I enjoy food. I especially like to prepare dishes. But sometimes, I'm in the kitchen so much, that I can find myself getting a little bored. It's in those moments that I'm ready to find a way to add a little more "kick" to the stuff that I make. Whenever that happens, I tend to look for information on what's poppin' on the cuisine tip. You know, what's currently trending or what's really popular for the year or even a particular season. When I discovered some trendy ways to approach different types of foods this spring, I must admit that I wasn't disappointed. Along the way, I learned a couple of things too.
If your palate is yawning and you want to do a few things to wake it up, here are 12 current trends that can make you love eating foods—whether it's again or more than you already do.
1. Coffee Cocktails
Coffee and I have a weird relationship. While I've only had a cup of java, less than 20 times my entire life, at the present moment, I've got two pints of coffee ice cream in my freezer. I think it's because I don't rely on caffeine for anything (like to keep me awake or even some of the health benefits that come with consuming coffee), but I do like the taste of it; so long as it's cold and has a lot of sugar and cream added to it. That's why I might actually try a big current coffee trend—coffee cocktails. Some people refer to these as being liqueur coffee because coffee cocktails are basically what happens when coffee and alcohol come together in a glass. Some examples of this would be iced Irish coffee or White Russians. Anyway, if caffeine and alcohol are totally your thing, you will definitely be "on trend" if you have a few coffee cocktails over the spring and summer seasons (you can check out 20 recipes here).
2. Creative Butters
If you've been patting yourself on the back for using almond butter, it's time to take things up a notch. This year, some of the butter (and spread) combos are completely off the chain. There's puréed coconut butter. There's watermelon seed butter (which is high in antioxidants, plant protein and is a great allergy-free butter alternative). There's Tahini (which is a thin spread that is made out of sesame seeds). If you're a cinnamon fan, there's even cinnamon almond with chia seed butter that's totally yours for the taking. Or, if you want to try a nut and seed mash-up, you'll absolutely love Nuttzo Crunchy Seven Nut & Seed Butter. It's got cashews, almonds, hazelnuts, Brazil nuts, flaxseeds, chia seeds and pumpkin seeds in it.
3. Glitter Wine
Yeah. As if y'all needed another reason to sip on a glass of wine, right?
If you're looking to jazz up your wine consumption experience a bit more, all you need to do is sprinkle a little bit of edible glitter into your wine glass.
And just where the heck do you get edible glitter from? I read that Target carries some, but the far better reviews came from sites like Brew Glitter.
Something that originated in South Africa is biltong. The best way to describe it is, it's a type of beef jerky that's made from thicker slices of meat; except, unlike beef jerky, it is prepared with ingredients like vinegar and salt. If you want to be like the popular cuisine kids this year and give biltong a shot, you can figure out where to get some in your area at Biltong USA.
5. Alcoholic Ice Cream
If you've had a bad day and you're looking for a fun way to get a little tipsy, the bad news is alcohol-infused ice cream isn't really gonna do it for you. It has something to do with the fact that the dairy that's naturally in ice cream ends up offsetting the alcohol that's added to it. But if you simply like the taste of liquor and you wish you could get it in the form of a frozen dairy treat, then "alcoholic ice cream" most certainly has your back. You can check out a list of some of the best brands on the market here. Or, if you'd prefer to make some of your own, there are 14 cool recipes here.
6. Pea Milk
Yep. You read that right and I'm over here trippin' just like you probably are.
It seems like every day, there is some new milk alternative and right now, a really popular one is milk that is made out of peas (well, pea protein). Apparently, it's packed with protein, calcium and Vitamin D, it's hypo-allergenic, it's low in calories and, it's better for the environment than cow or even almond milk.
Plus, if you get the kind that is known as unsweetened ripple milk, it is low in carbs and sugar too. And what is the texture like? Word on the street is pea milk is really creamy because it's mixed with things like water and sunflower oil. And just where can you cop some in order to try it out? Your local Whole Foods should have it. Or you can order some via sites like Ripple Foods.
7. Sweet Hummus
Hummus (a spread that is a mixture of chickpeas, sesame seeds, olive oil, lemon juice and garlic) is an acquired taste; there's no doubt about that. If you're someone who tends to take the "I'll pass" approach to it, maybe try some dessert hummus. It's hummus that has something sweet added to it like vanilla, chocolate mint or even sweet potatoes. You can purchase dessert hummus via companies like Delighted by Dessert Hummus or you can take a shot at making some of your own at home. Since hummus contains manganese, folate, copper, magnesium and iron, and it's proven to fight inflammation while keeping your gut healthy, it can't hurt to taste test a sweeter approach to it.
8. Chocolate Gnocchi
This is the kind of food that you need to taste and decide on rather than just read about. The reason why I say that is because, if you've never had gnocchi before, it's a type of pasta that comes in the form (and consistency) of small dumplings (it's actually a tad healthier than traditional white pasta, actually). So yeah, if you take this into account and then add the word "chocolate" into the mix, it could cause you to turn up your nose; understandably so. But still, it's another thing that's all the rage this spring. So, if you're the type of person who likes to check some foods off of your bucket list, Delish published "Trader Joe's Chocolate Gnocchi Is Making People Feel Both Happiness And Immense Confusion" that can pretty much let you know exactly what you'll be getting yourself into if you decide to try this particular food out.
9. Souffle Pancakes
If you're a big breakfast person and you'd like to try a different approach to a staple dish, how about a stack of souffle pancakes? Japan is what basically put these on the map. You create them by separating your egg yolks and egg whites and then beating your whites until they have a meringue-like texture which results in "airy" pancakes. If you'd like to make some, I found a fairly easy recipe here.
If nothing makes you happier than having a grilled cheese sandwich, have you tried making it with halloumi cheese? Long story short, if goat and sheep cheese had a love affair and made a baby, its name would be halloumi.
It is an unripened brine cheese that people like to grill with or even fry, thanks to the cheese's high melting point. As a bonus, you can get 70 percent of the daily calcium that you need, just by eating it. Halloumi cheese also contains zinc, magnesium and vitamins A and B which makes it pretty good for you. Most grocery stores carry it, by the way.
11. Kombucha Beer
I guess the best way to describe kombucha beer would be that it's kind of like hard cider. OK, so you might already know that kombucha is a combination of tea, (good) bacteria and sugar. The end result is a fermented kind of drink that has a bitter bubbly taste to it (it's definitely an acquired one; trust me). Now some companies are adding organic dried hops and creamy ale to it in order to transform kombucha into a beer. And yes, a lot of people are drinking it up. Not only can it give you a pretty good buzz (on average, it contains about five percent alcohol), but kombucha beer is also great at fostering gut health too.
12. Anything with CBD in It
You'd have to be living under a rock to miss the fact that CBD oil is booming right now. It's kind of a long story why, but if I could only provide a reason in a sentence, it would be that many researchers believe it can help to reduce anxiety, pain and inflammation. A lot of us battle with that, sooo…more and more of us are using the oil; this includes putting CBD in our foods. There's CBD-infused sparkling water, cookie dough bites, breakfast cereal, gummies, honey—you name it. When it comes to this trend, just make sure that you thoroughly research the oil itself (Medium's "CBD Infused Food and Drinks — The Ultimate Guide" is a good read). Also make sure that you save up. This. Stuff. Ain't. Cheap. Otherwise, try something out and enjoy! It's a super chill way to continue enjoy eating this spring (and summer) season.
Want more stories like this? Sign up for our newsletter here and check out the related reads below:
These Food Trends Are Gonna Be Big In 2020
Dashi Broth, Mung Beans, Cuke Juice & Other Foods To Get In On This Spring
Plantain Flour, Spirulina & Other Uncommon Foods To Add To Your Diet
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After being a regular contributor for about four years and being (eh hem) MIA in 2022, Shellie is back penning for the platform (did you miss her? LOL).
In some ways, nothing has changed and in others, everything has. For now, she'll just say that she's working on the 20th anniversary edition of her first book, she's in school to take life coaching to another level and she's putting together a platform that supports and encourages Black men because she loves them from head to toe.
Other than that, she still works with couples, she's still a doula, she's still not on social media and her email contact (firstname.lastname@example.org) still hasn't changed (neither has her request to contact her ONLY for personal reasons; pitch to the platform if you have story ideas).
Life is a funny thing but if you stay calm, moments can come full circle and this is one of them. No doubt about it.
Amber Riley Is In Her Element
Amber Riley has the type of laugh that sticks with you long after the raspy, rhythmic sounds have ceased. It punctuates her sentences sometimes, whether she’s giving a chuckle to denote the serious nature of something she just said or throwing her head back in rip-roarious laughter after a joke. She laughs as if she understands the fragility of each minute. She chooses laughter often with the understanding that future joy is not guaranteed.
Credit: Ally Green
The sound of her laughter is rivaled only by her singing voice, an emblem of the past and the future resilience of Black women stretched over a few octaves. On Fox’s Glee, her character Mercedes Jones was portrayed, perhaps unfairly, as the vocal duel to Rachel Berry (Lea Michele), offering rough, full-throated belts behind her co-star’s smooth, pristine vocals. Riley’s always been more than the singer who could deliver a finishing note, though.
Portraying Effie White, she displayed the dynamic emotions of a song such as “And I'm Telling You I'm Not Going” in Dreamgirls on London’s West End without buckling under the historic weight of her predecessors. With her instrument, John Mayer’s “Gravity” became a religious experience, a belted hymnal full of growls and churchy riffs. In her voice, Nicole Scherzinger once said she heard “the power of God.”
Credit: Ally Green
Riley’s voice has been a staple throughout pop culture for nearly 15 years now. Her tone has become so distinguishable that most viewers of Fox’s The Masked Singer recognized the multihyphenate even before it was revealed that she was Harp, the competition-winning, gold-masked figure with an actual harp strapped to her back.
Still, it wasn’t until recently that Riley began to feel like she’d found her voice. This sounds unbelievable. But she’s not referring to the one she uses on stage. She’s referencing the voice that speaks to who she is at her core. “Therapy kind of gave me the training to speak my mind,” the 37-year-old says. “It’s not something we’re taught, especially as Black women. I got so comfortable in [doing so], and I really want other people, especially Black women, to get more comfortable in that space.”
“Therapy kind of gave me the training to speak my mind. It’s not something we’re taught, especially as Black women."
If you ask Riley’s manager, Myisha Brooks, she’ll tell you the foundation of who the multihyphenate is hasn’t changed much since she was a kid growing up in Compton. “She is who she is from when I met her back when she was singing in the front of the church to back when she landed major roles in film and TV,” Brooks says. Time has allowed Riley to grow more comfortable, giving fans a more intimate glimpse into her life, including her mental health journey and the ins and outs of show business.
The actress/singer has been in therapy since 2019, although she suffered from depression and anxiety way before that. In a recent interview with Jason Lee, she recalls having suicidal ideation as a kid. By the time she started seeing a psychologist and taking antidepressants in her thirties, her body had become jittery, a physical reminder of the trauma stacked high inside her. “I was shaking in [my therapist’s] office,” she tells xoNecole. “My fight or flight was on such a high level. I was constantly in survival mode. My heart was beating fast all the time. All I did was sweat.”
There wasn’t just childhood trauma to account for. After auditioning for American Idol and being turned away by producers, Riley began working for Ikea and nearly missed her Glee audition because her car broke down on the highway while en route. Thankfully, Riley had been cast to play Mercedes Jones. American Idol had temporarily convinced her she wasn’t cut out for the entertainment industry, but this was validation that she was right where she belonged. Glee launched in 2009 with the promise of becoming Riley’s big break.
In some ways, it was. The show introduced Riley to millions of fans and catapulted her into major Hollywood circles. But in other ways, it became a reminder of the types of roles Black women, especially those who are plus-sized, are relegated to. Behind the scenes, Riley says she fought for her character "to have a voice" but eventually realized her efforts were useless. "It finally got to a point where I was like, this is not my moment. I'm not who they're choosing, and this is just going to have to be a job for me for now," she says. "And, that's okay because it pays my bills, I still get to be on television, I'm doing more than any other Black plus-sized women that I'm seeing right now on screen."
The actress can recognize now that she was navigating issues associated with trauma and low self-esteem at the time. She now knows that she's long had anxiety and depression and can recognize the ways in which she was triggered by how the cult-like following of the show conflicted with her individual, isolated experiences behind the scenes. But she was in her early '20s back then. She didn't yet have the language or the tools to process how she was feeling.
Riley says she eventually sought out medical intervention. "When you're in Hollywood, and you go to a doctor, they give you pills," she says, sharing a part of her story that she'd never revealed publicly before now. "[I was] on medication and developing a habit of medicating to numb, not understanding I was developing an addiction to something that's not fixing my problem. If anything, it's making it worse."
“[I was] on medication and developing a habit of medicating to numb, not understanding I was developing an addiction to something that’s not fixing my problem. If anything it’s making it worse.”
Credit: Ally Green
At one point, while in her dressing room on set, she rested her arm on a curling iron without realizing it. It wasn't until her makeup artist alerted her that she even realized her skin was burning. Once she noticed, she says she was "so zonked out on pills" that she barely reacted. Speaking today, she holds up her arm and motions towards a scar that remains from the incident. She sought help for her reliance on the pills, but it would still be years before she finally attended therapy.
This stress was only compounded by the trauma of growing up in poverty and the realities of being a "contract worker." "Imagine going from literally one week having to borrow a car to get to set to the next week being on a private jet to New York City," she says. After Glee ended, so did the rides on private planes. The fury of opportunities she expected to follow her appearance on the show failed to materialize. She wasn't even 30 yet, and she was already forced to consider if she'd hit her career peak.
. . .
We’re only four minutes into our Zoom call before Riley delivers her new adage to me. “My new mantra is ‘humility does not serve me.’ Humility does not serve Black women. The world works so hard to humble us anyway,” she says.
On this Thursday afternoon in April, the LA-based entertainer is seated inside her closet/dressing room wearing a cerulean blue tank top with matching shorts and eating hot wings. This current phase of healing hinges on balance. It’s about having discipline and consistency, but not at the risk of inflexibility. She was planning to head to the gym, for instance, but she’s still tired from the “exhausting” day before. Instead, she’s spent her day receiving a massage, eating some chicken wings, and planning to spend quality time with friends. “I’m not going to beat myself up for it. I’m not going to talk down to myself. I’m going to eat my chicken wings, and then tomorrow I’m [back] in the gym,” she says.
“My new mantra is ‘humility does not serve me.’ Humility does not serve Black women. The world works so hard to humble us anyway."
This is the balance with which she's been approaching much of her life these days. It's why she's worried less about whether or not people see her as someone who is humble. She'd rather be respected. "I think you should be a person that's easy to work with, but in the moments where I have to ruffle feathers and make waves, I'm not shying away from that anymore. You can do it in love, you don't have to be nasty about it, but I had to finally be comfortable with the fact that setting boundaries around my life – in whatever aspect, whether that's personal or business – people are not going to like it. Some people are not going to have nice things to say about you, and you gotta be okay with it," she says.
When Amber talks about the constant humbling of Black women in Hollywood, I think of the entertainers before her who have suffered from this. The brilliant, consistent, overqualified Black women who have spoken of having to fight for opportunities and fair pay. Aretha Franklin. Viola Davis. Tracee Ellis Ross. There's a long list of stars whose success hasn't mirrored their experiences behind the scenes.
Credit: Ally Green
If Black women outside of Hollywood are struggling to decrease the pay gap, so, too, are their wealthier, more famous peers.
Riley says there’s been progress in recent years, but only in small ways and for a limited group of people. “This business is exhausting. The goalpost is constantly moving, and sometimes it’s unfair,” she says. But, I have to say it’s the love that keeps you going.”
“There’s no way you can continue to be in this business and not love it, especially being a plus-sized Black woman,” she continues. “We’re still niche. We’re still not main characters.”
"There’s no way you can continue to be in this business and not love it, especially being a plus-sized Black woman. We’re still niche. We’re still not main characters.”
Last year, Riley starred alongside Raven Goodwin in the Lifetime thriller Single Black Female (a modern, diversified take on 1992’s Single White Female). It was more than a leading role for the actress, it also served as proof that someone who looks like her can front a successful project without it hinging on her identity. It showcased that the characters she portrays don’t “have to be about being a big girl. It can just be a regular story.”
Riley sees her work in music as an extension of her efforts to push past the rigid stereotypes in entertainment. Take her appearance on The Masked Singer, for instance. Riley said she decided to perform Mayer’s “Gravity” after being told she couldn’t sing it years earlier. “I wanted to do ‘Gravity’ on Glee. [I] was told no, because that’s not a song that Mercedes would do,” she says. “That was a full circle moment for me, doing that on that show and to hear what it is they had to say.”
As Scherzinger praised the “anointed” performance, a masked Riley began to cry, her chest heaving as she stood on stage, her eyes shielded from view. “You have to understand, I have really big names – casting directors, producers, show creators – that constantly tell me ‘I’m such a big fan. Your talent is unmatched.’ Hire me, then,” she says, reflecting on the moment.
Recently, she’s been in the studio working on original music, the follow-up to her independently-released debut EP, 2020’s Riley. The sequel to songs such as the anthemic “Big Girl Energy” and the reflective ballad “A Moment” on Riley, this new project hones in on the singer’s R&B roots with sensual grooves such as the tentatively titled “All Night.” “You said I wasn’t shit, turns out that I’m the shit. Then you called me a bitch, turns out that I’m that bitch. You said no one would want me, well you should call your homies,” she sings on the tentatively titled “Lately,” a cut about reflecting on a past relationship. From the forthcoming project, xoNecole received five potential tracks. Fans likely already know the strengths and contours of Riley’s vocals, but these new songs are her strongest, most confident offerings as an artist.
“I am so much more comfortable as a writer, and I know who I am as an artist now. I’m evolving as a human being, in general, so I’m way more vulnerable in my music. I’m way more willing to talk about whatever is on my mind. I don’t stop myself from saying what it is I want to say,” she says.
Credit: Ally Green
“Every era and alliteration of Amber, the baseline is ‘Big Girl Energy.’ That’s the name of her company,” her manager Brooks says, referencing the imprint through which Riley releases her music after getting out of a label deal several years ago. “It’s just what she stands for. She’s not just talking about size, it’s in all things. Whether it’s putting your big girl pants on and having to face a boardroom full of executives or sell yourself in front of a casting agent. It’s her trying to achieve the things she wants to do in life.”
Riley says she has big dreams beyond releasing this new music, too. She’d love to star in a rom-com with Winston Duke. She hasn't starred in a biopic yet, but she’d revel in the opportunity to portray Rosetta Tharpe on screen. She’s determined that her previous setbacks won’t stop her from dreaming big.
“I think one of my superpowers is resilience because, at the end of the day, I’m going to kick, scream, cry, cuss, be mad and disappointed, but I’m going to get up and risk having to deal with it all again. It’s worth it for the happy moments,” she says.
If Riley seems more comfortable and confident professionally, it’s because of the work she’s been doing in her personal life.
She’d previously spoken to xoNecole about becoming engaged to a man she discovered in a post on the site, but she called things off last year. For Valentine’s Day, she revealed her new boyfriend publicly. “I decided to post him on Valentine’s Day, partially because I was in the dog house. I got in trouble with him,” she says, half-joking before turning serious. “The breakup was never going to stop me from finding love. Or at least trying. I don’t owe anybody a happily ever after. People break up. It happens. When it was good, it was good. When it was bad, it was terrible, hunny. I had to get the fuck up out of there. You find happiness, and you enjoy it and work through it.”
Credit: Ally Green
"I don’t owe anybody a happily ever after. People break up. It happens. When it was good, it was good. When it was bad, it was terrible, hunny. I had to get the fuck up out of there. You find happiness and you enjoy it and work through it.”
With her ex, Riley was pretty outspoken about her relationship, even appearing in content for Netflix with him. This time around is different. She’s not hiding her boyfriend of eight months, but she’s more protective of him, especially because he’s a father and isn’t interested in becoming a public figure.
She’s traveling more, too. It’s a deliberate effort on her part to enjoy her money and reject the trauma she’s developed after experiencing poverty in her childhood. “I live in constant fear of being broke. I don’t think you ever don’t remember that trauma or move past that. Now I travel and I’m like, listen, if it goes, it goes. I’m not saying [to] be reckless, but I deserve to enjoy my hard work.”
After everything she’s been through, she certainly deserves to finally let loose a bit. “I have to have a life to live,” she says. “I’ve got to have a life worth fighting for.”
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Text This Before You Ghost Them, Sis.
We’ve all been there at least once (or a few times) along our dating journey. Maybe you’ve had a date or two with a potential suitor, but the spark just wasn’t there. Perhaps you convinced yourself that just “one more” date would help you overlook a non-negotiable ick. At this point in the dating cycle, you’ve probably reached the point where you must decide to either communicate “why” things won’t be moving forward or simply ghost them.
What Is Ghosting?
“Ghosting” refers to the act of suddenly and unexpectedly cutting off all communication with someone you've been dating or talking to without any explanation or further contact. It typically occurs in the early stages of dating but can also happen after a few dates or even in more established relationships.
The act of ghosting has become quite a common practice in our modern dating culture and can manifest in a number of different ways. From days of ignored text messages and phone calls out of the blue to not showing up for pre-arranged plans and sometimes disappearing from someone's life without any notice or explanation.
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The Problem With Ghosting
Being ghosted may seem like a harmless act of “self-choosing,” but the person on the receiving end of your decision can be left feeling confused, rejected, and even abandoned, wondering what happened and where they went wrong.
And we get it, what explanation do you owe someone for leaving after a few cocktails and a $100 date? While that may seem like the perfect opportunity to cut and run, taking an alternative approach to fizzle out a fling is a great time to practice clear and effective communication that can pay off in the long run.
While there is a time and a place for ghosting (and even blocking) if your boundaries have been crossed or safety has been threatened, if we’re looking to live out our best healed, secure-girl summer, there are ways to date freely without leaving others with damage of their own to recover from.
Being honest and upfront about your feelings while being respectful of the other person's time is the best way to leave a situationship or fling with both parties emotionally unscathed. So if you’re looking for ways to break things off with care and consideration, we’ve provided five text scripts to send instead of ghosting somebody’s son:
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5 Texts To Send Instead of Ghosting Them
1. If you want to take the honest but gentle approach:
"Hey [Name], I've really enjoyed getting to know you, but I've been doing some thinking, and I don't see this going any further. I wanted to be upfront and honest with you rather than leaving you wondering. I wish you all the best."
2. If you want to express gratitude before saying goodbye:
"Hi [Name], I wanted to reach out and say thank you for the time we spent together. You're an amazing person, but I think we're better off as friends. I hope you understand and that we can still maintain a positive connection."
3. If you want to leave a note of appreciation:
"Hi [Name], I wanted to let you know that I've had a great time with you, but I don't think we're compatible for a romantic relationship. I appreciate the moments we shared, and I hope we can both find what we're looking for."
4. If a face-to-face convo is needed:
"Hey [Name], I've been doing some thinking, and I believe it's important for us to have an open conversation about where we stand. Can we find some time to talk about our relationship and how we both feel? I think it's important to address things honestly."
5. If you want to keep things cute and concise:
"Hey [Name], I've realized that we're not on the same page, and it's best if we part ways. Take care."
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