Something that my late father used to say all of the time that used to tickle me is, "When someone invents new letters in the alphabet, I'll talk more. The first 26 bore me." If you substitute letters (or words) for foods, that's how I feel. As someone who enjoys cooking, I'm pretty intentional about looking for foods that aren't the most common; you know, ones that I can put into my recipes in order to add a bit of unexpected "umph" to them.
If you are similar to how I am, or you're simply someone who likes to learn about new things, I've got a list of 10 foods that definitely do not come up in daily conversation but, at the same time, could breathe new life into your palate if you're willing to give them a shot this spring season.
1. Dashi Broth
Bone broth is basically when you use the brewed bones and connective tissues of cows, chicken or even fish to create a broth that is able to do everything from remineralize teeth and reduce body inflammation to boost your collagen levels and support your joints. However, if you want to go with an alternative to bone broth, dashi broth is the route to take. It basically consists of kombu (a brown seaweed) and bonito flakes (which are dried and fermented tuna flakes). The kombu is high in protein, potassium, magnesium, vitamins B, C, D and E and amino acids. Meanwhile, tuna has the ability to lower your blood pressure and improve your immunity. Plus, if you make the broth and freeze it, it will keep for as long as a month. Another cool thing about dashi broth is it isn't super difficult to make. If you want to take a stab at it, you can get some step-by step instructions here.
2. Mung Beans
If you're looking for the kind of food that is high in protein, fiber and anti-inflammatory properties, mung beans have totally got your back. To make them even better, they are also basically a B-complex vitamin combined with other nutrients like folate, manganese, magnesium, iron, copper and zinc.
Mung beans are good for your system because they are high in antioxidants (they are even contributed to reducing the risk of heat stroke) and, due to all of the folate that is in them (one cup equates to 80 percent of our RDI), they are a great food for pregnant women. Stores like Whole Foods usually have some mung beans on tap.
3. Cuke Juice
What the heck is cuke juice? It's just a cute name for cucumber water. Aside from the fact that cucumbers are made up of 95 percent water (which means that cuke juice can keep you super hydrated), if you drink it on a consistent basis, it's the kind of juice that will detox your system, relieve you of constipation, boost your immunity, lower your blood pressure, improve your eyesight, reduce dark eye circles (thanks to the silica that's in it), and also give you a good night's rest. All pretty solid reasons to take a crack at making some homemade cuke juice, if you ask me. (If you'd prefer to go with cuke lemonade, go here.)
Boy, if there is one thing that I wish more people understood, it's that yams and sweet potatoes are not the same thing. Yes, they are both tuberous root vegetables; however, yams are starchier, drier and actually harder to find in grocery stores than sweet potatoes are. Also, while sweet potatoes are typically orange, white or even purple-ish on the inside, yams are a bland yellow. The reason why I felt that was important to mention is because yacons are another veggie that looks like a sweet potato, even though it isn't. Yacons are good for you because they consist of good carbohydrates known as fructoogliosaccharides (FOS). Yacons also have potassium which is good for maintaining your blood pressure. They also contain prebiotics to improve digestion, antifungal properties to fight ringworm and athlete's foot and even properties that fight cancer. Another awesome thing about yacons is they're a low glycemic natural sweetener; this means that they taste really sweet, but they don't spike up your blood sugar when you consume it. If you want to try yacon sweetener, a favorite brand is found here.
At first glance, a pomelo looks a lot like a grapefruit (yes, they are related). The main differences are it's shaped like a teardrop, it can get as big as a cantaloupe and it has green or yellow flesh. As far as its health benefits go, pomelo contains a good amount of fiber, vitamin C, copper, potassium and thiamine. Not only that but it reduces cholesterol levels, contains anti-aging properties and helps to promote weight loss as well. And just where do you find pomelos? Asian markets. Or, you can get some dried ones online.
6. Black Garlic
Whaaat? You've never heard of black garlic before? Basically, it's what happens when white garlic is exposed to humidity and left to age for about a month or so. The end result is black garlic, the kind of garlic that is insurmountably more nutritious than white garlic is.
For starters, black garlic contains twice the antioxidants of white garlic. Black garlic also has more protein and calcium. Plus, it contains a higher amount of antifungal, antimicrobial and antibiotic agents which makes it a powerhouse at fighting off infection. Just be prepared for the fact that while it does resemble white garlic, black garlic has a different texture and taste.
You can read more about the best brands to buy here.
7. Camu Camu
If you're someone who likes the taste of fresh cranberries, you'll probably also enjoy Amazon rainforest berries known as camu camu. They are tart, high in vitamin C and are loaded with antioxidants to fight off free radicals. Some other benefits include the fact that these berries are able to fight inflammation, improve blood sugar levels, reduce high blood pressure, and they contain the amino acid valine. What's awesome about that is valine is able to strengthen your nervous system and prevent muscle breakdown too. I won't lie, the berries are a bit harder to find (if you want to grow some of your own, you can cop the seeds here). The flip side to this is a lot of people prefer to take it in supplement form. A great brand is found here.
Fonio is a gluten-free rugged grain that is really popular in West Africa. It looks a lot like millet and is oftentimes used as a porridge or bread ingredient. The reason why it's a grain worth trying is because it has a very low glycemic index (which makes it great for regulating diabetes), it is high in iron, it contains the amino acids cystine and methionine (they aid in liver detoxification) and also the amino acid methionine (which strengthens your hair and nails) and, it has calcium, magnesium and phosphorus in it. International markets tend to have fonio in stock. So does Amazon.
Are you a big tea drinker? If so, one that you might want to add to your tea collection is Mugicha. Long story short, it's a Japanese tea that falls into the category of being a roasted barley tea. It's good for you because it contains vitamins and minerals that fight free radicals and aid in preventing tooth decay while reducing body fat and high cholesterol levels. You can get some tea bags here.
Let's round all of this out with limequats, shall we? If you were to crossbreed a lime with a kumquat, a limequat is exactly what you would end up with. Thanks to the off-the-charts amount of Vitamin C that they contain, limequats can help to lower the risk of infection, delay signs of aging, reduce the risk of cancer, strengthen teeth and bones and lower the risk of heart disease too. Something else that's great about this particular fruit is they contain thiamin, niacin, pyridoxine, folates and pantothenic acid—all of which help to keep your blood healthy and your metabolism high. Since it's a hybrid fruit that is really popular in Florida, you might need to have a few of 'em shipped to you. No worries. Sites like Pearson Ranch sell them. Just make sure to order some before June because they are only in season from January through May, making it the ultimate springtime fruit. Enjoy!
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org. A sistah will certainly do what she can. ;)
Exclusive: Gabrielle Union On Radical Transparency, Being Diagnosed With Perimenopause And Embracing What’s Next
Whenever Gabrielle Union graces the movie screen, she immediately commands attention. From her unforgettable scenes in films like Bring It On and Two Can Play That Game to her most recent film, in which she stars and produces Netflix’s The Perfect Find, there’s no denying that she is that girl.
Off-screen, she uses that power for good by sharing her trials and tribulations with other women in hopes of helping those who may be going through the same things or preventing them from experiencing them altogether. Recently, the Flawless by Gabrielle Union founder partnered with Clearblue to speak at the launch of their Menopause Stage Indicator, where she also shared her experience with being perimenopausal.
In a xoNecoleexclusive, the iconic actress opens up about embracing this season of her life, new projects, and overall being a “bad motherfucker.” Gabrielle reveals that she was 37 years old when she was diagnosed with perimenopause and is still going through it at 51 years old. Mayo Clinic says perimenopause “refers to the time during which your body makes the natural transition to menopause, marking the end of the reproductive years.”
“I haven't crossed over the next phase just yet, but I think part of it is when you hear any form of menopause, you automatically think of your mother or grandmother. It feels like an old-person thing, but for me, I was 37 and like not understanding what that really meant for me. And I don't think we focus so much on the word menopause without understanding that perimenopause is just the time before menopause,” she tells us.
Photo by Brian Thomas
"But you can experience a lot of the same things during that period that people talk about, that they experienced during menopause. So you could get a hot flash, you could get the weight gain, the hair loss, depression, anxiety, like all of it, mental health challenges, all of that can come, you know, at any stage of the menopausal journey and like for me, I've been in perimenopause like 13, 14 years. When you know, most doctors are like, ‘Oh, but it's usually about ten years, and I'm like, ‘Uhh, I’m still going (laughs).’”
Conversations about perimenopause, fibroids, and all the things that are associated with women’s bodies have often been considered taboo and thus not discussed publicly. However, times are changing, and thanks to the Gabrielle’s and the Tia Mowry’s, more women are having an authentic discourse about women’s health. These open discussions lead to the creation of more safe spaces and support for one another.
“I want to be in community with folks. I don't ever want to feel like I'm on an island about anything. So, if I can help create community where we are lacking, I want to be a part of that,” she says. “So, it's like there's no harm in talking about it. You know what I mean? Like, I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change. I'm just getting better and stronger and more intelligent, more wise, more patient, more compassionate, more empathetic. All of that is very, very welcomed, and none of it should be scary.”
The Being Mary Jane star hasn’t been shy about her stance on therapy. If you don’t know, here’s a hint: she’s all for it, and she encourages others to try it as well. She likens therapy to dating by suggesting that you keep looking for the right therapist to match your needs. Two other essential keys to her growth are radical transparency and radical acceptance (though she admits she is still working on the latter).
"I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change."
Gabrielle Union and Kaavia Union-Wade
Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images
“I hope that a.) you recognize that you're not alone. Seek out help and know that it's okay to be honest about what the hell is happening in your life. That's the only way that you know you can get help, and that's also the only other way that people know that you are in need if there's something going on,” she says, “because we have all these big, very wild, high expectations of people, but if they don't know what they're actually dealing with, they're always going to be failing, and you will always be disappointed. So how about just tell the truth, be transparent, and let people know where you are. So they can be of service, they can be compassionate.”
Gabrielle’s transparency is what makes her so relatable, and has so many people root for her. Whether through her TV and film projects, her memoirs, or her social media, the actress has a knack for making you feel like she’s your homegirl. Scrolling through her Instagram, you see the special moments with her family, exciting new business ventures, and jaw-dropping fashion moments. Throughout her life and career, we’ve seen her evolve in a multitude of ways. From producing films to starting a haircare line to marriage and motherhood, her journey is a story of courage and triumph. And right now, in this season, she’s asking, “What’s next?”
“This is a season of discovery and change. In a billion ways,” says the NAACP Image Award winner. “The notion of like, ‘Oh, so and so changed. They got brand new.’ I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
"I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
She continues, “So I'm just trying to figure out what's next. You know what I mean? I'm jumping into what's next. I'm excited going into what's next and new. I'm just sort of embracing all of what life has to offer.”
Look out for Gabrielle in the upcoming indie film Riff Raff, which is a crime comedy starring her and Jennifer Coolidge, and she will also produce The Idea of You, which stars Anne Hathaway.
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A dead bedroom can kill any relationship. In all long-term, committed relationships, couples experience various phases, from the initial passion to a more complex and enduring connection. Yet, as time passes, sex may decrease, which introduces an issue often referred to as "bed death."
According to Advance Psychology Partners, 'bed death' occurs when individuals in a committed relationship experience a decline in the frequency of sexual activity and fall short of the desires of both or either partner. It is sometimes labeled a "sexless relationship" due to the infrequency of sex. In the U.S., an estimated 20 million people find themselves in such relationships.
This shift is a significant change for couples. Let’s face it: no one wants to be in a sexless marriage or relationship. But how can couples effectively confront the impact of fading physical intimacy on the overall health of their enduring partnership?
"I have found that many factors influence one's desire to dive, and it is often not a majority of just one thing. Most people assume that if they don't desire [sex], they are no longer physically attracted, but in my experience, that has little to do with it most of the time," explained Brittanni Young, LMFT, CST.
"Some of the heavy contributors that I see most often include excessive goal orientation towards orgasm, people not prioritizing their own sexuality, and the landfill of ‘should’s’ that develop from toxic sexual scripts created long ago in upbringing," she added.
Furthermore, these issues are not exclusive to any particular orientation, but it does manifest differently.
Young is a licensed marriage and family therapist, sexologist, and board-certified sex therapist who practices in Georgia and Florida. She has worked in the sexology field for over a decade. Young helps couples and individuals looking to get through challenges of all facets facing sexuality and intimacy, such as desire mismatch, over-compulsion, and dysfunctions. She recently launched a deck of intimacy connection cards called "Show Me Your Cards." Young is working on another product that helps teach children to consent and negotiate appropriate touch. She sat down with xoNecole to discuss what causes the decline in the bedroom, the myth of 'lesbian bed death,' and recommendations on overcoming "bed death."
The Decline In Intimacy
Intimacy often dwindles within relationships, a phenomenon triggered by various factors such as stress, the insidious monotony of routine, and the toxicity of unresolved conflicts, to name a few. While couples manage daily life, exchanging intimate desires and concerns may take a backseat. Sadly, this gradually erodes the closeness once shared in the relationship.
"Typically, the first thing I do when working with a couple on desire challenges is rule out medical causes by referring them to their primary care physician or other provider they are working with," Young shared. "There are times when unmanaged or mismanaged conditions factor into low desire levels. Also, many medications can wreak havoc on keeping desire levels up, such as antidepressants, SSRIs, anti-anxiety, and blood pressure medications, to name a few."
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"Next, I look at the state of the relationship. If there is dissatisfaction in the relationship, then it definitely affects how close and intimate one wants to be to another. There are also plenty of individual factors one can bring into the equation, such as low self-esteem, anxiety, depression, feelings of shame or guilt around one's own sexuality, and external life stressors that can get in the way. I find that life stressors can be a big one for folks, as once you get in the habit of not prioritizing sex, it tends to stick," she added.
Fortunately, there are ways to prevent "bed death." It can involve prioritizing your wants and open communication about sexual needs.
"What tends to be effective for all couples is taking an inventory of how satisfied they are with their sexual behaviors and engagement. Being truthful in this vein can be the start of unlocking inhibitions that can keep you from seeking out and being genuinely vulnerable in intimate spaces," Young explained. "Next, I suggest opening up lines of communication around these truths. When people assume that nothing can be done, hope is lost."
The Myth Of 'Lesbian Bed Death'
The notion of "lesbian bed death" perpetuates a simplistic and inaccurate stereotype about the sexual dynamics within lesbian relationships. Contrary to the myth, the experience of a decline in intimacy is not universal among lesbian couples. The diverse spectrum of relationships among women challenges this oversimplified narrative, emphasizing that the complexities of sexual dynamics extend beyond stereotypical assumptions.
"The notion of 'lesbian bed death' is based on a research study done by Pepper Schwartz in 1983 that found that lesbian couplings fell behind in sexual frequency compared to heterosexual and gay male couplings," Young revealed.
"Several other studies [after] have replicated these findings but give very little information about sexual satisfaction. Despite there being more research needed overall in the sexuality field, more recent research did find that when it comes to the length of sexual encounters, lesbian couples had the longest duration of encounters. To that end, sexual quality over quantity is a better marker of satisfaction, and that is what I pay most attention to in my work. With that said, dissatisfaction can happen in all couplings over time," the sexologist continued.
Factors influencing reduced intimacy among lesbian couples may include communication challenges, societal pressures, and individual variations in libido. Menstruation can also play a role, with some couples navigating discomfort or hormonal changes during this period.
"There are certainly some nuances that come into play with lesbian couples that differ from heterosexual or other-oriented couples. As I stated earlier, physiological factors can factor into the rise and fall of libido. The hormone fluctuations that come from menstruation and menopause can impact desire levels, and it is double present in lesbian couples. Another nuance is the lack of a sexual script from society on lesbian sexual behavior. There are patriarchal roots to sexual research, which have created our societal norms that tend to leave out anyone who isn't heterosexual," Young stated.
Overcoming The Challenges
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While 'bed death' challenges couples, solutions are within reach. By identifying and addressing the underlying causes, couples can rekindle the flame of intimacy and ensure a healthier, more fulfilling relationship.
"In the words of Esther Perel, another sexual professional in the field, 'love enjoys knowing everything about you; desire needs mystery.' I recommend keeping it in the front of your mind, prioritizing, and keeping it interesting. Be open to learning more about your own sexuality every day, as well as your partner. You are always growing; what worked for you 20 years ago may not be the same today. Stay curious with one another and be open to exploring new ways to pleasure. You deserve it," Young said.
For instance, Young advised that couples should "keep sexual encounters light and playful." And not be afraid to introduce new elements, such as toys.
"Touch often in ways that are consensual and feel safe! I made 'Show Me Your Cards' to serve this purpose specifically. Just because you do not feel in the mood to go all the way does not mean you aren't in the mood to hold hands, exchange body massages, or dance together. Connecting often in any physical form, as long as it feels pleasurable, still counts as 'being in the mood,'" she said.
Overcoming the hurdles of "bed death" and debunking myths surrounding 'lesbian bed death' offers a unique perspective for couples grappling with the difficulties of sustaining a connection. Learning the proper ways to work through a sexless relationship can help foster a healthier, more fulfilling relationship.
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