Why Smoothie Bowls Are the Best Thing You Can Do With a Blender

You’ve probably seen “smoothie bowls” like the one above popping up all over your Pinterest or Instagram feeds. This delicious new trend offers the best of both worlds:Â You get the convenience, taste, and texture of a smoothie, but a bowl is even more filling than a traditional blended beverage.

While smoothies are a convenient and healthy way to replace a meal on the go, research has shown that liquid forms of fruits can be less satisfying than whole foods. With a smoothie bowl, in addition to blending in superfoods, you also add fruit, nuts, seeds, or grain on top. So you also get something to chew, which can help make for a yummy whole breakfast or lunch.

RELATED: How to Build the Perfect Smoothie

Plus: Making a smoothie bowl is still just as easy. You can use a smoothie recipe you already know and love, or just throw something together. All you have to do is use less liquid or add a little more of something thickening (like an extra half of a frozen banana or a few spoonfuls of oats) and blend as you normally would. Because it’s thicker, you may need to stop your blender and stir or shake the ingredients and then blend again.

As with regular smoothies, what you put in bowls depends on your taste. So feel free to get creative! Here is a list of ingredients to get you started, with some of my own experiments sprinkled in.

Vegetables

I like frozen spinach, but you can use kale, romaine, or even cucumber. Also, think beyond greens: pumpkin and cooked squash (like butternut) make delicious smoothie bowls, as do carrots (best to lightly steam or shred them before blending).

RELATED: 26 Quick, Healthy Juice and Smoothie Recipes

Fruit

Frozen berries are always great and frozen bananas can lend a creamy, ice cream-like texture. Dried dates can also add thickness and a caramel-like sweetness, but be sure to pit them first. If they feel hard, soak them in hot water until they soften, then drain, reserving the liquid, and pat dry. You can use the liquid to thin and sweeten your smoothie bowl.

RELATED: Refreshing, Low-Cal Smoothies

Protein

There are plenty of powders to choose from, if you like (check the label; some can be very high in added sugar). Personally, I prefer nut butter or seeds, like hemp or chia. Hemp seeds are loaded with nutrition, and they’re a neutral-tasting thickener that lend additional creaminess to smoothies.

Liquid

You can use regular or low-fat milk of course, but nut milks, coconut water, unsweetened decaf iced tea, even plain water can also work and add interesting flavors. Start with very little and add sparingly to make sure you don’t thin out your smoothie bowl too much.

RELATED: 11 Healthy Milk Shakes and Smoothies

Fat

If you haven’t added some fat with nut butter or seeds, toss in a bit of avocado or a spoonful of coconut oil. Fats help you feel full and satisfied, are essential for absorbing certain nutrients, and they keep your hair and skin healthy.

Tasty extras

These are all optional, but they’re good to have on hand in case you taste your smoothie bowl base and it’s missing a little something. If you need a touch of added sweetness, throw in a tiny bit of honey or maple syrup. Cacao powder ($11, amazon) or cacao nibs (or unsweetened cocoa, if that’s what you have on hand) also offer that unbeatable chocolate flavor and get you tons tons of fiber and minerals. I enjoy adding maca in my smoothie bowls (this dried South American root vegetable has a nice butterscotch flavor). Spirulina or matcha powder are also good for powering up your bowl with nutrition.

RELATED: Feel-Good Smoothies

And finally, toppings!

Anything you might add to yogurt works: granola or muesli, toasted unsweetened coconut, sliced fruit, whole chia or hemp seeds (if they’re not blended inside already), or nut. Experiment, and have fun with it. Grab a spoon and enjoy!

The Surprising Way Reusable Bags Can Make You Buy More Junk Food

Bringing your own reusable grocery bags always seems like a huge win—for you and the environment—right? But according to a new study, that sense of accomplishment and pride you get from forgoing plastic bags may lead you to make poor food choices.

Researchers at Harvard Business School looked at the shopping receipts from one location of a major grocery store chain in California, and analyzed purchases based on whether they brought reusable bags or stuck with the store-provided plastic ones.

RELATED: 10 Signs Your House Is Making You Fat

It’s not surprising that those who toted their own bags to the store purchased more organic foods than non-organic. But the researchers also found that those who brought bags from home were much more likely to pick up junk foods like ice cream, candy, chips, and cookies.

“It was clear that shoppers who brought their own bags were more likely to replace non-organic versions of goods like milk with organic versions,” Uma Karmarkar, assistant professor of marketing at Harvard Business School and co-author of the study told the Harvard Business Review. “So one green action led to another. But those same people were also more likely to buy [junk food]. They weren’t replacing other items with junk food, as they did with organic food. They were just adding it to their carts.”

Karmarkar and her co-author, Bryan Bollinger, theorize that this is because shoppers feel like they can reward themselves for helping the environment.

RELATED: 9 Low-Fat Foods You Shouldn’t Eat

“You give yourself a cookie,” she told the Harvard Business Review. “In this case literally. If I behave well in one situation, I give myself license to misbehave in another, unrelated situation. In this case bringing a bag makes you think you’re environmentally friendly, so you get some ice cream.”

But this doesn’t mean you should forgo helping the environment for the sake of your waistline. Karmarkar believes that as bringing reusable bags becomes more widespread, this trend will drop off, citing the practice of recycling plastic bottles as an example.

“It used to be that you felt as if you were doing a good thing by recycling bottles,” she said. “Now it’s to the point were you don’t get a cookie for recycling them.”

The researchers found that when people were required to BYOB because of plastic-bag bans, the junk food purchases stopped, while the organic purchases continued. (California and Washington, D.C. as well as a few select counties across the country, have enacted such legislation, set to go into effect starting later this year.)

RELATED: 20 Things You Should Throw Away for Better Health

“Basically, if it’s compulsory, we don’t get that jolt of affirmation about being a good person,” Karmarkar told the Harvard Business Review.

Everyone deserves a treat now and again, but pay close attention to what you’re loading into your cart next time you’re at the store. Your reusable bags really are great for the planet, but they definitely don’t negate the health effects of too much added sugar.

And one more note: make sure you’re cleaning them every so often. Research shows that they can be a hotbed for salmonella and E. coli. An outbreak of the gastrointestinal illness norovirus  was even traced back to the environmentally-friendly totes back in 2012.

RELATED: 9 Ways to Detox Your Home

4 Tricks to Make a Healthy Habit Stick for Good

Wake up 30 minutes earlier to walk before work. Swap candy for fruit when a sugar craving hits. Do 60 fly-ups during Dancing With The Stars. Healthy goals always seem so straightforward—until temptation strikes and you end up hitting snooze, raiding a vending machine, or vegging out on the couch.

“The fact is, we’re surrounded by temptation,” writes Gretchen Rubin in her new bestseller Better than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives ($16, amazon.com). She cites a 2011 study which estimated that we spend about a quarter of our waking time resisting some aspect of desire.

RELATED: 10 Habits of People Who Love to Work Out

But here’s the good news: There are steps you can take to arm yourself against less-than-healthy impulses, and minimize the angst you feel on a daily basis. In her book, Rubin calls them safeguards because they’re designed to protect a new good habit—whatever it may be.

In the excerpt below, she describes four of these simple tricks:

Make “if-then†plans

These strategies (“If ____ happens, then I will do ____”) help you plan for habit challenges that might arise, so you’re not forced to make a decision in the heat of the moment. Making a plan in advance, when you’re in a cool and detached frame of mind, means you can act quickly—without much internal debate—in the face of temptation. Over time, I’ve come up with a list of my own if-thens:

If I’m writing, I shut down my email.

If I’m invited to dinner, I eat a snack before I go so I won’t be too hungry.

If I’m offered wine, I decline. (Almost always.)

Catch yourself early when you stumble

Because of the colorfully named “what the hell” phenomenon, a minor stumble often becomes a major fall. Once a habit is broken, we act as though it doesn’t matter whether it’s broken by a little or a lot. People on a healthy eating plan seem especially susceptible to this pattern. A friend once described what happens after she breaks her diet: “It’s like a rush to gobble down as much forbidden food as I can that day because I know the next day I’ll have to start to eat right again.”

“How about this,” I suggested. “Instead of feeling that you’ve blown the day and thinking ‘I’ll get back on track tomorrow,’ try thinking of each day as a set of four quarters: morning, midday, afternoon, evening. If you blow one quarter, you get back on track for the next quarter. Fail small. Not big.”

And don’t judge too harshly

Although some people assume that strong feelings of shame help people stick to good habits, the opposite is true. People who feel less guilt and show compassion toward themselves after a slip-up are better able to regain self-control, while people who feel deeply guilty struggle more.

Instead of viewing your stumbles as evidence that you’re weak, see them as part of the habit-formation process. Tell yourself, “It happens,” or, “What I do most days matters more than what I do once in a while.” That kind of self-encouragement is a greater safeguard than self-blame.

Break your habit deliberately

Sometimes we want to break a habit, to take advantage of a rare opportunity, say, or to celebrate. A very effective safeguard in that situation is the planned exception, chosen very consciously, ahead of time. These exceptions work best when they’re limited. (For example, go ahead and skip the gym so you have extra time to prepare for the annual retreat—not the weekly staff meeting.) A good test is to ask yourself how you’ll feel about the exception later: Will you think, Looking back on it, I wish I’d made a different choice? Or: I’m so happy I took advantage of that opportunity.

Adapted from Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives Copyright © 2015 by Gretchen Rubin. Published by Crown Publishers, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.

RELATED: 27 Mistakes Healthy People Make

7 Delicious New Takes on Avocado Toast

It seems that every kind of food, no matter how basic, is getting fancy these days: Broth, coffee, jerky–and now toast.

If you have any doubt that toast has gone gourmet, remember that Gwyneth Paltrow compared toast (specifically, avocado toast) to “a favorite pair of jeans” in her 2013 cookbook It’s All Good ($20, amazon.com). And we all know Gwyneth means a very expensive, fancy favorite pair of jeans. More recently, the Better on Toast ($16, amazon.com) cookbook was released, and it is full of 70(!) different recipes for taking this morning staple to another level.

RELATED: 8 Avocado Recipes (Besides Guacamole)

Still, we agree with Gwyneth that the tastiest way to get in on this trend is via the humble, yet versatile avocado. Whether you’re already a devotee of “avo toast” or not, we’ve got some variations on it that you’ve got to try.

As a guide: We used sprouted multigrain bread from Alvarado Street Bakery ($33 for 6 loaves—freeze them!, amazon.com), and about ¼ of an avocado for each slice, unless otherwise noted. Have 2 slices for a meal with a salad, or 1 slice as a snack.

Classic

Whole-grain (or sourdough) bread, mashed avocado, sea salt, black pepper. Add hot sauce or red pepper flakes for some heat, if you like.

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Smoked salmon

Whole-grain bread, mashed avocado, 2 Tbsp. flaked smoked salmon, 1 tsp. lemon zest, pepper. Sliced red onion is optional.

Photo: Beth Lipton

RELATED: How to Prepare an Avocado

Egg

Whole-grain bread, mashed avocado, 1 fried egg (be extra on-trend by frying in coconut oil), salt and pepper.

Photo: Beth Lipton

RELATED: What Can You Make With Avocado?

Veg-heavy

Whole-grain bread, mashed avocado, 6 thin slices cucumber, 4 to 6 thin slices radish, 1 Tbsp. chopped olives. Drizzle with 1 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil, season with salt and pepper.

Photo: Beth Lipton

RELATED: Surprising Foods That Fight Fat

Nacho

Whole-grain bread, mashed avocado, 2 Tbsp. salsa (drained), 1 Tbsp. shredded Cheddar or jack. Broil until the cheese melts (watch carefully to prevent burning).

Photo: Beth Lipton

RELATED: 10 Healthy Veggie Snack Recipes Packed With Flavor

Seedy

Whole-grain bread, mashed avocado mixed with 1 tsp. chia seeds, 2 tsp. each sunflower and hemp seeds, a splash of lemon juice, salt and pepper. Top with more seeds, if desired.

Photo: Beth Lipton

RELATED: 20 Best Foods for Fiber

Chocolate

In a blender or food processor, combine 1 chopped avocado with 1/3 cup cacao powder, ½ cup pure maple syrup, a splash of vanilla extract and a pinch of salt. Blend until smooth, adding water 1 Tbsp. at a time if needed to reach desired texture. (Yield: About 1 cup; use about 2 Tbsp. per bread slice. Cover and refrigerate remaining chocolate-avocado spread, if you can stop yourself from eating it off a spoon.)

Photo: Beth Lipton

RELATED: 5 Great Reasons to Eat Chocolate

5 More 'Food Babe' Myths You Shouldn’t Believe

There’s no denying that Vani Hari, aka the Food Babe, has ignited a clean-eating revolution—along with a lot of controversy. Hari is known for lobbying companies to remove ingredients she believes are toxic, including the “yoga mat chemical” in Subway’s bread, class IV caramel color in Starbucks’ Pumpkin Spice Lattes, and “antifreeze” in beer.

And while getting people thinking about what’s in their food is good thing, many experts point out that her science is, well, off, which can cause an unnecessary fear of food and other everyday products. (Look no further than this recent New York Times profile or this Gawker takedown written by a scientist who dubs herself the Science Babe).

RELATED: 12 Food-Industry Tricks That Undermine Clean Eating

“She’s well intentioned, but there’s a problem when she scares her readership by giving them misleading information,” says Joseph Perrone, PhD, chief scientific officer for the Center for Accountability in Science. “Almost every chemical sounds dangerous when you pronounce it.”

So with that, here are 5 more Food Babe myths to forget:

Microwaves destroy food’s nutrients

Hari herself has said “my microwave blog post was not my most impressive piece of work,” and it’s since been taken down from her site. (Though it still lives on in the bowels of the Internet.) There’s no reason to avoid zapping your broccoli for fear that it will remove all the nutrients—or worse, that you’ll be exposed to potential cancer-causing radiation.

Microwaves use low frequency radiation, which doesn’t damage your DNA or make food radioactive. Says the American Cancer Society: “When microwave ovens are used according to instructions, there is no evidence they pose a health risk to people.”

As for the idea that they kill all nutrients? Research, like one study in the Journal of Food Science, suggests that microwaving may actually preserve antioxidant values far better than cooking methods like boiling.

RELATED: 5 Myths and Facts About Your Microwave

Canola oil is toxic

Hari takes issue with the fact that cooking oil, particularly canola, is processed and treated with a solvent called hexane. It’s true, canola oil does go through a refinement process—if it didn’t it would look cloudy and would go rancid on store shelves quickly—and, yes, hexane is used. “This is done to extract more of the oil from the seed itself, but [it] is evaporated off during processing,” Perrone says.

That means virtually no hexane winds up in the oil, but in the event trace amounts remain, know you’d have to consume more oil than you ever could to experience neurological problems. As numerous articles about the Food Babe have pointed out: the dose makes the poison.

If hexane is still a concern for you, seek out cold-pressed oils. Canola is rich in heart-healthy monounsaturated fats and has a high smoke point (making it great for cooking), so there’s no reason to ditch it completely.

RELATED: 20 Foods You Should Always Have in Your Kitchen

Raw milk is superior

If you’re going to sip cow’s milk, Hari says you should go raw. The problem is, raw milk is unpasteurized. “The importance of pasteurization has been well documented,” Anna Maria Siega-Riz, PhD, professor of epidemiology and nutrition at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, told Health.

As Siega-Riz wrote in a recent review of Hari’s book: “Raw milk, which means unpasteurized, can carry dangerous bacteria such as salmonella, E. coli, and listeria, which are responsible for numerous foodborne illnesses, especially among people with weak or developing immune systems, young children, pregnant women and older adults.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says raw milk is one of the riskiest foods you can eat, since it can cause severe, life-threatening diseases. Pasteurization doesn’t greatly change milk’s nutrient profile, it only makes it safer to drink. Go raw at your own risk.

RELATED: 10 Bogus Health Trends That Waste Your Time

Antiperspirants can cause breast cancer

Hari claims that the aluminum used to control sweat in antiperspirants is linked to breast cancer and Alzheimer’s disease, and she suggests using a natural stick instead. Going natural is a totally fine choice, but don’t toss your favorite sweat-blocker just because of the aluminum.

According to the American Cancer Society, there is no clear link between aluminum-containing antiperspirants and breast cancer, and they point out that this fear was fueled by an email rumor. Same with Alzheimer’s: Studies have not confirmed that aluminum causes the disease, and exposure to aluminum in everyday items is safe, says the Alzheimer’s Association.

RELATED: 12 Things That Probably Don’t Increase Breast Cancer Risk

If you’re pregnant, beware of the glucose test

Doctors ask pregnant women to take a glucose screening test (which is used to diagnose gestational diabetes) when they’re 24 to 28 weeks along. Hari’s beef with the test is the solution women have to drink, calling it “essentially sugar water with hazardous artificial colors and preservatives” and says there’s no way she’d drink it.

Let’s face it, consuming the drink isn’t fun (it often causes nausea), but “it’s a one-time drink during pregnancy, and it’s unlikely to cause any long-term effect,” says Alyssa Dweck, MD, an ob/gyn with the Mount Kisco Medical Group and author of V is for Vagina.

“I agree with her that the drink is less than perfect, however, missing a gestational diabetes diagnosis has much more dire consequences in pregnancy including fetal growth issues and stillbirth,” she adds.

Hari points out that there are alternatives, including eating 28 jellybeans (really! But she suggests “a non-gmo variety, free of artificial colors and other nasties”). The candy works, but is often just as tough to tolerate as the glucose drink, says Dr. Dweck. Bottom line: there’s no reason not to take the standard test, and saying otherwise is fearmongering.

RELATED: 19 Medical Tests Everyone Needs

5 Delicious, Go

I’m a huge believer in breakfast! The research is strong on its ability to support weight control, prevent latenight overeating, up all-day energy, boost mental performance, and enhance overall health. It’s also a great opportunity to fit in key nutrients that may be impossible to make up for later in the day.

In a previous post (5 Tricks for Easy, Healthy Breakfasts) I noted that some of my clients prefer a savory breakfast, or enjoy having “dinner for breakfast,” while others make “breakfast snacks” (e.g. yogurt with fruit and nuts or hummus with veggies) morning staples. But many people, Health editors included, are curious about what I personally eat for breakfast, so that’s what I’m sharing today.

The truth is I like to mix it up. My breakfast choice depends on my mood, the weather, and how much time I have. But right now, these are my five favorites. I crafted them when I was developing and testing the 100+ recipes for my new book Slim Down Now. Each one made the cut, and they’ve become my go-to a.m. meals of late.

While they’re all unique in texture and flavor, and some are hot while others are chilled, they each provide an ideal ratio of veggies, lean protein, good fat, and healthy carbs—the cornerstones of a balanced meal. They also meet my “clean eating” criteria, and they’re easy peasy (you can make the “quiche” ahead of time to eat chilled or reheat). If you give any a try please let me know what you think!

California Omelet

¼ cup minced yellow onion¼ cup organic low-sodium vegetable broth1 small vine-ripened tomato, diced½ teaspoon minced garlic1/16 teaspoon black pepper1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper1 whole organic egg and 3 whites¾ cup fresh baby spinach leaves¼ medium Hass avocado½ cup black beans

How to make it: In a medium pan over low heat, sauté onions in broth until translucent. Add tomato, garlic, black pepper, and crushed red pepper and sauté for two to three more minutes. Remove veggies from the pan, and set aside. Add whisked eggs to the pan, top with spinach, allow eggs to set, and then carefully flip one side over toward the other. Remove from pan, top with sautéed tomatoes and onions, garnish with sliced avocado, and serve with a heated side of black beans.

RELATED: 10 High-Protein Breakfast Recipes

Almond Berry Oatmeal

¼ cup vanilla flavored pea protein powder1/8 cup (2 tablespoons) dry, old-fashioned rolled oatsDash of ground cinnamonHot water, starting with ¼ cup½ cup fresh strawberries, sliced2 tablespoons almonds, chopped1 cup raw veggies, such as sliced cucumber and red bell pepper

How to make it: Stir pea protein powder into oats. Season with cinnamon. Pour hot water into oats and stir (do not add cold water and heat in the microwave), starting with ¼ cup, then adding 1 tablespoon at a time until oatmeal is your desired consistency. Add berries, top with almonds, and enjoy the veggies as a palate cleanser afterward.

RELATED: Oatmeal Recipes for Every Day of the Week

Cherry Chocolate Green Goddess Smoothie

1 cup frozen cherries¾ cup water¼ cup vanilla flavored pea protein powder1 cup fresh baby spinach leaves1 ounce dark chocolate (70% or higher), chopped1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lime juice½ teaspoon fresh grated ginger

How to make it: In a blender, puree all of the ingredients, along with a handful of ice if desired until smooth.

RELATED: How to Build the Perfect Smoothie

Mushroom and Cannellini Bean “Quicheâ€

¾ cup minced white button mushrooms¼ cup minced white onion½ teaspoon minced garlic1 tablespoon extra virgin coconut oil½ cup cannellini beans¼ cup organic low-sodium vegetable broth1/16 teaspoon each ground black and white pepper1 medium apple

How to make it: In a medium pan over low heat, sauté mushrooms, onion, and garlic in coconut oil until onions are translucent. In a blender, purée beans with broth and pepper. Pour bean mixture into a small pie tin (5 inches wide, 2 inches deep). Fold in mushroom mixture. Bake in preheated 350°F oven for 25 minutes. Serve with sliced apple wedges.

RELATED: 6 Easy Breakfast Casseroles

Pesto Egg Salad

1 whole organic hard-boiled egg and 3 hard-boiled organic egg whites, chopped¼ cup finely chopped red bell pepper2 tablespoons minced red onion1 tablespoon basil pesto3 large outer romaine leaves½ cup cooked, chilled quinoa

How to make it: In a small bowl, toss chopped egg with bell pepper, onion, and pesto to coat thoroughly. Spoon egg mixture into romaine leaves, top with quinoa, roll up, and enjoy.

RELATED: The 20 Best Foods to Eat for Breakfast

What are your thoughts on this topic? Chat with us on Twitter by mentioning @goodhealth and @CynthiaSass.

Cynthia Sass is a nutritionist and registered dietitian with master’s degrees in both nutrition science and public health. Frequently seen on national TV, she’s Health’s contributing nutrition editor, and privately counsels clients in New York, Los Angeles, and long distance. Cynthia is currently the sports nutrition consultant to the New York Rangers NHL team and the New York Yankees MLB team, and is board certified as a specialist in sports dietetics. Cynthia is a three time New York Times best selling author, and her brand new book is Slim Down Now: Shed Pounds and Inches with Real Food, Real Fast. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

Which Is Healthier: Fried Shrimp or Fried Catfish?

“Fried” is considered the other F-word to anyone trying to eat healthy. But if you’re hankering for some retro (read: breaded) summer seafood, you can pick catfish without much regret.

“Despite its breading, fried catfish has a low calorie count,” says Stephanie Middleberg, RD, founder of Middleberg Nutrition in New York City. “The po’boy, on the other hand, not only has the fried seafood but comes in a crusty baguette, which increases the calorie and carbohydrate totals without whole-grain perks.”

RELATED: 11 Healthy Fish Recipes

Plus, a “dressed” po’boy is topped with lettuce, tomatoes and pickles and slathered in mayo, which means extra calories.

Both catfish and shrimp will net you some omega-3 benefits, but watch the sides that come with catfish: A serving of coleslaw, for example, adds about 260 calories. Trade it for a small salad and you have a real catch.

RELATED: 7 Restaurant Mistakes Healthy People Make

 

Smart Seaside Swaps

Sink hush puppiesDespite their innocuous name, these fried cornmeal balls tally about 80 calories each. And, really, who can stick to only one?

Choose a super seasoningAsk for your fish blackened instead of fried and you’ll cut calories, as well as enjoy more flavor.

Get SaucyJust do it the smart way. Dunk your shrimp in cocktail sauce rather than tartar to slash nearly half the calories.

Rethink Your DrinkA crisp beer (with a lime wedge squeezed in) says “summer” just as much as a frozen margarita, for about 300 fewer calories.

RELATED: 24 Healthy Shrimp Recipes

 

Your (Delicious) Secret Weapon for Staying Cool

It’s going to be sweltering this week in the Northeast and other parts of the country, and we have a delicious way for you to stay cool that’s much more fun than hiding in the air conditioning

Turns out the secret to managing the heat is a childhood treat: the slushy. In a 2010 study published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sport & Exercise, athletes who drank a slushy (scientific name: “ice slurry”) before a workout were able to run 19% longer than those who drank ice water. Researchers say sipping slushies helped the runners bring down their body temperatures, and that it can be used as a practical way for athletes to stay cool while competing in hot weather.

RELATED: 35 Summer Foods Under 90 Calories

Whether you’re planning to exercise outdoors this week or not, firing up your blender with the following recipes is a tasty way to stay cool. Some contain alcohol, which is totally optional.

Cantaloupe and Lime Slushy

Frozen cantaloupe and fresh lime juice are blended with a little bit of honey for a fruity, frozen treat.

Watermelon and Lime Granita

A new way to love summery watermelon for just 143 calories per serving.

Mango-Mint Slush

Mango and lime lend a tropical flair, while mint is cooling and refreshing. Mint also aids digestion.

Spicy Frozen Bloody Marys

If you prefer savory to sweet drinks, this one’s for you. The cucumbers in this slushie are extra hydrating, too.

Blueberry-Coconut Slush

Coconut milk and shredded coconut make this slushie a little bit creamy, and add some protein and healthy fat, too.

Tropical Fruit Slush

It’s like a vacation in a glass: passion fruit, guava and papaya combine for a drink that will leave you feeling like you’re sitting under a palm tree.

RELATED: Beat the Top Summer Health Hazards

3 Feel

Seems like all we hear these days is bad news about corporate America; they pollute, they abuse workers, they sell products meant to sound healthy, but that really aren’t.

Thankfully, there are some companies that are making it part of their business to sell high-quality products and help communities, the environment, or both.

Gotham GreensWhen you think of New York City, a farm growing fresh vegetables is probably the last image to come to mind. Enter Gotham Greens, a company that develops and manages large-scale greenhouses in urban areas to bring fresh, locally produced vegetables to city dwellers.

Yes, you can go to any upscale grocery store in New York and buy organic vegetables. But those are often  shipped in from across the country or another part of the world. “We wanted to be able to provide a better quality, local product that created local jobs, is sustainable, and is grown without chemicals,” Nicole Baum, the company’s marketing and partnerships manager, tells Health. “People care about buying locally. And because we don’t have to transport the products far, they’re harvested every morning and can be enjoyed that afternoon,” whether customers purchase them at Whole Foods or eat them in restaurants, such as famed eatery Gramercy Tavern.

RELATED:Â Â 12 Summer Fruit and Veggie Recipes

Along with building its third rooftop greenhouse in New York, scheduled to open this year, the company is also partnering with eco-friendly cleaning products company Method to build what it says is the world’s largest rooftop farm, with 75,000 square feet, in Chicago’s Pullman neighborhood.

So Gotham Greens is growing products without pesticides and helping the environment by not shipping (winning it accolades such as New York State’s Environmental Excellence Award), but that’s not all: The company is committed to helping the community. It creates jobs for local workers in corporate offices, in the greenhouses, and in the packing rooms. Plus, it partners with community organizations such as Wellness in the Schools and City Harvest, donating plants and lending their expertise around sustainable farming.

“A lot of businesses have taken a stance to do something for their community,” Baum says. “There’s a lot of good being done if you look around.”

Theo ChocolateBy now, you already know the benefits of chocolate. Here’s a company that is aiming to take this much-loved product and use it to better the world, too.

“Our belief is that the only way things are really going to change is if we change the way business is done,” Debra Music, chief marketing officer and co-founder of Seattle-based Theo, tells Health. “Chocolate is a food that people feel emotionally connected to, so what a way to tell the story.”

RELATED:Â 27 Healthy Chocolate Recipes

Her fellow co-founder, Joe Whinney, had a background in sustainable agriculture, and had been working on creating a supply chain for organic cocoa beans to the United States. Whinney and Music, who had been working in social marketing, set out to make a product that could improve the lives of the farmers and factory workers on the supply end, and give consumers a good product. Theo was the first company to sell all organic, all fair trade chocolate in the U.S.

“We think everyone should have access to healthy, organic, high-quality food, and we think everyone has a right to make a fair wage,” Music says. “That’s our vision for what sustainability really means.”

One unique way that Theo is trying to make a difference is by focusing on sourcing chocolate from the Democratic Republic of Congo, a country with one of the lowest gross domestic product rates in the world. More than half of Theo’s cocoa supply comes from the troubled country, thanks to a partnership with the nonprofit Eastern Congo Initiative. The company supports an initiative to train thousands of farmers there in how to grow high-quality cocoa.

Another feel-good element to Theo Chocolate is how it’s made once the cocoa is here. “Our ingredients are clean, we don’t use fillers or other items like that,” Music says. “Chocolate has so many health benefits, we want to let the benefits in the cocoa remain intact and viable through consumption.” Whereas you might see fillers and stabilizers such as soy lecithin and PGPR (polyglycerol polyricinoleate) in mass-market bars, a Theo Sea Salt 70% Dark Chocolate Bar, for example, only contains cocoa beans, sugar, cocoa butter, sea salt, and ground vanilla bean.

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“It’s not easy to commit to an organic, fair trade, non-GMO supply chain, but we do it because it’s the only thing we consider worth doing,” Music says. “This company is about our ideals, how we think things can and should be.”

Primal DermaIt isn’t just food companies that are working to make a difference while also selling high-quality products. Primal Derma uses food-grade, grass-fed beef tallow as the basis for its moisturizer. Because the tallow, or rendered fat, comes from grass-fed cows, it’s rich in nutrients, containing vitamins A, D, and K, as well as Omega 3 fatty acids s and conjugated linoleic acids.

“For grass-fed beef, there isn’t much call for the fat, so farmers dump or burn it,” Matthew Stillman, founder of Primal Derma, tells Health. “This was a cause of sadness to me. I wanted to make a product that would use the fat in a way that is good for people, to honor that life as best we can and use as much of the animal as we can.”

The moisturizer contains only the tallow, moringa oil (to soften the fat) and essential oils for scent.

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“We don’t use any junk, no stabilizers,” Stillman says. “Skin is the largest organ on the body; what you put on it gets absorbed. I wouldn’t use anything that isn’t safe enough to eat.”

Along with reducing waste and creating a skincare product that’s safe and healthy to use, Stillman says helping the environment is a goal for the company as well.

“When we buy this fat, we’re helping small farmers who have made this really brave choice. They made a financially tricky choice” to raise grass-fed cows, which is a more expensive process than industrial cattle farming. “We’re helping small farmers make a few more bucks per cow, which allows them to keep a little bit more pasture. This is a small buffer toward keeping what’s rural rural, and supports the health of the earth” because it supports a process that is far healthier for the environment than large-scale industrial cattle farming.

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12 Weird Ice Cream Flavors That Actually Exist

Ice cream for breakfast? Lunch? Dinner? Might as well, given all the hearty and savory flavors out there (bacon lovers, rejoice). Dig into this list of some of the more unique offerings at shops around the country. We won’t even get into the extreme ice creams that have made news in recent years, ranging from Cicada (discontinued by the order of health officials) to Breast Milk.

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Bacon Jalapeño Popper

Bacon goes with everything, apparently. Exhibit A: Bacon Jalapeño Popper, below, at Amy’s in Texas (locations in Austin, Houston and San Antonio). Customers can also treat themselves to Maple Cayenne Bacon gelato at Black Dog Gelato in Chicago, and Bacon de Leche at The Ice Cream Store in Rehoboth Beach, Del.

Lobster

We’d expect nothing less from a New England shop. Find it at Ben & Bill’s Chocolate Emporium in Bar Habor, Maine; there’s also a location in Martha’s Vineyard, Mass.

 

Foie Gras Ice Cream

Get your fill at Humphry Slocombe, in San Francisco, with or without the Ginger Snaps.

 

Pear & Blue Cheese

You can try this unique cheese pairing at the Salt & Straw in Portland, Ore., or at their Los Angeles location.

Courtesy of Salt & Straw by Leela Cyd Ross

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Sweet Potato Ancho Chile Chocolate Chip

Despite the sweet potato, this won’t count toward your five-a-day. (Sorry.) Available at Azucar in Miami.

Photo: Courtesy of NBC/ Betty Cortina

Pizza

Two comfort-food favorites in one! At Little Baby’s, in Philadelphia.

 

Chorizo Caramel Swirl Ice Cream

Ever craved ham in your ice-cream? Yes? Hit OddFellows in New York.

Photo: Courtesy of OddFellows Ice Cream Co.

Avocado

Mallard in Bellingham, Wash., has a rotating menu of seasonal flavors. On deck this summer: creamy green goodness.

 

Fried Chicken & Waffles

Dreamed up by the folks at Coolhaus, in Culver City, Calif.

 

Nova Lox Ice Cream

Taste it at Max & Mina’s in Flushing, N.Y. Bagel not included.

Max & Mina’s

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