Healthy Replacements: Organic Popcorn

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I am always on the lookout for healthier versions of the foods I feed my family.  When I first began on this journey, one of the first foods I tried to find a healthy replacement for was popcorn.  Popcorn is a whole grain food, a good source of fiber, and it can be a healthy snack when the ingredients are carefully chosen.  Unfortunately, the toxic chemicals added to microwave popcorn and the GMO’s(genetically modified ingredients) present in most of the popcorn sold in grocery stores can cause more harm than good and turn people away from this snack altogether.  That doesn’t have to be the case.  We can still feel great about enjoying this healthy snack by carefully selecting the ingredients we use to prepare it.

For more information on GMO’s and why you may want to steer clear of them, I suggest watching the documentary Food, Inc.  You can watch the trailer here.   It is available to watch on Netflix here.  *Warning:  That film may change the way you eat forever…that is what happened to me, anyway.  At the very least, it will make you think about the source of your foods.  Do not let it overwhelm you.  I have found that making small changes was the best strategy for me and my family.  If you try to do it all at once, it is very overwhelming and you will feel like there is nothing you can eat.  Instead, I try to find healthy replacements, one food at a time.  I hope to share all the changes I have made so far with you in this blog, one at a time.

After becoming aware of all the toxic chemicals in microwave popcorn and the dangers in GMO corn, the first thing I did was get rid of the microwave popcorn in our house.  Then, I went on a search for organic popcorn and good, quality oils that do not contain GMO’s.  So far, I have not been able to find organic popcorn in my local grocery stores.  I usually get it on-line here.  My favorite oil to use when preparing popcorn is coconut oil.  Coconut oil is said to have many health benefits, and you can read more about it here.

For a healthy snack you can feel great about eating, here are the ingredients and methods of preparation you may want to use:

Ingredients

Organic Popcorn

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Coconut Oil (as with the organic popcorn, it is very important not to use genetically modified oils.)  Coconut oil can be found in health food stores or in local grocery stores, or find it on-line here.

coconut oil

Desired Seasonings (salt, butter, etc.)

Preparation Methods

There are 3 different methods of preparation I use for making popcorn.  The method I choose depends on how much time I have and how much effort I feel like putting into it at the moment.

1. Microwave Method

While I do try to avoid using the microwave whenever I can, this is the quickest, easiest, and most convenient way I have found to prepare popcorn.  I put 1/4 cup of organic popcorn kernels and about 1/2 Tablespoon of coconut oil into a brown paper lunch bag, fold the bag loosely 2 times, and put in the microwave for 2 minutes.  Microwave ovens vary, so you may need to adjust the time to see what works best for you to get most of the kernels popped without burning any.  Remove from microwave and season as desired.  I usually use a little salt and about a tablespoon of butter, but sometimes I switch it up and put cinnamon or other seasonings on it instead.  *Note:  Do not put more than 1/4 cup in at once, or the bag will open and the popcorn will overflow while in the microwave (that did happen to me.)

With the microwave method, I found that most of the kernels get popped and it is very quick and easy to do.  This is the method I use the most often because it is the easiest.

2.  Air Popped Method

The advantage of this method is that you don’t need to use oil to cook the popcorn in, so it saves on oil and it is healthier if your trying to minimize the amount of fat.  This method takes longer than the microwave method, requires some cleanup, and I have found that there are usually still a lot of unpopped kernels.  I make it this way occasionally.

1. Add 1/2 cup organic popcorn kernels to your air popper

2. Place the cover on the popper

3. Place a large bowl in front of the chute where the popcorn will come out, plug it in, and wait a few minutes while it pops your popcorn and dispenses it into your bowl.

4. When the popping sounds slow to intervals of 2-3 seconds, turn off the popper.

5.  Season as desired

6.  Discard any remaining unpopped kernels in the popper.

3.  Stove Method

This method takes the longest, requires the most oil, and more cleanup is involved, but I think this method tastes the best.  With this method, nearly all of the kernels pop and none of them are burnt.  I originally learned about this method here,  but I made a few very slight modifications, and it works beautifully.  This is what I do:

Ingredients

3 Tablespoons Coconut Oil

1/2 Cup Organic Popcorn

Seasonings, as desired

Method

1. Heat coconut oil and 2-3 popcorn kernels in a 3-quart saucepan on medium high heat and cover the pan.

2.  When the kernels pop, add the rest of the popcorn kernels in an even layer. Cover, remove from heat and count 30 seconds. This method first heats the oil to the right temperature.  Waiting 30 seconds brings all of the other kernels to a near-popping temperature so that when they are put back on the heat, they all pop at about the same time.

3. Return the pan to the heat.   The popcorn should begin popping soon, and all at once.  Once the popping starts, gently shake the pan by moving it back and forth over the burner. Try to keep the lid slightly ajar to let the steam from the popcorn release (the popcorn will be drier and crisper). Once the popping slows to several seconds between pops, remove the pan from the heat, remove the lid, and pour the popcorn into a bowl.

4.  Season to taste.   I usually use about 2 tablespoons butter, and salt to taste.  If you are adding butter, you can easily melt it by placing the butter in the hot pan you used to pop the popcorn.

The result:  A healthy snack that you can feel great about eating and serving to your family!  Enjoy! 🙂

Popcorn

Prep time: 

Total time: 

Popcorn - Stove Top Method
Ingredients
  • 3 Tablespoons Coconut Oil
  • ½ Cup Organic Popcorn
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • Additional seasonings, as desired
Instructions
  1. Heat coconut oil and 2-3 popcorn kernels in a 3-quart saucepan on medium high heat and cover the pan.
  2. When the kernels pop, add the rest of the popcorn kernels in an even layer. Cover, remove from heat and count 30 seconds. This method first heats the oil to the right temperature. Waiting 30 seconds brings all of the other kernels to a near-popping temperature so that when they are put back on the heat, they all pop at about the same time.
  3. Return the pan to the heat. The popcorn should begin popping soon, and all at once. Once the popping starts, gently shake the pan by moving it back and forth over the burner. Try to keep the lid slightly ajar to let the steam from the popcorn release (the popcorn will be drier and crisper). Once the popping slows to several seconds between pops, remove the pan from the heat, remove the lid, and pour the popcorn into a bowl.
  4. Season to taste. I usually use about 2 tablespoons butter and ½ teaspoon salt. Feel free to add any additional seasonings to taste. If you are adding butter, you can easily melt it by placing the butter in the hot pan you used to pop the popcorn.

 

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5 thoughts on “Healthy Replacements: Organic Popcorn

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