Monday, March 8, 2010

What else...Popcorn!

What’s the best movie snack ever?  Day old rotating pretzels? Nope.  Gross nachos with artificial cheese?  Absolutely not!  I think you know where this is heading…Popcorn!

Popcorn actually became popular around the turn of the century because it could be bought so cheaply.  People would buy popcorn from street vendors and attempt to sneak the food into the movie theaters to enjoy during the movies (clearly not much has changed.)  Movie theater owners did not appreciate this, but popcorn was difficult to make as it required the corn to be popped in a wire cage over flame.  A man named Charles Cretors, however, came up with a solution.  He created and patented the first portable popcorn machine utilizing a steam engine in 1893.  After 1912, popcorn was the staple snack food in movie theaters across the country.

Movie goers be warned—popcorn at theaters is not the healthy snack it is at home.  According to a study done by the Center for Science in the Public Interest in the mid-90s, “Movie Popcorn” is incredibly bad for you.  Because they use coconut oil to pop the corn and then top it with butter or margarine, “a medium size popcorn contains more fat than a breakfast of bacon and eggs, a Big Mac and fries, and a steak dinner combined.”  A large popcorn contains as much saturated fat as six Big Macs and with butter, eight.  Anyone else hate themselves right about now?

Luckily for us, there is a solution!  Sneak in your own popcorn!  Well…maybe not.  But if you want to have some at home try these recipes for a twist on an old idea.  Also—pop your own popcorn!  I swear it’s so much easier than it sounds!

First Step:  Pop the Corn.

I know, I know, this is what microwaves were made for.  But humor me for a second.  If you are still inwardly cringing at the nutrition facts above, popping your own corn allows you to decide just how many saturated fats you are letting into your snack.  And it’s actually surprisingly easy.

You’ll need:
½ cup of popcorn kernels
3 tbsps extra virgin olive oil
  1. Grab a large pot with a lid, and add the oil to the bottom.
  2. Turn the heat on high, and put three kernels in the pot.
  3. When the first one pops, add half a cup of kernels and put the lid on.
  4. Wait until there are 2-3 seconds in between pops before taking the popcorn off the heat.  Enjoy!

Cheesy Popcorn
For something different, try this trick.

You’ll need:
Around 8 cups of popped popcorn
1-2 tbsps olive oil
1/3 cup finely shredded parmesan cheese (think the powdery kind)
Kosher Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste.
  1. After you pop the corn, drizzle the oil and toss to coat.
  2. Add the cheese and toss again.  I find it helps if you use a bowl with a lid and shake it up.  Tin foil works too.
  3. Add kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper if you want a little kick.  That’s it!  Pretty easy, huh…

Black and White Popcorn
I got this recipe from  I thought it might be fun to try something new, and I love anything covered in chocolate.  I would be careful though, this popcorn is very rich; I could only eat a little at a time.  So enjoy with friends!

You’ll need:
Around 8 cups air popped popcorn
3 tbsps butter
2 ½ tbsps brown sugar
¼ tsp cinnamon
1 ½ tbsps good quality cocoa powder
¼ tsp kosher salt
  1. Melt the butter, cocoa powder, brown sugar and butter in small bowl in the microwave on low. Watch it carefully so that it doesn’t burn or bubble over.
  2. Stir with a spoon to meld everything together. When the sugar and butter have melted together, drizzle over the popped corn, and toss quickly to coat.

My favorite recipe?  A little oil and a lot of garlic salt.  Low in calories and super yummy.  But the lesson here:  definitely pop your own corn.  And avoid movie popcorn unless you want a heart attack.
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