April 29, 2014
Image of Popcorn

Can popcorn be a healthy snack? Absolutely. In fact popcorn is a whole grain. Let’s take a look at the nutrition facts for plain popcorn, pay close attention to the fiber and vitamin and mineral content.

Plain, Air-Popped Popcorn (4 cups popped)
Fiber: 5 grams
Calories: 122
Protein: 4 grams
Carbohydrate: 25 grams
Fat: 1.4 grams
Saturated fat: 0.2 grams
Monounsaturated fat: 0.4 grams
Polyunsaturated fat: 0.6 grams (0.6 grams omega-6 fatty acids)
B-1, B-2, B-3, B-6, and folic acid: 6% recommended daily allowance (RDA)
Magnesium: 16% RDA
Selenium: 8% RDA
Zinc: 10% RDA

So plain popcorn is a great snack option, but sometimes plain popcorn is just a bit too boring. So we add some salt and butter and extra flavorings. What’s important to remember is that this is where the fat and calories start adding up. Instead of adding butter and salt you could try a recipe that uses spices.  You can spice things up with this Chili Lime Popcorn.

Chili Lime Popcorn Snack Mix (Yield: 1 quart)

1 quart popped popcorn
1 teaspoon brewer’s yeast powder (or nutritional yeast; available in health food stores)- omit if you don’t have it on hand
1 teaspoon lime juice
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 300° F.
Spread popcorn on a baking sheet.
Sprinkle yeast powder, lime juice, chili powder and salt over popcorn.
Heat about 7 minutes and toss just before serving. Serve warm.

If you just want the old fashion popcorn with salt and butter try being mindful of the amount of butter you are adding. You can air-pop it, and then add a little bit of butter or good-tasting margarine (I like Earth Balance) on top afterward. You could also sprinkle some grated Parmesan over it as well. If you decide to purchase microwave popcorn, than choose one of the light microwave options, which have less fat, fewer calories, and often, less sodium. Also try to find one that is without Trans fats (partially hydrogenated oil). If anyone has a good popcorn recipe to share, please do!

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