I am taking a break from “What’s This” this month to talk about something concerning me.
With the recent heat wave and being a movie aficionado, I have found myself spending more time in the movie theater. Being a dietitian, I know that I should not have snacks during a movie (being mindful of my eating), but there are times when we are rushing to get to a movie and have not had a chance to eat. Now typically I have a handful of nuts or trail mix on me, but I was feeling adventuresome and headed out to the snack bar. All I can say is WOW! I could not find one healthy snack! Staring at the menu board, my eyes were distracted to find a counter display with a “snack box” full of dried fruits, nuts and jerky. HORRAH!! I could not believe my eyes. Have the general population cried out to the theaters' and demanded healthy snacks?? I asked the manager who was standing behind the counter about this display and when the snack boxes started. He looked at me and said in a sad tone, “We have had these for some time now, but they were not selling so we are trying to get rid of them now”. Apparently no one wants to go to the movies and snack on something a little healthier than nachos, heavily flavored popcorn, or hotdogs. I was so disheartened by this. This brought up 2 very important questions: 1) Why are we as a society so inclined to eat such items while watching a movie, and 2) Why do we need to eat during a movie?
Outside of the obvious “I am hungry” answer to the second question, part of the reason we eat during a movie is due to conditioning. We all have done it. Mindless eating happens even to the best of us. The challenge is when we make it a habit. If we constantly eat something during a particular event, then that event will eventually trigger hunger and make us want to eat (thanks Pavlov!). To add to that, the choices we have available to us during that time are not the best choices for us. It is a horrible snowball effect.
Now granted there are those occasions when you need to have a snack because you didn’t eat before the movie (guilty as charged), but make those occurrences few and far between. If you do need to “snack”, try to do it before the movie starts and bring something with you! (sorry theater owners). It’s best to eat something to get you by (100-200 calorie snack), and then have your complete meal afterwards. Also, drink lots of water, the theater drinks are not any better! While standing at the theater counter, I was appalled at the “small” soda. It sure looked like a large to me!
Now, why do we eat such movie snacks? According to a brief Google search, people have been bringing in snacks since the movies theaters (nickelodeons) started. It wasn’t until the great depression when concessions were initiated. Theater owners were looking to make some extra money in order to stay in business and started allowing candy and popcorn vendors in the lobby. It became a part of the movie experience. Don’t get me wrong, I am all for a little treat now and again, but with obesity now being named a disease and this epidemic is on the rise in children and adults, we really need to be conscious of our choices.
So I say, if you are going to the movies, try to eat before you go. If you still feel inclined to snack, here are some snack ideas to take with you to the movies…shh, it’s out little secretJ
Healthier movie snack options:
Trail mix - Handful of your favorite nuts, some dried fruit, granola and some seeds. Pre-portion into ¼ cup servings.
Jerky – great convenient snack on the go.
String Cheese – if you are able to stop at the store or are coming straight from home, these will keep, but eat them first!!
Sliced Fruit and nut butter – Some nut butters come in individual packets now, slice up an apple and you are ready for a delicious treat
Cauliflower popcorn (courtesy of Pinterest) - Break a head of cauliflower into popcorn like, bite-size florets, and then spread them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Spray the cauliflower lightly with butter-flavor cooking spray, and then sprinkle lightly with turmeric, freshly ground pepper, and sea salt. Bake 20 to 30 minutes at 425 degrees F or until the cauliflower is slightly browned.) (1 cup = serving size)
Eggplant (Solanum melongena) otherwise known as aubergine, brinjal, melanzana, garden egg, patlican, and in the deep south, 'guinea squash'.
Most people think of eggplant as a vegetable, but are really a fruit. Eggplants are related to tomatoes, peppers and potatoes (part of the nightshade family). The eggplant is believed to have originated in India, where it is considered to be the King of Vegetables.
WHY SHOULD I EAT THIS?
Besides being delicious, eggplant is a low calorie food and full of vitamins and minerals (especially potassium and folate). Eggplants are also low in carbohydrates and high in fiber which can help with lowering cholesterol. Eggplant skin has also been shown to have antioxidant properties. Studies have shown that eggplants will absorb 80 grams of fat in approximately 70 seconds which can add ~700 calories to the eggplant, so watch the fat when cooking!!
Eggplants are very perishable and will have a bitter taste as it ages. They should be stored in a cool, dry place and used within a few days of purchase. It’s best to place in a plastic bag if stored in a refrigerator.
SHOPPING / COOKING
Look for firm eggplants that feel heavy for their size and have smooth, shiny skins and bright green stems. When eggplants are young/fresh, the skin of most eggplants are edible; older eggplants should be peeled.
Because globe eggplant and other large varieties usually have tough skins, peeling it is a good idea, especially if you're serving it in chunks or slices.
Eggplant can be cooked in a variety of way Grill, roast, or fry (grilling and roasting the preferred method for the health conscience). When you grill-roast the eggplant and then separate the flesh from the peel, keep the skin on during cooking to keep the eggplant intact. Salt and thoroughly dry the eggplant. Brush the slices with oil and grill over a medium-hot fire until soft and cooked through.
Eggplant is one vegetable in which you do not want to under-cook. It is most appetizing when completely cooked until it's very soft, smooth, and creamy.
As an alternative to grill-roasting, pierce the eggplant in several places and roast it whole and unpeeled on a baking sheet at 350°F until it's quite soft and starting to collapse, almost an hour. Peel and drain it as you would for grill-roasting.
Baked Eggplant Bruschetta
One large eggplant
3 large Heirloom tomatoes (or Roma)
1 package Mozzarella Cheese
1 package Prosciutto
Heat Oven to 350⁰ Wash and slice eggplant (thickness as desired). Drizzle some olive oil (~1tsp per slice) and fig vinegar (~1tsp per slice) over each slice. Slice mozzarella and prosciutto and place on each slice (~1oz mozzarella / 1oz prosciutto per slice). Dice tomatoes (~1/4 cup per slice) and place on top. Bake in oven for 15 minutes or until cheese is melted and eggplant is golden brown.
Noda, et al. “Antioxidant activity of nasunin, an anthocyanin in eggplant peels”. Res Commun Mol Pathol Pharmacol. 1998 Nov;102(2):175-87.
Adult Treatment Panel (ATP III) of the National Cholesterol Education Program, NIH
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