Someone once told me that they use dental floss to cut their desserts. Y'all. When I heard that—and the person proved to me that doing it does indeed work—that inspired me to look up some other underrated approaches to food because, again, if folks are out here slicing up cake with floss, what else am I missing? What could I be sharing with others who enjoy food—whether it's eating it and/or preparing it—too?
So, let's do this. Here are 15 things that have revealed to me that I've either been consuming food or cooking it, not necessarily the wrong way but a way that is far less beneficial than what is listed below.
Aside from those semi-annoying tiny seeds in kiwi, I really like this particular fruit. Good thing too because it's high in vitamins C, E and K, fiber and antioxidants. In fact, what a lot of people don't know is kiwi not only supports digestion and boosts immunity but because of the high amount of Vitamin C that's in it, kiwi has the reputation for relieving asthma-related symptoms too. Anyway, while I won't be getting into all of the health benefits of every food mentioned in this article, I thought it was important to share this because the main way folks eat kiwi wrong. It's wrong because they remove the skin when it's actually the skin that contains the most nutrients. So, the next time you decide to have some kiwi, remember to keep the skin on. It's better for you that way.
Most of us grew up hearing that carrots were good for our eyes. There is a lot of truth to that, thanks to all of the Vitamin A that's in them. Carrots also contain fiber, biotin, potassium, beta-carotene, Vitamin B6 and even some protein. All of this helps to lower your cholesterol levels, reduce your cancer risk and keep you regular.
If you happen to be like me and you prefer to snack on baby carrots, you might want to consider cooking them more often. The reason why is because, when carrots are cooked, it actually raises the level of carotenoids that are in them. This is cool news because carotenoids help to protect your skin from sun damage as well as strengthen your bones, boost your immunity and even give you a little more brain power.
So yeah, that kinda debunks the myth that all vegetables are better when they're raw…doesn't it?
Strawberries are a low-calorie way to get in some fiber, Vitamin C, folate, manganese, potassium, several plant compounds and even a little bit of protein into your system. Eat them consistently enough and you'll be doing your part to help to regulate your blood sugar levels, protect your heart and reduce your cancer risks. Well, that is if you eat your strawberries whole. Although a lot of us like to slice this particular fruit up, the reality is that strawberries are extremely sensitive to light and oxygen. So, when both hit them, they lose their potency rather quickly. That's why it's far better to just rinse them off and eat them as is. No knife needed.
4. Grilled Fish
Do you like the taste of grilled fish but hate the clean-up process that follows making it? Something that you can do to keep your fish from sticking to your grill while also giving it an amazing citrusy taste is to place your fish on a bed of sliced lemons and limes. It will make for a delightful tasting, softer fish that won't get all into your grates. (This one tripped me out a lot, actually.)
This point was definitely an ah-ha moment for me. Have you ever opened up a container of yogurt, seen that watery stuff in it and immediately poured it out? Yeah, try not to do that. Believe it or not, what you're looking at is whey protein which is an excellent source of protein (especially if you're a vegetarian or vegan).
As you may already know, protein helps to build muscle mass, keep your hair and nails nice and strong, lower your blood pressure, reduce bodily inflammation and can even help to treat type 2 diabetes. So, unless the yogurt you're about to eat has expired, mix the watery stuff in with it and eat it like you normally would. It will literally do your body good.
Like cherries yet hate the pits of them? Here's a hack that can make eating them so much easier. Simply place a cherry "right side up" on an empty glass bottle (like a soda bottle). Then take a thin wooden chopstick and poke it through the top of the cherry. The pit will fall into the bottle and then you can enjoy your cherries with ease.
7. Black Tea
If you're a tea fan, I'm thinking that you've got some black tea somewhere in your collection. That's awesome because it's got a ton of antioxidants, it's good for your heart health, it helps to improve your gut health, lowers your blood pressure and can even reduce your chances of having a stroke. Just make sure that when you have a cup that you leave milk out of it. Interestingly enough, when you put milk into black tea, it can negatively alter the cardiovascular benefits that the tea can provide. That's because milk proteins literally make it more difficult for your system to absorb tea's vitamins and nutrients. Gee, just one more reason to consider going without dairy, huh?
Tomatoes are the kind of fruit that's really good for you because it's a great source of vitamins C and K, fiber, potassium, protein, folate and lycopene (and antioxidants that fight heart disease, cancer and aging signs). It's also got 95 percent water in it which makes it the kind of food that helps to keep you hydrated from the inside out. Anyway, while most of us tend to eat tomatoes when they're raw, it's actually best if you consume them once they've been cooked. That's because the nutrients in them significantly increase if tomatoes are prepared at around 200 degrees (Fahrenheit).
9. Ice Cubes
Ever wonder why your ice cubes tend to look rather cloudy when you put them into your glasses? The workaround for that is to boil the water that you plan to put into your ice cubes.
That will help to get all of the impurities in the water out, so that your cubes will look crystal clear. How cool is that?
I got rid of my own microwave several years ago. If you still have one, you're pressed for time in the morning, yet you would still like to have more than a cup of java on your way out of the door, DIY microwave omelet eggs taste pretty darn good. Just scramble a couple of eggs, add the other ingredients that you want and pour everything into a microwave-safe mug. Put it into the microwave on medium for 2-2 ½ minutes and you're good to go. Also, if you're looking for a way to keep your eggs perfectly round in your skillet (maybe for a sandwich or something), slice a couple of onions into some thick rings and place them into a hot pan that already has a bit of oil in it. Then crack your egg inside of the onion. Your egg will be round as the ring is. Perfect.
I actually enjoy making my own guacamole. Problem is, the urge to eat some is pretty random and sometimes, when the craving hits, the avocados that I've bought aren't ripe enough yet. If you can totally relate, you can speed the process up by covering an avocado up in foil and placing it into your 200-degree oven for about an hour. Just make sure that you use it immediately because the "speed up process" does cause avocados to taste slightly different.
Come to think of it, another ripen hack is to pull off the stem of a fresh avocado. If after you do it, the avocado is still green, it's not ripe. If it's brown, it's over-ripened.
One of the most potent natural medicines is garlic. Straight up. A part of the reason is thanks to the 33 different sulfur compounds that it contains. And while a lot of us already know that garlic is a wise thing to eat when we're feeling under the weather, many of us miss out on getting as much of its strength as we should because we're eating it all wrong. See, there's an enzyme in garlic known as allicin that actually gains its power by being exposed to the air. That's why, if you plan on cooking with garlic, it's best that you don't mince it and immediately put it into your pots and pains. Instead, crush or press the pods, let them sit for 10-15 minutes and then put them into your dishes. That way, you'll get more of the anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, antiviral and antibacterial properties that garlic has to offer.
Whether it's pork, turkey or my personal favorite beef bacon, here's a hack to keep in mind. If you'd prefer your bacon to appear nice 'n flat like it does in restaurants and on food blogs, opt for baking it instead of frying it. Simply lay your bacon on a baking sheet that's been covered with aluminum foil and set your oven to 350 degrees. In 15-20 minutes, you'll have crispy bacon. Plus, by going this route, you can bake a considerable amount of bacon at one time. Plus, it's healthier which is always a bonus.
I know a lot of us like to look so extra when we're eating sushi (LOL). Here's the thing, though. Chopsticks are actually for classic sushi, not sushi rolls. Rolls we are supposed to eat with our hands. Know what else? Ginger and wasabi are never supposed to be combined with soy sauce. In fact, the actual purpose of ginger is to cleanse your palate. So, eat it first and then enjoy your sushi rolls. Again, with your fingers.
And now, the floss thing. Me? I like to bake. A lot, actually. The only thing that really gives me any anxiety about it is when it comes time to cut a cake (including a cheesecake). Sometimes the knife seems to do more harm than good. If you can totally relate, guess what hack will help you out? Dental floss. Yep, so long as it's unflavored (waxed is helpful, though) and you keep your hand steady the entire time, it can slice through your cake in a way that makes for a much cleaner cut. Hmph. Makes me wonder how many bakeries do this. I might call a couple of 'em up to see. Anyway, enjoy eating the "right" way, sis.
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After being a regular contributor for about four years and being (eh hem) MIA in 2022, Shellie is back penning for the platform (did you miss her? LOL).
In some ways, nothing has changed and in others, everything has. For now, she'll just say that she's working on the 20th anniversary edition of her first book, she's in school to take life coaching to another level and she's putting together a platform that supports and encourages Black men because she loves them from head to toe.
Other than that, she still works with couples, she's still a doula, she's still not on social media and her email contact (firstname.lastname@example.org) still hasn't changed (neither has her request to contact her ONLY for personal reasons; pitch to the platform if you have story ideas).
Life is a funny thing but if you stay calm, moments can come full circle and this is one of them. No doubt about it.
This article is in partnership with Meta Elevate.
If you’ve been on the internet at all within the past decade, chances are the names Hey Fran Hey and Shameless Maya (aka Maya Washington) have come across your screen. These content creators have touched every platform on the web, spreading joy to help women everywhere live their best lives. From Fran’s healing natural remedies to Maya’s words of wisdom, both of these content creators have built a loyal following by sharing honest, useful, and vulnerable content. But in search of a life that lends to more creativity, freedom, and space, these digital mavens have moved from their bustling big cities (New York City and Los Angeles respectively) to more remote locations, taking their popular digital brands with them.
Content Creators Hey Fran Hey and Maya Washington Talk "Embracing The Pivot"www.youtube.com
In partnership with Meta Elevate — an online learning platform that provides Black, Hispanic, and Latinx-owned businesses access to 1:1 mentoring, digital skills training, and community — xoNecole teamed up with Franscheska Medina and Maya Washington on IG live recently for a candid conversation about how they’ve embraced the pivot by changing their surroundings to ultimately bring out the best in themselves and their work. Fran, a New York City native, moved from the Big Apple to Portland, Oregon a year ago. Feeling overstimulated by the hustle and bustle of city life, Fran headed to the Pacific Northwest in search of a more easeful life.
Her cross-country move is the backdrop for her new campaign with Meta Elevate— a perfectly-timed commercial that shows how you can level up from wherever you land with the support of free resources like Meta Elevate. Similarly, Maya packed up her life in Los Angeles and moved to Sweden, where she now resides with her husband and adorable daughter. Maya’s life is much more rural and farm-like than it had been in California, but she is thriving in this peaceful new setting while finding her groove as a new mom.
While Maya is steadily building and growing her digital brand as a self-proclaimed “mom coming out of early retirement,” Fran is redefining her own professional grind. “It’s been a year since I moved from New York City to Portland, Oregon,” says Fran. “I think the season I’m in is figuring out how to stay successful while also slowing down.” A slower-paced life has unlocked so many creative possibilities and opportunities for these ladies, and our conversation with them is a well-needed reminder that your success is not tied to your location…especially with the internet at your fingertips. Tapping into a community like Meta Elevate can help Black, Hispanic, and Latinx entrepreneurs and content creators stay connected to like minds and educated on new digital skills and tools that can help scale their businesses.
During a beautiful moment in the conversation, Fran gives Maya her flowers for being an innovator in the digital space. Back when “influencing” was in its infancy and creators were just trying to find their way, Fran says Maya was way ahead of her time. “I give Maya credit for being one of the pioneers in the digital space,” Fran said. “Maya is a one-person machine, and I always tell her she really changed the game on what ads, campaigns, and videos, in general, should look like.”
When asked what advice she’d give content creators, Maya says the key is having faith even when you don’t see the results just yet. “It’s so easy to look at what is, despite you pouring your heart into this thing that may not be giving you the returns that you thought,” she says. “Still operate from a place of love and authenticity. Have faith and do the work. A lot of people are positive thinkers, but that’s the thinking part. You also have to put your faith into work and do the work.”
Fran ultimately encourages content creators and budding entrepreneurs to take full advantage of Meta Elevate’s vast offerings to educate themselves on how to build and grow their businesses online. “It took me ten years to get to the point where I’m making ads at this level,” she says. “I didn’t have those resources in 2010. I love the partnership with Meta Elevate because they’re providing these resources for free. I just think of the people that wouldn’t be able to afford that education and information otherwise. So to amplify a company like this just feels right.”
Watch the full conversation with the link above, and join the Meta Elevate community to connect with fellow businesses and creatives that are #OnTheRiseTogether.
Featured image courtesy of Shameless Maya and Hey Fran Hey
Exclusive: Zonnique On 'The Break Up' & How Her Relationship With Tiny Shaped Her Approach To Motherhood
The last time Zonnique and I connected was two years ago, in 2021, when she was celebrating her very first Mother’s Day as Hunter’s mommy. Now, two years have passed, and so much has happened. She has released her latest EP after a five-year hiatus from the music scene, she became the host of FOX Soul’s The Mix, and I even lost my own mother. We had a lot to catch up on.
When I crossed over into the conference call after running a few minutes late, I was apologetic, but her calm, zen aura instantly calmed me down and reassured me that no apologies were necessary - just humble salutations.
With the return of Zonnique’s sultry voice to the forefront, I couldn’t go two minutes into our conversation without giving her her due flowers for her latest EP, The Break Up. “I'm happy for myself. You know it's been a long time coming, baby,” the singer shared about her work to xoNecole.
Zonnique admitted to me that her return to music was something that she’s been ready to do for quite some time, but there has been a lot of stalling in the interim. Between laying down vocals in the booth and planning around the perfect timing, there was much stop-and-start during the holding process of the project. In the end, the release and the timing of The Break Up came together as it should have when it was meant to be debuted into the world.
“Even though I was really sad about that and just mad about how long everything was taking, I think that it was worth the wait just for myself, period because I grew a lot in that time, and I got to really mold myself into the artist that I want to be,” Zonnique shared.
“One More Time” (For The Fans)
Credit: Scrill Davis
Courtesy of Zonnique
No stranger to the spotlight, Zonnique has amassed a loyal fanbase in the music industry from her time as a girl group member of the OMG Girlz all the way to her time as a reality star on Growing Up Hip-Hop: ATL and T.I. & Tiny. Now, the singer formerly known as "Miss Star" decided to put out a project specifically for her fans who have been craving to hear from her for nearly half a decade.
Because she had been teasing snippets of her music for years, the fans knew that she had something coming, but it wasn't until the last two months of 2022 that The Break Up truly came together. She completely scratched all of the music she originally created and started from the top by tapping into the feelings that she was experiencing in the moment, which included the torn mental state of a fresh heartbreak. In collaboration with a producer by the name of Valley, Zonnique created a project of five songs inspired by both her fans and the father of her child, Bandhunta Izzy.
In comparison to her 2017 EP Love Jones, Zonnique told me that her sophomore EP is "more vulnerable than the first time" and she feels more empowered and "confident to speak out." The singer also noted that because Love Jones marked the beginning of her solo career, the journey to solo stardom was a new and fresh one, and even described herself as timid.
Zonnique added, "Because [I was] coming out of a group, it can be uncomfortable at first, and I was kind of in an uncomfortable state. Even though I was proud of the things that I [made], and I'm still really happy about the Love Jones project and how it came out, I don't feel like I was as confident then, so I just was still figuring things out."
One of the most admirable traits about Zonnique is that while she's grown up on television since her days on Tiny & Toya with her mother and Xscape member Tiny, she managed to stay out of the drama and in her own lane. On The Break Up, Zonnique gets more vulnerable than she ever has about life, love, and relationships as she lets her guard down between each and every song, including the accompanying visuals featuring the father of her child.
"They might get to know my soft side or maybe even my weak side," Zonnique shared about what fans should expect from her latest project. "I feel like I'm always keeping up this positive, 'everything's good' type image. I think that they'll be able to learn [that] I go through it too, just like anybody else, and I go through heartbreak, and you'll see how I pretty much deal with that on the project."
Zonnique’s Love Song ‘23
Credit: Scrill Davis
Courtesy of Zonnique
Over the past five years, we've only been allowed as much access into Zonnique Pullins' world as she would allow, meaning that what we see on Instagram, on WeTV, or even on social media live streams are limited. When it comes to her dating life, the "Nun For Free" singer has always been relatively private and never given too much detail into the ins and outs of her love life beyond a few cute selfies that would suddenly disappear after the relationship had run its course.
Now, as a mother to almost three-year-old Hunter, who she co-parents with rapper Bandhunta Izzy, Zonnique was able to get real with me about the status of her dating life since her Love Jones days. While she says that much hasn't changed, Zonnique shared with me that she's always been a person who gives 100% to any and every relationship that she's ever been in, but like most of us, she has her boundaries and knows how to prioritize herself.
"I may mess up there a little bit, but I would say that I've always been a person that's like, 'okay, well if you mess with my peace, I'm pretty much out of here,'" she admitted. Contrary to her original thoughts, she believed that having a child would make her dating life much more difficult because she would feel "stuck here forever," but she soon realized that she was the novelist of her own romantic storybook, and it could go any which way she pleases. Zonnique powerfully and boastfully knows that she is not required to stay anywhere that may compromise her mental and emotional wellness.
"I try to still stay in the same mind frame that I was before I had a child, and I'm like, if it messes up my peace, I'll take my child, and we'll be up out of here," she added. "I feel like my happiness has always been the most important to me. I would feel like I've pretty much stayed the same in love."
Specifically, when it comes to her and the father of her child (who she also collaborated with on "One More Time" on The Break Up), Zonnique admits that they're still figuring out the boundaries of their relationship - co-parenting, platonically, and romantically. "We are still figuring that out," she shared. She doesn't deny the feeling of having love for - or even being in love with - her child's father but acknowledges that there's a weird sort of in-between limbo because of their past relationship pre-Hunter.
"It still can be difficult to be around each other and not be like, 'Okay. It's giving, what is this?'," she laughed. Zonnique shared that she and Bandhunta Izzy have come to an understanding to put their romantic feelings on the back burner and let things ebb and flow as time takes its course. "If it works out, it works out, but if not, at least we still can build our friendship. I think that building a friendship is really the most important thing, and I feel like with my child's father, we kind of got into a relationship before we even built the friendship."
"If it works out, it works out, but if not, at least we still can build our friendship. I think that building a friendship is really the most important thing, and I feel like with my child's father, we kind of got into a relationship before we even built the friendship."
Zonnique continued, "I don't know, we have a really great bond period. I think that it takes boundaries and just really figuring out what works for the two of you to be able to keep your kid happy. You both have to be happy, and you have to really figure it out as you go. It's not an easy thing."
In an effort to be happy and be the best mother she could be for Hunter, as well as being the best version of Zonnique for herself, she takes the time she needs to pour into herself so she can perform at the highest level. Between being in a relationship and cohabitating with your partner, Zonnique can sometimes feel a little burnout, especially when you add a baby into the mix.
However, Zonnique knows that sometimes it’s important to take a step back from everything that’s making you unhappy to stay in tune with your emotions, even if it means putting a relationship you really value in the backseat. "It can be a little challenging when you are being a mom and just focused on what your child needs and what's best for the family instead of what's best for you. It can kind of be a hard balance.”
Credit: Scrill Davis
Courtesy of Zonnique
Work-life balance requires patience, especially for a new mother like Zonnique. Music serves as a form of self-care for the "Ghost" singer, but she loves to share those moments with her baby girl even if her personality is larger than the songs that she's singing.
"My child is really attached to me, and she has a big personality, and she's very distracting," Zonnique laughed. "I bring her to the studio a lot, but she wants to be in the booth, and she wants to be on the mic and put the headphones on. She wants to do her own thing."
She knows that Hunter has a love for music, just like her mother, and she wants to expose her daughter early to all of the incredible things that music has to offer one's soul but knows that she has to set clearer boundaries for herself when having that time to herself. "I do like to take that time to just go in there alone and really get out my thoughts, and music is a diary for me. I'm not really an open person. I'm really private, so I enjoy being able to go in the studio and have that time to myself to just really say how I feel."
In addition to laying it all on the track, Zonnique uses working out and being alone as primary forms of self-care. "My real self-care is being at home by myself, getting rid of my child, having no company, and literally just laying in my bed, listening to music. I would lay in the bed all day, put no TV on, and just listen to my favorite songs, and I will be healed after. I don't know why that is," she admitted to me.
In times of need and support, Zonnique's first call is to none other than one of her best friends, her own mother. As a young mom herself, Tiny was able to navigate the ins and outs of being in the center of the music industry while being responsible for her mini-me, meaning she would have much advice to share with her firstborn. "I feel like my mom has never second-guessed me. She's always been in my corner. She calls me and is making sure that I'm good, other than music or anything, she's just always very supportive in every way," she said kindly about her mother.
In a previous interview on Mr. Jay Hill's podcast, Zonnique explained how her strained relationship with the Xscape vocalist when she was younger manifested itself into her self-care practices today. Admitting that Tiny's relationship with her stepfather and rapper T.I. always seemed like a priority during the interview, Zonnique told me that it impacted the way that she approaches motherhood with her own mini-me. "I feel like it affects me a lot in my motherhood. It's definitely made me a certain type of way with my child," she admitted.
Tiny had never heard her daughter express sentiments of neglect or abandonment, according to Zonnique, but knows that the adversity in their relationship would only make Zonnique the incredible mother that she is today. "I was telling her (Tiny) it really molded me into the mom that I am. It's okay, I'm older, and I'm fine. I'm not hurt about that stuff anymore, but I'm glad that I went through those things because now I'm like, 'I'm going to take my child.' Even when I know it's probably going to be a lot harder that I take her, I still take her, and I just push myself to go over and beyond for her, which I enjoy."
"I feel like it affects me a lot in my motherhood. It's definitely made me a certain type of way with my child. I was telling her it really molded me into the mom that I am. It's okay, I'm older, and I'm fine. I'm not hurt about that stuff anymore, but I'm glad I went through those things because now I'm like, 'I'm going to take my child.'"
Zonnique Is Great
Credit: Scrill Davis
Courtesy of Zonnique
This time around for Mother's Day, Zonnique has expectations that are a bit different than when we connected two years ago. "What excites me the most is just knowing that I'm not going to say a real mother, but I would say I'm really flourishing in motherhood," she said as she acknowledged herself proudly.
"Not to toot my own horn, I'm in motherhood, and I feel like I'm starting to get to a point where I'm comfortable, and this is my life, and I'm good at this. I'm not second-guessing myself. My child will be okay, and I'm not stressed and worried about what's next or things like that. I feel like I'm just really settling into motherhood this year."
In retrospect, Zonnique has come a long way in her parenting journey throughout the past two years, and it shows. Confidence, resilience, and patience are not only pieces of her character that Zonnique has already possessed, but they've been amplified through her responsibility as a mother.
From the ups of teaching her daughter her passion for music and dance to the lows of achieving balance, Zonnique says that she's ready for it all - and we love to see it.
The Break Up is available on all streaming platforms.
Featured image by Scrill Davis