Question. When's the last time you tried something new? Next question. When's the last time that new thing was food-related? The reason why I'm asking is because there really are a lot of benefits that come from doing something that you've never done before. It alleviates boredom. It exposes you to different things. It helps you to evolve as a person. Because it involves a certain amount of risk, it boosts your self-confidence and self-esteem. It also gives you a taste of more of what life has to offer (pun intended in this case).
Speaking of taste, there are even good reasons to try foods that you never have before; reasons that I bet you've never even thought about. It can grow your palate. It can get—or keep—you excited about cooking. It can expose you to different food histories and cultures. It can give you access to other ways to take care of your health and well-being. And of course, most of all, it can provide great content for your IG page.
Now that (hopefully) I've gassed you up to step outside of the same ole' aisle at the same ole' grocery stores, here are some foods that, I would love for you to hit up the comment section to let me know if you've tried them before (if you have, it'd be super cool if you shared a recipe or two!). All of them are semi-unique, all of them are really good for you, and all of them are worth adding to your "something new list" if you've never heard of them before. Are you ready to introduce your taste buds to something different?
If you're already a lover of plantains, you may have heard of plantain flour before being that it's a dry pulverized form of plantains. One thing that's really cool about flour that's in this form is the fact that it's got less calories than the standard all-purpose flour. Some other reasons to give plantain flour a shot is it's got a good amount of protein, fiber, magnesium, potassium, iron and vitamins A and C in it. Plus, thanks to the Vitamin B6 that it contains, plantain flour can help to boost brain power. Also, since it's loaded with antioxidants, plantain flour is able to keep your immune system strong while reducing free radicals too. Oh, and if you ever get ulcers that are caused by aspirin, it can help to heal those as well.
Believe it or not, plantain flour is something that you can find at Walmart. Or, if you want a gluten-free brand, you can get some on Amazon or the kosher kind here. As far as how to use the flour, introduce it to your taste buds with this plantain flour corn muffins recipe.
OK, I'm gonna shoot it straight to you. Spirulina is a blueish-green algae—yes, algae—that technically qualifies as a superfood because of how nutritious it is. It's got calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, folate, vitamins A, B6, K and C. As far as its health benefits, spirulina improves gut health, manages diabetes, lowers blood pressure and cholesterol levels and boosts metabolism. It should go on record that spirulina isn't FDA-regulated (you can get tips to make sure you get it in its peak form here). Still, you can Google how many sites sings its praises nonetheless.
Cherimoya is a type of fruit that Mark Twain once referred to as being "deliciousness itself". It's also known as a custard apple and is compared to tasting like a banana, mango and pineapple. Cherimoya is the kind of fruit that is high in antioxidants, Vitamin B6 and the carotenoid antioxidant lutein. Health-wise, snacking on these can improve your vision, boost your mood, fight inflammation, strengthen immunity, plus this fruit has the flavonoids catechin, epicatechin, and epigallocatechin—all of which contain cancer-fighting properties.
A gluten-free grain (that tastes a lot like brown rice) that's pretty good for you is amaranth. If you're a vegetarian or vegan, it's an awesome source of protein. People with arthritis and fibromyalgia symptoms like it because it contains powerful anti-inflammatory properties. The calcium that's found in this grain will strengthen your teeth and bones. And, if you have diabetes, the manganese in it will assist in keeping your diabetes under control.
This is the kind of grain that you should be able to easily find at your local grocery store or Whole Foods. As far as how to prepare it, some people like to sprinkle amaranth into their soup or stew. Or you can turn it into a porridge and have it for breakfast.
Celeriac root—also known as celery root—is a vegetable that isn't the most common one on the planet yet, slowly but surely, it is gaining in popularity. Since it's a root vegetable, celeriac root's "close cousins" with parsnips and parsley. It has a ton of Vitamin K in it (51 percent of your daily supply per serving) along with vitamins B6, C, phosphorus, potassium and manganese. Thanks to the Vitamin K and potassium that's in it, celeriac root is good for your heart. Vitamin K is good for your bones as well. Plus, the fiber that's in celeriac root aids in digestion.
OK, this is the kind of food that you'll probably prefer not knowing what it's made of, but because of all of the benefits that it contains, it's still worth giving a shot regardless. So, what's in it? It's a combination of beeswax and bee saliva. That's kind of gross, I know. But hear me out about why it still made the list.
Bee propolis contains 300 natural compounds including amino acids, polyphenols and even 10 percent essential oils. There are hundreds of studies about how it's a great natural treatment for cancer, oral candidiasis, HSV-1 (herpes that creates cold sores), parasites and even relieving symptoms that are related to endometriosis-related infertility. I don't know about you, but all of this is worth putting up with a little bee spit.
Jicama is a vegetable that has a brown papery skin but is a white starch when you cut it open. As far as the texture of it goes, a lot of people say that it's a cross between a potato and pear; it even has a nutty/sweet taste to it. Jicama has iron, magnesium and potassium in it, but what it contains a really impressive amount of is Vitamin C (around 44 percent of your reference daily intake); this means it's a food that contains tons of antioxidants. Jicama boosts heart health, helps to prevent cancer and will keep your gut healthy.
A great thing about this particular food is you can prepare it all sorts of ways—you can cut it up raw and add it to your salad, use it as an ingredient in your stir fry or add it to a fruit salad. The produce section of your grocery store should care it, along with your local farmer's market. Mexican grocery stores oftentimes have Jicama too.
If you ever go to an Ethiopian restaurant and mention teff, they are going to know exactly what you're talking about because that's where it originates from. Although some people consider teff to be a grain, teff is technically a seed. It provides 25 percent of the protein that your body needs on a daily basis, plus it's packed with fiber, magnesium, zinc, calcium, potassium, copper and vitamins B6 and C. Some benefits of teff is it increases blood circulation, strengthens your immune system, relieves PMS, makes your bones stronger, and it's also a gluten-free food.
Dragon fruit is an exotic type of cactus fruit that tastes like a hybrid of watermelon, kiwi and cactus pear. It contains a good amount of magnesium and fiber, along with vitamin A and C. Something that's particularly cool about dragon fruit is it has a lot of antioxidants in it, including betalains that reduce oxidative stress and even suppress cancer cells. Other health benefits that come from eating this sweet fruit includes the fact that it keeps your gut healthy, fights off free radicals and boosts low iron levels. It's in season from late summer through December. Oh and, just to be fair, it's not the cheapest fruit on the planet but it is delicious.
There are specialty markets that carry dragon fruit or you can find some online on sites like Melissa's.
10. Ashwagandha Tea
Something that's a huge health trend right now is Ayurveda (a word that means "the science of life" in Sanskrit). An herb that is highly respected when it comes to this approach to holistic health is ashwagandha. What does it mean? "The smell of horses" in Sanskrit. That's a heads up that it doesn't smell the best, but it is good for you. Ashwagandha can lower your blood sugar levels, keep your cortisol in check, reduce depression symptoms, increase muscle mass and even improve fertility levels in men.
11. Honorable Mention: Pearl Powder
Something that's considered to be a "superfood of the sea" is pearl powder. It's packed with calcium, zinc, copper, selenium, magnesium, antioxidants and amino acids (including Tyrosine and Lysine) that will make your skin glow and can even help to regenerate bone tissue. Something else that pearl powder does is raise the neurotransmitter GABA in the brain so that you can feel calm and relaxed. Some health professionals even believe that it's tied to longevity.The best way to consume pearl powder is to purchase the powder and put a teaspoon of it per day into your smoothies or the foods that you are planning to bake. Or, for a strawberry iced latte recipe with pearl powder in it, click here. Enjoy!
Featured image by Getty Images
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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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Feature image by Mike Lawrie/Getty Images
What would you do if you just got laid off from your corporate job and you had a serendipitous encounter with someone who gave you the opportunity of a lifetime? Tamara Taylor was faced with that decision in 2013 after she was let go from her sales profit and operations coach job in the restaurant industry and met a then-up-and-coming stylist, Law Roach, on a flight to L.A. She and Roach struck up a conversation, and he shared how he was looking for someone to run his business and was impressed by her skills. While she took his business card, she was unsure if it would lead to anything. But, boy, was she wrong. Two weeks later, after packing up her home to move back to her hometown of Chicago, she called Roach; he asked if they could meet the following day, and the rest is herstory.
Taylor founded Mastermind MGMT, an agency that represents some of Hollywood’s best “image architects” like Roach, Kellon Deryck, and Kollin Carter, who are responsible for creating unforgettable style and beauty moments for celebrities like Zendaya, Megan Thee Stallion, Taraji P. Henson, and more. Taylor and her company possess an array of functions, but her biggest role is to be her client’s advocate. We hear endless stories about how creatives aren’t paid or underpaid in the entertainment industry, but Taylor ensures that her clients get their piece of the pie. The entrepreneur opened up about her company and her non-profit, Mastermind Matters, in an exclusive interview with xoNecole.
“I always say that I'm an artist advocate first, deal closer second. So my primary focus is to just make sure that the artist is getting everything that they deserve, whether it's compensation or, you know, certain accommodations, but just making sure that they have everything that they need to be able to show up and provide the best service that they're hired for,” she explained.
“So you know, in the beginning, it was hard because I didn't have any experience, and the artists who I was working with at the time–we were learning together, meaning neither of us had assisted anyone. We didn't have mentors in our specific fields. So every deal was like a new learning experience for us from the styling side and also from the business side, and so it took, you know, doing some research, using some very creative tactics, to find out information in the industry and just starting to request accommodations that I knew other artists were granted, who maybe didn't look like my artists.”
Photo by Christopher Marrs
Ten years later, there’s still not many people who are doing what Taylor is doing. However, things have gotten easier thanks to the research and connections she made in the beginning. During Mastermind MGMT’s ten-year anniversary celebration, she announced her non-profit, Mastermind Matters, which is a 501(c)(3) non-profit that focuses on helping young entrepreneurs through a 12-week program. The program is divided into “two routes.” The first route is for aspiring creative artists who want to start a business from their talent and all the things they need to learn about business, such as taxes, life insurance, etc. The second route is for practicing creative artists who are already in the industry but need resources such as how to plan for retirement or how to sustain themselves if they can’t work for a short amount of time, i.e., the pandemic.
“I just feel that I'm able to have a business and be successful because of their art as well. And so there are things that I know, I tried to teach it to them but understanding that I can only do so much because I'm not a subject matter expert in those fields,” she said. “So I at least want to be able to provide the resources, and then if they make their grown decision not to do it, then that's on them. But you know, I could be guilt-free and taking advantage of the resources that I'm also providing to them.”
Taylor continues to be an innovator in her industry by always pushing the boundaries of creativity and thinking one step ahead of everyone else. The Chicago-bred businesswoman is moving into the tech space thanks to a new invention created with her clients in mind, and she is looking forward to bigger collaborations in the future. Follow Mastermind MGMT on Instagram @mastermind_mgmt for more information.
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Feature image by Christopher Marrs