Healthy popcorn isn’t just a myth! The secret lies in the way you’re making it. And that means saying ‘goodbye’ to all those microwave popcorn bags.
I don’t know if popcorn can be considered actual food. But I’m sure that it’s one of the most comforting snacks in the world for cozy, family, and friend gatherings.
I don’t remember the first time I ate those beautiful white blooming kernels. I felt as if they'd always been on my family table during the most beautiful evenings when we spent time together. Now, popcorn is the ultimate companion for movie nights. In my childhood, it was the best snack for our charades evenings.
Those times, microwave popcorn bags did not exist. My mom used to heat some sunflower oil in a cast-iron saucepan, throw in the kernels, cover the pan and, in a few seconds, the magic started! Pop! Pop! The little kernels popped and spread an incredible and unmistakable smell. It just felt cozy.
The oldest piece of popcorn was discovered in New Mexico and is said to be over 5,000 years old. Over the years, popcorn has become increasingly popular. It became especially popular during the Great Depression because it was very cheap to make.
Healthy popcorn. Myth or truth?
According to Healthline.com, popcorn is one of the world’s healthiest and most popular snack foods. It is loaded with important nutrients and offers a variety of health benefits, but it’s often prepared with large amounts of fat, sugar, and salt, which can lead to overeating. That’s why it’s important to prepare your popcorn the right way.
Even if you don’t think about popcorn that way, it’s a whole grain food. It can be either super healthy or very unhealthy, depending on how you make it.
You can make a difference by choosing a healthy way to cook it. Let’s set aside microwave popcorn bags for a while, and focus on homemade air-popped and oil-popped popcorn. The first one is much healthier than the second one, because of the oil.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture tells us that 1 cup of air-popped popcorn contains 31 calories, and is fat-, sodium- and cholesterol-free. On the other hand, the same amount of oil-popped popcorn contains 55 calories, 27 of which come from fats.
3 healthy popcorn ideas
I’ve already explained how to make oil-popped popcorn – the way my mother made it! – so now it’s time to let you know how to make the air-popped version. All you need is a paper lunch bag, regular popcorn kernels, and a microwave oven. It’s the easiest and cheapest way to make it! Place the kernels into the bag, fold over the top twice, and press very tightly to crease. In 2 minutes – plus or minus a few seconds depending on your microwave – you’re done! Shake the bag so that any unpopped kernels roll to one corner. Tear a tiny hole in that corner and shake out the kernels. Transfer the popped popcorn to a large bowl.
All of our healthy popcorn recipes require air-popped popcorn. So, here we are:
1. Buttered popcorn
While the kernels burst in the microwave, melt some butter (the butter quantity depends on your popcorn quantity, but be careful you don’t overdo it), pour it in a small spray bottle (you can find cheap ones at Walmart) and mix it with a few drops of hot water. The water must be hot because you don’t want to re-solidify the butter. Shake the spray bottle. After you make air-popped popcorn, lay it on a parchment paper in one layer and lightly spray onto the popcorn. Sprinkle with salt, if you want to, and serve it immediately.
Are you on a diet? Forget about butter and take this recipe into consideration!
2. Parmesan and rosemary popcorn
To make parmesan and rosemary flavored healthy popcorn, you need fresh rosemary, extra-virgin olive oil, salt, freshly ground black pepper, and grated parmesan. If you want to, you can also use one garlic clove.
Place one rosemary sprig (and the smashed garlic clove, if you want) on the bottom of a small saucepan. Pour one tablespoon of olive oil on it and set on the stove over low heat. Stir in salt and black pepper, to taste. Heat it until it’s very warm but not simmering. Turn off the heat and allow it to sit while popping the popcorn.
Remove the rosemary sprig and the garlic clove from the olive oil. Put the oil in a spray bottle and toss the popcorn to coat it. Sprinkle the popcorn with grated parmesan. If you feel like it, mince some rosemary leaves and sprinkle them on the popcorn. Serve it immediately.
3. Chocolate coconut popcorn
If you crave sweetened healthy popcorn, this is a healthier alternative to caramel popcorn! Add 1/4 teaspoon of coconut oil, which is in solid form unheated, in the paper bag before microwaving the kernels.
While the kernels start popping, melt some more coconut oil with dark chocolate on low heat. Then spread your popcorn out on a parchment paper and drizzle it with chocolate topping. Let the chocolate harden, then add the popcorn to bowls and enjoy it!