Healthy Popcorn Anyone?
Hey friends! It’s been a while. Moving is, well… moving. We’re finally settled in and I’m excited to get back in the kitchen again!
With all the moving and unpacking, we’ve needed some quick and simple snacks. A true favorite of ours—especially for movies—is popcorn! Yes, you read that right, popcorn can be a delicious and nutritious snack! However, not all popcorn is equally nutritious…Let’s take a look!
Movie theater disaster
A bucket of movie theater popcorn can have almost 1000 calories and 40+ grams of fat! And that doesn’t include the “butter” you can add on top. Wow! That’s quite a lot of calories for a so-called nutritious snack! That “butter”, which tastes vaguely like actual butter, is not even close to the real thing. It’s partially hydrogenated soybean oil with added colors and flavors. Totaling near 130 calories per tablespoon and housing more trans fat than anyone wants in a day (in reality, we don’t want any trans fat..). Yikes, this all sounds like a recipe for disaster…
What about microwave popcorn?
This quick and easy way to prepare popcorn may be better in terms of calories and fat, but unfortunately is shown to contain some dangerous ingredients.
The bags are lined with bad stuff (perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA)) that stay in your body for a long time and are associated with cancer and ADHD. Fake butter could also be linked with thyroid issues and conditions like cancer. Many microwave popcorn brands also have trans fat. Did I mention that trans fat is bad? I did? Well, here it is again – trans fat is bad. (Just a note, as a dietitian who believes all things in moderation, this is saying a lot. Trans fat is one the few things I advise to avoid entirely)
A stove top pop
With the convenience of microwave popcorn, it’s hard to imagine reverting to making popcorn the old fashioned way. But it’s delicious and so much better for you! Air-popped popcorn has only 100-150 calories in a 5-cup (Yes, I said 5 cups!) serving. And adding some butter or other fat adds maybe another 100 calories. Popcorn is a whole grain that has lots of fiber (yay for fiber!). In fact, a 3-cup serving has 3 to 4 grams of fiber! Pretty good for an easy snack! It also has 56% of the RDI (Recommended Daily Intake) of Manganese and a surprisingly high amount of polyphenols. Polyphenols are antioxidants that protect our cells and keep us healthy!
What is healthy popcorn?
Okay, so how can we make an even healthier snack out of popcorn?? For starters, the type of oil used makes a huge difference! Certain oils shouldn’t be heated to high temperatures (sorry olive oil) as some research suggests the fats breakdown and may become rancid—making them harmful instead of healthful. Using oils like coconut oil or ghee are much better options for popping those little kernels. Popping popcorn on your stove top is your best bet if you don’t have a popcorn popper (definitely not a common kitchen item). AND it’s fun to watch the kernels pop! Lastly, the toppings can make or break a good bowl of popcorn.
Let’s top it off
The toppings. If we douse our stovetop popcorn in fake butter, we’re defeating the purpose of making stovetop popcorn. There are lots of variations, spices and other toppings, that add nutritional value rather than take it away. My favorite toppings include garlic powder, onion powder, Himalayan sea salt and nutritional yeast. Or you could go a sweet route by adding cinnamon and even some dried apples and almonds!Print
Super easy! There are countless ways to season this delicious stovetop popcorn!
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil or ghee
- 1/3 cup popcorn kernels
Our favorite seasonings:
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon Himalayan sea salt
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1-2 tablespoon(s) nutritional yeast
Go sweet with cinnamon, nutmeg, dried apples and almonds!
Other great seasoning options include smoked paprika, cayenne, or cumin!
- Heat coconut oil or ghee in a 3-quart pot over medium heat.
- Add 3 popcorn kernels and cover.
- Once the 3 kernels pop, remove from heat, add the remaining 1/3 cup popcorn and wait ~30 seconds before returning the pot to heat. Cover, but keep lid ajar to allow steam to escape.
- As the kernels start popping, shake the pot to prevent burning. Once the popping slows and several seconds go by between popping, remove from heat and transfer to a large bowl.
- Add desired seasonings and shake to coat completely. You can also add a tablespoon of butter or other fat at this time so the seasonings stick better.
- Enjoy as a snack or with your favorite movie!
What are your favorite popcorn toppings? Comment below and let us know!