food · health

My Favorite Black Vegetarian and Vegan YouTubers

Last week, I shared that I thoroughly enjoyed Dr. Tumi Johnson’s work and her YouTube channel, Performing Healing. I purchased her book, Delicious Healing, to give me some ideas on how to improve my health by using self care, mindfulness, and a nourishing diet. Dr. Tumi is a medical doctor that has been living a raw vegan lifestyle for a decade, and her transformation from overworked and undernourished clinician to radiantly healthy performer and holistic healer inspired me tremendously.

Dr. Tumi’s page inspired me to peruse YouTube for other vegetarian and vegan YouTubers. While I’d followed a few of them before coming across Dr. Tumi, I thought it would be nice to compile a few of my favorites over here. As I explore more options with plant-based eating, I’m certain I will have to do a second part to this post, which works for me. I hope you all enjoy this list!

Performing Healing – As I mentioned previously, Dr. Tumi is a medical doctor and raw vegan. Her channel doesn’t focus solely on recipes but it does highlight what a fully vegan lifestyle entails. The recipes that she has provided are often simple to recreate, but it has to be noted that she is a raw vegan, so adjusting to this eating style may require a bit of effort. However, for those that are interested, she’s a wonderful resource. As a bonus, her videos are all lovely, with excerpts of dance and fantastic little wellness tidbits sprinkled throughout each of them. And naturally, she’s written a book about her wellness philosophies. You can learn more in her book, Delicious Healing.

SweetPotatoSoul – Jenne Claiborne, the lady behind the wildly popular SweetPotatoSoul YouTube channel, is truly one of the OGs of the vegan YT community. She has over 600,000 subscribers, and has also published her recipes in the cookbook, Sweet Potato Soul: 100 Easy Vegan Recipes for the Southern Flavors of Smoke, Sugar, Spice, and Soul. If you’re interested in beautiful videos with tasty recipes, you should definitely check out this channel.

Rachel Ama – Similar to SweetPotatoSoul, Rachel Ama also has over 600,000 subscribers and a longstanding commitment to the vegan lifestyle. On her channel, she focuses on flavorful dishes that borrow heavily from international cuisine, such as dishes from Africa, Asia and the Caribbean. I like that her recipes are great for transitioning vegans that may be concerned that they’ll have to compromise flavor for this lifestyle (nothing could be further from the truth!) Rachel has also published 2 books, titled Rachel Ama’s Vegan Eats: Tasty plant-based recipes for every day and One Pot: Three Ways: Save time with vibrant, versatile vegan recipes.

Black Forager – The creative behind this channel, Alexis Nikole Nelson, has an extremely strong presence on other social media (such as Instagram and TikTok). However, she also shares her recipes on her YouTube channel. I love her fun energy and the fact that she makes vegan dishes with foraged vegetation. This takes a special level of creativity and vision, and she absolutely knocks it out of the park each time. I’m waiting patiently for her book . . . She hasn’t announced that she’s writing one, I’m just putting that wish out into the Universe. Until then, I’ll console myself with the NPR interview that she did.

From the Comfort of my Bowl – I love that this channel features vegan comfort food. Despite the fact that I have loved experimenting with raw vegan meals, sometimes I want warm, cooked food that is both satisfying and still cruelty free. As a bonus, many of the meals featured on this channel are also gluten-free. The channel has a companion blog with all of the meal details.

This Infinite Life – This adorable family of 8 lives a vegan lifestyle down in the deep south (Atlanta, Georgia). On this channel, the family tries packaged vegan items, but they also indulge in varying eating challenges and share recipes. This channel is an especially good option for anyone that is experiencing difficulty with transitioning to a vegan lifestyle: the videos show how easy it is to replace your favorite animal-based products with vegan alternatives. There is a companion website which also features three ebooks written by the creative minds behind the YouTube channel.

Those are some of my favorite Black vegan and vegetarian vloggers. Do you have any recommendations? I’d love to hear all about them!

*** This post contains affiliate links.

health

Fibro Fridays – The Latest on My Health Journey

Happy Fibro Friday, friends! I hope you all have had a great, pain-free week. And, if you experienced any pain at all, I hope you were able to get relief quickly.

I’m taking another (mini) break from reviewing the various fibromyalgia protocols (the last one I reviewed was Dr. Wylde’s protocol) to talk about a different fibro topic; namely, I’ll be discussing what’s been happening with me and my health journey.

For starters, I’ve been feeling pretty good overall. I tend to experience a lot less pain during the warmer months, and that’s due to the temperature (I am more uncomfortable in cooler temps), the increased vitamin D (since I spend a lot more time in the sunshine), or some combination of the two. I’ve been taking advantage of those low-pain days and getting as much done as I can.

I have also been making changes to my diet and medication. I’m incorporating a lot more raw fruits and vegetables into my meals, usually opting for whole fruits for breakfast as opposed to eating a lot of grain or processed foods, salads for lunch, and protein and veggies for dinner. I have been tapering my medication in the hopes that I’ll be able to eventually fully transition off of them. So far, so good: I haven’t had any major pain or flares since I started the tapering process.

Another thing that has been helping with my health is doing yoga more frequently. I do it for the fitness aspect but one of the bonuses of yoga is being mindful of my breathing. I often forget to take deeper breaths, so it’s nice to have a reminder. Yoga is amazing for fibromyalgia, since it gently stretches the muscles while simultaneously encouraging the release of stress. It’s one of the most frequently recommended exercises for people dealing with fibro.

Part of the plan over the next few months involves experimenting with some plant-based eating plans, progress in my yoga practice, and find more natural pain relief options. I’ve been working on some products and supplements to help with fibro pain but it’s still early in my experimentation. Here’s hoping I’ll be able to create something amazing that I’ll be able to share with you all soon!

That’s my brief rundown of how I’ve been feeling lately, as well as where I am in my health journey. I’m looking forward to hearing from you all in the comments. Take care, and have a great weekend!

health

Fibro Friday – A Tentative Wellness Plan

Happy Fibro Friday! I’m feeling pretty good today, and I’m looking forward to a warmer weekend ahead. I think that most states in the US are anticipating some sunnier, warmer days, and I’m grateful for that. This is a happy Friday for sure!

I recently shared my experience with the Everlywell Food Sensitivity Test, as well as my thoughts about at-home tests and their effectiveness. I used the food sensitivity test as a way to gather intel on how my body works. I’m combining the information that I gathered from that test with the results from the myriad other tests I’ve had over the years. I’m thankful for historical data from LabCorp as well as my insurance company: there’s no way I could have kept physical copies of every single test or doctor’s appointment I’ve had over the past three years.

Regardless of where you are on your fibro journey, becoming an expert on your body is a fantastic place to start. I can’t recommend it enough: get to know your own body! It’s crucial for your journey.

Anyhoo, I have formulated a tentative approach to resolving my fibromyalgia pain for good. As evidenced by the food sensitivity test, I’m starting with a diet-based approach, since I believe that this will provide the most immediate relief (as well as other numerous health benefits). I’m starting small, so I don’t get overwhelmed by the process.

I consulted two other sources for information on how to design a “get well” plan. I watched a video from the American Herbalist Guild last year, and I’ve revisited it. This video features a lecture by herbalist K P Khalsa, who has a fantastic herbal/natural approach to treating fibromyalgia. The video also refers to Dr. Jacob Teitelbaum’s approach (one of his most popular books, explaining his program for eliminating fibro symptoms is here). This video is a ton of information to absorb, which is why I’m rewatching in small, 20-30 minute chunks of time.

Additionally, I’ll be implementing dietary changes in line with The Beauty Detox Solution by Kimberly Snyder, CN. Addressing nutritional deficiencies is key to any wellness program, so I’ll integrate some principles from this book and see how it goes. I’ll probably do a review on this book soon, so watch out for that.

I suspect I’ll feel major changes just by implementing the recommendations from the AHG video and the Beauty Detox book. I’m excited to embark on this journey! If you’re interested in seeing my YouTube video on this topic, you can view it here (I’ve also embedded it below).

That’s it for my Fibro Friday post! I hope you all have a wonderful and safe weekend, and I’ll talk to you all soon. Take care!

*This post contains affiliate links.

health

Fibro Fridays: My Everywell Experience

Happy Fibro Friday! I hope everyone is feeling well and having a great day or evening wherever you are.

As you all recall, one of my goals for 2021 is to minimize or completely eliminate my fibromyalgia symptoms. On this journey, I will do my best to learn as much as I can about my body so that I can formulate an approach that works for me over the long term.

On the quest to gather as much useful information about my body as possible, I purchased the Everlywell Food Sensitivity Test. This is not an allergy test: it’s a test that measures how much your body responds to certain foods by testing your body for antibody activity. The science for this is fascinating, which is why I encourage you to check out the website for an in-depth explanation.

When you first receive your test, you have to register it on the Everylywell website. After registration, you can commence with doing the test. My test involved pricking my finger and saturating a blood sample collection card. After saturating the card, I sent it back to the lab in a biohazard envelope.

After waiting a little over a week, the lab sent me an in-depth report, explaining my results. I was moderately sensitive to 3 foods, and minimally sensitive to 7 foods. I’ll be using this information as a starting point for an elimination diet. I will add more details about the elimination diet in a few weeks, but for now, at least I know what I should exclude first.

I filmed a video with a lot more details which I will embed below.

Have you all done a food sensitivity test? How did that go? Let me know all about it in the comments below!

food

International Goodies: Shopping at New Grand Mart

In my hometown, there is an international grocer named New Grand Mart. New Grand has a couple of locations, and, prior to me visiting one of the stores, I usually got my international foods from a different seller in town. However, that seller tended to focus solely on East Asian foods (specifically Chinese, Japanese and Vietnamese items). New Grand, however, is a truly international store, with foods hailing from East Asia, India, the Middle East and even Mexico and Central America!

My latest trip to the store resulted in me getting lots of tasty items, but these four were my favorites.

Vegetarian ramen noodles

I love ramen noodles, especially since it’s easy to add additional ingredients and make a a hearty meal. These noodles are the perfect base for my ramen creations.

Frozen sticky rice with mango

I have a review that I’m planning for this frozen sticky rice with mango, so stay tuned for that!

Vegetable mushroom buns (please ignore my nutrition supplements in the background!)

I am a HUGE fan of Chinese buns, and these are by far the tastiest that I’ve ever gotten from a grocery store. So yummy.

Strawberry KitKat candy

I love KitKat candy, especially the limited edition specialty flavors. Strawberry flavored KitKats were available stateside for a short time, but they are very difficult to find. Imagine my excitement when I saw that these are regularly offered at New Grand Mart! I’m delighted that I will always be able to get the strawberry flavored ones, so long as New Grand carries them.

Those are my favorite international goodies! Do you have any favorite items that you like to purchase from international grocers? Let me know all about it in the comments!

food

Fun New Recipes to Try

Happy Monday! This weekend, I found some great free food and drink workshops, as well as some creative, tasty menu ideas for when we are able to be social without the need to do much distancing. Here are the fun ideas I’ve found recently: enjoy!

Freedom Fruit Cocktail and Mocktail (presented by the US Botanic Garden)

Zuke Alors! Zucchini Salad (also presented by the US Botanic Garden)

Garden Tea Party Menu (TeaTime Magazine)

The Perfect Martini – Three Ways (Robb Report)

I hope you all have fun with these recipes! I plan to experiment with a few of them in the weeks to come. If you decide to give any of them a try, please let me know: I’m dying to see how it turns out for you!

health

Fibro Fridays: My Five Favorite Spoonie Essentials

Happy Friday! I hope you all had an amazing week and an amazing weekend ahead! It’s Fibro Friday, so I’m sharing some more tidbits from my fibromyalgia journey. One of the things I’ve noticed is that there are a few items that I keep nearby (especially during flares) to make my life a little easier and more pleasant. Here are five of my favorite “spoonie” essentials (if you want to know more about “spoonies” and Spoon Theory, you can read my post here). If you have some essentials that you think should be on my list, please share in the comments!

If I had to toss my spoonie essentials into a backpack, these are the ones I would include.

Knee pillow – Sometimes, my trigger points can be especially sensitive, to the point where it hurts for the insides of my knees to touch one another. When this happens, I love using a knee pillow for relief. There are knee pillow designed for side, back, and stomach sleepers. I have two knee pillows, but this one is my favorite.

Magnesium cream – I’ve written about this before, so if you want more information, you can check out this previous Fibro Friday post.

Ginger candy – This is one that I suspect a lot of spoonies keep nearby, because they are so handy and effective. Sometimes, even if you don’t have a digestive condition (such as IBS or chronic nausea symptoms), you will still find yourself feeling a bit nauseous. Fibro is a condition of nerve dysfunction and improper nervous perception, so there’s an element of unpredictability with the symptoms. In any case, nausea can flare up unexpectedly, and ginger candy can be great for soothing upset stomachs. I’m including the link to my current preferred ginger candy (you can probably find it for a much better price in stores, but if you can’t find it, this Amazon link may help). I prefer a stronger ginger flavor, so ginger mints are my favorite. However, I’m also including the link to a milder version that I used years ago, which are also effective.

Kindle E-reader – When I’m spending a lot more time in bed, I like having my Kindle e-reader nearby. My Kindle is OLD (LOL!) but it still works well. The most economical Kindle available right now is less than $100 USD but it is a great item to have, especially if you’re a bibliophile like me. I love that Kindle e-readers retain their charge much longer than my cellphone, and it’s far more portable than my laptop. Here is the basic black Kindle e-reader.

Easy-to-prepare foods – Some days are more exhausting than others. When I simply don’t have the energy to prepare an elaborate meal, I enjoy having a few easy-to-prepare foods around the house. I love instant soups, noodles, and even protein shakes that take less than five minutes to prepare. The local international grocers have a lot of healthier quick meals than typical grocers, so I generally prefer to shop there. However, one of my favorite meals is by Tsubi Soups (I’ve written about it here) and I can only order it online.

That’s all for this week! I hope your weekend is spectacular, and I’ll be back on Monday. Take care and be safe!

*This post contains affiliate links.

beauty · food

5 Ways to Enjoy Tea Without Drinking It

If you enjoy tea as much as I do, you will probably find yourself with quite a tea collection at some point. It’s also inevitable that, the more teas you try, the more likely you are to come across a tea that you don’t enjoy. Whether it’s too bland, too bitter, too strong, or just not very tasty, getting a tea that you don’t enjoy drinking is always a bit disappointing. And let’s face it: some of us just don’t enjoy the flavor of tea.

That being said, I have good news! All hope isn’t lost when you purchase a “dud” tea, or when you find yourself the proud owner of a tea that you won’t be drinking (whether you purchased it or it was gifted to you). In fact, it’s possible to use tea in quite a few different ways around your home and within your beauty routine. Of course, you’ll want to pay attention to the ingredients: certain teas shouldn’t be used near your eyes or allowed to sit on the skin unless you don’t mind having some discomfort (“hotter” tea ingredients, like ginger and cayenne come to mind). As always, use wisdom and discretion with any of these recommendations.

Without further ado, here are five ways that you can re-purpose tea leaves. Enjoy!

Bath/bath bomb additiveIf you make bath bombs (like I do), you can add some dry tea leaves to your recipe before you put the mixture into molds. It adds a little additional fragrance and beauty to your bath bombs. If you don’t make bath bombs, you can always just add the leaves directly to your bath. Certain teas, like mint and lemon balm, have invigorating scents and can be a refreshing addition to your bath. These teas can also be mixed with epsom salt for an especially relaxing soak.

Herbal facial steam – Similar to baths, you can use tea to make an herbal facial steam. Some teas (like rose and lavender) are known for their relaxing and beautifying properties. Do a little research on your tea and see if the ingredients are suitable for a face steam. Keep in mind, simple black, green or white teas (without added herbs or florals) are perfectly fine for most skin types. Of course, always proceed with caution, even when using “safe” teas.

Face tonic – Just like herbal facial steams, you can steep the tea in hot water then use it as a toner. Camellia sinensis (the scientific name for tea) is generally considered an astringent natural product. The tannins in it constricts body tissue, making it perfect for pore-tightening and giving the face a very toned appearance. The higher the amount of tannins (generally, these are more numerous in cheaper teas), the more astringent the tea will be. Try using a full strength tea tonic on your skin, then, if you find it is too strong, add water to reduce the potency.

Oil infusion – This is actually my favorite way to use teas that I don’t want to drink. Infusing tea into oil can create a luxurious natural product that can either be applied to the skin, the hair, or added to vinegar or another acidic item (like lemon juice) to make dressing. Infusions are simple: add herbs to as many ounces of oil that you want, let it sit in a dark (preferably cool) area for at least four weeks, and shake the mixture occasionally. Personally, I love adding inexpensive chamomile tea and other herbs to coconut or olive oil, then letting them infuse over a month or two. Once these are infused, I strain the oil, put it in a lovely bottle, then apply it to my hair and skin.

Hair rinse – Certain teas are great for rinsing the hair. You brew the tea as normal, then pour the cooled tea onto the hair after shampooing and conditioning. Chamomile is great for lighter colored hair, while sage is fantastic for dark hair. Also, teas that contain rosemary and lavender can be beneficial for dry, itchy scalp, so keep that in mind. You can also just add dried rosemary and/or lavender to the tea that you’re brewing, then you get the added benefit of those herbs for scalp health.

These are some of my favorite ways to use teas that aren’t so tasty. Do you have any recommendations for re-purposing tea leaves? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!

culture · food · international

Snack Review: Mama Wu Mango & Sticky Rice Spring Rolls

While quarantined, I haven’t been enjoying takeout as much as I used to. However, I still enjoy trying new foods, especially snacks. So when I saw this food that combines two of my favorite snacks – spring rolls and Thai mango and sticky rice – I couldn’t resist. I had to try it!

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Mama Wu Mango & Sticky Rice Spring Rolls were easy to prepare. The rolls had a crispy exterior after baking, and I was excited at how the texture of the baked spring roll was similar to a fried roll. I was concerned that the roll would be a tad bit soggy, but it was crispy, crunchy and delicious.

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A perfectly crisp spring roll

Now, when it comes to the filling . . . Let me qualify this by saying I’ve had many different mango and sticky rice desserts. I’ve eaten at over a dozen different Thai restaurants in different cities and I usually have my mango and sticky rice at each one. So, I feel really comfortable saying that I know what the dessert should taste like. This interior was not as tasty as I’d hoped. It was especially chewy, and the mango flavoring wasn’t as prominent as I’d like. So the filling wasn’t as delightful as the exterior, unfortunately.

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The interior wasn’t as tasty as I hoped

Here’s the rub: I was looking forward to the filling more than the outside, yet the outside was the best part of the snack. But, I don’t think that this product is a complete fail: in fact, I can think of a few ways that it can be improved. First, the company should tinker with the rice recipe to see how to prevent the rice from getting too “tough” when baking. Also, a little more mango would be wonderful. Finally, this needs COCONUT SAUCE! These rolls practically begged to be dipped into a creamy, sweetened coconut sauce to amp up the flavor and to add a contrast to the crisp exterior.

Would I try this again? Sure, especially if I had my own coconut sauce (or if the company started including sauce with the rolls). I’d be sure to have some additional mango to accompany these rolls, too.

Have any of you tried these before? Or, do you have another Thai dessert that you prefer? Let me know all about it in the comments below!

food · life curation · luxury

Learn About Tea – For Free!

On Facebook, I recently saw an ad from The Republic of Tea, offering a free email course about tea. Tea 101: An Educational Email Series promised to deliver, over a 6 day period, information about the “nuances and complexities of premium tea”.

I’m a sucker for nuance and complexity, so I happily dove into the emails as they arrived.

Mustard and Olive Chic Lifestyle Blogger Blog Post Social Media Graphics

The lessons cover the different aspects of distinguishing between and enjoying tea. The lessons are brief and to the point, so they are perfect for busy people.

I especially enjoyed the emphasis on the fact that herbal teas aren’t true “teas” (the only true “tea” is the leaf of the camellia sinensis plant). However, the company still took time to explain the benefits of herbal “teas” and blends. I also liked the description that Republic of Tea provided, regarding the caffeine levels in varying tea varieties. It was good to see which teas provide light, medium and heavy caffeine.