Popcorn: more than just a movie-theater treat
Believe it or not, that light, fluffy and fun-to-eat treat we call popcorn can be a healthy addition to your day!
As the name implies, popcorn is a type of corn that “pops” into a perfectly convenient snack. Popcorn is a whole grain, which means it contains lots of fiber and protein to keep you feeling full and satisfied throughout the day.
However, not all popcorn is created equal. Popcorn quickly transforms from a would-be healthy snack to an occasional treat when flavored with butter and salt. A few tips for keeping your popcorn as healthy as can be:
- If grabbing a bag at the theater, decline extra butter and salt.
- If shopping for a microwave version, look for lightly buttered and lightly salted on the label.
Of course, the best option is homemade. Popcorn kernels can be found at any grocery store for about $2, and with fewer than 100 calories in 3 cups worth of air-popped goodness, you can keep on snacking without the guilty conscience. Have fun during home movie night — get the kids involved as you watch the tiny kernels explode into sweet delicious-ness in just a few minutes!
Try the basic recipe below, and then liven it up with interesting spices, such as chili powder, curry powder or cinnamon. A sprinkle of parmesan cheese and garlic powder makes a savory treat. The possibilities are endless!
- 1 tablespoon canola or peanut oil (do not use olive oil - it has a low smoke point)
- ⅓ cup popcorn kernels
- Heat the oil in a large pot on medium-high heat.
- Put 3 or 4 kernels into the oil.
- When those kernels pop, add the rest of the ⅓ cup of popcorn kernels in an even layer. Cover the pot, remove from heat and count 30 seconds while swirling the pot.
- Return the pan to the heat and keep the lid slightly ajar. Once the popping starts, gently swirl the pan back and forth over the burner again.
- Once the popping slows to several seconds between pops, remove the pan from the heat, remove the lid, and dump the popcorn into the serving bowl.
Jordan Higgins is a dietetic intern at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Originally from Albany, New York, Jordan received her bachelor’s degree from Fordham University and completed graduate courses in nutrition from The Sage Colleges. After completing the internship in 2017, Jordan hopes to combine her love for cooking and nutrition education into a unique and inspiring business. In her free time, she enjoys cooking at home, reading food blogs, spending time with her 3 cats, exploring local shops and restaurants, hiking and traveling.