Popcorn is one of my favorite snacks. If you looked at my family meal plan from last week's blog post you probably noticed it several times. I like to combine it with some nuts (cashews, almonds, pistachios) or dried fruit. I prepare my own popcorn (no microwave bags) and vary my seasonings to give variety!
If you prepare it properly it is a super healthy snack. Popcorn is a whole grain that is minimally processed. Popcorn contains many vitamins and some minerals (folate, niacin, riboflavin, thiamine, pantothenic acid, vitamins B6, A, E, and K, iron, calcium, copper, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, and zinc). It is full of fiber and polyphenol antioxidants. Polyphenols help protect our bodies from certain cancers and heart disease. In fact, the concentration of polyphenols is higher in popcorn than fruits and vegetables because of the low water content of popcorn. This doesn't mean we skip fruits and vegetables. They are still packed with other nutrients which popcorn lacks. A healthy diet includes both. The hulls of popcorn have the highest amounts of polyphenols and fiber. Hulls also contain beta-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin, three antioxidants linked to eye health. Popcorn is on the upper edge of the lower glycemic index (GI) foods. Lower glycemic index diets help control blood sugar in people with diabetes and can help with weight control because lower GI food digest slower, delaying hunger.
You do have to prepare popcorn properly or it can become a health nightmare. Air popped popcorn has the lowest amount of calories. You can also pop popcorn in a brown paper lunch bag in the microwave. Use caution with store bought microwave popcorn bags. Some bags are lined with harmful chemicals and the butter flavoring has also been linked to health hazards. I personally like to prepare mine in a stove top popper with a little coconut oil in with the kernels. then I top it with a little olive oil and season it. The oils help the seasonings stick. Drizzle the olive oil immediately after popping. Then season and toss. Go light or without salt, most Americans get too much salt. Experiment with different herbs and spices. Here are a few of my favorite ways to prepare it. Check my Pinterest popcorn board for more inspiration.
- Blood orange infused olive oil and a little orange zest
- Olive Oil, nutrition yeast (has a nice cheese flavor), and a tiny bit of salt
- Olive Oil and Herbs of Provence blend
- "Special" popcorn seasoning (I cut the salt way down in this recipe)
- Salt and Vinegar
- Cinnamon glazed popcorn mix
- Scallions and cilantro
- Turmeric and coriander
- Parmesan and black pepper
- Coconut sugar and orange zest
- Parmesan and oregano
- Spriulina **I have not tried this but want to, I don't know how my kids will do
- Grind up fresh popcorn to use as a gluten free substitute for bread crumbs
- Season it like croutons and use as a salad topping
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Popcorn also makes a fun gift! The picture above was my dad's birthday present. This would also make a great Father's Day gift (Sunday, June 21st this year). He got an air popcorn popper. I bottle of olive oil and some sea salt. I made four different seasoning blends from those listed above and put them in these wonderful Ball Spice Jars. I also included a book on Prime Time Health.
For Christmas, I gave my brother a stove top popper and some organic popcorn kernels. I gave extended family small bags of popped and seasoned popcorn with a cinnamon ornament. My kids helped stuff the bags and make the ornaments. They loved being able to help!
We have also given bags of seasoned popcorn to neighbors as a just-because gift. These would also make a a great housewarming or teacher gift. You could also fill a ball jar with kernels and include a recipe.
Here are some of my favorite popcorn products on Amazon. These are affiliate links. If you make a purchase your price stays the same and I get a tiny commission to support my site. Thanks for your support!