April 12, 2013

Best-Ever Popcorn

Remember those 1970s air poppers? You (your parents) plugged them in, filled them with kernels, and watched the cumulus cloud of fresh popcorn roil up inside. After all the kernels had tumbled into the bowl, you added real butter and salt, then devoured them by the handful. Not to sound all sentimental, but popcorn never really got better than that. Actually, it got quite a bit worse, with the arrival of the artificial butter flavorings and refined (scary, orange!) oils in microwaveable bags.

But popcorn the old way is still so good, and good for us! It's whole grain and high in fiber, and here's my favorite perk: researchers have recently measured high levels of polyphenols in the hulls, which may help prevent cancer. Yup, popcorn just won the awesomest snack award.

I absolutely love treating my kiddo to fun, delicious foods. I've never met a parent who doesn't. Popcorn is just one bit of proof that we can be conscientious while indulging our kids. Here's how to make the best popcorn for your favorite people on earth (Note: Since popcorn is considered a choking hazard, use care if you decide to serve it to toddlers):

1.) Buy organic kernels. Enjoy a pesticide-free snack. (It's worth mentioning that even conventionally grown popcorn is non-GMO, unlike most other kinds of corn.)

2.) Pop multicolored kernels. As a rule of thumb, foods that come in vibrant colors contain higher concentrations of antioxidants and polyphenols than do their paler counterparts. Naturally blue and red popcorn kernels look white when they pop and taste the same as regular popcorn, but they likely carry an extra nutritional punch.

3.) Air-pop your popcorn. You can do this in the microwave! Pour a half cup of kernels into a microwave-safe bowl, drape a slightly damp paper towel over the top, and microwave for 2-4 minutes. You can also still buy air poppers at Target or Amazon.

4.) Drizzle popcorn with real butter or cold-pressed oil. We love extra virgin olive oil and a tablespoon of nutritional yeast. Darwin says, "put some nooch in there!" Virgin coconut oil and curry powder taste great, too.

Here's my plug for nutritional yeast: don't make the mistake I made by writing off this flaky, mustard-colored yeast as weird hippie food. Or, just give up and accept that you're a weird hippie, so you can eat nutritional yeast. It is SO good on popcorn: crunchy and "cheesy". We use a tablespoon or two of yeast per 1/3 cup of kernels, added after popping.

OK, you're set! Now all you need is a movie. What are your favorite popcorn toppings?


  1. Yum, popcorn, my favorite treat! I am a huge fan. I love my popcorn popped in peanut oil - that's the only time I realy use peanut oil, but I really love it. I also love a little coconut oil drizzled on top, and some sea salt. Some of my favorite flavors are: chili powder and garlic. As a teenager, my friends and I used to cruch a couple of cloves of garlic into melted butter and pour that over our popcorn. I haven't had any success getting an American to eat that, though. :) I'm going to check out your nutritional yeast topping. Where do you buy that?

    1. So, I just ate a bowl of this garlic-butter popcorn, and it is GREAT. My partner and I agreed we'll double the garlic next time. Thanks for the tip!