Save Your Pumpkin Seeds: A Simple Roasting How-To
FN Dish – Food Network Blog
With Halloween just one week away, you’re likely getting set to carve tricked-out jack-o’-lanterns in preparations for next Friday’s fright night. As you roll up your sleeves and scoop out the mushy innards of your pumpkin, keep an eye out for the seeds; these flat, tear-shaped bites are indeed edible, and when they’re roasted with seasoning, they turn into crunchy, savory bites ideal for seasonal snacking. Learn the basics of How to Roast Pumpkin Seeds below, then check out Food Network’s complete guide to master the easy technique.
After harvesting the seeds from the pumpkin, clean them of the pulp by separating them from the flesh and rinsing them off.
Be sure to dry roast the seeds so they lose their moisture, then toss them with oil and seasoning before sending them back to bake again. After just a few more minutes in the oven, they’ll have turned deliciously crispy and golden brown.
Get the details on How to Roast Pumpkin Seeds, and check out Food Network’s Halloween headquarters to find party-ready recipes for your fright night bash.
This Week’s Nutrition News Feed
FN Dish – Food Network Blog
In this week’s news: Gluten-free diets spark a grain of concern; slow and steady may not win the weight-loss race; and that regrettably fattening lunch may have been your brain’s fault.
For people with celiac disease or who are, for whatever reason, adhering to a gluten-free diet, a new study brings worrying news. Because rice is doesn’t contain gluten, it is used as a key ingredient in a host of gluten-free versions of breads, pastries, pastas and dairy products. But rice also naturally contains arsenic, in some cases quite a bit. The risk may be minimal for occasional rice eaters, but those who eat a lot of rice or rice-based products, like the increasing number of people who are going gluten-free, may be putting themselves at risk for arsenic poisoning. The co-authors of the study, published in Food Additives & Contaminants, say their analysis shows “we cannot exclude a risk to the health of people who consume these kinds of products.” Scary.
Slow Dieting May Not Be Worth the Weight
It is a commonly held belief that, to keep weight off, you have to lose it slowly and gradually – and that weight you take off fast will be put back just as quickly. But a new study has found that the speed at which you take off weight does not affect the likeliness that you’ll put it back on. Australian researchers divided 200 obese people into two groups: One lost weight on a 12-week severely calorie-restricted (yet nutritionally sound) diet; the other shed pounds on a more moderate 36-week weight-loss regime. Those in both groups who had lost 12.5 percent of their weight (and more succeeded on the shorter diet, by the way) were placed on a weight maintenance diet. After three years, the rapid dieters had regained 70.5 percent whereas gradual dieters had regained an average of 71.2 percent – meaning the differences between them were not significant.
Beware the Calorie Counter in Your Brain
Why do we scarf down those fries when we know we should lighten up with a salad instead? Blame our brains. A new study, published in Psychological Science, has found that our brains prompt us to make eating decisions based, in part, on a food’s caloric content. Researchers showed people pictures of 50 foods and asked them to rate how much they liked them, estimate their calorie content, and bid on the foods in an ersatz auction. Even though people’s calorie estimates were way off, their bids correlated with foods actually higher in calories. What’s more, brain scans taken while participants were looking at the food images indicated that activity in the area known to predict immediate consumption, the ventromedial prefrontal cortex, also matched up with high-calorie foods. “Our study sought to determine how people’s awareness of caloric content influenced the brain areas known to be implicated in evaluating food options,” the study’s lead author said. “We found that brain activity tracked the true caloric content of foods.”
Amy Reiter also contributes to FN Dish.
What to Watch: Have One Last Halloween Hurrah with Food Network This Weekend
FN Dish – Food Network Blog
Get all of your Halloween programming in before the big day. It may be hard to believe, but the hallowed event is almost here, and before you run out and scramble to get that last-minute costume, you should tune in to Food Network for some spooky inspiration. And you definitely don’t want to miss out on the season finale of Halloween Wars. All of that ghoulish competition has culminated in this. Be sure to catch The Pioneer Woman, The Kitchen, Rewrapped, Sandwich King, Giada at Home, Southern at Heart and Farmhouse Rules, too, as they celebrate Halloween and its sweet fare.
If you’re looking for something savory rather than the saccharine cuisine of Halloween, watch Trisha’s Southern Kitchen for recipes like Chicken-Fried Steak, Spinach with Bacon and Onions, and Baked Macaroni and Cheese. Guy’s Big Bite also offers a balanced meal of Crispy Cornflake Chicken Sliders and Mexican Mac ‘n’ Cheese. Also, Cutthroat Kitchen and Guy’s Grocery Games are the perfect spine-tingling way to end a weekend of thrills.
The Pioneer Woman: Tasty Treats to Go
Ree is dishing out delectable desserts like Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls, Baklava, White Chocolate Shortbread Cookies and Chocolate-Dipped Strawberries.
Trisha’s Southern Kitchen: Blue Plate Special
It’s a celebratory crossover as Ree Drummond bakes classic Oklahoma diner dishes with Trisha, such as Chicken-Fried Steak, Spinach with Bacon and Onions, Baked Macaroni and Cheese, and Chocolate Pie.
The Kitchen: Sweets and Treats
The chefs go all out for this Halloween episode as they carve pumpkins, reinvent Halloween candy, make a yummy pumpkin roll-up and serve up festive sangria.
Rewrapped: Lend Me Your Ear of Candy Corn
Will the contestants do Jelly Belly Candy Corn justice? Tune in to see what they do with this beloved treat.
Sandwich King: Candy Craze
Join Jeff Mauro on his indulgently sweet candy-inspired road trip.
Barefoot Contessa: Best of Barefoot: Dessert
Ina’s best desserts are all featured in one mouthwatering episode: Frozen Mocha Mousse, French Apple Galettes, Balsamic Strawberries, Fruit Salad with Limoncello, Eton Mess and Skillet Brownies.
Giada at Home: Halloween Goodies
Giada and Jade celebrate Halloween with a frenzy of fine treats like Chocolate-Almond-Cherry Brittle, Peanut Butter Candy-Filled Zeppole, Orange Spiced Apple Cider and White Chocolate Caramel Apples.
Guy’s Big Bite: Hunter Goes to College
Guy gives Hunter a hand in preparing Crispy Cornflake Chicken Sliders, Mexican Mac ‘n’ Cheese and Chocolate Tacos for the family.
Southern at Heart: Late Night Feast
Damaris delivers some munchies for her ghoulish late-night dinner party, such as Red Wine Spaghetti with Meatballs, Banana Pudding and Mulled Wine.
Farmhouse Rules: Murder Mystery Farmhouse Dinner
Nancy gets in the Halloween spirit and hosts a Murder Mystery dinner with thrilling recipes like Garlicky Chicken Parmesan, Green Broccoli Cauldron Soup, Blood Red Velvet Cake and Hemlock Cocktails.
Guy’s Grocery Games: Not Going to Budge-It!
The chefs are subjected to the Budget Battle and the One Ingredient Per Aisle challenge and are tested to see what they can do with a good ol’ PB&J.
Halloween Wars: Haunted Carnival
It’s the Halloween Wars finale! Tune in to see who can make the best, scariest Haunted Carnival display for the $50,000 prize.
Cutthroat Kitchen: The Undertater
The sabotages never get easier, do they? In this episode, the chefs have to cook for each other, outrun aluminum foil boulders and play a memory game to reclaim lost ingredients.
Rice: A Side Dish Takes Center Stage
FN Dish – Food Network Blog
For most of us here in the United States, rice may not always have seemed like the most-inspiring food: Plain, white, bland, sometimes mushy, the stuff our mothers served us was something we may have eaten with little relish. (Sorry, Mom.)
Recently, however, rice’s rep has been changing. Increasingly, American consumers’ palates are expanding to encompass more sophisticated (and more expensive) varieties — like jasmine, basmati, brown and black rice, wild rice, red rice and other exotic blends. Rice sales are growing, the Wall Street Journal reports, and while white long-grain rice is still preferred by many, “specialty” rice is starting to soak up more of the market.
So what, exactly, is driving this trend toward exotic grains? Factors may include our growing interest in foods that are “authentic” and unusual, as well as our desire to make healthier choices — opting for varieties that are higher in fiber or protein, according to the Journal. Plus, the fact that rice is gluten-free probably isn’t hurting sales, given the current popularity of avoiding the protein found in wheat and many other grains.
Changes in demographics and culinary preferences may also play a role. “Asians and Hispanics are the fastest-growing ethnic groups in the U.S., and both are sophisticated rice-eating cultures,” the Journal notes. “Indian, Mexican, Thai and other cuisines, often rice-based, have become a part of mainstream eating, especially among younger Americans.”
Interested in experimenting with rice, but unsure where to start? Here’s a quick look at some varieties, with links to recipes. You’ll be all over them like white on — oh, never mind:
Long-grain white: The most-common rice found in the United States, this fluffy stuff is probably what most of our mothers made when we were growing up.
Try: Long-Grain White Rice with Corn, Peppers and Onions
Long-grain brown: This whole-grain version includes the bran and germ layers of the rice, which impart a nutty flavor and slightly chewier texture.
Try: Basic Long-Grain Brown Rice Pilaf
Basmati: This extra-long-grain rice, mildly nutty in taste, is associated with Indian and Pakistani cooking.
Try: Simple Basmati Rice
Jasmine: This fragrant, translucent, long-grain rice, a staple of Thai cuisine, can be soft and somewhat sticky.
Try: Toasted Jasmine Rice with Grilled Scallions
Japanese-style rice: Firm and sticky, this is the medium-grain rice used for sushi and other Japanese dishes.
Try: Grilled Rice Balls
Bomba: The Spanish favor this medium-grain rice, known for its ability to absorb water without getting mushy, for paella.
Try: The Ultimate Paella
Arborio: This short-grain Italian rice is often used to make risotto, because it is high in amylopectin, the sticky starch that gives it its creamy consistency.
Try: Easy Parmesan “Risotto” (pictured above)
Wehani: This long-grain, aromatic, reddish rice was developed from an Indian Basmati seed and has a distinctly nutty flavor.
Try: Wehani Rice and Mango Salad
Himalayan Red: This long-grain, complexly flavorful rice, imported from India, features a layer of reddish bran.
Try: Tandoori Chicken
Colusari Red: This burgundy-colored rice was naturally developed and is grown here in the United States.
Try: Red Rice with Spinach and Dried Cherries
Purple Thai: This slightly sweet rice is suitable for desserts and savory dishes.
Try: Steamed Mahi Mahi Over Purple Thai Rice with Baby Bok Choy and Red Pepper Aioli
Chinese Black: This medium-grain rice is black bran on the outside, white within, but it looks deep purple when cooked.
Try: Black Forbidden Rice with Peaches and Snap Peas
Wild rice: Not a grain, but a seed, wild rice – nutty, chewy and purplish — is often blended with brown rice for stuffing and pilaf.
Try: Wild Rice Pilaf
Pie Baked Apples — The Weekender
FN Dish – Food Network Blog
This time of year, many of us make the trek out to our closest U-Pick farms to load up on sweet, crisp apples. It’s easy to get carried away by the fresh air and autumnal abundance, and what looked like a reasonable amount of fruit in the orchard becomes an overwhelming volume once you cart it into your kitchen.
So, you start cooking. You make a big batch of applesauce for the freezer. You bake up a pan of apple crisp for dessert (or breakfast, topped with a scoop of plain yogurt). You slice the apples and stack them with peanut butter. You take a sackful to work, hoping your co-workers will help you out. And still, there are more apples.
If this sounds like a familiar story, may I suggest a fun little dessert that comes together quickly, tastes like a treat and still manages to put the focus on the whole fruit? A cross between traditional pie and baked apples, these Pie Baked Apples have you scoop out the interior apple flesh, toss it with a little sugar and spices, and pack it back into the empty apples. You top them with some store-bought pie crust, then bake them until they’re tender and brown.
The thing I like about this dessert is that it puts the emphasis on the fruit, not the crust, while still feeling like something special. For those of you who follow a gluten-free diet, you could make a little batch of gluten-free crust, or you could even replace the crust entirely with an oat-based crumble topping.
Older kids can help hollow out the apples with a spoon or melon baller, and younger ones can help fill them up with the spiced apple bits. I do suggest that you make sure to lightly tent the foil over the apples for the first half of the baking process. I didn’t do that and my foil stuck to the crusts. I was able to recover, but my finished apples weren’t as pretty as they could have been.
What are you making for your Weekender?