I don't know about y'all, but there's not one thing that I can think of that I don't like about this time of year. And while I typically cook, at least four times out of each week, there is something about the cool autumn air that beckons me to spend more time in the kitchen, coming up with dishes that will make me feel all warm and cozy inside.
While I was looking for a couple of new recipes to try, I happened upon some fall food trends that I thought some of you might be interested in hearing about. All of them are delicious. All of them are easy to come by. And, best of all, all of them are sure to make your autumn menus even more divine.
1. Edible Containers
While I definitely don't like a messy kitchen (yuck), I must admit that, unlike a lot of my friends, I am not the kind of person who is gonna have a coronary if a dish is in the sink when I turn in at night. That might be why I was so geeked when I saw that one of the current big food trends right now are edible containers. In short, it's basically what the phrase says—containers that you can eat once you finish eating whatever is inside of them.
For instance, I really like to put homemade soup into some bread. It's sooooo good. While it might look bougie, this is actually one of the easiest dishes on the planet to make. If you don't wanna make your own soup, all you need to do is get some round bread loaves from your local grocery store. Cut about 1/3" deep circle around the top of each loaf. Heat up some soup (or stew) and pour it into the hole. Whew, chile! By the way, if you wanna impress yourself and make some bread bowls yourself, I found a pretty cool recipe here so that you can do just that.
I actually grew up consuming more carob (at least in my home) than chocolate. While it doesn't quite hit the mark of the deliciousness of chocolate, it's honestly not all that far off and is a viable chocolate alternative.
On the health tip, carob is good for you because it contains no caffeine, is gluten-free, is super high in potassium and calcium, and it's low in fat and sodium. Carob is also high in fiber and antioxidants too.
I personally like carob in the form of a cup of hot carob milk or even carob brownies. If you want to take a stab at either one, a recipe for the drink is here; the ones for brownies is here. Having both of these on a cold autumn day while watching a throwback movie? Life doesn't get much better than that.
Something else that has been a big food trend, pretty much all year-long, has been drinks that are low in alcohol. Now before y'all completely side-eye me on this (because I KNOW y'all ain't giving up any red wine any time soon), this doesn't mean you've gotta totally go without. Again, we're just talking about actual trends here.
As far as wine goes, the kind that is super popular right now is Piquette. If you're not particularly familiar, in a nutshell, it's a wine that's made from the skins, seeds, stems and pulp that remains after grapes are processed in order to make wine in the first place. As a result, in contains somewhere between 4-9 percent alcohol while more traditional brands have somewhere between 12-15 percent. So, if you wanna still toss a couple of glasses back but you also want to be cognizant of how much alcohol you take into your system, Piquette is a really dope compromise.
4. Tajin Seasoning
If you're someone who likes to experiment with seasonings a lot—or you've just started cooking at home more and you want to learn about other ingredients that you can add to your favorite dishes—how about adding Tajin (pronounced ta-heen) seasoning to your pantry? It's a seasoning that is popular in a lot of Mexican cuisine. As far as what it tastes like, tangy lime is probably the best description. A lot of people use it as a meat rub, as a complement for any recipes that have foods like pineapples and cucumbers in it, and it tends to go in alcoholic drinks like margaritas and Micheladas as well. I don't know about y'all, but I can do some fish tacos or chicken quesadillas any time of year, so yeah…this seasoning trend is good news to know about. (You can usually find it at your local grocery store, by the way.)
5. Chocolate Chili
Chili is that stick-to-your-ribs-when-it's-freezing kind of meal and I'm totally here for it! Believe it or not, it's actually got its fair share of health benefits too. Thanks to the beans and/or meat in chili, it's filled with protein. The beans also mean that chili has quite a bit of fiber in it. Ingredients like peppers provide antioxidants, and chilies specifically, contain endorphin and serotonin that can help you to feel calmer and relaxed. As a bonus, believe it or not, capsaicin (an active component in chili peppers) can actually curb sugar cravings too.
While chili is pretty much "in" during any time of the year, a particular kind that is a big trend this fall season is chocolate chili. No, it's not about putting a couple of Kit Kats into an already-made bowl; it's about adding some pure dark chocolate into the mix. Health-wise, dark chocolate adds more antioxidants into your chili; taste-wise, it makes the recipe so much thicker and richer. If you wanna give chocolate chili a shot, click here for a "regular" recipe and here for a Mexican-style one.
6. Honey Butter
Now, if there is something that I can testify about, it's honey butter! If you want to know the difference between butter vs. margarine, Medical News Today has a good read on it here. Anyway, if you like to have a slice of toast or a bagel in the morning, putting a little honey butter on either one is about as good on the cinnamon toast that a lot of us adored as children. Not only does honey butter taste really good, honey has all kinds of health benefits. Some of them include the fact that it's also a food that is high in antioxidants (the kind that can help to keep your blood pressure low), and it can help to improve your cholesterol levels and suppress coughing; especially in children. As far as the kind of honey that's best, raw or manuka are your best bet because honey offers more nutrients whenever it is in its purest form.
7. Chickpea Crust (or Pinsa)
I don't know about y'all but, to me, it seems like the past couple of years, all I've been hearing about is cauliflower rice and crust (both ain't half bad either). Well, as we're easing into 2021, what is getting its time to shine is chickpea flour (which is how you can make chickpea crust). Chickpeas are good for you because they're a good source of protein and fiber, along with folate and manganese. If you're looking for something that will help to regular your blood sugar levels, keep your weight in check, support digestion and even help to fight against heart disease and cancer, chickpeas will do it.
The reason why it's on the list of fall food trends especially, is because another popular food for this season is pinsa. What's that? It's a kind of pizza that is lighter and healthier than more popular kinds. If nothing makes you happier than a slice of pizza on a cool autumn day, you can get a recipe on how to make traditional pinsa here and a recipe for how to make gluten-free chickpea pizza crust here.
8. Blue Tea
While I was checking out 2020 food trends, my something new for the day that I came across was blue tea. First, a part of the reason why it makes the list because Pantone's color of this year is blue. From a color psychology standpoint, I'm a fan of blue because it symbolizes things like calm, wisdom and tranquility so, already I'm down to give blue tea a shot.
From what I've read, it's a drink that is loaded with antioxidants and anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory properties, it helps to regulate blood sugar levels, it helps to reduce anxiety and stress, it detoxifies your system and (get this) blue tea also can help to reduce a fever too. So clearly, you can see why a warm cup of it would be perfect during the autumn and winter seasons.
(A reportedly great brand is Wild Hibiscus Flower Co. Heart-Tee Blue Tee.)
Pretty much, no matter what article that I read on this year's food trends (including the ones that specifically referenced the fall season), lasagna kept on coming up. From what I researched, there's no real rhyme or reason for why this dish is such a fall fan favorite. It's simply a comfort food that restaurants and home-cooking folks alike are serving up quite a bit right now.
By the way, if you want to try a take on lasagna that doesn't include pasta noodles, I sometimes make mine with zucchini instead. You can use a vegetable peeler to remove the hard skin and then to create "noodles" with what's inside of it. Zucchini is an awesome alternative because, health-wise, it's low in fat while being high in Vitamin A and also containing a good amount of manganese, fiber, potassium, magnesium, antioxidants and vitamins C and K. Zucchini aids in health digestion, improves heart health, helps to keep your vision strong, lowers cholesterol levels and, thanks to the lutein, zeaxanthin and beta carotene that's also in zucchini, it's the kind of vegetable that helps to delay aging signs too. If you'd like to try this twist to traditional lasagna, you can check out a recipe here.
A lot of people in my world are flexitarians. Those are individuals who are vegetarians most of them time, but they do eat meat and/or fish from time to time. While veganism has been all the rage for the past few years, it's actually flexitarianism that is creeping its way onto the scene. It can consist of putting some meat on a salad sometimes, enjoying salmon with your grilled veggies or doing something like making homemade turkey burgers with vegetables like mushrooms and sun-dried tomatoes in them.
Flexitarianism is a great way to stay on top of your fruits and veggies without feeling guilty about enjoying a turkey leg, some pot roast or anything else your heart desires this holiday season. So, enjoy it and all of these fall food trends, sis. Fully.
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Different puzzle pieces are creating bigger pictures these days. 2024 will mark a milestone on a few different levels, including the release of my third book next June (yay!).
I am also a Professional Certified Coach. My main mission for attaining that particular goal is to use my formal credentials to help people navigate through the sometimes tumultuous waters, both on and offline, when it comes to information about marriage, sex and relationships that is oftentimes misinformation (because "coach" is a word that gets thrown around a lot, oftentimes quite poorly).
I am also still super devoted to helping to bring life into this world as a doula, marriage life coaching will always be my first love (next to writing, of course), a platform that advocates for good Black men is currently in the works and my keystrokes continue to be devoted to HEALTHY over HAPPY in the areas of holistic intimacy, spiritual evolution, purpose manifestation and self-love...because maturity teaches that it's impossible to be happy all of the time when it comes to reaching goals yet healthy is a choice that can be made on a daily basis (amen?).
If you have any PERSONAL QUESTIONS (please do not contact me with any story pitches; that is an *editorial* need), feel free to reach out at email@example.com. A sistah will certainly do what she can. ;)
Whether it was your group chat, social media feed, or your favorite media outlet covering the spectacle, I’m pretty sure you’ve come across the viral Black wedding between actress KJ Smith (Sistas, Raising Kanan) and actor Skyh Black (All the Queen’s Men, Sistas). From their grand entrance to Jay-Z, Kayne West, and Beyoncé’s song “Lift Off” to KJ’s standout dance routine and the endless celebrity appearances, it’s an addictive TikTok scroll you can’t help but delve into.
But what many people would be surprised to know is that the couple’s original wedding plan was nothing like what it grew to be. What started as her simply scrolling through posts to get ideas eventually transformed into what the internet knows now as #TheBlackExperience. In an exclusive conversation with xoNecole, KJ walked us through her planning process, the morning of her wedding, and what she thinks of the online response.
Some women have their whole wedding planned out, from the bridal gown and venue to the bridal party and playlist. However, KJ was not one of those people. “I didn’t foresee a wedding in my future,” she reveals. “I was just gonna be the boss chick, rich auntie. I didn’t force love in my life until recently. I never had an idea of what a dream wedding would look like, it was easier for me to elope.”
Photo by Stanley Babb/ Stanlo Photography
And to many people’s surprise, that was their original plan – until Skyh brought up a valid concern. He was raised by his grandmother and thought she should be at the wedding, and naturally, that led to KJ wanting her grandmother to be there as well – then her mom – and later her sister – and, you’ve gotta invite the besties too, right? From there, the guest list continued to blossom. Much like the updo and pop of color bold red lip, she wore on her special day, which was initially on her Pinterest board as a soft glam look with her hair hanging on her shoulders, KJ is okay with changing her plan if it brings her and her loved ones happiness.
So let’s get into the wedding, which took place in Malibu, CA. The first thing you should know about the celebrity couple is that they’re non-traditional. They know, and they don’t care. So, in true unconventional fashion, they shared the morning of the wedding together.
“I woke up with Skyh, we walked our dog, had black coffee, and said good morning to the people who stayed at the venue with us,” she says.
Now, it was time for hair and makeup. While she was getting glammed up, she had Black-owned McBride Sisters wine and champagne (which ties into The Black Experience theme) on deck with her mom and friends, had her besties help rework her vows, retried on every outfit (sis is very Type-A), took photos, and ended the early-celebration with prayer and meditation. It seems very non-Bridezilla, I said.
“Yeah, I was the most unbothered bride ever. Everyone was just so supportive. As entertainers, we go on red carpets all the time. We actually have a production company,” she explains. “The get-ready process was like a day at work, but with people we love the most. Being entertainers, we didn’t feel stressed at all, but my excitement was so high.”
Things moved quickly, and before she knew it, it was time to line up to walk down the aisle.
“Yeah, I was the most unbothered bride ever. Everyone was just so supportive. As entertainers, we go on red carpets all the time. We actually have a production company. The get-ready process was like a day at work, but with people we love the most. Being entertainers, we didn’t feel stressed at all, but my excitement was so high.”
KJ Smith and her bridal party
Photo by Stanley Babb/ Stanlo Photography
Since everything started with their grandmothers, the couple wanted to ensure they honored them and planned to keep an element of their wedding traditional. Although we’ve all seen the reception videos and photos online, you may have noticed visuals from the wedding itself are harder to find.
“We planned for it to be traditional, but we’re not like that, so we tried to create those moments. We jumped the broom and had a salt ceremony (where the bride and groom individually pour salt into a glass container, symbolizing their lives becoming one.) But honestly, still, nothing was traditional about it.”
She goes on to explain that her mom caught the holy ghost coming down the aisle, her glam team was on deck, and she became so nervous with excitement that she had an anxiety attack – something she struggled with for years, she explains tearfully. Her friends had to literally cheer her down the aisle because of how overwhelmed she felt until she eventually calmed down.
“Skyh was standing there with his hand on his heart; we have our own little language, and I could feel the support,” she shares.
It was surprising to hear all these emotional moments happened before the party we saw online. That is until she once again got into the backstory.
“As a Black woman actress, for so long, it was popular to be mysterious and secretive, but that’s not who I am or what I like. Plus, we both wanted to create an experience for everyone there. We are the people who always host family and friends,” she says. “Like for me, the first order of business was getting sandals for the women so they can dance all night long. We had oxtail, D'ussé, and a coffee and sativa lounge – which is part of Skyh and I’s lifestyle and routine. We wanted to bring them into our world.”
Skyh Black (L) and KJ Smith (R)
Photo by Stanley Babb/ Stanlo Photography
She went on to discuss the dance routine she did for her husband at the reception, which has taken over the internet. Apparently, that’s another thing that didn’t go according to plan. According to KJ, she had promised a performance at their joint bachelor/ bachelorette party, but her outfit got stolen from her car. So, Skyh ended up performing for her – complete with a strip tease. Still, she never forgot her promise to dance for him.
So, she hired her friend as a choreographer, learned the routine, made friends and family watch it endless times, and attended Beyoncé’s Renaissance show a few days before for a confidence boost. It ended up being a show to remember. But that wasn’t all the night offered. Lil Mo performed, and the guests received special goody bags featuring their favorite Black-owned products like journals, hair care, and more.
“We made sure everyone was taken care of all night. That kind of stuff makes us happy. I wanted everyone there to experience the joy and love I have for myself, my partner, and for them. I wanted them to feel full and whole, and they had the time of their lives,” she says.
But naturally, the internet is going to internet, and while there were countless people praising the event and applauding the newlyweds, some thought it was too over the top. I was curious to know her thoughts on some of the criticism.
“It’s cool. We did what we wanted to do. I’ve decided to share my world with people. Just how I went on social media platforms and found inspiration, I want people to do the same,” she explains. “I don’t think it's fair to my supporters not to give that out. There’s so much I wanna share with brides, specifically Black brides. I love that people are adding it to their Pinterest boards."
"I wanted everyone there to experience the joy and love I have for myself, my partner, and for them. I wanted them to feel full and whole, and they had the time of their lives."
Photo by Stanley Babb/ Stanlo Photography
“I’m happy with it because we did what we wanted to do. They can do what they wanna do. Don’t be cruel, though, because you will get blocked,” she said, laughing.
The more I spoke with her, the more her sense of freedom shined through. People are always going to have their opinions, but at the end of the day, it’s you who has to live your life, and it seems like the couple realizes that and embraces that power. She also stressed the importance of not living for others and the lessons life has taught her.
“I’ve been to countless weddings, and I’ve been in countless weddings. I’m a generally older bride. So when women in my demographic get married, and you and your husband are busy working people like us, you deserve to have the one you want to have,” she shares.
“This is what we wanted to do. Our loved ones love and support us. We did so much to honor them, but we also wanted to start our own tradition, legacy, and creation. I'm not going to be pulled back into ideas of the past when I’m trying to create a future with my partner. “
If you’d like to see more of the couple, you probably won’t have to wait long. Although no content is planned yet, she admits to being an oversharer. “Me being open and transparent about my experiences lets people know it’s okay to have flaws; it makes you human, and for many years, I didn’t believe that was okay. I had pressure to be perfect, and I’d crumble every time,” she explains to xoNecole.
Now, she owns her flaws and uses them as a superpower to connect with her community and feel and express her love.
“Some people give us [Skyh and KJ] a hard time because they say we just seem too perfect. I’m like, why is that a bad thing? I love the people I love. From my man to my mama, to my friends - unabashedly. We move through time and space how we want to move. If we did it another way, we’d let ourselves and our union down.”
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Feature image by Stanley Babb/ Stanlo Photography
It seems reasonable to assume that new music will slow down in tempo to coincide with the fall season that quickly approaches. However, musicians, ever the unreasonable, are constantly showing us that they have different ideas. They have chosen to keep releasing club hits rather than slow tunes to get us ready for cuffing season, letting people know that while summer may be coming to an end, it may last as long as they want it to.
We are waving goodbye to summer with the new music from last week, but we might also be welcoming another week of tunes designed only for dancing. And honestly, who can complain about that? Here's this week's new music to make you move at every tempo.
"Another One of Me" - Diddy ft. The Weeknd, 21 Savage, & French Montana
Since its original recording in 2016, this song has undergone a great deal of alterations. The Weeknd previewed the new version of the song on his recent European tour, though it was originally scheduled to be released in 2020 and again in 2022. Nevertheless, with the release of this song, The Weeknd also declared that this would be his final "guest" appearance for some time, if ever. Therefore, the Weeknd sings about how there will "never be another one of [him]" again in this unique, enticing, and bold farewell. Thus, we must value him and the rest of his crew--French Montana and 21 Savage--while we still have the chance.
The musicians deliver vocal bars and complimentary rhymes on the song, which is accompanied by a drum sample from what seems like Phil Collins' "In the Air Tonight," as they consider their timeliness and what Diddy has done for the hip-hop/R&B community over the past few decades and on newly released The Love Album.
"Slime You Out" - Drake ft. SZA
On my first listen, it took everything I had in me not to abruptly end this song. However, by the time Drake begins to sing—heavily using auto-tune—and the beat begins to drop, there is enough of an allure to keep me listening. "Slime You Out" which features SZA is the lead single to Drake's highly anticipated eighth studio album, For All The Dogs. In the song, both musicians talk about being exploited by their ex-lovers and share their own emotional experiences.
They also disclose their malice towards their exes, as "sliming" someone out refers to using them for sex. The single and its meaning works perfectly for the duo, especially after it was revealed on Twitter (RIP) that Drake and SZA used to date back in '08--or was it '09? Regardless, this song allows the exes to focus on past relationships, even their own, as they take turns talking about ex-lovers and finally putting their years of subtle back and forth to rest.
"Lexicon" - Vagabon
Vagabon, also known as Laetitia Tamko, debuted her new album Sorry I Haven't Called on Friday, September 15, as well as her most recent single "Lexicon." Sorry I Haven't Called is a loving and tenacious album about enjoying the exhilarating moments wherever you can by understanding how you love and grieve. The album was formed out of sadness when her closest friend passed away in 2021.
It's an LP that draws inspiration from both group dance floor revelations and the enlightening calm of isolation; it represents both a creative and emotional resurrection. She claims that the record was made to include every feeling she had at the time, even when there was none. In "Lexicon," Vagabon invites the listener to let go of words and the meaning of things, as she repeatedly sings atop a bed of rhythmic noises in "Lexicon" to communicate her longing for oblivion.
"You Wish" - Flyana Boss
Last week, I had the pleasure of watching Flyana Boss open for Janelle Monáe. During their introduction, they discussed being best friends and explained that this foundation allowed them to become the artists that they desired to be. Within moments, the chemistry between the duo was fathomable as they easily played off one another and allowed room for each other to easily shine.
Though it's not a new single, the official video for the song dropped last week. In it, Flyana Boss mocks those who refer to them as "industry plants," while the song brings attention to their infamous "Hello Christ, I am about to sin again," challenge that TikTok sparked to life these last couple of months. They are strange, but in the coolest of ways, mainly because they don't wish to be like anyone else. However, it is clear that with their success others might.
"SKED" - Denzel Curry
Denzel Curry starts his song, which is almost an interlude, by outlining the reasons why he does not feel the need to trust others. He then goes on to tell people that because of their treatment and actions, he is unwilling to find a reason to comprehend those in positions of power and how they utilize their influence. He comes to the conclusion that these actions are the result of fear, and he merely declares that his adversaries are afraid before leaving it at just that. This brand-new song and its accompanying video leave the audience wanting more in less than two minutes. However, as he has stated, he's said all that he has needed to say.
"FAN" - Offset
This song is not long, and if you aren't paying attention, you won't be sure that the first minute is the same as the first 0:00 to 0:50 seconds. Regardless, when it kicks off, boy does it run and it takes off with Offset's insistence on shouting "f**k everybody" kicks in. Offset creates an entertaining video that draws inspiration from his admiration for Michael Jackson and his showmanship to demonstrate the necessity to destroy every bridge he has built since everyone is deserving of a sharp and clear "FU."
This video definitely shows how he has grown as an artist over the last couple of years, and after the grief he has faced from his cousin Takeoff's death, it only makes sense why he doesn't give a damn or two about turning his back on everyone.
"Balut" - Doja Cat
I've said it before and I'll say it again: I hate how much I love Doja Cat's music. I don't want to, I've actively been resisting it. However, I must say that since her "MOO[ing]" days, she has developed into a dynamic artist, and this has only led to the creation of vibes, bops, and songs that are worth listening to. Consider her most recent song, "Balut." It is a total vibe. She boasts about her ability to create hits and her distinctive artistic range in her most recent song.
In fact, she thinks that her artistic ability is as simple as "taking candy from a baby." She is correct that it is that simple; or at least for her it is. It is difficult to believe otherwise while listening to her mid-tempo, brag-tinged tune with its smooth flow. Her newest LP Scarlet drops this Friday, and like a moth to a flame, Doja knows we will all be anxiously awaiting its arrival.
"Snooze (Acoustic)" - SZA ft. Justin Bieber
I would not have wagered a single penny that this collaboration would truly take place. But now that it has, many question whether it ought to have. Lyrically, there is nothing fresh to concentrate on. SZA continues to explain why she would be prepared to break the law and compromise her values for the person she loves, but they are still hesitant to meet her halfway. The only thing that has changed is that we now have Justin Beiber's face to place her pleas upon. When Justin Beiber and SZA join in on the acoustic version of "Snooze," they produce a silky, smooth duet that is harmonized flawlessly with daunting echoes and heavenly vocals that coo over one another smoothly.
"Peaches & Eggplants" - Young Nudy ft. Latto & Sexyy Red (Remix)
I'll give you a second to consider what the song "Peaches and Eggplants" by Young Nudy feat. Latto & Sexxy Red could be about. Yes, now that you've experienced that moment. You are correct, that is what it is about. It is all about sex—and more sex—and, well, you get the idea. Even though the song's basic structure is straightforward, it nonetheless provides a fun finish to the summer. The song's production features synthesizers, "pounding" percussion, and Young Nudy's gunshot emulation in the background.
However, the remix now has a more feminine, more confident (if that could have been possible) edge to it thanks to Latto and Sexyy Redd. No one holds back on this song, but then again, the title never implied that they would.
"Swing" - EARTHGANG ft. Benji
And when we ask them when they been at, EARTHGANG will simply say they've been over here. On the right side of things, where they have always belonged. Fresh on the release track of their newest single "Swing" for Marvel's Spider-Man 2 video game soundtrack, EARTHGANG has returned to make us move like they always have. Joined by Benji, the song is loud, with a guitar rift that sounds like Imagine Dragons' "I'm So Sorry," and simultaneously lowers the tempo to make the perfect illustration of a song fusing several genres.
The song shouldn't make sense, much as when Imagine Dragons and Kendrick Lamar collaborated at the VMAs, yet the seamless genre-hopping makes the song engaging and ideal for the video game platform it advertises.
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Featured image via SZA "Snooze"/YouTube