• Cindi

Get Popping!

I'm not one to pass up a reason to celebrate and today I am celebrating National Popcorn Day! Sure, there is a day to celebrate just about everything, but I figure why not? We are constantly bombarded by bad news, traffic jams, family issues and other stressors, so taking a moment to celebrate even goofy days provides a bit of fun and something to look forward to.

I know a few people who love, love, love popcorn - I am not one of them. But once in a while, a warm, crunchy, savory snack is just what I need, and that's when I turn to popcorn.

No, I don't pour a melted stick of butter over it, but that doesn't mean it's not delicious. I keep it healthy by flavoring it with some of my favorite seasonings. Sprinkled with hot sauce and parmesan is probably my favorite way to enjoy popcorn. But I have found it quite tasty with some other seasonings. I have used my own taco seasoning, Greek spice blends, lemon pepper, Old Bay, garlic powder and rosemary, smoked sea salt and cumin, and many other combinations.

A mix of cocoa powder, cinnamon and a bit of powdered sugar provides a sweet, chocolatey treat that doesn't require an extra hour of cardio to burn off. Sometimes I have been a bit more indulgent and drizzled freshly popped corn with some warmed honey, cinnamon, and a few sesame seeds. Add some chili powder and orange zest to warmed maple syrup and enjoy a sweet and spicy treat. Yep, it's a bit messy, but part of the fun of eating popcorn is licking the flavors off your fingers!

There are many ways to prepare popcorn quickly, but my favorite way is with oil and a pan -and yes, it's still healthy. In fact, 3 cups come in at about 100 calories. Here is how I do it:

Use a large pan with a glass top (if you don't have a glass top, that's OK).

Add coconut oil to the pot and heat over medium-high heat. Add 3 popcorn kernels and cover the pot with a tight fitting lid. Shake pot frequently to avoid burning. Once the 3 kernels have popped, you know the oil is hot enough to pop the rest.

Remove the pot from the heat and pick out the 3 popped kernels with a pair of tongs. Put pot back on the heat, pour in 1/2 cup of popcorn kernels, and cover the pot. Shake the pot frequently to avoid burning. The corn will pop rapidly for a while, but when you notice there is about 3-4 seconds between pops, your popcorn is ready.

Turn off the heat and carefully remove the lid - watch out for those few kernels that will pop even after the pot comes off the heat. Pour popcorn into a large bowl and sprinkle with your favorite seasonings. You can enjoy this treat guilt-free; made as above 3 cups will set you back about 100 calories and contains approximately 20 grams of carbs and 2 grams of fat.

Get creative - use garlic flavored oil or even chili oil. Make your own popcorn trail mix with some nuts and dried fruit. Or enjoy it simply with a sprinkle of salt.

So take some time to celebrate - it is National Popcorn Day after all!

Tonight I will celebrate with a movie and a big bowl of popcorn - I only have to decide which flavor. Enjoy!


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