Mmm mmm popcorn :). There is something about it that just reminds me of a lot of happy memories. Fun at the movies, childhood sleepovers, comfy nights curled up on the couch, and popcorn balls at Halloween. I’m sure all of you popcorn lovers out there can agree with me and have some fun memories of your own.
Popcorn, in its plain form, is actually really healthy for you. It is a whole grain packed with fiber and antioxidants. The health benefits of popcorn come from its fiber, polyphenolic compounds, antioxidants, vitamin B, manganese, and magnesium content. Popcorn’s impressive fiber content helps regulate blood sugar (making it a fantastic snack), lower cholesterol, and improve digestion. Antioxidants and polyphenolic compounds help to fight free radicals in the body that lead to cancer and premature aging.
As a result of all of these health benefits, popcorn is a great weight loss tool. A cup of normal popped popcorn contains only 30 calories, about 5 times less than the same amount of potato chips. But this healthy snack commonly gets a bad rap as it is typically doused in butter and salt or caramel. Too much of these and a healthy whole grain snack becomes an unhealthy one.
Packaging in pre-packaged popcorn has also come under some speculation. Once the popcorn begins to pop, it has been found that some of the chemicals in the packaging may actually break down and destroy some of the polyphenolic compounds in the hull of the kernel. Uh, chemicals in the packaging leaking into my food? No thanks...
So, how can we make popcorn healthy and more enjoyable again? Easy! All you need is a brown paper lunch bag, popcorn kernels and a microwave. I’ve subbed olive oil for butter in this recipe, gone light on the salt (just a pinch or two), and added some cayenne pepper for a kick (I love my spicy!).
Homemade Olive Oil Popcorn
makes approx. 4 cups
1 brown paper lunch bag
1/4 cup popcorn kernels
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
pinch or two of salt to taste (don’t go overboard!)
dash or two of cayenne pepper
Place kernels into paper bag and fold top over once a few inches down. Microwave for 1 minute and 30 seconds. Timing may vary slightly by microwave so monitor it to ensure the popcorn doesn’t burn. When you don’t hear popping for a few seconds that means it’s normally done. Toss in a bowl with olive oil, salt and cayenne pepper. Grab your favorite movie, head to the couch and enjoy!!
~Peace, love and healthy snacking~