E4: ❄️'Coolcations' are Hot, Spring Cleaning your Brain

Plus: What's bubbling up in soft drinks, the best cottage cheese dip

Happy Wednesday. Thank you again for being here, and for subscribing.

Get ready for today’s diet of healthy, snackable news: we’re dedicated to providing valuable (and entertaining) need-to-know items that can help improve your morning/day/week/life. What we’re covering:

  • What’s bubbling up in the soft drink world, both from the OGs and the new, better-for-you brands (plus, Sprite Chill has dropped!)

  • Why “coolcationing” is a trend, how Sweden is preparing, and the “Martha’s Vineyard of Germany” 

  • 7 easy tips to spring clean your mind

  • The Midwest’s best cottage cheese dip

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Carbonation nation

The fizz on sodas, past & present

Photo by Sebastian Conan for Pexels

The Skinny: Are you team Coke or Pepsi? Diehard Coca-Cola fan here. Zero stars for Pepsi…too sweet! One of our favorite listens in the past week was this NC Public Radio story that took a look at the history of “soft drinks” and why consumers are so passionate about the classic brands. They visit some authentic soda fountains in the South, reminisce about trips to the World of Coca-Cola Museum, and reveal why they’re called “soft drinks” to begin with. Highly recommend! 

Best of all was this insight/takeaway: soda has, at least from a perceived benefit, come full circle (remember, soda was often marketed as a digestive aid or as a way to alleviate an upset stomach). 

Fast-forward to today, with the onslaught of “prebiotic” and “probiotic” sodas on the market today…such as Olipop, Rowdy Mermaid and Poppi, and their similarly colored, “Gen Z style” branding (read: They start to look the same and lean toward “blanding,” in our honest opinion). However, what’s clear is there is a market for these better-for-you soda alternatives—with this report stating that Olipop brought in $250M last year. In other news, Pepsi Cos’ Bubly Burst launched last month to give younger consumers what they’re looking for: namely, “the fun of soda, but more colorful, with fuller flavors and less calories.” 

We’re keeping an eye on who will bubble to the top, given:

  • The number of these beverages launching and currently on the market is staggering, and the functional drinks market is reported to rise to $71.84 billion by 2028

  • Specialty retailers that cater to small brands—like Foxtrot and Boisson—have closed down recently

  • Research indicates that consumers are willing to pay extra for the benefits of “functional beverages,” but are they willing to pay $33 for a 12-pack*? Though, we have tried Olipop and we liked it (and it definitely felt like it was affecting our gut, but not sure exactly how)

Aside from the shiny new objects, we’re still betting that OG Soda will figure out a way to stay current. For example, Coca-Cola has their own innovation lab, Coca-Cola Creations, in which soda wizards with probably unlimited direction (and budgets) dream up new flavors and concepts. Launched in 2022, this flavor incubator has created:  

  • The AI generated Coke Y3000

  • Happy Tears Zero Sugar for the TikTok shop

  • The “metaverse-inspired, Coca-Cola Zero Sugar Byte”  (if you’re wondering what a pixel tastes like, the testers agreed that “Cherry NyQuil comes close”)   

And, just dropped: “Sprite Chill,” a “cherry lime Sprite with a cooling sensation.” (Flashback: Remember when Pepsi went clear and we thought that was a thing?)


The year’s most chill travel trend

Photo by Evangelos Vamvounakis for Pexels

The Skinny: Condé Nast Traveler announced that “Coolcationing” is a top travel trend this year and the idea is: with record hot temperatures in some of the traditional hot-spots (we personally experienced 110 degree heat in Madrid), travelers are seeking out more temperate spots for summer travel. Enter, Sweden. Searches for Swedish islands and wellness retreats are on the rise, according to this report, and the Scandinavian country is leaning into the trend and anticipating an uptick in summer visitors

Another cool spot to check out: Not in Scandinavia (but almost) is Sylt island, the “Martha’s Vineyard of Germany” and known for its “exquisite air.”

Crème de la Skinny 

Cottage tour: El Azteco cheese dip

Photo from ‘Anita’s Table Talk’ blog

Welcome to Crème de la Skinny, a new section where we single out “the best of the best” out there, whether it’s a recipe, beauty tip, hack, meme, product, destination…whatever. Anything goes, and you know it will be our signature combination of high- and low-brow selects. If you have something to recommend for consideration, we’d love to hear about it. 

Because the reel of cottage cheese toast was our most-clicked link last week, our cottage cheese celebration continues with this week’s pick. All roads lead to El Azteco for its famous cottage cheese dip which was born, possibly, in the “deep, dark basement” of this MSU Spartan institution. Insights from our Michigan local/MSU fan:

“Any year between 1976 and present day, if you’re an MSU Spartan or visiting one, you have been to El Azteco for the cheese dip. You may have enjoyed it during its long tenure in the basement, or you might be lucky and young enough to enjoy this bowl of pure goodness on the newer town square spot.”

Consider this recipe for “Almost El Azteco” dip, a delicious and high-protein gift courtesy of “Anita’s Table Talk” blog. Sparty on!

Head Space

7 easy ways to spring clean your mind

Photo by Sage Friedman for Unsplash

We worked over your pantry last week so with that out of the way, this week our focus is your brain. Specifically, how and why it’s important to shake off the remnants of winter brain (which is is real, and it helps explain why you sometimes can’t even during the winter months).

 Here are our favorite tips from Colorado-based, Jay Shetty-trained Goal Guru Georgi Dienst to simplify the process. 

"In a world filled with constant stimulation and distractions, finding moments of clarity and calmness is essential for our mental well-being, confidence and productivity,” says Dienst. Below are seven easy steps to get there…and if we can do it, anyone can. We would love to hear any of your suggestions as well! 

Practice Mediation. Action step: Start with 5 minutes and add 1-2 minutes every week or so until you reach 20 minutes - she recommends Insight Timer app for great short (five minute) guided meditations.

  1.  Set priorities. Action Steps: Write down what is most important to you in your life and why. Next, write your ideal feeling in that area of your life. (Examples: FAMILY because they are my lifelong companions – I want to feel joy; WORK because it is where I spend the majority of my time – I want to feel fulfilled) 

  2. Embrace Minimalism! Action Steps: Mentally, cancel two events on your calendar that you know are will not be aligned to your best interests; Physically, clear your space! Get rid of one item in your home every day for a week. Clearing your space has a huge impact on your mental wellbeing

  3.  Practice Gratitude Action step: Write down 3-5 things (actually, take a pen and write them) every day you are thankful for. This practice can truly transform your perspective, creating a clear mind

  4. Engage in Movement! Action steps: 1) find any exercise you enjoy doing - walk, dance, gardening, anything! 2) put it on your calendar 3) invite an accountability partner 

  5. Limit Screen Time Action step: Turn Notifications OFF your phone for a period of time every day

  6. Practice Self Compassion Action Step: Every night while going to sleep, remind yourself of one thing you did for yourself that day.


This week’s newsfeed

Tee up: With the WSJ recently reporting this week that “women are golfing in record numbers since 2020,” and Nelly Korda breaking records with her fifth consecutive LPGA win, women’s golf is having a moment. Like tennis, your style on the links or in the gallery counts, and Vogue has the round-up on the best golf clothes for women, with more non-golf brands like Tory Burch getting into the game.  For the guys, Golf Monthly takes a more technical look at the best new innovations in polos (with UV protection, anti-odor, moisture-wicking properties and more).

Nature Rx: We love talking about the health benefits of being in nature (biophilia), and now, doctors are giving “park prescriptions” to patients. The best dose? At least two hours a week. 

Eat your age: How to eat for every decade of your life.

Pay Hike: Hiking, which is typically a free fitness activity, just got a little more expensive in Italy’s overcrowded Cinque Terre. On certain weekends and heavily trafficked days, the Telegraph reports that trails will cost 15 Euro and be one-way only. Venice is also charging a fee for day-trippers, which authorities are quoted as saying is fair, since the city is basically “an open-air museum.”  

This may shock you: In our water bottle discussion last week, we forgot to mention how to clean them. This video gives a how-to, and shows where the mold and grime are hiding. For cleaning on the go, try Bottle Bright Tablets*.

Get your glizzy on: TikTok user spies a hot deal at IKEA—78 hot dogs for $39 bucks. But more surprising is that, at .50 a dog and using elementary school math, that doesn’t even represent a discount for scaling up the quantity.


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