One thing about me? Oh, I'm gonna eat some meat. While I don't do pork or shellfish, a steak, some salmon and some good 'old dark meat fried chicken can bring a smile to my face in a way that a lot of other foods simply cannot. That doesn't mean that I don't get that sometimes my body needs a break from "indulging in the flesh". When I choose to take one, I still prefer to eat something that has a bit of a meaty feel to it. And since I know that a lot of meat substitute products contain so much sodium and preservatives that I might as well stick to a cow, fish or chicken, I typically prefer to go a meat alternative route that is strictly a vegetable and then prepare it to my liking at home.
What? You didn't know that there are some vegetables that have a texture that is so close to meat that it can make going the vegetarian/vegan route—even if it's just temporarily—easier on your palate? Indeed, there are and if you've got a sec, I'll share with you 10 that top my personal list.
1. Portobello Mushrooms
Off top, whenever I want to take a break from meat while still wanting something that has a meaty texture to it, my automatic go-to is portobello mushrooms. They are probably my favorite hamburger stand-in, hands down. Matter of fact, the only reason why I don't eat them more often is because I've got a fungal sensitivity and well, mushrooms are a fungus. Anyway, on the health benefits tip, portobello mushrooms are cool because they contain Vitamin B, copper, fiber, selenium, antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds. As a bonus, they can help to lower your risk of getting cancer too. So, if you've got a craving for a sandwich and you want to chill on the meat tip, grill yourself a portobello. You won't regret it.
If you were to go to your favorite search engine, right this second, and put "meat substitutes" in the search field, I'd be floored if you didn't see jackfruit come up in almost every article.
Even though it's a tropical fruit, a lot of people like to swap meat out for jackfruit because they find that its texture is similar to shredded meat. For the record, if you've never had jackfruit before, it has a mild sweet flavor.
And what are its health benefits? Jackfruit is a good source of protein and fiber. It's also got a fair amount of Vitamin C, magnesium, manganese, copper and potassium in it as well. Some other good reasons to give jackfruit a shot is it can help to lower your blood sugar levels, boost your immunity, strengthen your heart, ward off diseases and improve the quality of your skin too. Yep, jackfruit is that one.
Let me just say that, off the top, when it comes to this one, if you've got a gluten allergy, just pass on by this suggestion. The reason why is because seiten is literally wheat gluten. The reason why some people like it as a meat alternative is because it has a texture that is quite reminiscent of meat protein. That said, if you're good with wheat, seiten can be beneficial because it is loaded with protein and is a pretty good source of selenium, iron and phosphorus with a dab of calcium and copper. Cutting it into slices like meat and preparing it is a popular route to take. So is grilling it in the summertime.
Try This: Vegan Meatballs Recipe (they're made with seitan)
Second in line for me, when it comes to meat substitutes, would have to be eggplant. Based on how you prepare it, it also can have a similar texture to meat. It contains a good amount of fiber, iron, antioxidants and plant compounds in it as well as a fair amount of manganese, potassium and folic acid. Eggplant is also good for you because it can help to reduce your risk of heart disease, it contains cancer-fighting properties, it can help you to lose weight and, because of the iron that's in it, eggplant can help to keep you from becoming anemic too. Dope.
Try This: Vegan Eggplant "Bacon" Recipe
5. Black Beans
Beans make the list. It's not that it has a texture like meat; it's just that, say you're making a Mexican dish that calls for something like ground beef. If you go with black beans instead, it's been my personal experience that you don't really miss the beef all that much. Black beans, nutrient-wise, have protein, fiber, iron, zinc, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium and manganese in them. All of these things work together to keep you regular, lower your blood pressure, fight heart disease, manage weight loss and, if you've got diabetes, black beans can help to lower your blood glucose levels too. So, pull out some tortillas and do some damage tonight.
Potatoes don't really have a meaty texture to them either. Still, if you want to prepare a vegetarian or vegan casserole, they can be a nice addition because nothing sticks to our ribs quite like meat AND potatoes do, right? Potatoes also have your back because they are full of protein and fiber. Plus, they contain vitamins B6 and C, potassium, manganese, phosphorus, folate, magnesium and antioxidants. Something that a lot of people like about potatoes is that they're gluten-free. Not only that, they are beneficial when it comes to maintaining your digestive health, reducing inflammation and, because potatoes have the amino acid L-tryptophan in them, they're a vegetable that can help to keep you calmer and more relaxed too. Shepherd's pie, anyone?
Try This: Beyond Beef Shepherd's Pie Recipe
Personally, I'm not the biggest soy fan, mostly because it seems to be the non-meat substitute that isn't consumed in moderation when it absolutely should be (a read worth checking out is "The Dangers of Soy"). If you happen to be a soy fan, though, tempeh is something worth checking out. Long story short, fermented soybeans, grains and beans are put together to create this product. The protein amount is high. The Vitamin B, iron, manganese, magnesium and phosphorus levels in it are good (there's some calcium in tempeh too). Health benefits include the fact that tempeh has prebiotics, it can help to reduce oxidative stress and promote bone health too. Not bad for a meat alternative. Not bad at all.
Try This: Teriyaki Tempeh Recipe
Mangoes? Yep. Mangoes. I actually came across a recipe for BBQ mango that was interesting (check it out here). Others like to use this fruit to make homemade mango stew (you can see that recipe here). However, if you're a big sushi eater, there's a huge chance that you've had mango in a roll before. Why are they good for you? For starters, they're protein and fiber amounts are pretty impressive. Mangoes also have a ton of Vitamin C, folate and copper in them, along with some vitamin A, B, E and K and antioxidants. If you eat them regularly enough, they can boost your immune system, improve your digestive health and even make your eyes stronger. So, why not make a mango sushi roll? What do you have to lose, chile?
Try This: Avocado Cucumber Sushi Roll Recipe (it's got mango in it)
OK. Off top, this one might seem like a bit of a wild card yet just hear me out for a sec. There are many vegetarians and vegans who sing cauliflower's praises in this lane because they find it to be a cool chicken alternative, especially when it comes to Asian-themed dishes.
Its health benefits? Cauliflower has vitamins B6, C and K, as well as folate, pantothenic acid and potassium in it. Since it also contains antioxidants, cauliflower is able to help keep free radicals out of your system. Also, since it has choline in it, you can be sure that your cell membranes are being provided with a very essential nutrient that they need. Yeah, cauliflower can seem a little boring on its own. Still, if you season it right, you could look up and wonder why you've gone without using it as a substitute for poultry (sometimes) for as long as you have.
10. Meatless "Meat"
This one, I'll keep short 'n sweet. Whether you hate to cook or you're looking for a quick way to enjoy some meat substitutes, there are more and more plant-based meatless products that are available at your local stores. One that I grew up on as a child was Morning Star and it's still alive and kickin'. Anyway, Peta has a list that you can check out here. Urban Tastebud has a list that you can check out here. 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. ;)
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.
Now that the fall season is officially settling its way on in, it’s time to ramp up on our favorite warm drinks. And while, for me, what tops the list is hot chocolate and apple cider, being that I grew up in a home that was consistently stocked with various kinds of herbal tea, that’s why I enjoy writing so much about tea (and all of the ways that it can benefit you) for this platform. I’ve written about teas that can improve your sex life (here), teas that are good for maintaining vaginal health (here), not-so-common teas that are beneficial for your overall health and well-being (here), and even teas that are perfect for this time of the year (here).
Yet one thing that I haven’t covered (until today) is the different types of tea that not only are delightful to consume during this time of the year, they are also able to get your hair right where you want it to be. And since cooler weather is typically what causes us to consider consuming tea more often — why not doubly bless yourself by stacking up on your own collection so that you cut the body chills and reach many of your hair goals at the same time, too?
1. Black Tea
Even though I’m a big fan of iced chai lattes (they contain black tea, which is why they’re relevant here), it wasn’t until I was doing some research on this topic that I discovered that black tea is currently the most popular tea worldwide. When you stop to think about the fact that black tea is good for you when it comes to lowering blood sugar levels, increasing your focus and productivity levels, making your gut healthier, decreasing your risk of a stroke, and keeping your cholesterol levels in check — you definitely should give black tea a try, if you haven’t already.
Why does your hair like it? The thing about teas is, whether you use them as an herbal hair rinse or you drink them, they can do wonders. For instance, not only is black tea loaded with antioxidants that can protect your hair from heat damage (the sun still shines during the fall and winter seasons), but it can also help to keep your scalp in great shape and reduce hair shedding. Not only that, but word on the street is, black tea is also beneficial when it comes to boosting your hair color and making your locks appear shiny (or shinier) too.
2. Rosemary Tea
Rosemary has so many uses. It’s used as a seasoning for food. It’s in many beauty products. And it definitely comes with quite a few impressive health benefits. Thanks to all of the antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties that it contains, rosemary aids in proper digestion, boosting cognitive function and even enhancing your memory. As far as vaginal health goes, rosemary oil can help to speed up the healing process of certain infections, and, skin-wise, it can help to boost hydration and elasticity.
Your hair will adore rosemary tea because its antifungal and antibacterial properties will keep your scalp healthy, reduce dandruff, and keep your scalp and hair moisturized while ultimately playing a role in promoting overall hair strength and growth.
3. Peppermint Tea
Peppermint tea is one of my faves, year-round. It’s probably because I’m such a fan of mint. Anyway, it’s able to soothe headaches and migraines, unclog your sinuses, help prevent bacterial infections, bring relief to menstrual cramps, decrease allergy-related symptoms, assist with weight loss, and also make it easier to fall (and stay) asleep.
The menthol in peppermint tea is why it gets a shout-out here. Whether you drink the tea or use it as a hair rinse, it will increase blood circulation to your scalp so that your hair follicles are able to get the nutrients that they need. Oh, and since peppermint oil has been proven to aid in hair growth, something tells me that the properties of peppermint tea are able to do the same.
4. Chamomile Tea
I wouldn’t be surprised at all if the first thing that comes to mind whenever you hear “chamomile tea” is that it helps you sleep. The backstory there is it contains an antioxidant called apigenin that helps to relax your system. Some other ways that chamomile is helpful are it reduces anxiety, regulates blood sugar levels, soothes an upset stomach, brings relief to period cramps, and can even help to reduce skin inflammation.
Since it’s a tea that is also filled with antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties, if you’re looking for a way to keep your scalp in great shape from the inside out, chamomile tea is the one for you (as a hair rinse, it can help to prevent split ends too).
5. Oolong Tea
Oolong is a kind of Chinese tea that you definitely should have in your own tea collection. For starters, if you’re looking for a coffee alternative that will provide you with a solid caffeine boost, oolong has more caffeine in it than even green tea does. Interestingly enough, even though it can give you more energy, oolong also contains the amino acid L-theanine which is a pretty effective de-stressor. Some other bonuses about this particular tea are that it helps to naturally protect against diabetes-related complications, plays a role in burning body fat, and even aids in strengthening teeth and bones.
As a rinse, oolong tea has a reputation for helping to prevent hair loss. Whether you pour it on your tresses or drink it, oolong can help to bring strength and shine to your locks over time. Also, whether you’re drinking it or applying it as a hair rinse, it will boost blood circulation — and that will help to strengthen your hair follicles so that they remain nice and strong.
6. Calendula Tea
Another tea that’s filled with antioxidants is calendula tea. Between that and all of the anti-inflammatory properties that it contains, you can rely on this tea to reduce oxidative stress. Some other great things about calendula are it has antifungal and antimicrobial properties that can help to fight off yeast infections and early signs of gum disease. And if you’re looking for an herbal tea that will help to slow down the signs of aging, it’s able to do that as well.
On the hair front, if what you want, more than just about anything in this world right now is a natural tea remedy that will help you to combat frizz; calendula can assist with making your cuticles smoother as well as shinier.
7. Red Clover Tea
If any of the teas on this list is hailed as a “women’s tea,” it would have to be red clover. That’s because it contains isoflavones, which mimic estrogen, which can make menopause-related symptoms easier to bear. Some other cool things about this particular tea are it helps to lower cholesterol levels, strengthens your heart, and can support bone health as you age.
Your hair? Your hair will like the properties of red clover because the antioxidants in it can also help menopausal women maintain the appearance and texture of their locks once their estrogen levels begin to decline (due to menopause).
8. Hibiscus Tea
Probably the most colorful tea out of the bunch is hibiscus tea. It’s a beautiful bright red hue that also benefits you in a lot of ways. Not only does its antibiotics help to reduce bodily inflammation, it also helps to lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Plus, hibiscus aids in fighting off bad bacteria (like E.coli) and keeping your liver in good working condition.
Since this is a type of tea that has calcium, iron, and vitamin C in it, it can be beneficial for hair growth because they all help with the process of growing healthy and long hair. Calcium helps to strengthen your hair follicles, iron helps to reduce hair loss and shedding and vitamin C helps to produce collagen; collagen keeps elasticity in your hair which ultimately results in less breakage. Collagen also helps to slow down premature graying which is always a bonus.
9. Nettle Tea
Although it’s not the type of tea that makes most people’s top 10 list, that doesn’t make it any less beneficial…for a myriad of reasons. If you’re someone who battles with allergies (especially around this time of the year), you want to naturally boost your immune system, you’re looking for relief from arthritic pain, and/or you’re recovering from a urinary tract infection (UTI), nettle tea has your back in all over these instances.
When it comes to your hair, if you’re looking for a tea that contains properties that will help to strengthen your tresses and stimulate hair growth, nettle is also gaining traction on being a solid tea for those things. For the record, as an herbal rinse, it can bring relief to scalp irritation, too.
10. Sage Tea
If minty-meets-slightly-bitter is your thing, sage tea is ideal. Health-wise, it can do everything from improve your cognitive function and put you in a better mood to regulate your blood sugar levels and ease morning sickness. Since sage, in general, contains antimicrobial properties, sage tea can also help you to maintain good oral hygiene, and since it also mimics estrogen, some menopausal women are fans of it as well.
In some ways, I saved the best for last when it comes to hair because sage has a great reputation for helping to prevent hair loss, restoring shine to your locks, stimulating hair growth, and keeping grays from looking quite so obvious.
Gee, how could you not want to run out to your local health food store to get you a few of these? Now that it’s time to start doing some layering (of clothes), adding more (warm) tea to your life is money well spent — head to toe. Literally.
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