Eat Well Mar. 24. 2015
Snacks

Popcorn, Four Ways

Mar. 24. 2015
Snacks
McKel Hill, MS, RDN, LDN

McKel Hill, MS, RDN, LDN

Dietitian, Founder

Learn how to make the perfect popcorn every time, four ways including herb and cheez, matcha dark chocolate, turmeric spiced, and cinnamon sea salt. Gluten-free and vegan.

I have the fondest of memories enjoying popcorn as a snack especially in the evening with my parents as a child; it was almost a nighttime ritual. My parents would make popcorn, I’d stand and stare anxiously and dance around the kitchen waiting for it to finish popping, most of the times eyes glazed towards watching the corn pop in fascination. We’d pour the perfectly popped kernels into a giant bowl and pass it amongst the four of us while sitting on the couch watching movies unwinding from the day. I absolutely love this memory- to this day, whenever I think of popcorn, my dad pops into mind (ha pun intended) because he’s the biggest popcorn lover of all. Some of the toppings were quite inventive (I’ll give my parents credit on this one), topping popcorn with shredded fresh cheese, grated parmesan, cinnamon, black pepper, spices, loads of butter, and good ole’ sea salt.

Nowadays, living dairy free and a bit more health conscious than my 6-year old self, I’ve transformed my childhood popcorn favorites into a more sophisticated group. Meet the delicious foursome taking back popcorn: Matcha Dark Chocolate, Herb & Cheeze, Turmeric Spiced, and Cinnamon & Sea Salt.

 

One of the many things I’ve learned about myself during this process of writing my first cookbook, is that you’ll have some recipe/idea failures and you’ll have REALLY amazing ones pop up out of no where- hence these four flavors of popcorn. These recipes also came at a really good time- writing a cookbook or diving into anything that requires 100% of your heart and soul, can be overwhelming and stressful just as much as it is exciting, gratifying, and completely fun; these recipes were a way for me to travel back to childhood memories that afternoon in my kitchen and just have some damn fun with recipe making! So much so that I took the rest of the day easy, turned off my work mind that seems to be running fairly fast paced these days with the growth of Nutrition Stripped…and phoned my family to chat and catch up. This day was a great day. And to top it off, these recipes were intended for the cookbook, but I was feeling all mushy and love-y that I had to share these with you all here on the blog as soon as possible, I hope that you all will have as much fun in the kitchen making these with your friends and family and hope that it’ll bring back memories for you or create new ones. So, onto the popcorn, let me introduce you to the foursome taking popcorn back!

Cinnamon & Sea Salt

Cinnamon is delicious but it’s also great to combine with carbohydrate or starch rich foods, such as corn or popcorn because of it’s ability to help your body balance blood sugars that naturally rise when we eat sugar or carbohydrate containing foods. So think of giving yourself a little boost of blood sugar balance by adding cinnamon to your popcorn. I love the combination of sweet and salty, so naturally I was drawn to make slightly sweet yet salty popcorn using one of my favorite spices, cinnamon. It’s simple, straight to the point, and delicious. You can also add a drizzle of honey on top just before serving to increase the sweetness.

What you’ll add to the “Perfect Popcorn Every Time” recipe below: 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon (I love Ceylon variety) + 2 teaspoons coarse sea salt, adjust each spice to taste. Toss to combine and adjust seasonings to your taste.

Turmeric Spiced

Anti-inflammatory popcorn? Adding ground turmeric, which you all know is an obvious favorite of mine, mixed with warming spices and sea salt to give this popcorn a Indian and Moroccan vibe with a boost of anti-inflammatory and antioxidants. The combination of sweet drizzled honey on top of a pretty robust flavored popcorn is heavenly! Just get ready for sticky fingers and have a damp paper towel nearby…oh, and don’t rub them on your clothes or the turmeric will stain.

What you’ll add to the “Perfect Popcorn Every Time” recipe below: 2-3 teaspoons ground turmeric + 1 teaspoon ground cumin + 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon + 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander + 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes + 2 teaspoons sea salt. Adjust all seasonings to your taste; I prefer a lot of turmeric and red pepper flakes so I normally add more. Add these ingredients right after the popcorn has popped, I find stirring these ingredients into the same pot very easy and helpful for evenly coating all the popcorn. You can always use a little extra coconut oil to help the spices evenly coat. Lastly, drizzle honey on top right before serving.

Herb & Cheeze

I had to share a classic everyone will love and that involves cheese coated popcorn…sans cheese! Nutritional yeast is the star ingredient here making this cheesy yet flaky popcorn. The combination of fresh herbs and pops of red pepper flakes is incredibly delicious- it’s by far Bennett’s favorite and he’s a HUGE cheese lover! Added bonus, it’s full of protein and B vitamins. Also remember, nutritional yeast isn’t an active form of yeast, so those of you with any yeast overgrowth of yeast allergies can most often get away with using this without any issues.

What you’ll add to the “Perfect Popcorn Every Time” recipe below: 1/2 cup nutritional yeast + 2 tablespoons olive oil + 1/2 cup fresh chopped parsley, rosemary, and chives + 2 teaspoons sea salt + top with red pepper flakes. Nutritional yeast loves to stick to things, so adding more oil will help this process and note it’s completely normal for some not to stick and fall to the bottom of the bowl. Just scoop it up with your hands! Add these ingredients right after the popcorn has popped, I find stirring these ingredients into the same pot very easy and helpful for evenly coating all the popcorn. You can always use a little extra coconut oil to help the spices evenly coat.

Matcha Dark Chocolate

I confessed my love of matcha tea last week, so it’s no surprise it’s showing up in a completely unique way, in popcorn! The flavor is nutty, sweet, and slightly bitter from the combination of dark chocolate and tea, a really lovely combination though.

What you’ll add to the “Perfect Popcorn Every Time” recipe below: 3 teaspoons matcha tea powder + 1 teaspoon sea salt. Add these ingredients right after the popcorn has popped, I find stirring these ingredients into the same pot very easy and helpful for evenly coating all the popcorn. You can always use a little extra coconut oil to help the spices evenly coat. For the chocolate sauce: 1/2 cup cocoa powder + 1/4 heaping cup coconut oil + 1 tablespoon maple syrup melted in a small saucepan just to combine. Lastly, drizzle melted raw chocolate on top right before serving.

Making the PERFECT batch of popcorn is a skill that takes a little time to practice, but be patient and before you know it you’ll pop an entire batch with no leftover kernels and not one burnt piece, trust me I can do this every time! A couple tips, listen to the time in between each pop towards the end and use your nose- if you smell any burning you’ve already burnt some and the burnt flavor most likely is throughout the batch. Here’s a quick primer on how to make the perfect popcorn every time.

 

Perfect Popcorn Every Time
Recipe Type: snack
Author: McKel Hill, MS, RD, LDN
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 4 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 cup popcorn kernels (use organic, non-GMO)
  • 2 heaping tablespoons organic coconut oil
  • Pinch of sea salt
Instructions
  1. In a large and deep pot on high heat, make sure the pot is hot before adding coconut oil, then allow the coconut oil to heat (about 30 seconds), then add popcorn kernels into the pot.
  2. Immediately cover with a tight lid and vigorously shake back and forth over the stove/heat source. This will ensure you’re distributing the heat evenly, not burning any kernels and allowing the already popped kernels float to the top.
  3. Continue moving the pot back and forth (to and away from you) quickly and constantly until all kernels have popped.

The downside of popcorn these days is the quality of corn. Sadly the agriculture of most corn, soy, and wheat found in the US have become very low in quality over the years, many of these being heavily sprayed with pesticides, chemicals, or modified in some way. It begs many to question the correlation between these mass produced, genetically modified foods and the top sources of food allergens for most individuals (corn, soy, wheat, gluten, etc.); and herein lies the controversy about GMO’s, you have one camp who’s all for it, seeing no harmful or negative effects in humans; and then the other camp who avoids it like the plague. In my personal opinion and nutrition expertise, I recommend limiting if not avoiding GMO’s all together- I don’t want to treat my body like a science experiment. Popcorn and corn can be incorporated into a healthy and nourishing whole foods diet just like other starches and vegetables, it’s a good source of insoluble fiber. The key is the quality of the product you’re using and your individual preference. When making these popcorn recipes I highly urge and recommend you to use only organic and non-GMO sources popcorn kernels. Here are some of my favorite brands: here, here, here, and here!

I hope you all enjoy this! I’d love to hear your childhood stories about popcorn if you have any memories you’d like to share. What were some of your favorite foods or nighttime snacks you’d make with you family?

xx McKel

The Recipe

Serves 4 servings

Print

Ingredients:

    • 1 cup popcorn kernels (use organic, non-GMO)

 

    • 2 heaping tablespoons organic coconut oil

 

    • Pinch of sea salt

 

Directions:

 

    1. In a large and deep pot on high heat, make sure the pot is hot before adding coconut oil, then allow the coconut oil to heat (about 30 seconds), then add popcorn kernels into the pot.

 

    1. Immediately cover with a tight lid and vigorously shake back and forth over the stove/heat source. This will ensure you’re distributing the heat evenly, not burning any kernels and allowing the already popped kernels float to the top.

 

    1. Continue moving the pot back and forth (to and away from you) quickly and constantly until all kernels have popped.

 

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