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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.

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Apeel
New Plant-Based Coating Can Keep Your Avocados Fresh for Twice as Long
Apeel
Apeel

Thanks to a food technology startup called Apeel Sciences, eating fresh avocados will soon be a lot easier. The Bill Gates–backed company has developed a coating designed to keep avocados fresh for up to twice as long as traditional fruit, Bloomberg reports, and these long-lasting avocados will soon be available at 100 grocery stores across the Midwestern U.S. Thirty or so of the grocery stores involved in the limited rollout of the Apeel avocado will be Costcos, so feel free to buy in bulk.

Getting an avocado to a U.S. grocery store is more complicated than it sounds; the majority of avocados sold in the U.S. come from California or Mexico, making it tricky to get fruit to the Midwest or New England at just the right moment in an avocado’s life cycle.

Apeel’s coating is made of plant material—lipids and glycerolipids derived from peels, seeds, and pulp—that acts as an extra layer of protective peel on the fruit, keeping water in and oxygen out, and thus reducing spoilage. (Oxidation is the reason that your sliced avocados and apples brown after they’ve been exposed to the air for a while.) The tasteless coating comes in a powder that fruit producers mix with water and then dip their fruit into.

A side-by-side comparison of a coated and uncoated avocado after 30 days, with the uncoated avocado looking spoiled and the coated one looking fresh
Apeel

According to Apeel, coating a piece of produce in this way can keep it fresh for two to three times longer than normal without any sort of refrigeration of preservatives. This not only allows consumers a few more days to make use of their produce before it goes bad, reducing food waste, but can allow producers to ship their goods to farther-away markets without refrigeration.

Avocados are the first of Apeel's fruits to make it to market, but there are plans to debut other Apeel-coated produce varieties in the future. The company has tested its technology on apples, artichokes, mangos, and several other fruits and vegetables.

[h/t Bloomberg]

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iStock
The Popcorn Company That's Creating Jobs for Adults With Autism
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iStock

A New Jersey-based gourmet popcorn company is dedicating its profits to creating new employment “popportunities” for adults on the autism spectrum, A Plus reports.

Popcorn for the People, founded by Rutgers University professor Dr. Barbie Zimmerman-Bier and her husband, radiologist Dr. Steven Bier, is a nonprofit subsidiary of the couple's charitable organization Let’s Work For Good, which focuses on "creating meaningful and lasting employment for adults with autism and developmental disabilities." Recognizing the lack of skilled employment options for adults with developmental disabilities, the Biers decided to create jobs themselves through this popcorn venture, with all of the profits going to their charitable organization. According to the site, every tin of popcorn purchased "provides at least an hour of meaningful employment" to adults with autism and other developmental disabilities, who perform jobs like making popcorn, labeling products, and marketing.

The couple developed the idea for the business and the nonprofit in 2015 when their son, Sam, grew tired of his job at a grocery store. Sam, 27, is on the autism spectrum, and after six years of working as a “cart guy,” he decided he was ready to try something new. Employment opportunities were scarce, though. Jobs that provided enough resources for someone on the spectrum tended to consist of menial work, and more skilled positions involved a tough interview process.

“Some companies mean well, but they are limited in what they can offer,” Steven Bier told TAP Into East Brunswick in 2015.

Unemployment rates are especially high among adults with autism. Last year, Drexel University reported that only 14 percent of autistic adults who use state-funded disability services are employed in paid work positions. And while high-functioning autistic adults are often perfectly capable of working in technical careers, the actual process of getting hired can be challenging. People with autism tend to struggle with understanding nuance and social conventions, which makes the interviewing process particularly difficult.

Enter the Biers' popcorn business. What began in 2015 as the Pop-In Cafe (which still sells popcorn and deli items at its New Jersey location) now distributes flavored popcorn all over the world. In three years, the organization has gone from a staff of four, with one employee on the autism spectrum, to a staff of 50, nearly half of whom are on the spectrum. In July, the organization plans to expand to a larger production facility in order to keep up with demand.

The company provides an environment for employees to learn both hard skills, like food preparation and money management, and what the company describes as “watercooler life skills.”

"There just aren't many programs that teach these sorts of things in a real-world environment, with all that entails," Bier told My Central Jersey. "These are skills that the kids can use here, and elsewhere."

According to A Plus, you can now buy Popcorn for the People in person at locations like the Red Bull Arena in New Jersey and the Lyric Theatre in Times Square. The organization sells 12 flavors of popcorn (including cookies and cream, Buffalo wing, and French toast), all created by Agnes Cushing-Ruby, a chef who donates 40 hours a week to the company.

“I never thought that the little pop-up shop would grow into this,” Sam told A Plus. “It makes me so happy to see we have helped so many people.”

[h/t A Plus]

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