Homemade popcorn: Snack food that’s better for you than you think

When you’re snacking on dinner, popcorn can’t be beat. It’s an ideal “main dish” because it’s more filling than other snack foods and doesn’t rely on the pan for flavour. It can also be made from scratch in minutes without any special equipment other than a large pot, and you can taste it just the way you like.

It is also not necessary to save popcorn at night for a special occasion. While you can certainly pair popcorn with a movie night, there’s no law against making popcorn for dinner whenever the moment feels right. Don’t fight this feeling.

Popcorn is an unprocessed whole grain: in fact, it’s the combination of a starchy pulp inside a fibrous exoskeleton that makes popcorn pop. It’s also high in fiber, contains nearly 4 grams per 4 cups, and contains a significant amount of polyphenols that can help lower blood sugar levels and aid digestion.
Plus, dietitian Julian Chamoun of RDN Nutrition Counseling in New Jersey said, “Popcorn is a filling snack because of the volume it takes up in your stomach, which prevents us from over-snacking.” Popcorn has been shown to be more filling than potato chips, which means that you will feel full after eating it.

However, keep in mind that “although popcorn is a great healthy snack, when oil is added during the cooking process, it can double the calories and fat,” Chamoun says. He recommends using an air blower as the best way to limit the amount of oil added during cooking, but if you don’t feel like eating one, you can still make popcorn using very little oil per serving on the stove. Here’s how.

How to make popcorn on the stovetop

To make 16 cups of popcorn (about 4 servings), you will need 1/2 cup of popcorn kernels and 2 tablespoons of a neutral cooking oil, such as canola or vegetable oil.

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Pour the oil into a large saucepan of at least 6 quarts. Add two or three kernels to the pot, cover and set over medium-high heat until you hear the kernels exploding.

Once that happens, remove the pot from the heat, pour in the remaining kernels and cover the pot. Wait 30 seconds, then return the pot to the stove and cook, shaking the pan frequently, until the popping slows down.

Remove the lid to carefully allow the steam to escape, then transfer the popcorn to a large bowl to season.

Make your own popcorn with flavor combinations

When it comes to flavor popcorn, the options are as varied as your cravings. Popcorn can be mixed with ready-made mixes like an all-around bagel or Old Bay seasoning, but it’s always fun to get creative and make your own combinations.

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Whether you prefer a savory mix, sweet or a bit of both, you can customize your bowl based on what your taste buds are telling you.

Mix fresh popcorn with melted butter, coconut oil, or olive oil to give the seasoning something to stick to, then sprinkle it on toppings of your choice. Try these suggested flavors to get started.

If you prefer salty

Pizza popcorn: With cheese, herbs, garlic and a little spice—and better for you than a whole pizza or a basket full of breadsticks for dinner. If you are dairy-free, substitute nutritional yeast for Parmesan cheese.
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Sesame Nori Popcorn: Crunchy seaweed snacks aren’t just for eating alone. Crush them into sesame-oil-fried popcorn for a Japanese-inspired bowl and add toasted sesame seeds for extra texture.
Mexican Popcorn: If you love the flavors of wate, or Mexican street corn, this condiment is totally refreshing but without the mess. Fresh lemon juice and peel add a little extra to each bite.
Buffalo Ranch Popcorn: Once you make your own homemade ranch seasoning, you won’t want to go back to the store-bought package. Add hot sauce with butter and you’ve got to watch the games.
Grilled Popcorn: No need for sauce—smoky paprika is the secret to sweet, smoky popcorn.

sweet feeling

Hot Cocoa Popcorn: Instead of weighing the popcorn with melted chocolate, try a lighter corn-style kettle and eat sweet, chocolate popcorn. Small pieces of marshmallow make it suitable for enjoying the fire.
Snickerdoodle Seasoned Popcorn: You can make this better version of the bag using just cinnamon and sugar, but heating spices like cardamom and ginger give this popcorn a more sophisticated feel.
Strawberry Popcorn: Freeze-dried strawberries in a food processor give you a beautiful pink powder that makes these popcorn berries different from other sweet snacks.
Freeze-dried strawberries give the popcorn a beautiful pink color.
Toasted Coconut Popcorn: Use toasted coconut from the snack aisle if you don’t want to toast your own unsweetened coconut chips for tropical popcorn. Add a few handfuls of cashews or almonds to turn it into a blender mix.
Pumpkin Spice Maple Popcorn: Whether you choose to make your own pumpkin spice mix or use a pre-mixed version, you’ll still feel the downfall of this flavor.

Casey Barber is a food writer, illustrator and photographer. Author of “Pierogi Love: New Takes on an Old-World Comfort Food” and “Classic Snacks Made from Scratch: 70 Homegrown Versions of Your Favorite Brand Name Candy”; and editor of Good. food. stories.


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