This morning, I vowed to myself that these would be my last few days indulging in unhealthy foods before I start my vegan diet. "It's just a grilled cheese sandwich," I said to myself as I prepared to eat my meal.
Tuh! Let's just say that I enjoyed my grilled cheese sandwich, but my body didn't. It tasted like bull crap and shame, and the whole morning I was plagued with an upset stomach, unclear thoughts, and a headache-- a reminder that it's definitely time to change up my diet.
As I started making my grocery list, I wondered how I was going to maintain my vegan diet. Last week when I talked to Karen Civil about going vegan, what I didn't mention was that I had actually gone vegan for several months back in 2012. While I would love to proclaim the greatness of going vegan, I must admit that the last time I tried it, I focused so much on the next meal and how I would maintain my diet that I wasn't mindful of how I felt after eating clean. Not to mention that it seemed expensive. At least that's the biggest complaint that I told myself. But after some calculations, the cost of eliminating dairy, eggs, and meat had actually cut my food budget in half.
Attempting to be a vegan again has been on my mind heavy lately, and this time I wanted to start my journey with a fresh perspective, which is why I'm happy that I had the pleasure of interviewing a chef on how exactly I could maintain a vegan diet.
I spoke to Chef Ahki, a celebrity vegan chef and author of Electric: A Modern Guide to Non-hybrid & Wild Foods, and the woman knows her stuff. Chef Ahki has been praised by Bradley Cooper, Lee Daniels, and Waka Flaka Flame for her insane cooking skills, and she gave me a lot to think about when maintaining a vegan diet that will carry me through for many years. Here are some tips that she shared with me during our interview.
You Have To Dedicate Time & Commitment To Your Vegan Journey
"It will be difficult in the beginning. It was the first couple months for me, but I was able to attach to a support group which helped. My family was not of support. My family ate traditional southern food.
I was also a good cook, and I enjoyed cooking. I was passionate about making this new food taste as good as what I was used to. That is hard to do! I was frying up tofu with cornmeal and Lowrys [seasoned salt]. It was fish fry with the tofu, and a lot of soy products was a major part of my transition before I knew how awful that soy could be. I was eating soy hot dogs, soy chicken nuggets, soy shrimp, soy steak, everything soy. But like I said, having a support group is what made the transition easier.
It took me about three to four years to fully transition. It wasn't some cold turkey, overnight kind of thing, and I know lots of people would like to think that it's that way, or they imagine it that way, and for some people they can just do that. But not for me. I slowly took out the pork, then the chicken, then the fish, you know? I went slow."
Spices From Meat-Based Dishes Can Make Your Meals Delicious
"It's hard to really make something that mimics the exact texture [of meat], but...you can do it through seasoning...[say] if you wanted to do greens and cabbage and black eyed peas, you can use smoked sea salt or smoked paprika. If I cook barbecued tofu, I use liquid smoke, [or] lots of black pepper, onion powder like that to give it that flavor.
[When cooking most of my dishes,] I use a lot of onion powder. I don't really use a lot of garlic, or any really...I love Dulse, which is like a sea vegetable seasoning. I like herbal seasonings like trocomare or herbamare. And I really like coriander. Coriander is like a spice that I think a lot of people sleep on. It's incredible flavor.
Oh, and paprika is wonderful, and I love smoked paprika."
Quinoa, Berries, & Hummus Will Become Staples Of Your Grocery List
"Try chayote...some people call it a Mexican squash. It looks like a pear, it cuts like a potato, it's almost flavorless, honestly. It takes on the flavor of anything you cook it with, so it's just amazing for vegan/vegetarian diets, because it gives you that good texture, like a very filling texture but it's not heavy. And you can put it in anything from salads to stir frys to casseroles...it's just the best vegetable ever.
And vegans love quinoa. I prefer red quinoa. I also have to have berries of every sort. I go out of my way to get blackberries, blueberries, and raspberries, I get berries always. I could go on and on with this because my grocery list honestly looks the same every single time...It never gets old, and it's what I eat in various combinations.
Use avocados for your fat. [It] makes you feel full. I [also] keep my hempseeds for protein, I always have sea vegetables as well.
I can tell you some items that are surprisingly vegan, or when I became vegan I was like, "Thank God I can eat something similar to this," and that was hummus. Hummus for vegans is like crack. All vegans eat hummus until they get tired of it. That's what happens."
Try Having Potluck Dinner With Vegan Friends
"I was in Dallas, Texas when I made my transition, and fortunately I attracted a group of girlfriends who were eating that way. And we would potluck, and it was a really nice support group where we could learn from each other on how we could make it tasty for us.
Of course, finding vegan restaurants or places to go to was great, and once we started it kind of took off. So definitely the moment you make that decision, you start shopping at those places, you start frequenting those stores and restaurants, you will attract other people who eats the way you do, and you'll get that support."
Upgrade Your Kitchen
"Definitely upgrade your kitchen first. Because that kitchen will destroy you. If your kitchen is working against you, you're assed out. Because if you walk in there, and there's a microwave on one side, there's a loaf ofbread over here, then there's frozen chicken nuggets over there, and cookies...You know, you're going to crash.
Go and just do a sweep of the kitchen, and then make that kitchen absolutely inviting. Pull out the cutting board, pull out that chef's knife, pull out that blender and that food processor, get your freezer bags ready, because you'll need plenty of those for all the veggies and freezer goods, and fruits. Get some Pyrex, get some glass tupperware with lids, cause you're gonna totally need that to store [your foods], and lay all the beautiful foods out so you can see it.
Most foods don't need to be refrigerated, and a lot of people don't know that until they stuff their freezers. But a lot of fresh foods can be left out, and should be left out, like your tomatoes, your onions, your winter squashes, even zucchini and squash to leave a lot of foods out so it makes it inviting..."
Blow Your Whole Grocery Budget At The Store
"Take your grocery budget, find out what that is, go to the market and spend it all. Go to farmer's markets and spend it all so you don't have any options...And you go home and you just crank it out. Get on some blogs, like gochefahki.com, grab a cookbook, like Electric!...and get yourself motivated and inspired by food. That way, you'll be excited."
Meal Prep Is Key For Larger Families
"Meal preparation is important. Can it make or break you? If you have a family of four, it absolutely can. If it's just you, you may be able to wing it depending on where you live. You can hit up a lot of places and eat meat free. There are a lot of [restaurants], even traditional Italian restaurants [where you can] and simply say, "Hey, I love this dish, I love this sauce, but don't add meat. Just cut up a bunch of vegetables, and thank you kindly. You can kind of wing it at restaurants and things like that."
Remind Yourself Of The Health Benefits
"It's really based on principles, and it's based on a lot of self care and preventative care. You got to remind yourself what food is, and what it isn't. And that's what's going to come down to. You've got to remind yourself that you are eating this way so that you do not have to suffer later on. So whether or not you feel like it's taxing on your time and energy, it's expensive, all these things.
You want to pass on health to your children, you don't want to pass on disease. When you're putting food in your mouth, ask yourself, "Is it dead or alive? Is this giving me energy, or is it going to take away my energy? You have to remind yourself of that every time. And keep it fun. Visit some blogs, check out some Pinterest pages, get inspired, check out some new vegetarian restaurants, go to some farmers markets, you have to keep inspired and motivated. It can get boring after awhile![laughs] "
Chef Ahki has some delicious recipes on her Instagram page that will keep your mouth watering. Check out her cookbook “Electric!, A Modern Guide to Non-Hybrid and Wild Foods" on Amazon, visit her website at gochefahki.com, or follow her on Instagram and Pinterest.
Featured image by Getty Images
- Healthy Grocery List For Single Woman - xoNecole: Women's Interest, Love, Wellness, Beauty ›
- 8 Black Vegans You Should Be Following On Instagram - xoNecole: Lifestyle, Culture, Love, Wellness ›
- Transitioning to a Vegan Lifestyle » I LOVE VEGAN ›
- Step by Step Guide: How to Transition to a Vegan Diet - One Green ... ›
- 10 Ways To Ease The Transition For Late-Blooming Vegans With ... ›
- Why I'm Transitioning Away from Veganism… | The Balanced Blonde ›
- Want to Go Vegan? A 30-Day Plan to Make the Transition (and ... ›
- Seven Simple Tips for Transitioning to a Vegan Lifestyle | The Full ... ›
- VEGAN 101: VEGAN SIDE EFFECTS, WHAT TO EXPECT WHEN ... ›
- Vegan How To: Part 1 (How To Make The Transition) — Oh She Glows ›
This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
Imma tell y’all what — it seems like not one week goes by when I don’t see some sort of so-called term that has me like, “What in the world?” For instance, when I first stumbled upon “self-partnering,” honestly, I laughed. Then shared it with some other single people as well as married folks I know. And I kid you not, every individual was like, “What the heck does that mean?” When I told them that it was yet, one more way to seemingly define single living, basically everyone’s follow-up was, “Oh, brother.”
Why can’t (more) singles just be single and be okay with that? Good Lord. Why does there need to be some sort of relational play-on-words to make it sound like we’re with someone — even if we’re not?
Now masturdating? Even though it’s not even close to being a “real” word, it’s something that also brought a laugh outta me — although it was then followed by a genuine smile. The laugh because I almost immediately caught the play-on-words. The smile was due to the intention behind it all.
If you’re not familiar with what masturdating is and you’re curious about why you should even care, take a few moments to at least skim through what it’s about and why I think participating, as a single person, is a pretty cool (and effective) concept.
Masturdate: a date w oneself
What’s Masturdating All About?
Masturdating. Okay, so let the word marinate for just a moment. What does it sound like? Yeah…exactly. And since a huge part of masturbation centers around self-pleasure, it’s cool to explore how “self-dating” could produce similar (as far as pleasure is concerned in a broader sense) results. Because masturdating is all about spending quality time with yourself, pampering yourself, treating yourself— and yes, taking yourself out on dates.
Any of you who may think that masturdating is a consolation prize — and a pitiful one at that — for not being able to go out with another human being or get that dream $200 first date that social media was all in a tizzy about last year (bookmark that) — personally, I think that you’re the demographic who needs to try out masturdating first and the most. Why? Off top, I’ll share my three good reasons.
3 Reasons To Strongly Consider Masturdating
1. It’s an intimate way to get to know yourself better. I’ve been working with couples for a pretty long time at this point and if there’s a pattern that I see arise, OFTEN, it’s that two people are oftentimes so busy trying to “find their person” that they didn’t even know who they were. As a direct result, they found themselves in a relationship with someone who only complemented the “kiddie pool version” of who they were.
That’s why it can be so beneficial to spend time getting to know yourself on the “deep end” of things: what makes you tick, what your passions are, what you want most out of life, what are your interests beyond obvious things — and masturdating can help you to discover all of this. Whether it’s traveling alone or taking out a weekend to drink some wine and journal, the more you get to know yourself, the clearer you’ll be about who complements you on a romantic and friendship level.
2. It will definitely help to boost your confidence levels. I guess since I’m an ambivert, I don’t really get why people freak out at the mere thought of going to a restaurant or movie alone. Personally, I think it requires a helluva lot more energy and gumption to wait around and plan stuff with other people (#Elmoshrug). However, whether you’re an introvert, extrovert, or ambivert, there’s no way around the fact that the more comfortable you get with doing things alone, the more your confidence levels will increase — no, soar — because of it.
One article that I read on the topic said that doing things alone can make you more creative, improve your mental health, and help you to be totally okay with being alone (so that you’re not “needy” for other people’s attention). A psychotherapist from a New York Times article on the benefits of spending time alone said, “Getting better at identifying moments when we need solitude to recharge and reflect can help us better handle negative emotions and experiences, like stress and burnout.” And when you’re able to stare negativity in its face without flinching, how could that not make you bolder, more self-secure, and hopeful about your life?
3. It will teach you to value your time more effectively. In every facet of your world, you’re gonna operate from a healthier place if you’re operating from a “full cup” rather than an empty one. When it comes to this topic, think about it — if you’re constantly waiting on someone to call you to go out or wishing for a dream date with some guy, all you’re doing is wasting precious time that you could be spending taking a cooking class or hell, hiring a chef to make you dinner at your own home.
Indeed, waiting has two sides to it: when it’s in the form of patience, it is indeed a virtue, yet when it’s wrapped up in the notion that you’re not really living life unless you have an audience…it is totally working against you. Choose wisely.
10 Solo Date Ideas To Help You To “Master” Masturdating
So, what if you’re someone who has either never considered actually masturdating before or you don’t really know what to do beyond dinner and the movies? Here are a few ideas to consider:
1. Attend a workshop or masterclass that you’re interested in. If there’s something that you’ve always wanted to learn, sign up for a workshop or masterclass. The cool thing about this option is there are probably some in your city, as well as some that you can find online (like here) that are convenient and affordable.
2. Binge-read at a local coffee shop. Aside from their coziness and oftentimes inviting scents, I once read that a lot of us gravitate to coffee shops because we can be around people without having to actually socialize with them. So, if you want to “hang out” while still being able to enjoy a bit of solitude, take a book that you’ve been trying to finish to a local coffee shop, order your favorite latte, and sit in a big-ass comfy chair. Usually, you can sit there for hours, and the staff will be just fine with it (another bonus).
3. Have a spa day in the next town. You can never go wrong with a spa day. And while going with a friend can be fun, sometimes there’s too much talking transpiring to be able to fully chill out and relax. So, go off of the grid, get a change of scenery, and hit up a spa in the next city (or town). There are lots of studies out here supporting that day trips or “daycations” can actually be really good for your long-term health and well-being.
4. See a community play. Some of the best solo dates that I’ve ever been on consisted of taking in some of the local arts in my city. What’s really cool about this particular option is, oftentimes, they are extremely inexpensive, if not totally free of charge (in exchange for making a donation or putting money into a tip jar).
5. Plan a trip. Whenever people say something along the lines of, “If you don’t expect anything, you won’t be disappointed,” I know that they low-key have some (additional) healing to do from past disappointments. There’s simply too much intel out here to support that anticipation (of good stuff) makes us more motivated and optimistic, keeps our dopamine levels up, and makes life more exciting overall.
Since traveling alone is more cost-effective, gives you the freedom to do whatever you want (when you want), and increases the possibility of meeting new people and having new experiences on your journey — why not devote a day this weekend to planning a solo trip? All the way around, it’s good for you.
6. Try your hand at your own “$200 date.” Uh-huh. Roll your eyes if you want to, but it’s real easy to talk left about how a man should be able to just drop $200 like it’s nothing…until you actually try to do it. So yes, while taking yourself out on this type of date could serve as a bit of a reality check, it can also “scratch the itch” of waiting on some dude to do it for you. It’s also way less emotionally draining because, at least when you’re taking your own self out, it’s guaranteed that you’ll enjoy the company…right?
7. DIY some pampering. When you get a chance, check out “5 Reasons You Should Unapologetically Pamper Yourself,” “Want To Love On Yourself? Try These 10 Things At Home.,” “I’ve Got Some Ways For You To Start Pampering Your Soul,” and “When's The Last Time You Actually Pampered Your Vagina?” The bottom line here is pampering is all about, not mere self-maintenance; it’s all about treating yourself to levels of EXTREME SELF-INDULGENCE. So, if nothing else tickles your fancy on this list, at least consider doing that, chile.
8. Feed your creativity. Something that I used to be really good at is art. That said, one of my goddaughters is insanely talented, so she has reminded me to tap back into it. Also, a big part of what got me into the writing world is poetry; I actually used to be a house poet at a local spot. Sometimes, my best quality time moments with myself have been revisiting these creative sides of me — and this is definitely easier to do (and enjoy) alone.
9. Try some stargazing. When’s the last time you took a blanket into your backyard, laid down on it, and just stared at the stars for hours on end? While some say that stargazing can teach you to be mindful, others say that being in that form of nature reduces stress, while others believe that looking up at the universe at night can increase your attention span. All solid reasons to give it a shot, if you ask me.
10. DO. ABSOLUTELY. NOTHING. Let me tell you something that nobody will ever be able to make me feel bad about: doing absolutely nothing. I’ve got data to back me up. Good Housekeeping shares that doing nothing can help you decide how you want to respond or react to certain things. I like howThe Guardian says that taking this approach helps you to regain control of what you give your attention to.
TIME magazine says that it can ultimately make you more productive.BBC offers up that it can help you tap into your ingenuity.Henry Ford Health says that it can make you kinder and a better problem-solver. So, if you want to invest in yourself, do nothing sometimes.
Closing Thoughts from the Lovely Javicia Leslie
While some of y'all may know Javicia Leslie from being the former Batwoman, I discovered her back in the day from the indie series Chef Julian (and yes, "Julian" was right to say that "Mo" looks like Tatyana Ali...the real ones know). Sometimes I'll hop on her IG to see what she's got going on and this story popped up within a few hours of me penning this...so, I took it as hella confirmation.
TREAT YO SELF. WAIT FOR NO ONE.
WAIT FOR NO ONE. TREAT YO SELF.
RINSE AND REPEAT.
Sooo…what kind of masturdating plans do you have for this coming weekend? While going out with others has its perks, hanging out with yourself has a ton of ‘em too. Enjoy!
No…for real. ENJOY!
Let’s make things inbox official! Sign up for the xoNecole newsletter for daily love, wellness, career, and exclusive content delivered straight to your inbox.
Featured image by FOTOGRAFIA, INC./Getty Images