Movie and microwave popcorn can be loaded with dreaded trans fats. In fact, that flavored concoction that blankets your kernels isn't really butter at all. It's partially hydrogenated oil, a buzzword for trans fats, making conventional popcorn far from a healthy snack.
Not to mention another chemical often found in microwave popcorn that's been tied to Alzheimer's disease. A study at the University of Minnesota found that diacetyl (DA) used to produce artificial buttery flavor leads to an increase in levels of beta-amyloid, which clumps together and has a toxic impact on nerve cells. Bottom line – popcorn can be a mess of chemicals if you don't make it yourself.
1. Start off with organic popcorn kernels.
Stock up on organic popcorn kernels. You can find them in packages or in bulk at your local health food and grocery stores. Choosing organic kernels means they're not GMO.
2. Cook your popcorn so that it stays fresh and crispy.
I use avocado oil for popcorn because it allows for high heat. You can also use coconut oil if you're popping them at a lower heat (max 375 degree F), which gives the popcorn a slightly coconut-y flavor. Add a tablespoon of oil to a medium-sized pot. Add a few kernels and put the top back on.
Wait until the kernels pop before adding in the rest of the popcorn. If you put the kernels in as the popcorn is heating you get soggy popcorn that's stale before you take your first bite. Coat the bottom of the pan with kernels. Shake the pot and listen for popping. Once the popping stops, remove from the heat immediately.
3. Choose healthy movie popcorn toppings.
Try adding spirulina to your popcorn. It turns green but it gives it a beautiful bright color. Spirulina is a great source of protein, beta carotene, and iron. You can also add nutritional yeast because it has a rich, buttery flavor. Nutritional yeast is also a source of protein and B12.
You can also use organic beet sugar – it's a less processed substitute for refined white sugar. Himalayan pink salt is a more natural way to salt your popcorn; it contains tons of minerals and trace minerals, including iodine, which is SO important for thyroid health. You can also melt any butter or butter alternative to top your popcorn for an indulgent and delicious treat.
So yes, your homemade movie popcorn can really be a healthy snack!
Image: eddie welker