10 Snacks to Enhance Your Movie-Watching Experience

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istock

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.

Up Your Turkey Game With This Simple Buttermilk Brine

iStock.com/4kodiak
iStock.com/4kodiak

Whoever chose turkey to be the starring dish of Thanksgiving dinner has a sick sense of humor. Not only does the bird take hours to thaw and cook before it's safe to eat, but its size makes it very difficult to cook evenly—meaning there are many opportunities for the millions of amateur cooks who prepare it each year to screw it up. But there's no reason to settle for dry, flavorless turkey this Thanksgiving. With this buttermilk brine recipe from Skillet, the breast will come out just as juicy as the thighs with little effort on your part.

A brine is a salty solution you soak your uncooked meat in to help it retain its moisture and flavor when it goes into the oven. A brine can be as simple as salt and water, but in this recipe, the turkey marinates in a mixture of buttermilk, water, sugar, salt, garlic, citrus, bay leaf, and peppercorns for 24 hours before it's ready to roast.

Rather than a whole bird, this recipe calls for a bone-in turkey breast. White meat contains less fat than dark meat, which is why turkey breast often turns out dryer and less flavorful than legs and thighs when all the parts are left to cook for the same amount of time. The buttermilk brine imparts a tangy creaminess to the turkey breast that it otherwise lacks, and by cooking the breast separately, you can pull it out of the oven at peak juiciness rather than waiting for the meatier parts to cook through fully.

After the turkey breast has had sufficient time to soak, remove it from the refrigerator and drain it on paper towels. Blot any excess buttermilk and pop the meat into a roasting pan and into a 375°F oven. In addition to lending flavor, buttermilk promotes browning, which is essential to a tasty Thanksgiving turkey.

When the internal temperature reads 150°F (which should take 90 minutes to 2 hours), pull out the bird, let it rest for 15 minutes, and commence carving the most succulent turkey breast ever to hit your Thanksgiving table.

[h/t Skillet]

6 Tasty Facts About Scrapple

Kate Hopkins, Flickr // CC BY 2.0
Kate Hopkins, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

Love it or hate it, scrapple is a way of life—especially if you grew up in Pennsylvania or another Mid-Atlantic state like New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, or Virginia. And this (typically) pork-filled pudding isn’t going anywhere. While its popularity in America dates back more than 150 years, the dish itself is believed to have originated in pre-Roman times. In celebration of National Scrapple Day, here’s everything you ever—or never—wanted to know about the dish.

1. IT’S TYPICALLY MADE OF PIG PARTS. LOTS AND LOTS OF PIG PARTS.

Though every scrapple manufacturer has its own particular recipe, it all boils down to the same basic process—literally: boiling up a bunch of pig scraps (yes, the parts you don’t want to know are in there) to create a stock which is then mixed with cornmeal, flour, and a handful of spices to create a slurry. Once the consistency is right, chopped pig parts are added in and the mixture is turned into a loaf and baked. As the dish has gained popularity, chefs have put their own unique spins on it, adding in different meats and spices to play with the flavor. In 2014, New York City’s Ivan Ramen cooked it up waffle-style.

2. PEOPLE WERE EATING IT LONG BEFORE IT MADE ITS WAY TO AMERICA.

People often think that the word scrapple derives from scraps, and it’s easy to understand why. But it’s actually an Americanized derivation of panhaskröppel, a German word meaning "slice of rabbit." Much like its modern-day counterpart, skröppel—which dates back to pre-Roman times—was a dish that was designed to make use of every part of its protein (in this case, a rabbit). It was brought to America in the 17th and 18th centuries by German colonists who settled in the Philadelphia area.

In 1863, the first mass-produced version of scrapple arrived via Habbersett, which is still making the product today. They haven’t tweaked the recipe much in the past 155 years, though they do offer a beef version as well.

3. IF IT’S GRAY, YOU’RE A-OK.

A dull gray isn’t normally the most appetizing color you’d want in a meat product, but that’s the color a proper piece of scrapple should be. (It is typically pork bits, after all.)

4. IT CAN BE TOPPED WITH ALL MANNER OF GOODIES.

Though there’s no rule that says you can’t enjoy a delicious piece of scrapple at any time of day, it’s considered a breakfast meat. As such, it’s often served with (or over) eggs but can be topped with all sorts of condiments; while some people stick with ketchup or jelly, others go wild with applesauce, mustard, maple syrup, and honey to make the most of the sweet-and-salty flavor combo. There’s also nothing wrong with being a scrapple purist and eating it as is.

5. DOGFISH HEAD MADE A LIQUID VERSION.

The master brewers at Delaware’s Dogfish Head have never been afraid to get experimental with their flavors. In 2014, they created a Beer for Breakfast Stout that was brewed with Rapa pork scrapple. A representative for the scrapple brand called the collaboration a "unique proposition." Indeed.

6. THERE’S AN ANNUAL SCRAPPLE FESTIVAL IN OCTOBER.

Speaking of Delaware: It’s also home to the country’s oldest—and largest—annual scrapple festival. Originating in 1992, the Apple Scrapple Festival in Bridgeville, Delaware is a yearly celebration of all things pig parts, which includes events like a ladies skillet toss and a scrapple chunkin’ contest. More than 25,000 attendees make the trek annually.

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