If there's one thing that I think we all can agree on, it's the fact that one of the best things about this time of year is all of the good home-cooked eatin' that we get to partake of. It's like, no matter whose house you walk into, there's gonna be some sort of casserole, freshly-baked pie or traditional family recipe that the host is going to be more than happy to offer you—and you're gonna be more than happy to oblige.
Problem is, even when it comes to holiday cooking and eating, there is such a thing as going overboard. Even though most of us only gain 1-2 pounds by the time the New Year officially gets to going, it's still important to go easy on foods that may taste good but aren't exactly the healthiest for you and your system. For the record, some that top the list include eggnog, pot roast, cheesecake, sausage stuffing, croissants, and just about any kind of dip that you can think of. The main reason is because they are loaded with fat and calories.
That's the bad news. The good news is there are several "traditional holiday foods" that are actually pretty good for you (especially if you prepare them in a healthy way). If you're ready to know what you actually can chow down on without having any guilt, here are 10 foods that both your taste buds and digestive system will love.
Most of us know that if anything can trigger "itis" in our system, it's turkey. The reason why is because it has a lot of the nutrient tryptophan in it, and since that is what helps our bodies to produce the neurotransmitter serotonin which helps us to sleep…there you have it. But that's not all that turkey is able to do. It's high in protein, niacin, and vitamins B3, B6, and B12. If it's skinless and roasted, it's low in fat. Turkey contains less cholesterol than chicken, beef, or pork. It's also rich in zinc, selenium, and phosphorus. Oh, and as you or one of your relatives is carving the turkey up, if you're curious about if white or dark meat is best, while I'm a dark meat kind of gal myself, it's actually the white kind that wins out; it's got less fat and more vitamins.
One more thing—as far as the "itis" goes, I recently read "Does Turkey Make You Sleepy?" which claims that turkey making us sleepy is a myth. Personally, I still feel that it does. Then again, maybe it's the combo of the turkey and the dressing and the mac 'n cheese that sends us over the edge. Nonetheless, I'd be remiss if I didn't advise that you not eat a turkey leg and drive right after. Don't say a sista didn't warn you.
Try This: Herb Roasted Turkey Recipe
Hands down, one of the most popular foods during this time of the year is pumpkin. It's a fruit that is actually a winter squash that's good for you in a lot of different ways. Pumpkin is loaded with fiber as well as vitamins A, B2, C, E, copper, potassium, and manganese. Because it's made up of almost 95 percent water, it's a low-calorie food. Some of its other health benefits include the fact that pumpkin is high in antioxidants, the iron in it will help to keep your red blood cells in good shape, and pumpkin contains compounds that are good for your skin as well.
Cranberry sauce. Cranberry muffins. Apple crisp with cranberries in it. These are some of the dishes that come to mind whenever I think about how cranberries are incorporated into the holiday season. They are another fruit that you can feel good about because they're a superfood that contains powerful antioxidants to fight off the bacteria that cause urinary tract infections (UTIs). Cranberries also have the ability to remove toxins and build-up in your digestive tract. They are also able to reduce your risk of heart disease and fight the cells that lead to breast and lung cancer too. Something else that's cool about cranberries is they've got polyphenols (micronutrient compounds) to build up your immune system so that the dreaded cold and flu bugs can be kept at bay.
Try This: Healthy Cranberry Sauce Recipe
4. Green Beans
When it comes to green beans, let's actually go with the bad news first. Although green bean casserole is a staple on a lot of people's holiday season menus, it's important to avoid using a ton of canned soup and fried onions while preparing it. Since both of those are considered to be processed foods, this means that they've also got more than their fair share of preservatives and sodium in them.
That said, green beans themselves are super good for you. For starters, they've got folate, vitamins A, C, and K, and the chemical element silicon (which is really good for your skin and hair) in it. Some other perks include the fact that green beans contain no cholesterol, they've got a good amount of protein, calcium, and magnesium in them, and they're 31 calories per serving which means that you can have more than a couple of servings if you'd like.
Try This: Healthy Green Bean Casserole Recipe
Gingerbread. Ginger tea. Ginger cookies. There's a good chance that you'll have at least one of these things before the new year rolls around—and yes, since ginger is in them, you're in good hands. The best thing about this particular spice is it has the bioactive compound gingerol in it. Thanks to gingerol, if you've got this in your system, the medicinal properties in it will help to fight off any cold-related symptoms. Some other benefits of ginger are, thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties, ginger reduces muscle pain and soreness (if you consume it daily); lowers blood sugar levels in your system; treats chronic indigestion; reduces menstrual pain and discomfort and, of course, it's the go-to for motion sickness and pregnancy-related nausea.
So yeah, keep some ginger tea bags or some crystallized ginger in tow if you're about to board a flight, if you know you're about to eat more cobbler than you should, or if you are newly expecting (congrats if you are, by the way!). By consuming some, you'll feel much better.
Try This: Healthy Gingerbread Muffins Recipe
Would it even be a traditional holiday meal without collard greens? Hmph. Not if you're sittin' at a Black family's table, it wouldn't. And yes, this is a food that also makes the list because dark leafy greens always have our back. When it comes to collards, in particular, they have about four grams of protein per serving in them. They are also high in vitamins A, B6, C, E, and K. The amino acids that are in collards have a remarkable way of detoxifying your liver and boosting your immune system while the Vitamin K that is in them will help to keep your bones nice and strong. The key is to prepare them without all of the bacon, salt, and fat. Yeah, collards are a brilliant example that, when it comes to healthy eating, it's not always about the food itself but how you prepare it.
It really can't be said enough. Although sweet potatoes and yams are both "tuber vegetables", they are not the same; they aren't even related. The reason why this is important to mention is that I can't tell you how many times I've been grocery shopping with someone who will pick up a sweet potato and think that it's "all good" because it's basically a yam. It isn't. But if you're looking forward to sitting down to some yams this year, you can smile about it because yams contain compounds that bring premenstrual and menopausal relief. Some other great benefits are the fact that yams are also able to lower bodily inflammation, reduce oxidative stress, improve liver and kidney function and bring relief that's associated with rheumatoid arthritis too. Yams have fiber, copper, potassium, manganese, and antioxidants in them as well so there's no reason to avoid getting your fill.
If something within is trying to make you feel guilty for having a slice of pecan pie, don't. Pecans are also a food that's really good for you. A fun fact about this nut is it's got more antioxidants than any other nut does. Some other bonuses include the fact that pecans contain monounsaturated fats like oleic acid that are good for your heart, fiber to keep you regular, magnesium to keep you calm and relaxed, and zinc, folate, and Vitamin E to keep your skin and hair looking and feeling beautiful. Speaking of beauty, something else that's in pecans is ellagic acid; which provides anti-aging benefits. As far as your hair goes, the amino acid L-arginine that's in them can trigger hair growth. So yeah girl, have that pie. Just remember that it's one thing to have a slice. It's another to eat an entire pie in one sitting. Balance. Balance is key.
Try This: Healthy Pecan Pie Bars Recipe
Whether you're planning on making a dessert out of cocoa or you like nothing more than drinking hot cocoa with a few marshmallows in it, this is something else that is good for your health. Cocoa contains antioxidants that help to fight off free radicals as it also reduces your cholesterol and blood sugar levels. Cocoa has also been proven to lower blood pressure, increase blood flow to the brain and even improve depression-related symptoms. Another awesome thing about cocoa is it's got flavanols in it that help to fight type 2 diabetes too. The main thing to keep in mind here is to not "water down the effects" of the cocoa by adding a ton of sugar to it. Also, since not all cocoas are created equal, in order to get the most benefits possible, check out "The 10 Best Cocoa Powders in 2019" to help you figure out which one to buy.
Try This: 5-Minute Vegan Hot Cocoa Recipe
C'mon. You've got to turn up, at least a little bit over the holidays, right? Although a lot of us are more than happy to drink a glass or two of sangria pretty much any time of the year, it's not uncommon to see more than your fair share of it during Thanksgiving and Christmas. Since the traditional recipe calls for apples, oranges, peaches, lemons, plums, and sometimes strawberries, along with some good ole' red wine—yeah, make it a point to make at least two full pitches of it this holiday season. Just the resveratrol and polyphenols in red wine that helps to protect your blood vessels and heart should be enough of a reason to drink and be merry. So, indulge in some old-fashioned sangria. It's just one more reason to look forward to sitting around the holiday-themed dinner table with your loved ones. Enjoy!
Try This: The Ultimate Holiday Sangria Recipe
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Originally published on November 27, 2019
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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. ;)
This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
Imma tell y’all what — it seems like not one week goes by when I don’t see some sort of so-called term that has me like, “What in the world?” For instance, when I first stumbled upon “self-partnering,” honestly, I laughed. Then shared it with some other single people as well as married folks I know. And I kid you not, every individual was like, “What the heck does that mean?” When I told them that it was yet, one more way to seemingly define single living, basically everyone’s follow-up was, “Oh, brother.”
Why can’t (more) singles just be single and be okay with that? Good Lord. Why does there need to be some sort of relational play-on-words to make it sound like we’re with someone — even if we’re not?
Now masterdating? Even though it’s not even close to being a “real” word, it’s something that also brought a laugh outta me — although it was then followed by a genuine smile. The laugh because I almost immediately caught the play-on-words. The smile was due to the intention behind it all.
If you’re not familiar with what masterdating is and you’re curious about why you should even care, take a few moments to at least skim through what it’s about and why I think participating, as a single person, is a pretty cool (and effective) concept.
Masturdate: a date w oneself
What’s Masterdating All About?
Masterdating. Okay, so let the word marinate for just a moment. What does it sound like? Yeah…exactly. And since a huge part of masturbation centers around self-pleasure, it’s cool to explore how “self-dating” could produce similar (as far as pleasure is concerned in a broader sense) results. Because masterdating is all about spending quality time with yourself, pampering yourself, treating yourself— and yes, taking yourself out on dates.
Any of you who may think that masterdating is a consolation prize — and a pitiful one at that — for not being able to go out with another human being or get that dream $200 first date that social media was all in a tizzy about last year (bookmark that) — personally, I think that you’re the demographic who needs to try out masterdating first and the most. Why? Off top, I’ll share my three good reasons.
3 Reasons To Strongly Consider Masterdating
1. It’s an intimate way to get to know yourself better. I’ve been working with couples for a pretty long time at this point and if there’s a pattern that I see arise, OFTEN, it’s that two people are oftentimes so busy trying to “find their person” that they didn’t even know who they were. As a direct result, they found themselves in a relationship with someone who only complemented the “kiddie pool version” of who they were.
That’s why it can be so beneficial to spend time getting to know yourself on the “deep end” of things: what makes you tick, what your passions are, what you want most out of life, what are your interests beyond obvious things — and masterdating can help you to discover all of this. Whether it’s traveling alone or taking out a weekend to drink some wine and journal, the more you get to know yourself, the clearer you’ll be about who complements you on a romantic and friendship level.
2. It will definitely help to boost your confidence levels. I guess since I’m an ambivert, I don’t really get why people freak out at the mere thought of going to a restaurant or movie alone. Personally, I think it requires a helluva lot more energy and gumption to wait around and plan stuff with other people (#Elmoshrug). However, whether you’re an introvert, extrovert, or ambivert, there’s no way around the fact that the more comfortable you get with doing things alone, the more your confidence levels will increase — no, soar — because of it.
One article that I read on the topic said that doing things alone can make you more creative, improve your mental health, and help you to be totally okay with being alone (so that you’re not “needy” for other people’s attention). A psychotherapist from a New York Times article on the benefits of spending time alone said, “Getting better at identifying moments when we need solitude to recharge and reflect can help us better handle negative emotions and experiences, like stress and burnout.” And when you’re able to stare negativity in its face without flinching, how could that not make you bolder, more self-secure, and hopeful about your life?
3. It will teach you to value your time more effectively. In every facet of your world, you’re gonna operate from a healthier place if you’re operating from a “full cup” rather than an empty one. When it comes to this topic, think about it — if you’re constantly waiting on someone to call you to go out or wishing for a dream date with some guy, all you’re doing is wasting precious time that you could be spending taking a cooking class or hell, hiring a chef to make you dinner at your own home.
Indeed, waiting has two sides to it: when it’s in the form of patience, it is indeed a virtue, yet when it’s wrapped up in the notion that you’re not really living life unless you have an audience…it is totally working against you. Choose wisely.
10 Solo Date Ideas To Help You To “Master” Masterdating
So, what if you’re someone who has either never considered actually masterdating before or you don’t really know what to do beyond dinner and the movies? Here are a few ideas to consider:
1. Attend a workshop or masterclass that you’re interested in. If there’s something that you’ve always wanted to learn, sign up for a workshop or masterclass. The cool thing about this option is there are probably some in your city, as well as some that you can find online (like here) that are convenient and affordable.
2. Binge-read at a local coffee shop. Aside from their coziness and oftentimes inviting scents, I once read that a lot of us gravitate to coffee shops because we can be around people without having to actually socialize with them. So, if you want to “hang out” while still being able to enjoy a bit of solitude, take a book that you’ve been trying to finish to a local coffee shop, order your favorite latte, and sit in a big-ass comfy chair. Usually, you can sit there for hours, and the staff will be just fine with it (another bonus).
3. Have a spa day in the next town. You can never go wrong with a spa day. And while going with a friend can be fun, sometimes there’s too much talking transpiring to be able to fully chill out and relax. So, go off of the grid, get a change of scenery, and hit up a spa in the next city (or town). There are lots of studies out here supporting that day trips or “daycations” can actually be really good for your long-term health and well-being.
4. See a community play. Some of the best solo dates that I’ve ever been on consisted of taking in some of the local arts in my city. What’s really cool about this particular option is, oftentimes, they are extremely inexpensive, if not totally free of charge (in exchange for making a donation or putting money into a tip jar).
5. Plan a trip. Whenever people say something along the lines of, “If you don’t expect anything, you won’t be disappointed,” I know that they low-key have some (additional) healing to do from past disappointments. There’s simply too much intel out here to support that anticipation (of good stuff) makes us more motivated and optimistic, keeps our dopamine levels up, and makes life more exciting overall.
Since traveling alone is more cost-effective, gives you the freedom to do whatever you want (when you want), and increases the possibility of meeting new people and having new experiences on your journey — why not devote a day this weekend to planning a solo trip? All the way around, it’s good for you.
6. Try your hand at your own “$200 date.” Uh-huh. Roll your eyes if you want to, but it’s real easy to talk left about how a man should be able to just drop $200 like it’s nothing…until you actually try to do it. So yes, while taking yourself out on this type of date could serve as a bit of a reality check, it can also “scratch the itch” of waiting on some dude to do it for you. It’s also way less emotionally draining because, at least when you’re taking your own self out, it’s guaranteed that you’ll enjoy the company…right?
7. DIY some pampering. When you get a chance, check out “5 Reasons You Should Unapologetically Pamper Yourself,” “Want To Love On Yourself? Try These 10 Things At Home.,” “I’ve Got Some Ways For You To Start Pampering Your Soul,” and “When's The Last Time You Actually Pampered Your Vagina?” The bottom line here is pampering is all about, not mere self-maintenance; it’s all about treating yourself to levels of EXTREME SELF-INDULGENCE. So, if nothing else tickles your fancy on this list, at least consider doing that, chile.
8. Feed your creativity. Something that I used to be really good at is art. That said, one of my goddaughters is insanely talented, so she has reminded me to tap back into it. Also, a big part of what got me into the writing world is poetry; I actually used to be a house poet at a local spot. Sometimes, my best quality time moments with myself have been revisiting these creative sides of me — and this is definitely easier to do (and enjoy) alone.
9. Try some stargazing. When’s the last time you took a blanket into your backyard, laid down on it, and just stared at the stars for hours on end? While some say that stargazing can teach you to be mindful, others say that being in that form of nature reduces stress, while others believe that looking up at the universe at night can increase your attention span. All solid reasons to give it a shot, if you ask me.
10. DO. ABSOLUTELY. NOTHING. Let me tell you something that nobody will ever be able to make me feel bad about: doing absolutely nothing. I’ve got data to back me up. Good Housekeeping shares that doing nothing can help you decide how you want to respond or react to certain things. I like howThe Guardian says that taking this approach helps you to regain control of what you give your attention to.
TIME magazine says that it can ultimately make you more productive.BBC offers up that it can help you tap into your ingenuity.Henry Ford Health says that it can make you kinder and a better problem-solver. So, if you want to invest in yourself, do nothing sometimes.
Closing Thoughts from the Lovely Javicia Leslie
While some of y'all may know Javicia Leslie from being the former Batwoman, I discovered her back in the day from the indie series Chef Julian (and yes, "Julian" was right to say that "Mo" looks like Tatyana Ali...the real ones know). Sometimes I'll hop on her IG to see what she's got going on and this story popped up within a few hours of me penning this...so, I took it as hella confirmation.
TREAT YO SELF. WAIT FOR NO ONE.
WAIT FOR NO ONE. TREAT YO SELF.
RINSE AND REPEAT.
Sooo…what kind of masterdating plans do you have for this coming weekend? While going out with others has its perks, hanging out with yourself has a ton of ‘em too. Enjoy!
No…for real. ENJOY!
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