10 Snacks to Enhance Your Movie-Watching Experience

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Want to make your next movie night or trip to the theater even better? Pair the right flick with one of these snacks, and you’ll enhance the entire experience.

1. Popcorn

Nothing goes with a movie as well as popcorn, and if you prepare your bowl of the fluffy stuff the right way, you may even be doing yourself a favor. The hull of popcorn is loaded with antioxidants, which may help ward off cancer and heart disease. It’s also packed with healthy fiber. Now just don't drown your popcorn in butter and salt.

2. Blueberries

Not only are blueberries delicious, they’re a “superfood” that can help give your brain a kickstart. Studies have found that a large serving of blueberries can give your concentration and memory a boost for up to five hours, which means that no matter how complicated your movie’s plot is you’ll be able to follow along. Scientists have suggested that this effect is thanks to blueberries leading to increased blood flow and oxygen to the brain, so you’ve got a perfect excuse to make a pre-movie smoothie. As an added bonus, the antioxidants in the berries also promote better cardiovascular health.

3. Oily Fish

If you’re cooking for dinner and a movie at home, consider making an oily fish your main course. Oily fish are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which have been linked to a host of cognitive and memory benefits. A recent study also found that weekly consumption of fish is associated with increased brain volume, so looking to the sea for your movie snacks may help you remember what you’ve seen on the screen for longer.

4. Walnuts and Flax Seeds

Of course, it’s tough to sneak a nice halibut filet into your local multiplex. Luckily, there are other ways to get omega-3 fatty acids. Walnuts and flax seeds are both snackable alternatives that come loaded with omega-3s.

5. Chocolate

If it seems like chocolate can enhance any situation, there’s a reason: It can! Munching on chocolate prompts the release of pleasurable neurotransmitters like dopamine, which makes us feel happier. Everyone likes to feel happy while they’re watching a movie, and nibbling dark chocolate can make the experience even better: Researchers at the University of Nottingham have determined that the flavanols in dark chocolate can improve brain function and boost overall alertness. Even better, these flavanols can spark improved short-term memory.

6. Peppermint

Popping a peppermint before a movie will do more than just give you fresher breath. Smelling or tasting peppermint can make you feel more alert and boost your concentration, so you’ll be able to give the flick you’re watching your full attention. Between this benefit and the lift you get from chocolate, is it any wonder that Junior Mints have been king of the theater concession stand for over 60 years?

7. Guacamole

Not only is guacamole a crowd-pleaser that will draw raves at your next movie night—it can also help boost your brainpower. Avocados are rich in monounsaturated fat that can improve blood flow to the brain.

8. Broccoli

Yes, broccoli. A study released this fall from the Cornell University Food and Brand Lab found that viewers have a tendency to inhale unhealthy snacks as they watch action movies. In the study, two groups of students watched a 20-minute segment of Michael Bay’s The Island, while a control group viewed a segment of the venerable PBS talk show Charlie Rose. All groups had access to a variety of healthy and unhealthy snacks, but it turned out the action-movie groups chowed down on more calories and less healthy snacks. Counteract this effect by swapping the nachos for broccoli, which is packed with memory-boosting compounds like the flavonol quercetin and folic acid.

9. Pistachios

Now that you know movies can trigger mindless munching, pistachios can be your secret weapon in your fight to limit how much you wolf down during a screening. Studies have shown that eating shelled pistachios can help curb your caloric intake – having to shell each nut slows down your eating, and the discarded shells send your brain a subtle cue to think about how much you’ve been eating. Pistachios also bring along antioxidant benefits, so you’ll be getting the most out of the snacks you do eat.

10. Eggs

Want to keep your eyes healthy so you can keep enjoying movies for decades? You might want to borrow a page from Cool Hand Luke and snack on a hard-boiled egg during your next screening. A single hard-boiled egg contains about 6.5 grams of protein—complete protein, that is, which is essential for building muscles. Eggs are also rich in lutein, which strengthens the retina and can reduce the risk for macular degeneration. That means if you peel a few eggs (we don’t recommend 50 of them) along with Paul Newman, you might be able to keep your eyes peeled as you age.

You Can Now Order—and Donate—Girl Scout Cookies Online

It's OK if you decide to ignore the recommended serving size on a box of these beauties.
It's OK if you decide to ignore the recommended serving size on a box of these beauties.
Girl Scouts

Girl Scouts may have temporarily suspended both cookie booths and door-to-door sales to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, but that doesn’t mean you’ll be deprived of your annual supply of everyone’s favorite boxed baked goods. Instead, you can now order Thin Mints, Tagalongs, and all the other classic cookies online—or donate them to local charities.

When you enter your ZIP code on the “Girl Scouts Cookie Care” page, it’ll take you to a digital order form for the nearest Girl Scouts organization in your area. Then, simply choose your cookies—which cost $5 or $6 per box—and check out with your payment and shipping information. There’s a minimum of four boxes for each order, and shipping fees vary based on quantity.

Below the list of cookies is a “Donate Cookies” option, which doesn’t count toward your own order total and doesn’t cost any extra to ship. You get to choose how many boxes to donate, but the Girl Scouts decide which kinds of cookies to send and where exactly to send them (the charity, organization, or group of people benefiting from your donation is listed on the order form). There’s a pretty wide range of recipients, and some are specific to healthcare workers—especially in regions with particularly large coronavirus outbreaks. The Girl Scouts of Greater New York, for example, are sending donations to NYC Health + Hospitals, while the Girl Scouts of Western Washington have simply listed “COVID-19 Responders” as their recipients.

Taking their cookie business online isn’t the only way the Girl Scouts are adapting to the ‘stay home’ mandates happening across the country. They’ve also launched “Girl Scouts at Home,” a digital platform filled with self-guided activities so Girl Scouts can continue to learn skills and earn badges without venturing farther than their own backyard. Resources are categorized by grade level and include everything from mastering the basics of coding to building a life vest for a Corgi (though the video instructions for that haven’t been posted yet).

“For 108 years, Girl Scouts has been there in times of crisis and turmoil,” Girl Scouts of the USA CEO Sylvia Acevedo said in a press release. “And today we are stepping forward with new initiatives to help girls, their families, and consumers connect, explore, find comfort, and take action.”

You can order cookies here, and explore “Girl Scouts at Home” here.

Can't Find Yeast? Grow Your Own at Home With a Sourdough Starter

Dutodom, iStock via Getty Images
Dutodom, iStock via Getty Images

Baking bread can relieve stress and it requires long stretches of time at home that many of us now have. But shoppers have been panic-buying some surprising items since the start of the COVID-19 crisis. In addition to pantry staples like rice and beans, yeast packets are suddenly hard to find in grocery stores. If you got the idea to make homemade bread at the same time as everyone on your Instagram feed, don't let the yeast shortage stop you. As long as you have flour, water, and time, you can grow your own yeast at home.

While many bread recipes call for either instant yeast or dry active yeast, sourdough bread can be made with ingredients you hopefully already have on hand. The key to sourdough's unique, tangy taste lies in its "wild" yeast. Yeast is a single-celled type of fungus that's abundant in nature—it's so abundant, it's floating around your home right now.

To cultivate wild yeast, you need to make a sourdough starter. This can be done by combining one cup of flour (like whole grain, all-purpose, or a mixture of the two) with a half cup of cool water in a bowl made of nonreactive material (such as glass, stainless steel, or food-grade plastic). Cover it with plastic wrap or a clean towel and let it sit in a fairly warm place (70°F to 75°F) for 24 hours.

Your starter must be fed with one cup of flour and a half cup of water every day for five days before it can be used in baking. Sourdough starter is a living thing, so you should notice is start to bubble and grow in size over time (it also makes a great low-maintenance pet if you're looking for company in quarantine). On the fifth day, you can use your starter to make dough for sourdough bread. Here's a recipe from King Arthur Flour that only calls for starter, flour, salt, and water.

If you just want to get the urge to bake out of your system, you can toss your starter once you're done with it. If you plan on making sourdough again, you can use the same starter indefinitely. Starters have been known to live in people's kitchens for decades. But to avoid using up all your flour, you can store yours in the fridge after the first five days and reduce feedings to once a week.

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