As we're literally just days away from 2021, I figured that this would be as good a time as any to share with you some of the food trends that are gonna be pretty big next year. The thing that I really like about each of these is they are thoughtful, healthy and something that you can easily incorporate into your diet and lifestyle, regardless of what your budget may be.
So, are you ready to discover what you should be spending more of your time on, along with what should be going on your grocery shopping list for the next 12 months?
1. Black-Owned Restaurants
Something that I found myself saying a lot in 2020 is, a company couldn't care less how much we don't like its practices so long as we keep giving it our money. That's why, when I found out which companies that supported Trump's campaign, I stopped shopping there (I also don't give money to billionaires who refuse to give their employees sick pay; just saying).
On top of that, I am more intentional about supporting Black businesses than ever. That's why I smiled when I saw that a big 2021 food trend is backing up Black-owned restaurants. You can find the ones in your own city by either going to your favorite search engine and putting "Black-owned restaurants" along with your city and state in the search field. Or, you can support another Black-owned company and download EatOkra; it's an app that specifically helps you to locate Black-owned restaurants. Dope.
2. Virtual Cooking Classes
Even with the COVID-19 vaccine, folks are still gonna have to wear masks and a lot of companies are still going to require their employees to telecommute. You know what this means, right? Zoom is gonna be here to stay for quite some time. If one of the things that you promised yourself was you were going to be more health-conscious and that you were going to save more money in 2021, why not sign up for some virtual cooking classes? If you get a friend to join in with you, they can actually be a lot of fun and make you quite the at-home chef by the time 2022 rolls around. For a list of some of the best online cooking classes, click here, here and here.
3. “Other Oils”
If you're someone who cooks with olive oil, good for you. Not only is it rich in oleic acid (which helps to keep bodily inflammation down) and antioxidants, it's the kind of oil that helps to reduce your chances of having a stroke. Plus, olive oil contains antibacterial and anti-cancer properties, and it has the ability to keep your blood pressure low and keep your blood vessels healthy and strong.
If you want to add a few other oils to your cooking collection, 2021 would be the year to do it because different kinds of oils are another thing that's going to be pretty popular. For instance, pumpkin seed oil can help to put you into a good mood while also providing your hair with natural sheen. Walnut oil works to improve both your blood sugar as well as your cholesterol levels. Sunflower seed oil promotes heart health, improves digestion and strengthens your immune system. Avocado oil contains the antioxidant lutein which is great for your eyes and contains properties that are good for your skin. Sesame oil is also loaded with antioxidants, has nutrients that can protect your skin from harmful UV rays, it helps to reduce your stress levels and, if you use it for oil pulling, it can work to maintain oral health too.
4. Sugar Alternatives
Personally, I don't know too many people who don't have some sort of a sweet tooth, even if it's just every once in a while. Problem is, between the high caloric count and the fact that consuming too much sugar can lead to things like bodily inflammation, high blood pressure and diabetes, refined sugar is something that you should keep to a bare minimum. That's the bad news. The good news is another popular food trend for 2021 is sugar alternatives. What are those? They're ways to make your food sweet without all of the drama that comes with white sugar. Some that top the list include honey, coconut sugar, monk fruit extracts (sweeteners that are made from fruit), maple syrup and molasses. The cool thing about alternatives like these is they contain more nutrients while still being able to appease your desire for something sweet. Try some in your recipes. Let us know how they go.
5. Fruit Jerky
What the heck is fruit jerky? Think of it as being similar to the Fruit Roll-Ups that a lot of us used to snack on as kids, only it doesn't come with all of the extra preservatives. While I never really thought of it as being a "jerky" before, when I did a little research on this, I realized that it's basically dried fruit that is stretched out. For instance, I really like mango jerky. Anyway, it's a huge food trend in the upcoming year and it is something that you can make from the comfort and convenience of your own home. By the way, some people call them "fruit leathers". Anyway, you can get tips on how to make your own here or you can find some at your local health food store.
6. Spiked Kombucha
I'm gonna be honest, I can take or leave kombucha. If you've never had it before, the long-short of it is, that it's fermented tea. The reason why a lot of people like it is because it has some pretty impressive health benefits including the fact that it's high in antioxidants and probiotics, and the acetic acid in it is able to kill bad bacteria that may be residing in your gut (your gut is where 80 percent of your immune system is, so that's a good thing), and consuming it can help to lower your type 2 diabetes and heart disease risk.
While kombucha has been all the rage for health enthusiasts for a few years now, for the next several months, it's gonna be all about spiked kombucha. In many ways, it's similar to hard seltzer because it's a drink that has a low amount of alcohol content. Anyway, if this is something that you'd like to try, some spiked kombucha brands to consider trying to include June Shine Hard Kombucha, Loona Bay Booch, and Jiant Kombucha.
7. Super Spicy Stuff
If you're someone who has a taste for spicy foods, 2021 is definitely gonna be your year because something that you're gonna see pop up more on restaurant menus and food blogs are meals that have more than a little bit of a kick. The great thing about this particular trend is there are several benefits that come with adding ingredients like chili peppers, turmeric, cumin, ginger, and garlic to your recipes. Spices like these are able to increase your metabolism, help to kill bacteria, reduce inflammation, fight off cancer cells and they can even help to ease depression-related symptoms (thanks to the component capsaicin which can help to give your endorphin levels a boost). So, if spicy is your thing, have at it (in complete moderation, of course).
8. Coffee-Flavored Eats
If you're looking for something that will give you more energy, make you more attentive, help to burn body fat, provide you with a good amount of magnesium, potassium and phosphorus (even a little bit of calcium), and even help to decrease your mortality rate, coffee is able to do that. Keeping all of this in mind, something else that will be a big trend for a while is not just having a cup of java but eating foods that taste like coffee too. So, if you adore the taste of coffee, the next time that you're in the store, be on the look out for items like coffee milk, coffee yogurt, espresso vinegar, coffee shortbread and even coffee spreads. Now, more than ever, stuff like this will be so much easier to find.
9. Comfort Food Breakfasts
Since 2021 will still have a lot of us working from home and our kids doing school online, it actually makes a lot of sense that breakfast would be a big food trend. Not only is breakfast still considered to be the most important meal of the day, but now that you're not rushing to get to the office or to school, you have more time to make some pancakes, French toast or a loaded omelet. While it's important to not indulge in these kinds of foods every single day (certain foods can really pile up when it comes to calories), setting aside a weekday to have a comfort food breakfast can give you one more thing to look forward to every week.
10. Fermenting and Canning
Pickles. Miso. Sauerkraut. Yogurt. Sourdough bread. These are just a handful examples of fermented foods. The reason why they are so good for you is because they're rich in probiotic bacteria (good bacteria). Also, since 80 percent of your immune system is in your gut, they are foods that can keep your immune system and overall health in great shape. So, definitely make sure to put more of these on your grocery list.
Also, since canning (a method that helps you to preserve foods for a longer period of time) is also a huge 2021 trend, how about learning how to pickle some of your own veggies from the comfort and convenience of your own home?
You can read how to do it here. Or, if you'd prefer to watch a video, I've got one for you right here.
11. Farmers Markets
Growing up, it was fairly common for my family to go to our local farmers market, at least a couple of times a month. All these years later, it's still something that I enjoy doing. Not only can you find some pretty amazing-looking produce at a super cost-effective price, there are other benefits that come from going the local route too. The food is organic (which means it tastes better and is more nutritional). And, it's one of the best ways to support your community; more specifically, your local farmers. If you'd like a bit more of a breakdown on why going to a Farmers Market on a consistent basis in 2021 is one of the best decisions that you could make for the sake of your overall health and well-being, Mohammad Modarres's right-at-six-minutes TED Talk will be sure to convince you. Check it out here.
Like I said earlier, taking the precautions that we did in 2020 to keep ourselves safe aren't going to be letting up any time soon. So, whether your city still hasn't opened up its restaurants or you're just not ready to eat inside of any of 'em yet, remember that there is always takeout. Before you order, 1) try and go with one of the Black-owned restaurants that we touched on; 2) read "10 Safety Practices For Ordering Takeout (During A Pandemic)" and 3) definitely invest in an air fryer. Nothing warms up day-old fries quite like it will, plus air frying is another food trend for 2021. Eat up and enjoy, y'all!
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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.
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7 Sex-Related Problems That Ruin Sex (And Possibly Your Relationship)
Not too long ago, while in an interview, someone asked me to define one of the main purposes of sex in a long-term relationship: “Probably the most intimate form of communication that we have is sex because it’s an act that connects one’s physical, mental and emotional state to another human being simultaneously — and communication doesn’t get much more profound than that.”
That’s part of the reason why the term “casual sex” irks me to the billionth degree (check out “We Should Really Rethink The Term 'Casual Sex'”); it’s because, even if you think that sex with someone is next-to-nothing, there is so much going on within you (oxytocin highs, if you’re unprotected, fluid bonding, chemical reactions in your brain, etc.) that doesn’t know if someone is “the one” (in your mind) or not. So, in many ways, it acts like they are (check out this YouTube video from a Catholic woman who studies some unexpected ways that sex affects us physically here; sex goes deep, y’all!).
Yeah, sex is so much more than a notion, and that’s why I’m a firm believer that it is such a barometer for long-term relationships overall — because, as I’ve shared before, I once read that, “Good sex in a relationship is 10 percent of the relationship while bad sex in a relationship is 90 percent of the relationship because sex tends to set the tone for what’s happening in the rest of the house.”
And that’s why I think that there are certain sex-related issues that can not only damage your sex life with your partner but could also end up ruining your relationship if you’re not careful (very careful). Let’s get into seven of them now.
1. Being Unaware of Your “Body Clock”Giphy
I can’t tell you how many clients I’ve had who’ve come to me in some serious trouble, in part due to their flailing (or partly nonexistent) sex life. When I ask them if they went to premarital counseling (if you’re engaged, please do; you have a 33 percent greater chance of avoiding divorce when counseling transpires), many say “no” and the ones who say “yes” usually say that it was no more than 3-5 sessions and the topic of sex barely came up (le sigh). Meanwhile, with my premarital meetings, I try and stick with intimacy for three months if I can because there is a lot to unpack, from what you learned as a child, to your first time (or if you are a virgin), to your needs and fantasies, to how you see it from a spiritual perspective — like I said, there is a lot to unpack there.
Take the mere practicality of sex, for example — and more specifically, your body clock. Do you prefer to have sex at night or in the daytime? A lot of couples struggle with intimacy because one prefers the former while the other likes the latter. Do you keep track of when you’re ovulating? It’s pure science why you are probably hornier during that time of the month (because your body is signaling that it’s time to conceive) vs. the fact that you might not be the most interested in sex when you’re PMS’ing. Are you premenopausal? Hormones shift a lot during that time, and here’s the thing — while menopause only lasts a year, the premenopausal stage (which typically starts between 45-55) can last between 7-14 years. Even paying attention to when you have more energy (some do in the day…morning sex, anyone? While others do early in the evening) can play a role.
So yeah, getting to know your body clock (and discussing your partner’s clock with them) can play a role in how much — or how little — sex you have…and that can add life or drain it from the relationship overall.
2. Comparing Your Present with Your PastGiphy
There is a wife of almost 20 years I know who, when I asked her if she thought that her husband was good in bed, she paused for a second, shrugged her shoulders, and simply said, “I was a virgin when I got married, so I have nothing to compare him to. I mean, he’s good to me.” On the flip side, there’s a now divorced couple who I also know (who almost made it to 20 years) who had multiple partners before each other while also having a deep interest in porn who once said to me, “Sometimes, there’s as much as 15 people in our bed because of all of the people from our past and the porn that we’ve seen that’s running through our heads.” Yeah, y’all can act like body counts don’t matter, but there is so much evidence out here that says otherwise — that couple just gave one that doesn’t get talked about as much as it should.
You know, one of my favorite throwback shows is King of Queens (Kevin James, Leah Remini). A few weeks ago, I watched a rerun where Doug and Carrie were talking about the images that come up in their minds, sometimes during sex. Neither was too happy about it, and I can totally see why. I mean, if sex was just about “getting off” (and it’s not), then whatever. However, AGAIN, it’s also about connecting with your partner on a mental and emotional level, and that’s hard to do if you’re there with them in the body while you’re fantasizing about a celebrity, a porn actor (porn is usually acting, don’t let it fool you) or an ex (check out “You Love Him. You Prefer Sex With Your Ex. What Should You Do?”).
And what if that is what’s going on? I once spoke with a sex therapist about this very thing. What she said is people should be less concerned about celebs (if it’s on occasion) and more concerned about that ex because rarely is sex with an ex…just about the sex.
And that’s why this point made the list. If you’re physically with your partner and mentally or emotionally with your ex at the same time, please don’t ignore that. There are definitely some unresolved issues there that you need to work through, whether it’s with a therapist, counselor, or coach, a trusted friend (who won’t add fuel to the literal fire), or even with your ex — although you might want to run that by your partner first because…I’m pretty sure you’d want him to do that with/for you. RIGHT?
3. Not Being Clear About Your Sexual NeedsGiphy
Question — if someone were to walk up to you right now and ask you what your top seven sexual needs are, along with what your top five sexual dealbreakers are, would you be able to answer? It really is kind of wild how many people get upset with their partner for not being able to sexually satisfy them when even they can’t articulate what they need/require in order for that to happen. Yeah, it’s another article for another time about how many people UNREALISTICALLY (and yes, I am yelling it) think that someone loving them well means that they should be able to read their mind. Nope.
It truly can’t be said enough that sex — especially good sex — is about communication. Hmph. It makes me think about a clip that I saw from Tonight’s Conversation podcast (can’t find it at the moment; sorry) where a woman asked how she should tell her partner that he hasn’t been pleasing her, I believe she said for years. My first thought was if he doesn’t know that, she must be faking orgasms (more on that in a bit) which is not only lying — well, it is —, but it’s also pretty counterproductive because while he thinks that he’s “getting the job done,” she’s not fulfilled and resentment is setting in.
Please don’t let rom-coms (fiction) and social media (which is oftentimes fictitious) have you out here thinking that a good lover is someone you automatically gel with who knows exactly what to do; sometimes that is the case, and oftentimes it isn’t.
So, if the sex-related issue that you’re having in your relationship is that your sexual needs aren’t being met, first do you (and your partner) a favor by doing some sex journaling (check out “The Art Of Sex Journaling (And Why You Should Do It)”) so that you can tangibly see what those needs are and then plan time within the next week or so to pour a couple of glasses of wine, put on some 90s R&B and discuss with your partner what you need. Because actually, what a good lover is, is someone who listens and retains. This brings me to the next point.
4. Minimizing Your Partner’s Sexual NeedsGiphy
A husband once told that when he and his wife were in premarital counseling, something that he mentioned was a bona fide need was fellatio. According to him, his wife told both him and their counselor that she loved giving head. Fast forward to eight years of being in their union, and guess how many times that act went down? A measly four. FOUR TIMES (check out “Sooo...What If You HATE Oral?”).
It’s another message for another time, the amount of people who will “false advertise” during the dating stage in order to get to their goal of marriage. It’s also another message for another time how much that is a form of manipulation that tends to backfire in ways that the manipulator is oftentimes not prepared for.
For now, what I will say, is never think that just because something may not be a need for you that it isn’t a legitimate one for someone else. I mean, how would you feel if that’s how someone treated you? Yeah…exactly.
Yet that is just what happens in a lot of relationships, including when it comes to their bedroom. They will think that their needs should be met, hands down, yet when their partner comes with what’s important to them, all of a sudden, there is dismissiveness, nonchalance, and/or excuses — and how could that not rear its ugly head on so many levels?
Your partner’s sexual needs are essential, even if they are not your own. Never assume that you automatically know everything about them. Also, never assume that what worked two years ago is what will “scratch the itch” now. Hmph. Come to think of it, while you’re sipping on that wine and clearly articulating to him what turns you on, use that as an opportunity to ask him to return the favor. Listen with humility, receptiveness, and intent — the best kind of relationships process their partner’s needs with this kind of vibe…across the board.
5. Taking the “If It Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It” ApproachGiphy
Lazy lovers. When you hear that phrase, what’s the first thing that comes to your mind? If it’s someone who is just lying there during sex, that would certainly qualify; however, I’m actually speaking of a different kind of laziness here. Believe it or not, some synonyms for lazy include words like apathetic, inattentive, tired, passive (cough, cough), procrastinating, neglectful, and slacking. So yeah, if you and/or your partner can use any of these words to define what sex is consistently like between the two of you — red flag, red flag…RED FREAKIN’ FLAG.
Speaking of being passive, another potentially serious sex-related problem is taking on the attitude that if something ain’t broke, you shouldn’t fix it. What I mean by that is, just because you know that getting on top and riding for exactly six-and-a-half minutes is what will get your partner off, that doesn’t mean that it should be your automatic go-to all of the damn time.
Why? Because. While a part of the fun of having sex is “reaching the peak,” another component that should never be underestimated is discovering new territory: trying new positions, creating a sex bucket list, taking (more) sexcations, playing sex-themed board games (put that phrase in Amazon or on Etsy’s site and go ham!)…you know, doing what will inspire creativity and deter either of you from becoming bored.
That said, a husband of 17 years once told me, “A man can be satisfied with the same woman. We just don’t want the same kind of sex with her.” Words to live by. Yes, indeed.
6. Using Sex as a Deflection or Coping MechanismGiphy
A few years ago, I wrote an article for the platform entitled, “Make-Up Sex Might Be Doing Your Relationship More Harm Than Good” — and with good cause. Words cannot express how many divorced (or soon-to-be divorced) women have told me that a part of what kept them in their marriage, for as long as they stayed in it, was the fact that the sex with their husband was beyond amazing…even though so much other stuff completely and totally sucked. Hey, good sex isn’t a bad thing (c’mon now); however, if it’s the only real thing that’s keeping you with someone, it can turn out to be a toxic deflector.
The reason why I say that is the purpose of sex isn’t to make love; it’s to celebrate it. And if all you’re doing with your partner is f — king and fighting or avoiding issues by stripping down or thinking that sex will “make it all better,” all the while not really knowing what the problem/issue is or what needs to be done to get down to the root of it, that is using sex as a pacifier and again, that’s not what sex is designed to be. Sex doesn’t deserve the pressure of being the end-all to “fixing” ish.
So, if what’s transpiring in your relationship lately is very little talking and a whole lot of sexing, and then once the sex is over, something still feels “off,” that’s a good indication that you’re misusing sex on some level. Get out of the bed, put on a robe, and do some talking (preferably in a room other than the bedroom; leave that space for sex and sleep only as much as possible). Because remember — as much as the wives that I mentioned said that their husbands once had them climbing the walls, those men are still ex-husbands now. Bottom line, sex is good, yet when it comes to keeping a relationship together, it will never be enough. Again, it was never designed to be.
7. Faking ItGiphy
I will never be a fan of faking orgasms. Maybe it’s because I’m a Gemini (we may be a lot of things, but “fake” isn’t really our style). Maybe it’s because I’m a very word-literal individual, and I know that fake means things like “prepare or make (something specious, deceptive, or fraudulent)” and “to conceal the defects of or make appear more attractive, interesting, valuable, etc., usually in order to deceive.” Or perhaps it’s because I don’t get how acting like you’re sexually fulfilled when you actually aren’t is doing anyone any good. Whatever it is, whenever a client (or someone in general because men fakealmost as much as women do) tells me that it’s something they do, I immediately find myself on a mission to shut that mess down (check out “Why You Should Stop Faking Orgasms ASAP”). ALL THE WAY DOWN.
The main reason is that, regardless of if the motive is to hurry things along, not hurt your partner’s feelings, or it’s something more cryptic than that (cough, cough, some form of manipulation tactic), there’s no way around the fact that fakeness is tied to deception and deception is a word that should never be connected to a healthy sexual dynamic.
Besides, one could argue that faking is a form of deflection as well because…wouldn’t it be better to just get it all out in the open WHY you are doing it than to keep pretending when life is too short and great sex is too good to not get the absolute most out of it, as much as possible?
Besides, again, chances are that if you’re faking that you’re sexually pleased, you’re probably faking something else in your relationship (or situation), and how could that possibly be good, right, or beneficial?
Yeah, when it comes to being satisfied across the board, please don’t fake it. State your case in the way that you’d like to hear something said to you, and let the chips fall where they may. If you’ve got a good man, he’s gonna — no pun — rise to the occasion. If his ego can’t handle it, well…that’s something that you should find out sooner than later — when it comes to the bedroom and outside of it? Right? #shoyouright
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