If someone were to ask me what I waste the most money on, on a monthly basis, I ain't gonna lie; I'd have to say produce would definitely top the list. I think a part of the reason is because, as grandma used to say, while shopping, "My eyes are bigger than my stomach" and I end up getting more than I need. Also, it wasn't until last year sometime that I really started to pay attention to what the shelf life for various fruits and vegetables actually are (if you'd like to learn more about that, click here). Plus, it wasn't until a few months ago that I became aware of some of the produce-related hacks that I'm about to share with you; ones that can make your foods easily last double their regular amount of time.
Fresh fruits and veggies are definitely better for your health than anything that is processed. But there's no point in buying produce if you're gonna toss everything out (due to them rotting) before you get around to actually enjoying them (le sigh). If that's the pattern you tend to find yourself in, these 12 hacks for making produce last longer may be an answer to your grocery shopping and budget-related prayers.
Hacks For Keeping Your Fruits & Vegetables Fresh
1. Prep Your Own Guacamole (Kinda)
Although I'm not exactly sure what the rhyme or reason is for this particular hack, what I do know is I hate the texture of a slimy avocado. The way to keep that from happening is to 1) store it into a plastic container that has a lid and 2) to place a slice of onion in there with it. If you're worried that the smell (or even taste) of the onion will transfer onto the avocado, no worries—miraculously, it won't.
2. Place Mushrooms in a Brown Paper Bag
If you don't plan on eating your mushrooms for a few days, rather than washing them off as soon as you buy them, take them out of their original packaging and then place them into a brown paper bag.
The bag has a way of absorbing any excess moisture that the mushrooms may have so that they don't mold so quickly.
Another tip? Keep the bag away from any foods that naturally have strong odors or flavors (like garlic). Mushrooms tend to absorb whatever it is closest too. (Oh, and yes, you can—and should—rinse off the mushrooms, right before eating them.)
3. Create Olive Oil Ice Cubes
Want a lot of flavor in your food but don't feel like always having to do a ton of prepping? As far as seasoning goes, something you can try is creating ice cubes out of olive oil, some of your favorite seasonings and fresh herbs. That way, once you're ready to cook, you can just take a couple of cubes out and throw them into your pot or pan. Speaking of seasoning your food, if you use ginger root and fresh turmeric a lot, you might want to store both of them in your freezer; they typically last longer if/when you do.
4. Store Potatoes and Apples Together
Another hack that I can't really explain, I can just tell you that it works, is to put potatoes and apples together. Why in the world would you possibly do that? Well, it's a pretty surefire way to keep your potatoes from sprouting before you actually get around to eating them.
5. Keep Ethylene-Emitting Produce Away from the Rest
Ethylene is a lot of things. As it relates to what we're touching on today, it's the kind of gas that causes certain foods to ripen at a faster pace. While this can be cool for foods with this type of gas in them (tomatoes, avocados, bananas and honeydew top the list), it totally wreaks havoc on apples, broccoli, cabbage and carrots. That's why it's imperative that you never store these foods together.
6. Don’t Store Tomatoes in the Fridge
When tomatoes no longer have their stems attached to them, it is much easier for air to get in and moisture to get out. That's why it's a good idea to store them at room temperature (out of the sunlight) instead of placing them into your refrigerator.
Also, keep the tomatoes from touching each other as much as possible. Something about them being stacked on top of each other affects their original taste and texture.
7. Put Asparagus in Water
I don't know about you, but I really enjoy baked asparagus spears. Problem is, sometimes they go bad before I get around to preparing them. A cool way to keep your own asparagus spears fresh for at least 10 days is to cut ¼ in. off of the bottom of the stalks, place them in a cup of water and then put them into the refrigerator. There's something about the extra oxygen and fluid from the water that extends this veggie's shelf life when you do.
Speaking of water, if you put chopped up dried onions and chives in an empty water bottle and then place the bottle into your freezer, that is one way to keep them extra fresh for a longer period of time as well.
8. Keep Nuts and Seeds in the Refrigerator
I'm willing to bet that you probably store your nuts and seeds in your pantry. Problem with that is, the combination of light and heat can result in both getting moldy and stale. You can avoid this by putting both into some airtight containers and placing them into your fridge. Your nuts and seeds will taste so much fresher (and last longer) if you do.
9. Soak Strawberries in Vinegar
First off, let me just say that, even if you happen to see strawberries in your store year-round, they are really only in season during the summer; more specifically, the entire month of June. That's important to keep in mind because when fruit is sold during its off season, you might be surprised by how many additives, preservatives and artificial coloring are added to them (yuck). That said, if you can't wait until summertime rolls around, just so that you can dig into a bowl of fresh strawberries, but you hate that they seem to go bad within a couple of days, do this. Put 2 ½ cups of water into a bowl, along with a ½ cup of white vinegar. If you soak your berries in this mixture, you'll get about an extra week of time before you'll need to eat them. (This hack typically goes for all berries, by the way.)
10. Dismantle Your Lettuce
Want your lettuce to last longer than 2-3 days? Separate its leaves, place a paper towel between each one, put them into a plastic bag and then store the leaves in the fridge. It'll earn you 5-8 extra days if you do because the paper towels will absorb the moisture that could cause the lettuce to mold.
11. Sprinkle a Little Lemon Juice on a Few Things
If you want to extend the life of your avocados or you want to keep chopped fruits like apples and bananas from going brown for at least 3-4 hours, sprinkle some fresh lemon juice on them. Long story short, the acid from the lemon keeps the oxidation (browning) of these types of food from happening. Pretty great, right?
12. Keep Fruits and Veggies at 40 Degrees
It's basically a science lesson, why a lot of produce needs to be kept at 40 degrees (there's a full breakdown on the logic behind it here). Bottom line is, in order for your fruits and veggies to stay fresh and delicious, it's important that your fridge is no higher than 40 degrees and no lower than 32 degrees. If you do that—along with the rest of this—you won't have to make a salad as big as your house in under 24 hours, just to make your produce run make sense. Awesome.
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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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Whitney Alford’s presence can be seen and heard all throughout her longtime partner, Kendrick Lamar’s impressive rap career, inspiring such deep cuts like the 2009 song “She Needs Me” and providing background vocals on To Pimp a Butterfly’s “Wesley’s Theory” and “King Kunta.” Perhaps the most visible she has been was in his latest release, Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers, where she appeared on the album’s cover art with the couple’s two children, as well as in the visual for his single, “Count Me Out.”
The Grammy award-winning rapper is largely heralded as one of the greatest to ever do it, and the bond he shares with his high school sweetheart that has inspired some of his most introspective projects and self-reflective tracks has cemented Whitney as a forever muse.
The 37-year-old makeup artist has been with Kendrick since they were teenagers, with the couple meeting while attending Centennial High School. Both Whitney and Kendrick were born and raised in Compton, California, and began as friends before eventually starting a romantic relationship. In a 2015 conversation with Billboard, Kendrick expressed that he frowned on the way certain terms minimized who Whitney is to him. "I wouldn't even call her my girl," he told the outlet. "That’s my best friend."
“I don’t even like the term that society has put in the world as far as being a companion — she’s somebody I can tell my fears to.”
Larry Busacca/Getty Images for NARAS
Months later, he confirmed to The Breakfast Club his engagement to his “Day 1.” I’m loyal to the soil. At the end of the day, you want to always have real people around you, period. Everybody that’s been around me has been down since day one, and I can’t change that. I don’t change for nobody. I always show respect when respect is being given and people that’s been by your side, you supposed to honor that. That’s how you stand up.”
Whitney can even be seen in the “King Kunta” visual rocking an engagement ring on her finger. Since then, Whitney and Kendrick have welcomed two children to their growing family, a daughter and a son whose names haven’t been revealed to the media, maintaining their famously private life.
Without a doubt, the most transparent and self-reflective he has ever been about his family life was with his most recent body of work, Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers. In the 2022 release, he gave insight into his past with cheating and addictions as a means of escapism. The song “Mother I Sober” features lyrics about how his “lust addiction” impacted his relationship with Whitney, rapping:
“Intoxicated, there’s a lustful nature that I failed to mention / Insecurities that I project, sleepin’ with other women / Whitney’s hurt, the pure soul I know, I found her in the kitchen / Askin’ God, ‘Where did I lose myself? And can it be forgiven?’”
Much like an image of their family life is the focus of the album’s cover, Whitney’s voice is also featured as a narrator on the album (as well as Eckhart Tolle), and in that song in particular, she can be heard saying, “You did it, I’m proud of you/You broke a generational curse.”
2022 also marked a new era of transparency online for Whitney on social media. The mother of two shared a portrait of herself holding her youngest child captured by Renell Madrano on her Instagram account and opened up about her mental health struggles to her followers in May 2022.
In the photo, she is standing in the light but also shrouded by some darkness and shadows around her. “We all know what others see may not be a true reflection of how we feel. This pic is a great representation of how I’ve felt for many years,” she began her caption.
“I was stuck in a time and place that was no longer my reality and was no longer serving me. My babies forced me to take a long look at myself and journey back through the very things that made me.”
“I’ve always carried the light with me. As a child no one was able to help me process. Many times silence was enforced because my emotions were a lot to handle. Hiding my pain has been a technique I’ve mastered my entire life. Mask it with a smile and everything is good. Silence has been my superpower, protecting me in the most vulnerable spaces,” she continued in her caption.
Whitney wrote that a great therapist changed everything for her and jumpstarted her personal transformation. “After a few years of hard work, I can finally say I hear my own voice again. And it’s very powerful. I use my smile when it feels genuine. And it’s beautiful,” she shared.
She concluded, “Allowing the world in and sharing my experience is one of my greatest fears. But truth is always very important for me. I’ve lived a sober life, feeling every single part of it, with the exception of mastering how to float when it’s all too much. But I yearn to be centered. To flow. To heal. To enjoy life.”
Recently, the vocalist gave another rare glimpse into her private life by posting photos of her with her daughter (who is Kendrick's twin) and her son on Instagram. In the carousel post, Whitney shared five slides showing herself in different elements of mothering her babies. “Me and them… Always, in all ways. The greatest and toughest job I’ve ever been tasked with. Love my babies,” she captioned the photo.
We hope Whitney is continuing her journey of flowing, healing, and enjoying life more.
Much love to the Duckworths.
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Featured image by Larry Busacca/Getty Images for NARAS