I’m a serious food grazer…known to eat not-so-much at meals and scrounge up snacks throughout the day. I just love food so much that I must eat all day long. Snacking on foods with real ingredients is a must, so I love coming up with new options all the time. If you don’t, it’s easy to succumb to some unhealthy, super-processed snacks…like Cheese Its, smores cereal, or licorice bites. Not like I’ve ever gotten out of control eating any of those…
A personal snacking favorite of mine is popcorn. It’s crunchy, is a good source of fiber, and you can dress it up with plenty of different toppings to jazz things up a bit. In my opinion, there is nothing wrong with popcorn with straight up sea salt sprinkled on top, but if you’re looking for something a fancier, try these options:
- Sea salt, cinnamon, and sugar
- Minced garlic (or garlic powder) and grated parmesan cheese
- Cinnamon, cocoa powder, and powdered sugar
- Red pepper flakes, ginger, and sea salt
- Basil, oregano, parmesan cheese, and sea salt
- Taco seasoning (or make your own by mixing chili powder, garlic powder, sea salt, and cumin
I am a huge fan of popping my own popcorn. It’s so easy to do and takes about the same amount of time as those microwave bags. Plus, popping your own popcorn is easier on the environment since you don’t have a bag to toss in the trash when you’re finished. Another thing to keep in mind with microwave popcorn is the chemicals that are hiding in the lining of the bags. According to Prevention magazine, perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) is linked to infertility in humans and certain types of cancer. During the microwaving process this chemical vaporizes from the bag to your popcorn. Some popcorn companies have promised to remove this chemical by 2015, but my suggestion would be to start popping your own popcorn today!
To pop your own popcorn, pour enough oil to cover the bottom of a pot on the stove. I like to use olive oil. Throw a few kernels into the pot. You will use these little guys to tell if your oil is hot enough to start the popping process. Heat your oil on medium high heat until the kernels pop and then add ½ cup of popcorn (unpopped, of course). Put the lid on your pot and shake the pot frequently to prevent the kernels from burning. After a few minutes of popping, you’ll notice that the popping will slow. Remove the pot from the burner when you hear the kernels pop only every few seconds. The absolute WORST is burnt popcorn, so don’t let it sit too long! Quickly pour your popcorn into a bowl to prevent burning and top with your fave toppings! Here’s a pic of the popcorn I topped with cocoa powder, cinnamon, and powdered sugar. I tasted tested and then added a dash of sea salt. Love it! I can’t get enough of the salty/sweet flavor combo these days…
Another thing I can’t get enough of is kettle corn, especially when you buy it fresh from the farmers’ market. Since you can pay a pretty penny for a bag of kettle corn from the farmers’ market, I took some time to experiment in the kitchen to make my own. After a few unsuccessful tries, I discovered a sugar/popcorn ratio I liked. Follow the instructions above for popping your popcorn, but when you add the ½ cup of popcorn to the pot, also add 1/3 cup white sugar. Shake the sugar and corn around in the pot a few times to be sure that when your popcorn pops that the sugar will coat it evenly. It’s even more important with kettle corn to quickly transfer your popped kernels into a bowl as soon as you think the kernels are all popped. Kettle corn seems easier to burn! Before the stickiness of the sugar dries, top your kettle corn with a few pinches of sea salt, to taste.
I brought a huge bowl of kettle corn to a few family gatherings this Christmas season. While you might not think it’s a Christmas-y food, people didn’t seem to mind. Kettle corn is addicting! Plus, it’s quick to whip up before you run out the door to a party when you don’t have a lot of other food in the house. With the hustle and bustle of the holidays and a new baby in the house, we needed something quick and tasty! Maybe it would be a nice snacky delight for your New Year’s Eve food table?
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