Required Reading | “By Any Greens Necessary” Author Tracye McQuirter, MPH

When I peeled back the wrapping paper on what felt like another token Christmas gift (yes, I’m childish), I had no idea that my brother was gifting me something that would alter my perception of the American food industry forevaaa (Cardi B voice). I’ve seen plenty of vegan and animal rights films but the deeper impact of a good ole paperback just cannot be debated. “By Any Greens Necessary” by Tracye Lynn McQuirter is a must read for all African Americans–especially black women. You can hear this same message from a gazillion different sources, but hearing it from a sista just makes the message so much more personal and tailored to our needs and interests.

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Tracye Lynn McQuirter, MPH

We have the highest rates of many chronic diseases, most of which can be prevented by adopting a plant based diet and eliminating animal foods. It’s common knowledge that animal products are packed with cholesterol, saturated fats, antibiotics, fecal matter, mucus and many other substances that these poor animals encounter during their filthy stay at the barn house. Regardless of all that we’ve read about the American meat industry we are still so reluctant to adopt a vegan lifestyle because we think animal flesh is an essential component to our diets. What most of us don’t know is that our bodies do not need animal products to lead a healthy lifestyle.

In “By Any Greens Necessary”, you’ll learn that contrary to what the USDA nutrition guidelines advise, 70% of African Americans cannot safely digest lactose (big shocker there).  I can’t even look at milk without shuddering. As a child, I digested milk like a champ. As an adult? Not so much. I, like many other black men and women, developed a lactose intolerance with age. Milk simply hurts these days. Hurts my stomach and gives me painful cramps that last for hours if I’m lucky. Sometimes the pain has side affects like constipation and nausea. So why on earth does the USDA recommend 2-3 servings of dairy per day? They essentially ignore the fact that we cannot safely digest it. In fact, many Asian, Native American and Latinos have a hard time digesting lactose as well. The only group that can digest lactose with ease is Caucasians. Yet, it is required that cafeteria workers place a carton of milk on each school lunch tray–whether the child wants the milk or not. It begs the question WHY? How on earth does dairy merit inclusion on the USDA’s 5 food groups? Why, when meat has been linked to heart disease, high cholesterol and many outbreaks of deadly viruses, does the government continue to allow excessive marketing, cheap and unhealthy production, despicable conditions and deceptive labeling to lead the masses to literally eat themselves to death? The recommendation of animal products on our guidelines is a sad and villainous representation of all that is wrong with our country.

If that little tidbit of information wasn’t compelling enough to make you go out and grab the book, maybe this will. My eyes nearly rolled out of my head when I read that dairy had been linked to the dreaded uterine fibroid. That’s plural for most of us. Two summers ago my 3 little fibroids landed me a stay in Brooklyn Hospital for a week on an ice and water diet. I was so miserable. That’s when I learned that a whopping 90% of Black women will develop uterine fibroids between ages 20 and 50. In numerous studies, the growth of fibroids have been linked to dairy, ham and beef consumption. Complications with fibroids can lead to hysterectomy which means no little chocolate babies for you and hubby.

Ladies, please, please, please do yourself a favor and grab this book. It is in fact a matter of life and death. Sista to sista and with love, you owe it to yourself to go out and get all of this knowledge!

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xo,

Jazz

 

 

So He Hates Your Natural Hair…What Does That Mean?

On the surface level, it means he ain’t the one. But on a deeper level we must acknowledge that there are many men (and women) in our communities who share the same perceptions of natural hair. Nappy, unruly, unprofessional, child-like, lacking sex appeal, just to name a few.

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Our society has made hair a qualifying or disqualifying factor in beauty and femininity. I remember growing up as a child and seeing ads for Vidal Sassoon or Herbal Essences and wondering why there weren’t any brown girls rubbing suds in their hair? I recall being 7 or 8 and laying in the bathtub while immersing my hair in the water, watching it gather around my face like a sea of tiny black ants and thinking to myself “Ooh, look at my hair. It’s so pretty and long!” I remember having length contests with my friends, stretching my neck and arching my back while pulling my plaits down. I can recall times when my mom would put beads on the ends of my braids, giving me an extra swinging affect that made me feel ultra cute. I also remember what it was like getting my first perm. I had begged my mother for it on countless occasions and I would often try dropping a Just for Me box in the grocery cart. When the day finally came, it burned like hell. I had scars and odd patches of matted hair in places. It was quite the process but when it was done, I had the softest, slickest edges, humidity-proof curls and I looked like the little girls I’d see on television. I felt like I had arrived!

Back then things were much simpler and it wasn’t until I began to really mature and become self-aware that I realized what I had been conditioned to believe about myself and my hair. When I decided to go natural, it was because I had been permed for so long that I’d not only forgotten my real texture, but I’d forgotten what it meant to love my God-given appearance. For years I enjoyed compliments on my wraps or roller sets but what was missing was the knowledge that I was being appreciated in my natural state. That I embraced and appreciated my natural state. It took me a while to come to the decision to wear my natural hair. I toyed with the idea but as I got older it became more and more important to me to see myself…on the daily. I wanted to see what I’d look like with no color, no flat iron, no blow dryer, no contacts, just me.

I’ve found so much power in embracing my natural state. Re-birthing my hair was, in some ways, a rebirth of myself. A rebirth of Jasmine. Of course, not everyone is aware of what most naturals go through daily to relearn their hair (for big choppers or those transitioning), the countless hours on sites from Klassy Kinks to Mahogany Curls looking for a texture match to get tips, then the time we actually spend doing our hair. It sucks that when we finally present our manes, some (not everyone) in our communities make comments that are insensitive, ignorant or flat out rude. I acknowledge that people are entitled to their preferences. But I’m not talking about preferences today. My intention is to bring awareness to the affects of what I will call “natural-shaming”. Examples:

“Oh, you should straighten your hair for interviews.”

“Its pretty but its just so wild.”

“That style looks a little ghetto.”

“You look like a little kid.”

“I hate when you wear your hair natural.”

“Your bush is wack.”

“Looking like a light-skinned Celie.”

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For all the adjusting one may endure in an effort to reach this particular type of self-acceptance, ridicule from others in our communities, especially the men we date, makes the adjustment all the more trying.

 

If a Black man disapproves of your natural state, can he really love you? A better question is does he love himself and his people? That is the question I pose to my readers. Not rhetorical. I’d really like to hear your opinions.

Drop comments below!

xo,

Jazz

Operation Babyface: Turn Back The Clock With Proper Hydration

While it might not be the most tasty beverage available, water is undefeated in not only quenching thirst but it also does wonders to quench those thirsty little skin cells of yours. Most of us think of water in terms of digestion and organ function but we often dismiss our epidermis (our skin is an organ, remember that from grade school?). As we age, our bodies retain less and less water. This can leave our skin cells, shriveled up if we don’t hydrate properly. Skin is often the first indicator of dehydration so it figures that when we are properly hydrated, our skin takes on a youthful appearance.

My water intake used to fluctuate on a daily basis and it took me a while to figure out why on some days I had the face of a newborn and on others I looked like a dried out baseball mitt. It was really bothering me. The first thing I did was cancel out coffee. I did some Google research and found lots of articles pointing to coffee as an acne trigger. If you know me, you know coffee is bae. But, it had to go if I was going to figure out what was haunting my skin. Next I began eating hella carrots. I always noticed that my complexion would brighten after eating carrots with rabbit-like fervor. In the midst of all this no coffee  and baby carrot torture, I figured I’d take that extra step and guzzle some water. The next day I noticed a HUGE difference in the texture of my skin. It was very moist and supple whereas the day before, both my skin and lips were super dry. I will admit to faltering on my water intake a few days in and what do you know, my skin began to get dry again. My lips began to peel. Most of us think that our lips are dry because we haven’t used chap stick or lip balm. But what about the ancient humans who didn’t have these things. How did they hydrate their lips? They drank water! How’d they manage to do all that back-breaking farming, hunting and pyramid building? They went to the Nile and sipped! Ha!

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In all seriousness, drinking the proper amounts of water can assist in digestion, organ function and not to mention our muscle function. You don’t know dehydration until you’ve worked yourself into a quad cramp, which usually comes from overworking the muscle in the absence of proper hydration. Did you know that water makes up a whopping 75% of your muscles? Imagine what you’re doing to your muscles when you don’t hydrate before your workouts! Check the image below to see more ways water impacts your overall health.

yesiknowthatIf you’re struggling with drinking your daily water, try creating a water alarm/reminder in your phone. Or you could try carrying a bigger water bottle instead of a smaller one. Many people opt for fruit infused, homemade water as a tasty alternative. There are plenty of ways to get this done! As always, sharing is caring. Drop some feedback or share some water drinking tips below!

xo,

Jazz

4 Tips To Minimize Bridesmaid Spending + DIY Wedding Day Makeup!

Bridesmaid veteran, here! My goodness, folks are getting married left and right and my bridesmaid chronicles continue! In the last twelve months, two of my sisters and my best friend tied the knot. Of course I’m flattered every time I am asked to be in a wedding but the honor comes with some hefty costs. One thing I’ve learned is that things can definitely add up, especially if you’re in back to back weddings. You want to be sure that you’re making the smartest moves so you can pay your rent, student loans and such! Amen? Amen.

1. Mark important dates on your calendar and book as soon as possible. Both my sis and bestie got married in Rochester, NY which is a full 5 hours from NYC (where I live). I was back and forth for bridal showers, bachelorette parties, dress fittings and more. Therefore, I booked my trips as early as possible to get the best prices. You can cut the cost of transportation in half by simply booking early. I know Megabus prices creep their way up to almost double the initial cost. Don’t play the fool. Buy those tickets ASAP!

2. Take good care of your gowns and don’t get them altered unless absolutely necessary. First of all, my sister and bestie chose the exact same dress in different colors. Yes, I have two of the same David’s Bridal $150.00 dresses hanging in my closet (for now). I plan on selling them on E-bay as I’m sure their popularity will prove to be my saving grace. The length was more than I needed but I refrained from altering both dresses because I knew that would make them harder to sell. I made sure I bought heels that were high enough to compensate for the extra length and bypassed the extra cost of alterations. Cha-ching!

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Same gown…

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Different color…

3. Do your own make-up! Girls, there are so many make-up tutorials. No matter what look you want to achieve, you can do so with the right tools and a little practice. I found a Youtube video with a really easy to follow, smokey-eye tutorial and I believe I nailed the look. People pay as much as $150-$200 dollars to have a photo-ready face. I am proud to tell yall that I did this look with just $12 and the tools in my itty bitty make up bag! * Enlarge the pics to get details on how I used each item.

 I found this Youtube tutorial from Teni Panosian to be uber helpful!

For my face, I use Nars’ tinted moisturizer. My color is Cuba. I’m not big on a heavy foundation as my skin is just glorious, especially in the summer. Lol. 😉

4. You knew this was coming…do your own hair, nails or feet. Chose one, and get to doing! In my case, I did all three! I was somewhat of a beauty enthusiast back in college and I’ve always had a knack for doing hair, and painting nails. Choose a soft, translucent color that gives you room for mistakes. I did a very soft pearl color from OPI and obviously my hair is natural and pulled back off of my face. It’s a simple and effortless look that I achieved with Miss Jessie’s curly pudding and EcoStyler Gel…a naturalista’s best friend!

Do you have any tips to add to the list? Drop em below!

xo,

Jazz!

Aging Beautifully 101: Feed Your Body Antioxidants To Stay Vibrant!

Okay, so I’ve been talking about this to anyone who will listen for the last month or so. The other day my good friend Alee-Sha and I got into a really interesting debate about physical aging. On the table were topics ranging from when to start using anti-aging products, what products work best,night creams, SPFs and nutrition. Obviously, I believe that its more effective to beautify from within than externally. Here’s why…shutterstock_33954205

  1. All the creams and potions in the world will do nothing for you if you are only catering to your external self. You can work against aging both externally and internally for better results.
  2. Eating foods high in antioxidants will save not only your skin and beauty but it will fight against diseases like cancer, heart disease and diabetes. Beautifying from within produces longer lasting results, as no beauty cream or lotion ever extended anyone’s life…ever.
  3. Results you may see from external factors dissipate once the cream, lotion or potion has worn off.

I’ve always loved fruits and vegetables but it wasn’t until I started noticing what they did for my skin and overall feeling of well-being that I began to draw the correlation between nutrition and beauty. Before I tell you guys what foods are working miracles on my 30 year old skin, let me begin with a mini science lesson.

There are these things called free radicals that cause us to age and wither up :-(. It’s a natural part of life. Here’s a quick explanation of how free radicals come about. Pay close attention because this is something you all should know!

Free radicals are molecules lacking an electron. They are a result of exposure to processed food, chemicals, environmental toxins, radiation, cigarette smoke, drugs/medicines and internal factors such as metabolism and exercise. When free radicals roam unchecked in our bodies, they go around stealing electrons from other molecules thus, creating more free radicals. The end result is a massive amount of free radicals wreaking havoc in our bodies! Ugh. They accelerate the aging process, cause wrinkles, tissue damage, cell mutation, immune system problems, diabetes, heart disease and cancer. The good news is that we can fight free radicals with antioxidants. Yayyy! Antioxidants fight free radicals by giving away their electrons to stabilize the molecules. They’re all the rave and you can get them for a fraction of the cost of those high end beauty creams.

Fruits and vegetables are PACKED with antioxidants such as beta-carotene, vitamins A, C and E just to name a few. Here’s a breakdown of what foods provide these antioxidants:

Beta-carotene and other carotenoids: apricots, asparagus, beets, broccoli, cantaloupe, carrots, corn, green peppers, kale, mangoes, turnip and collard greens, nectarines, peaches, pink grapefruit, pumpkin, squash, spinach, sweet potato, tangerines, tomatoes, and watermelon

Vitamin C: berries, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cantaloupe, cauliflower, grapefruit, honeydew, kale, kiwi, mango, nectarine, orange, papaya, snow peas, sweet potato, strawberries, tomatoes, and red, green, or yellow peppers

Vitamin E: broccoli, carrots, chard, mustard and turnip greens, mangoes, nuts, papaya, pumpkin, red peppers, spinach, and sunflower seeds

Oranges, peaches, spinach, carrots, mango and blueberry are my absolute favorites. They really enhance my complexion and give me super bright glow when I eat them consistently. I urge anyone with lackluster skin to give this a whirl. Work at least three full servings of fruits and vegetables into your diet and see if your skin doesn’t look rejuvenated in days!

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For a simplified version of everything I just said, watch this quick video:

I hope you guys enjoyed this read!

xo,

Jazz

Beauty Essentials: 10 Wonderful Uses for The Almighty Coconut Oil

Everyone has those beauty products that come into their lives and change the whole game, right? Whether it’s a night cream or a lip color you love so much. Often we find these products and think to ourselves ‘How did I ever make it without you?’ Well, that’s how I feel about coconut oil! I’ve shared my love for this multifaceted must-have via Facebook before but I definitely didn’t do it justice. We’ve since (coconut oil and I) taken our relationship to the next level. Lol! Today I’m going to share with you just how involved we are.

My top 10 uses for coconut oil:

  1. Apply all over your body as soon as you get out of the shower to lock in moisture. I don’t mean to brag but I always get compliments on my skin and I have genetics to thank for that but coconut oil helps me maintain it. Timing is everything with this. Apply as soon as you dry off to get the best results.
  2. Use as a natural face wash. Yes, this works! I do have a traditional face wash and scrub on hand for when I need a thorough cleanse but I use coconut oil regularly because I never want to strip ALL of my face oils! That’s a good way to age yourself quickly. Keep it moist by massaging a dab of coconut oil onto your face for a good 30 seconds. Then grab yourself a hot wash cloth and lay it over your face for 15 seconds to open up your pores. Pat any excess oil with your wash cloth.
  3. Use coconut oil as an overnight cream. Coconut oil works wonders in rejuvenating your skin and making you look fresh-faced. Throughout the day, your cells will oxidize or deteriorate. Coconut oil can and will breathe life back into your cells. I can’t stress this enough. You’ll wake up with beautiful, soft and vibrant skin (provided you got a full night’s rest).
  4. Use as a hair moisturizer. Lock in or reapply moisture to your hair by applying just a small amount to your mane. This works for any and every hair type not just the kinky crew.
  5. Use as a hair gloss. I know some of use swear by oil sheen or shine serum but you should really give this a try. It’s better for our environment and it works. Coconut oil will give you a natural shine without weighing down your tresses. Just take a very small dab and rub gently over your hair-root to tip.
  6. Scalp and dandruff treatment. Is Head & Shoulders just not cutting it for you? Give coconut oil a try. Massage it into your scalp as if you were greasing it and let it sit for a good hour with a cap. Then go ahead and co-wash or shampoo all your itch and dandruff away. Simple.
  7. Apply as an after shave. I had always used baby oil to calm any irritation around my bikini area after a close shave but I’ve found that coconut oil provides longer lasting moisture.
  8. Use as cuticle oil. My cuticles are always cracking and peeling (probably an indicator that I need to drink more water). I use coconut oil during my mani/pedis to help stop the peeling.
  9. Use as a make-up remover. I use coconut oil on a cotton swab or q-tip to remove foundation and pesky mascara residue.
  10. Use as body food. Your imagination should kick in right now. Remember, it’s edible! Lol.

I hope you found this little read helpful. It was fun to write/share because it’s just too good a find to keep to myself. Do you use coconut oil? How so? Any beauty secrets I missed? Share below!

xo,

Jazz

Blowout Magic: How I Create & Maintain My Blowout With An Active Lifestyle

Let me just say I was the at home hair guru in college. My friends and quad mates would come to me for say a rod set, rinse, dye, doobies, etc. I was one of the first to grab the $25 Gold n’ Hot hooded dryer from Northwood Plaza (my Morgan heads know about this). With that being said, it’s not easy for me to let my hair get crazy. I’m somewhat of a hair perfectionist and even the whole big chop and natural move was a STRUGGLE for me! I have found ways to manage it though. I use a few tried and true steps and products for my blowouts.

1. I use Pantene Pro Relaxed and Natural Shampoo and Conditioner. I’ve been using this since it came out back in 2004. It cleans my hair thoroughly and gives me the moisture I need to get a nice, silky press when I touch the iron to this head!

2. I finger comb my hair into four sections and then I carefully brush through each section using the off white Goody brush with the pink grip. I never use the wig brushes because they have those little bulbs on the tips that will rip your hair clean out of your scalp whether you’re careful or not. I begin brushing at the ends then I make my way to the root.

3. I twist each section into a big Celie plat until I’m ready to blow it out.

4. I carefully blow my hair out.  Do not blow your hair bone dry! It should have a hint of soft moisture to it still. If its rough and brittle, you blew it too much!

5. After I’ve blown out each section, I begin to flat iron in thin, horizontal, linear sections beginning at the nape of my neck working my way to the crown. Flat ironing and sometimes even blowing your hair out in this way gives your hair a better lay as opposed to flat ironing in misshapen chunks.

6. I usually pin curl the front and sides of my hair to lock in the shape of my curls. It’s a Maryland thing I learned when I was down there. I never quite shook the pin curl out of my system.

Tips: You get a sleeker flat iron when your hair still has a tad bit of moisture to it. I use a small spray/spritzer with olive oil in it to add moisture to sections that have dried completely (learned this is at the Dominican spot). I have used an anti-reversion serum prior to my big chop, but I’ve shied away from them because I intend to wear my hair naturally most of the time so I don’t want to discourage my curls from returning.

Maintaining my blowout is difficult. Here’s what I do to make it last more than just a few days:

1. I keep my hair tied back as well as possible during my workouts. I use hair ties, pins and sometimes even a headband to keep my follicles taut, stopping them from coiling when the moisture hits.

2. I wrap my hair at night–every night. I use a silk scarf and I make sure its tight and covers all the hair on my head.

3. I shower with a double cap. I will admit that one of these caps is a grocery bag. I use it for added protection against the moisture. Additionally, I keep my showers short when my hair is straight. I feel this goes without saying but hey, some people need to be told to save some hot water. Lol.

Of course, our hair isn’t going to look magazine perfect all the time. Thus, I reserve the right to retouch my edges only for special occasions. Don’t get in the habit of flat ironing every little imperfection because when it’s time to go back curly, your curls might not reappear! I hope these steps and tips are helpful for you guys. What additional tips would you add to maintaining a beautiful blowout amidst a sweaty workout schedule?