How To Make Healthier Popcorn
Trying for a Healthier Treat
One of my favorite things is going to the movies and eating popcorn. Sadly, movie popcorn is dreadfully unhealthy. Check out the report below that tells how eating a medium bucket of popcorn is like several fast-food burgers with a dozen extra pats of butter added.... eeeeewwww! And then think about those large buckets of popcorn that they give free refills on. It's no wonder Americans are one of the most-overweight cultures on the planet.
Then there's microwave popcorn. I don't know which will give you cancer first: the plastic linings of the bags, or the fake, chemical butter they put on it. Really, as quick and easy as it is, it's unhealthy too.
I'm not ready to give up popcorn entirely, but I am ready to start eating less of it, and to put forth the effort to start making it myself and making it more healthy. Here's what I've learned about how to make healthy popcorn. Enjoy!
The Evils of Movie Popcorn
- Popcorn at the movies still an unhealthy treat
A study carried out in 1994 by advocacy group CSPI (Center for Science in the Public Interest) found that popcorn being sold by cinema chains in the US was high in saturated fat and calories, and a new survey has found that not much has changed.
- How unhealthy is movie theater popcorn?
A medium bucket o' heart-attack corn with soda is as good for your gut as a trio of Quarter Pounders topped with 12 pats of butter, says a study from the Center for Science in the Public Interest.
The Lowest-Calorie Popcorn Option
The lowest-calorie option for making popcorn is to use an air popper. It's the only cooking process that doesn't add calories to the popcorn. If you compare oil-popped and air-popped popcorn, you'll definitely notice a big difference in the flavor, but there's also a massive reduction in the calories involved if you skip using any oils.
Melted butter is just another phrase for "flavored oil" and "added calories" so if you feel you can't skip that either, use as little as you can stand. If you'd like to add some flavor to your popcorn but would like something less greasy, here are some suggestions:
- grated Parmesan cheese - use fresh grated, not the scary chemical version that comes in a green can. It has more flavor anyway.
- salt - try some of the natural salts as they will have more flavor to them than regular, commercial table salt. Smoked salt is also worth a taste test.
- garlic powder - sprinkle a little bit and toss well before tasting. if you think you need more, go slowly.
- brewer's yeast or nutritional yeast
Adding these sorts of flavor sprinkles does have one side effect, and it's messy hands. My best advice for that is to give eating your popcorn with a spoon or chopsticks. I happen to like the chopstick version because it makes me eat my popcorn a lot more slowly.
Don't Touch That Microwave Popcorn!
- The Popcorn Wars
Sadly, microwave popcorn may be exposing you to a whole slew of carcinogens...
- Popcorn May Cause Lung Disease
Many people love the buttery smell of microwave popcorn, but the savory aroma has recently been linked to a lethal lung disease in factory workers who make the popular snack.
- microwave popcorn - LawyersandSettlements.com
Health experts and labor unions are demanding emergency safety standards to check an outbreak of lung disease among workers in microwave popcorn factories. What has taken them so long?
Stainless Steel Popcorn Poppers
Stovetop Popping Tips
A lot of people really do love the taste of stove-top-popped popcorn. Here are a few tips to help keep the calories down and the healthiness up:
Olive oil - You'll get less calories if you swap out the butter and use a cooking oil for making popcorn. A lot of people recommend canola oil, but it contains acids which cause joint inflammation. Organic olive oil (non-virgin) is best for the high heat cooking that you do when you make popcorn.
Use a steel popper - You want to avoid aluminum as it comes with its own toxicities. Steel is more durable and is a non-toxic cooking material.
AVOID - The absolute worst oil to use is coconut oil. It's 90% saturated fat. If you want a comparison, lard is only 40% saturated fat and almost nobody cooks with that anymore.