Looking for a healthy alternative to processed and boxed snacks?
Wishing you had something other than butter and salt to top your popcorn? Or do you need some prodding to give up those artificially colored “cheeze flavored” topping mixes?
Well, I have some great solutions for you.
As I mentioned in my post on popcorn being a healthy snack for your budget, homemade popcorn can really help with your family food budget, and it can also be a lot of fun if you vary the toppings (make sure you check out the links at the bottom of this post for some of our family's favorites :-)!)
But it is also important to start with the right foundation — the perfect popcorn.
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First you need to start with a great popper. Again, I mentioned the stainless steel hand crank popper in yesterday's post on how popcorn is a great boon for your budget. If you are really proficient in the shaking-the-pan-over-the-stove-burner method, then that is great too, but our family has gotten so much use out of this popper and I was never really successful at the shaking the pan method. And with this popper, even our kids can do it.
Now, back to the popcorn.
Perfect Basic Popcorn
- Put oil and popcorn into the popper over medium heat.
- Turn crank slowly at first and then quickly once the popping starts.
- Stop cranking when no more popping is heard.
That's it! I like to use 2 Tbsp oil for most batches. Plain popcorn has a fairly high glycemic load so adding the extra fat tempers that a bit. Sometimes I use 3 Tbsp, but the resulting product might seem a bit heavy to you. Try it and decide what amount you like.
Now, some extra tips regarding the ingredients that I use:
1. We always use organic popcorn due to the proliferation of genetically modified corn on the market. (According to this article in the Washington Post, in 2009, already 80 percent of corn was genetically modified.
2. The salt that we use and love is Real Salt which you can purchase in various locations. It is a wonderful, non-bleached, natural salt with no additives (did you know that regular table salt is bleached and has chemical additives to keep it from clumping — and some brands even have added sugars!). We get ours (and our organic popcorn) through our family's buying club with Country Life Natural Foods and I confess that I purchase the large 25 pound bag. Great price and salt doesn't spoil! And between all the popcorn and regular cooking and baking that I do, and our daily saline washes and the regular soaking of nuts and seeds, we use up salt very quickly!
3. For coconut oil options, you may wish to check out my Whole New Store — either variety works great.
Coconut oil is a wonderful choice for popping corn. It has a high smoke point which means that it is fairly stable cooking oil. You do not want to use olive oil for your popcorn as its smoke point is too low. Butter is also not a great choice but it is a fine topping option. Basically, cook your popcorn at a temperature at which you do not produce a bunch of smoke, because the abundance of smoke indicates that you are damaging the fat.
So, now that you are armed with one step towards more healthy snack eating, you can really serve up some fun, healthy snacks in the kitchen by trying our family's favorite popcorn recipes:
Do you have any favorite budget-friendly snacks in your home?
Any favorite popcorn flavors to share?