When you think
of popcorn, what comes to mind?
Maybe it makes you think of going to the movies. Perhaps it
brings back cozy family memories. Popcorn is as American as
apple pie. In fact, Americans eat more than 18 billion
quarts of popped popcorn every year. It's one snack food
that should continue to be a favorite in any household, because
it's one that's actually good
for us. It's also the perfect alternative to the sugar, fat
and calorie-laden snacks that are so readily available.
Popcorn is recommended by the National Cancer Institute (NCI),
the American Dietetic
Association, and the National Institute
of Dental and Craniofacial Research. How many other "snack
foods" are as tasty as popcorn, and are sugar-free, almost
fat-free, have no preservatives, no artificial anything, and are
very economical? Popcorn acts as dietary roughage due to its
fiber content, so it actually aids in digestion. It also
contains carbohydrates which will help to naturally energize you.
With all of this going for it, shouldn't you be eating more of it?
How to make
If you are watching calories, the
most effective way to keep the calorie-count down is by using an electric, or
"air" popper, in which case you'll want to follow the directions
that come with your popper. But if you don't have one, or if
you like the taste of a little oil on your popcorn, you'll want to
use a large pan or pot. The following method can be used on
a stove top or even over an open fire.
- You'll start by heating up your
pan (ideally between 400 and 460 degrees Fahrenheit). Pour
about 1/4 cup of oil into the pan, just enough to give a good
coating to the bottom, not so much that the kernels will be
swimming or floating in it. Choose an oil that is less
saturated like Corn, Sunflower or Canola to add fewer calories.
The oil should get hot enough to where a kernel dropped in will
spin or sizzle, not smoke or burn.
- Put three kernels into the pan,
and cover with a lid.
- When you hear all three kernels
pop. Remove them with tongs and add enough popcorn to layer across
the bottom of the pan evenly. They should all be touching the
bottom of the pan.
- Cover the pan again. Your
popcorn will immediately begin popping and will work up to a
- As the popping sounds start to
subside, turn off the heat until the popping sounds stop.
Carefully swirl the pan so that kernels will not stick to the
bottom of the pan every now and then.
- Remove the lid and pour into a big
bowl or individual bowls. Season the way you like it, and
Have you ever
wondered why those few kernels don't pop? What are known as
"old maids" don't pop because they lack the water in the starch
that is necessary for them to build enough pressure to pop like
Nutty Popcorn -
Choose your favorite nuts, like Sunflower Seeds, Cashews, Peanuts,
any nut will do alone, or in combination. Grind them in a
food processor. When your popcorn is freshly popped, pour
some melted butter over the top and stir to coat. Take your
finely ground nut mixture and blend in with the popped corn, salt
to taste if necessary. Shredded Coconut makes a nice
Spiced Popcorn -
Another way to add a little zest or unexpected flavor to your
popcorn is by adding spices. It's so simple, and a great way
to be creative. Your choices are as vast as your
imagination. Some nice choices would be Dill, Cayenne pepper,
Paprika, or Garlic Salt.
"American as Apple Pie Popcorn" -
I've come up with this
interesting recipe as a way of giving your popcorn more of a
"dessert" feel to it, without using any refined sugar. This
would be a healthy substitute for caramel corn, and of course...
- Add 1 T of butter to a ramekin and
place in the oven at 200 degrees.
- Start your popcorn (follow the
- Chop some organic dehydrated Apple
into tiny bits (2T).
- Chop some walnuts into very small
pieces (2 T).
- When the butter has melted, add 1
teaspoon of honey. Mix with the butter.
- Add to this mixture: a pinch of
ground Cinnamon, a smaller pinch of ground Nutmeg, and an even
smaller pinch of ground Cloves. Mix well.
- To this mixture, add the apples,
and let them sit and soak until the popcorn has finished
- In a large mixing bowl, add 4 cups
of popped corn. Pour the spiced Apple mixture over
the top. Add the Walnuts. Sprinkle with
a little salt, and mix everything together with a spatula very
- Add another 4 cups of popped corn
and mix very well. Serve and
A tip for you: Make enough
popcorn to where you can easily skim just the popped kernels off
the top of the pan, leaving the "old maids" at the bottom.
This way your guests will not mistake any uncooked kernels for
nuts. It just makes for a more enjoyable eating experience.
An important warning: On a
serious note, the American Academy of Pediatrics advises
against feeding popcorn to infants and toddlers. It could
pose a serious choking hazard.
- Popcorn kernels are specific to
one type of corn. It's scientific name is
Zea mays everta.
All corn is a cereal grain originating from a wild grass.
But out of the six types of corn, the
Zea mays everta type is
the only one that pops.
- The majority of the world's
popcorn is grown in the corn belt of the U.S., including Iowa,
Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri,
Nebraska and Ohio.
- Once the corn is harvested, the
kernels are removed from the ears, they are heated with warm
air to the perfect moisture content of 14 percent to produce
perfect popping. They are shaken over a metal strainer to
remove the smaller kernels and excess debris, polished, and packaged.
- One cup of air-popped popcorn has
31 calories, 1 gram of protein, 6 grams of carbohydrate, 1 gram
of fiber, and just a trace of fat.
way you choose to make your popcorn, have it around waiting for
you and your family when the perfect snack is needed.
Popcorn can be made ahead and sealed in a bag for later.
It's also a great snack for when you're on the go. If you
want to do your waistline a favor, forgo the sugary, fatty snacks
and instead, opt for popcorn. It's all-natural, tasty
A very good resource for all-things popcorn
-Los Angeles Sentinel 10-04-1995
Popcorn--The Snack Food For Good Health.
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