — it’s mixed with noodles, rice, cakes and desserts.  Better yet, it’s known to reduce fever and thirst.  Mung beans help the body rid itself of toxins and reduce inflammation, which is especially helpful after a long night of partying or a day filled with consuming fast foods.



bitter melon3.  BITTER MELON – Bitter melons are valued in Asia for their ability to restore the hot and cold temperatures of the human body.  According to Chinese Medicine, bitter melon is a hot food with cooling benefits.  According to Hatgis, “Frozen or refrigerated foods and beverages tend to weaken digestion, and lead to that sluggish feeling associated with summer days,”  Instead rely on hot foods such as Bitter Melon Stir-fry with Beef, to cool the body.

papaya4.  PAPAYA – Papaya is great for people who find cold foods hard to digest.  “Papaya prevents the lethargy and loos of appetite associated with hot summer temperatures.  It’s full of digestive enzymes that clear inflammation in the body, and  helps drain toxins and generate fluids,” says Hatgis.  Papaya offers the most when it’s consumed raw.


cucumber5.  CUCUMBER – Cucumbers are rich in vitamins, alkaloids and chlorophyll.  Additionally, they’re made up of 90% water and replenish electrolytes.  Like the mung bean, cucumbers are antioxidants and anti-inflammatory.  They’re known to help reduce your risk of certain cancers.  Cucumbers not only cool you down, they’re providing your body with substances to live a long and healthy life!

How will you cool down in this summer?



Resource:  http://www.timeout.com/newyork/food-drink/get-cool-five-foods-that-will-help-you-cool-down



8 Tips on Foods that Maximize Spring’s Benefits


Spring is the season of renewal and motion ~ Find out what foods benefit us most!

spring cherry blossomsAccording to Traditional Chinese Medicine, spring is also the season of the liver and the gallbladder. These organs are responsible for normalizing a smooth energy flow through the body and mind.

Here are 8 tips to help you maximize the benefits of spring!

1. lemon waterBefore that first cup of morning tea or coffee, drink warm water with a slice of lemon to detoxify the liver and gallbladder.




mint tea2.  Mint tea throughout the day is a great remedy for soothing liver qi (energy).



cabbage 3.  In general, spring diets should include foods that are warm and ascending in nature. In the early spring, try cabbage, carrot and beet root. As the weather transforms, move to mint, shitake mushrooms, peas, sunflower seeds, and pine nuts.  In late spring, add cherries.


4.  kalePeople who want to lose weight can benefit from consuming foods like kale, Swiss chard, collard greens, parsley, wheat or barley grass juice, and spirulina, These green foods contain rising energy to revitalize the liver.


garlic-025.  Help ease the transition of spring’s erratic weather changes (like wind) by increasing your intake of moderately pungent foods like green onions, garlic, ginger, watercress, and mustard greens.  These foods also have strong immune-boosting merits that protect those susceptible to colds, flus, allergies and acute illness.

licorice root6.  Note:  We should be careful not to over stimulate the Liver.  This is especially important if we have a strong and vigorous body type or tendency towards fierceness. Try celery, watercress, lettuce, seaweed and licorice root to cool and calm the Liver yang.  (If these are new foods to your diet introduce them in moderation as they can cause diarrhea.)


oats7.  Oats can reduce the effects of wind in spring Also try pine nuts, prawns, ginger, fennel and basil. Later in the season (or if you are more yang) choose celery, mulberry, strawberry and peppermint. Avoid foods such as crabmeat, eggs and buckwheat which exacerbate wind symptoms.



8. If you’re prone to allergies like itchy, red eyes, post nasal drip, or sneezing, consume foods with a slightly bitter quality.  Rye, romaine lettuce, asparagus, amaranth, quinoa, radish leaves, citrus peel, dandelion, and chamomile have liver cleansing capabilities.  These foods will also benefit red, swollen joints.

Maximizing the benefits of spring promotes wellness for both mind and body!

Until next time,



Ghost Marriages

ghost marriage2Most brides and grooms promise to be together “til death do us part” and “as long as we both shall live.”  But what if death wasn’t the end but rather the beginning?

The Chinese custom of “ghost marriages”, or as the Chinese call it “minghun”, shows that death can be the start of a relationship.  Most people would find this odd, but it is still practiced in the  Chinese culture. 

On February 4, 2010, 26-year-old Zhuang Haugui planned to marry his girlfriend, 21-year-old Hu Zhao. But before the wedding, Zhao was murdered by thieves who broke into her apartment.   Instead of letting her go off into the afterworld a spinster, Haugui proceeded with the wedding and married his dead girlfriend.  The wedding took place at a funeral parlor in Zhangzhou, Fujian China.  Family and friends from both sides attended.

“Ghost marriages” can be performed between one or two  people who are no longer living.  Either both are dead or one person is a corpse and the other is still living.   The Chinese are very heavy believers in the afterlife; therefore this is a common nuptial ceremony.  The Chinese believe that if a person dies and they aren’t married, they will forever haunt the family members, so it is the living relatives duty to find them someone who they can share a happy life with in the afterlife.  Ghost marriages were outlawed in 1949, but are still practiced in some regions that are rural.  In fact, since China’s economy has excessively improved, ghost marriages are making a way back into their culture. 

When imaging a ghost marriage, you wonder how it works.  Believe it or not it is the same way a wedding would be between two live humans, with a little twist.  The family members do the usual at a wedding; they dance, eat drink and socialize.  The family of the groom also gives the bride’s family a gift and they will forever be united after the wedding.  The twist in it all is if both are deceased, the family of the  bride digs up her remains, and places her near her husband’s burial site.  They then have a graveside ceremony where they are pronounced husband and wife. 

Professor Chen Huawen, who is an expert in Chinese burial customs, says that the demands for bride corpses are very high.  He says that “the reason is, is that many young bachelors work as coal miners in provinces where ghost marriages persist.  Coal mining is dangerous and leads to death. “  According to Huawen, the families of miners will get compensated $50,000 when they die, and this is often spent on the corpse of a bride.  Because there is such a high demand, bride corpses can be priced at as much as $30,000.  The shortage of bride corpses has led to the crime of grave robbing.

Grave robbing is pretty self-explanatory.  What people do is they dig up graves and steal the corpses to sell on the black market to people looking for them.  There have been numerous arrests of people getting caught doing so.  It is high illegal but it is a very common act that is done.  Some have even gone beyond to the point of plastic surgery and dyeing of the hair to make them look younger for higher prices.  Even though asking for a corpse is an insane request, the Chinese take pride in ghost marriages.  At the end of the day, a ghost marriage is a stable marriage that will last forever. 

In my novel, Shanghai Love, Peilin marries a ghost.  Experience her inner most thoughts as she is wed to a corpse by picking up a copy today.