“Popcorn may be the perfect snack food,” University of Scranton, Pennsylvania, chemist Joe Vinson says. How many of you have been waiting to hear these words? I know I have. Vinson goes on to say, “It’s the only snack that is 100 percent whole grain…[and has] antioxidants and a lot more fiber than most other vegetables and fruits.”  Not to mention it’s minimally processed and low calorie! Antioxidants and fiber? In popcorn? Let’s clear a few things up.

First of all, we’re not talking about that “butter” laden popcorn you get at the movies. While there is some minimal amount of whole grain popcorn under that yellow goop, the majority of the nutritional value is eclipsed by unhealthy fats and salt. Before you get too upset, there are several ways you can enjoy the benefits of whole grains (weight maintenance, reduced risk of diabetes, healthier blood pressure levels, to name a few!) antioxidants (which protect the body from disease and promote healthy blood sugar levels and prevent premature aging) and fiber (keeps you full longer!) with all of the taste. 

I, for one, love the taste of plain, fresh air-popped popcorn. Who doesn’t love using an air popper? It’s pretty fun watching the hard little kernels turn into fluffy clouds of crunchiness. But for those of you who crave a little flavor, there are several ways to take it up a notch! 

To dress up your “naked” popcorn, toss with a little cinnamon. For a spicier kick, squeeze a little lime on the popcorn and sprinkle it with chili powder or curry powder. Or add a teaspoon of Parmesan for a cheesy treat. Better than butter, oil and salt, if you ask me.

What about microwave popcorn? It tends to be expensive, and often has questionable ingredients added. Do your body and your budget a favor, and try our  DIY microwave popcorn recipe (below) that will help you avoid the oils, salts, and processed fats that are found in many store bought popcorns.

While popcorn won’t provide you with all of the nutritional value of fruits and vegetables, it is a great little snack that offers a little versatility and a perfect crunch! Maybe you’ll be hearing a “handful of popcorn a day, keeps the doctor away” before you know it.

DIY Microwave Popcorn

¼ cup popping corn

Olive Oil

Lunch-size brown paper bag

Drizzle olive oil over kernels, and toss until coated. (Use enough to cover kernels but not saturate them.) Place the kernels in the paper bag and roll the top of the bag over twice. Place in the microwave, seam side down, and cook on high for 2 minutes. Sprinkle with seasoning of your choice or enjoy plain! (Mallory)

 

Comments

My 3 year old son loves popcorn. He used to eat it a lot, but I read another article about the chemicals that are in microwave popcorn (especially the coating on the bag) and I stopped buying the microwave stuff for him. He was getting smart food cheese popcorn for a while after that, but we all know that is so unhealthy! I will get him an air popper this week. He will probably love to watch it work and I won't feel so bad about giving him his popcorn! I am also going to try the homemade microwave popcorn you suggest. Seems like it would be pretty easy. Thanks!

Popcorn can be such a wonderful, healthy, whole grain snack. I think you and your son will have a lot of fun with the air popper. Let him experiment with different sprinkles on the popcorn, too: nutritional yeast has a great cheesy flavor, and he may even like different herbs if he chooses for himself.

Thanks for a great article. I went on the internet to verify that popcorn is a whole grain, since I'm starting to add whole grains to my diet, and found your article. Good news!
Pop your corn with an air popper, then top with olive oil (and a pinch or two of salt). If that's not the healthiest snack food, I don't know what is.

We like to add herbs with the olive oil, too -- oregano... dill... whatever you like. 

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