My Midlife Survival Kit: Danielle Chang

Danielle Chang
Celebrating the food and wellbeing practices of her Asian heritage are key to happiness in midlife for entrepreneur Danielle.

Danielle Chang, @thedaniellechang, is the founder of LUCKYRICE, which produces culinary events celebrating Asian culture. She’s also the host of the PBS show Lucky Chow and the author of the Lucky Rice Cookbook.

Last year, Danielle and her business partner William Li launched The Hao Life, a line of plant-based supplements based on traditional Chinese medicine. They are designed to help all people achieve harmony through various life stages.

“We both grew up in families where our mothers would literally go to the kitchen cabinet to find remedies for the common cold or allergies,” says Danielle. “We would drink these concoctions of bitter brews made from these medicinal herbs and plants, and they worked wonders.”

Danielle knew that for, many adults, brewing these remedies out of sometimes hard-to-find ingredients would be a challenge. That’s why her and William Li partnered with a Chinese medicine doctor to create pills that target specific needs, from digestive support to hormonal balance (that one helps ease menopausal and perimenopausal symptoms, says the now-49-year-old Danielle, who speaks from experience).

“We wanted to bring the benefits of Chinese medicine to a wider audience, and I think now – during a pandemic – people need The Hao Life more than ever.”
As well as her Hao Life supplements, Danielle shares what else is in her Midlife Survival Kit. 

READ MORE: Here’s how traditional Chinese Medicine can help with menopause.

Seeds from Kitazawa Seed Co, prices vary.

Kitazawa Seed Co

I’m really lucky because even though I live in an apartment, I have access to the roof, so I garden up there. I order from Kitazawa Seed Co. in California, which is the oldest Asian heirloom seed supplier in the U.S.

They have the best heirloom varieties of a lot of my favorite vegetables, like momotaro cherry tomatoes, Japanese cucumbers, or specialty radishes and daikons. I grow a lot of herbs and some medicinal stuff as well, like goji berries and ginkgo.

It’s pleasurable work, and it’s so creative. Especially during the pandemic and approaching 50, I found myself really reevaluating what I want and what brings me joy, especially as I’m going to become an empty nester as my two daughters get ready to go to college. These are things that are in the back of my mind as I’m thinking about how to find pleasure in activities that are self-sustaining and that will keep me young as I enter the 50s.

Add It To Your Midlife Survival Kit

The Hao Life, Balancing Act, $88

The Hao Life

The Hao Life, which I started last year with my co founder William Li, is a line of plant-based supplements based on traditional Chinese medicine. The Balancing Act was the genesis of the whole concept. It’s a pill for myself: a women’s vitality herbal superblend that helps with your hormonal shifts.

This is the blend of herbs that has helped me stay balanced through each stage of my life. I started taking something like this when I was thinking about getting pregnant with my 20s and into postpartum, and again when I was experiencing menopause. That felt like it was a breeze compared to what I thought it was going to be, thanks to these herbs.

This formula has angelica root, which is a Chinese root that improves mood, reduces hot flashes, and increases skin suppleness. And then there’s horny goat weed, which eases PMS symptoms and also helps rebalance the kidneys.

READ MORE: 10 of the best supplements to help menopause symptoms.

Add It To Your Midlife Survival Kit

North Fork Flower Farm CSA flower delivery, from $260 for nine weekends

Flowers

After a year of living in New York City during the pandemic, any connection to nature has become that much more meaningful.

I subscribe to a flower CSA through North Fork Flower Farm and it does weekly deliveries of whatever is seasonal and local. I’ve learned so much about plant life and flower culture just from this CSA: I never knew that daffodils were a March thing or that lilacs were a May thing. So I love the CSA for that reason. Plus, the flowers keep me company!

It’s also a great gift because if you do a subscription, it’s the gift that keeps on giving.

I’ve also learned about the art of arranging through this CSA. Flower arranging has become very meditative for me. I’m not one of those people who can sit and meditate, but I like moving meditation, which allows me to calm my mind and move and meditate through motion. Activities like yoga or Tai Chi are great for that, and so is flower arranging or cooking: these activities that give me great pleasure and help keep me balanced, which is very important as I get older.

Add It To Your Midlife Survival Kit

Practice Circle with Elena Brower, online yoga from $18 month

Elena Brower

I think of Elena Brower as a healer. She’s a yoga teacher, but she also does mentorship and workshops. She has a podcast called Practice You, and she has this class called the Practice Circle.

The Practice Circles are a delicious two-hour Sunday class that really helps me to rejuvenate and gather my thoughts for the upcoming week. The class is mostly yoga – some of it is yin yoga – followed by meditation and journaling in Elena’s Being You journal, which has prompts for self-reflection.

The class, and the prompts, embrace the process of getting older and attaining wisdom. That’s something Chinese culture is all about, respecting your ancestors as they age. They’re wiser, so it makes sense to see age as an empowering and positive thing.

The yoga she practices is restorative too. Yin yoga is where you hold each pose for a long period of time, as opposed to a vinyasa style, which I used to love. But as I get older, I find that yin yoga suits me better and helps me with my lower back pain and other issues.
READ MORE: Nadia Narain’s four yoga poses to help you sleep.

Add It To Your Midlife Survival Kit

Maria Cornejo Tunics, $925

Maria Cornejo

I’m really into these simple tunics that Maria Cornejo makes from eco, sustainable materials, like Japanese twill denim. I live in them in the summer. They’re perfect to swing on over a swimsuit or to run into town.

They’re also very figure-forgiving, I feel. You know, my body weight hasn’t changed, but the distribution of body fat certainly has as I’ve gotten older. I don’t think you have to dress age-appropriately, but I do think you have to know what makes you feel the best at different phases in your life. For example, I don’t like having constricting waistbands, period.

I like things that simplify my wardrobe as much as possible. So I’m looking forward to summer and living in these really breathable, elegant tunics.

Add It To Your Midlife Survival Kit

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