Way back when my wife and I were dating, we’d always go out to a restaurant, then a movie with tubs of popcorn and a huge soft drink loaded with enough sugar to sink a cargo ship. Remember the time when you could eat what you wanted, settle down to a movie, and never gain an ounce?
Those days of loading up on whatever food you liked are likely gone, else you wouldn’t be reading this. It’s certainly gone for us. However, it doesn’t mean you still can’t enjoy a dinner and a movie – scratch that, if you have kids, it’s likely now a DVD rental and a snack on the sofa!
Well, chips and popcorn helps nobody’s waistline, never mind the salt, MSG and preservatives usually processed into your junk food. So what do you replace it with? A plate of carrots does not exactly go with a blockbuster movie on a 60 inch plasma television.
Theme Your Food!
A couple years ago, we began thinking of healthy meals and snacks to eat on “movie night” – both at restaurants and at home. Specifically, we began to prepare meals based on what the movie was about.
As an example, for a mafia movie, we would have Italian food for dinner and make bruchetta as a movie snack. For a movie like Titanic or Jaws, we had seafood. For our Twilight movie party, it was red wine with home-made mushroom ravioli. The idea, for us, was to choose a variety of healthy meals and get us in the practice of cooking from scratch at home.
To help you prepare your healthy movie night, I will illustrate what we think of when choosing meals, and how to keep it healthy – basically, all-natural ingredients and nothing processed (you’ll shed those pounds if your food ingredients are real!) Here’s a couple theme meals we had recently.
Lost – The Final Episode
I am a huge, huge fan of Lost. Frankly, television will not be the same without it. To theme our meal, we thought of all the characteristics of the show: it’s located on a tropical island (actually, it was filmed on Oahu), and in season one, John Locke hunted wild boar. Thus, we came up with bbq pineapple pork ribs. We also had to have light Dharma beer, of course!
For a snack, which is what we actually ate while watching the final episode, I came up with a healthy and very tasty dip, which I dubbed “Jack’s Volcano” (since it seemed the island was located on, if not a volcano, certainly a “hot spot.”)
The recipe includes spinach, tomatoes and feta goat cheese, one of the healthiest of cheeses. Look for goat feta, not cow – milk from a goat is easier to digest and uses the nutrients in the cheese more efficiently.
Here’s the recipe:
Jack’s Volcano Dip (for 2)
- 1 cup crumbled feta goat cheese
- 2 roma tomatoes, cut into quarter inch pices
- 1/2 lb fresh spinach leaves, shredded
- 1/2 tbsp oregano
- 1/2 tbsp parsley
- 1/2 tbsp basil
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 two foot long strips of aluminum foil
- Crackers, cut of French bread, carrot sticks
Set oven for 350°F.
Take two strips of aluminum foil and double them, so it forms about a two foot by two foot square. Overlap, so there are no places for anything to ooze out. Take all your ingredients and half them, as we will be making two.
In the center of the foil, place half the crumbled feta in a pile. Sprinkle on the tomato, then the spinach. Next, mix the herbs together and sprinkle liberally over the mixture.
Finally, pour a tablespoon of olive oil onto the dip, ensuring that you’re coating the whole thing.
Close the aluminum up like a volcano, leaving a little hole at the top for the smoke to spew out.
Repeat with the second one.
Cooking time: 45 minutes. Remove from oven, carefully peel open the tin foil, and use the “open volcano” as your serving dish (or place into a bowl.)
Best served hot, spread on crackers, French bread or vegetables. Yum!
Avatar Movie Party
The blockbuster movie Avatar was recently released on video, so, of course, we had to have an Avatar movie party with a couple friends. Coming up with snacks was simple.
For the small minority of you who haven’t seen it, here’s the main details of the movie: blue aliens and a pro-ecological message. Naturally, we thought of salads and blue-themed, organic foods!
Blue Corn Chips and Salsa
A healthy and delicious alternative to potato chips can be organic blue corn chips. Adding a homemade salsa is much easier than you might suppose. Here’s how to make a large batch:
- 10 tomatoes, 7 diced and 3 pureed
- 4 cloves of garlic, diced
- Five chili or jalapeno peppers
- 1 1/2 tsp of cayenne pepper
- 1/4 tsp of ground rosemary
- 1 medium green pepper, diced
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 10 fresh cilantro leaves, diced
If you love hot and spicy, by all means, turn up the volume with the peppers. Perhaps you could create one that’s mild and the other that can only be described as blazing.
Blend all ingredients together in a large bowl. Get your favourite platter, on which you will liberally decorate it with blue corn chips. Place your – preferably blue – bowl in the center and add your salsa.
I always make salsa at home. It is so easily, it tastes much better than store-bought, and I know exactly what ingredients are in it.
Blue Cheese Salad
While any salad with blue cheese will easily be up to the task of delighting all of your senses, why not try one with pear, walnut and baby greens?
The Ingredients For This Yummy Salad Are:
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1 medium shallot, minced
- 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- Sea salt and pepper
- 1 5-ounce bag mixed baby greens
- 2 large ripe pears, halved, cored, thinly sliced lengthwise
- 1 cup crumbled blue cheese
- 1 cup walnuts, toasted, coarsely chopped (optional – I myself am allergic to nuts.)
Whisk first 4 ingredients in small bowl to blend. Gradually whisk in the oil. Season the dressing to taste with sea salt and pepper. (Sea salt has less sodium than regular table salt. Also, use only three quarters to substitute in any recipe.) Set aside.
In a large bowl, toss your greens with the dressing. Divide evenly onto six plates. Place the pear slices on top of your greens mixture. Sprinkle your cheese and walnuts on top. If there’s any dressing left over, drizzle away.
There you have it! Two recent television experiences with healthy snacks themed to what we were watching. Not only is this great fun, you get to explore healthy new recipes and snacks you’ve never thought of before. Of course, you can extend this to parties, and if you’re having snacks with birthday party themes, match your food with the character. Enjoy, and stay healthy!
Chris Molnar is a writer and work-at-home Dad who continually tries out new recipes. He edits Themeaparty.com, a website on theme parties, entertaining tips, recipes and party supplies. He tries to take daily walks.