Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Healthy Stove Top Popped Popcorn

With the New Year and resolutions, have you been looking for ways to improve your eating habits?  Have you always considered popcorn a healthy snack?  Popcorn is a light, healthy snack but are you aware that it is made unhealthy by those microwave bags of popcorn you buy at the store?

Microwaveable popcorn bags are coated with chemicals linked to certain types of cancer and reproductive system damage.  These chemicals are called perfluorochemicals or PFC's. They are added by the manufacturers to make the bags grease-proof.  When heating up a bag of popcorn in the microwave these chemicals are leached into our food.  A serious concern with PFC's is that once ingested, they stay in our system for a long time.  That can't be good.   

Another concern is not the bag, but the popcorn itself.  As with other prepackaged foods, popcorn is sprayed with harmful chemicals that make it taste more fresh.  And what about all that fake butter flavoring? It is a chemical too.  I personally would rather flavor my popcorn with real flavors. 

Corn is also one of the most Genetically Modified foods sold to the public.  GMO's in general should be avoided, because they are not tested for long term effects.  We have no idea what eating GM food does to our bodies.  Some animal testing has suggested that GMO's cause tumors, food allergies, and digestive problems.  When eating corn or corn by-products always choose certified organic. If you want more information on GMO's click here

When making popcorn for my family, we enjoy making it on the stove top.  Other than it being one of the healthiest ways to make popcorn, it reminds me of when I was a kid and my dad made us popcorn.  Now, we didn't make it the healthiest way back then, with vegetable or corn oil and smothering it in hot melted butter, but this is how my dad preferred it. So even with that in mind, I have good memories of him.  Even when we could microwave popcorn we didn't, he must've known there just was something wrong with making it in the microwave. Actually, neither of my parents really liked using the microwave.  My mom didn't like us standing near it when it was in use, and to this day tells my children not to.  Microwaves and the dangers of...that's another post in itself.

Back to making healthy popcorn on the stove top.  Besides it being something fun and new for the kids to try, it just tastes better.  You can make a family sized batch and everyone can choose their own flavor.  We make it in a large stainless steel pot that has a glass lid, so the kids can watch it "grow" (from the safety of moms arms of course).  You only need two ingredients, organic coconut oil and organic popcorn kernels.  For the benefits of organic coconut oil click here.  If you are not going to season your popcorn you can add some salt to the pot prior to popping (or after, if you prefer). 

Here's what you need:

1/2 c. organic popcorn kernels
2 Tbs. organic coconut oil

Over medium heat, melt the coconut oil then add the popcorn kernels and salt (if using). Cover and watch it pop. Remove from heat when you only hear the popping slow down. 

Remember that unlike the microwave, the heat will still be there so it will continue to pop the last few kernels. I hardly ever end up with any un-popped kernels. 

A few ways to flavor your popcorn are to sprinkle it with cinnamon or finely grated Parmesan cheese and parsley flakes.  You can make it spicy by using 3/4 tsp. chili powder and 1/4 tsp. paprika or make it BBQ flavored by adding 1 tsp. smoked paprika and 1/2 tsp. each of garlic powder and onion powder.

To make the spices stick to the popcorn more, you can lightly coat the popcorn with olive oil spray.  It's best to spray the olive oil rather than drizzle it, so you don't end up with too much.

These are just a few ways to liven up your healthy popcorn and still enjoy a light snack.  I hope you try this, if you haven't had the pleasure, and share your favorite ways to flavor your healthy popcorn.

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