How to Prepare Popcorn That's Healthy and Delicious

26 October, 2020
Popcorn is one of the most popular, light, and healthy snacks you can find. However, you need to prepare popcorn correctly in order to avoid large amounts of salt, fat, or sugar.

Do you only eat popcorn when you go out to the movies? Do you buy it ready-to-eat or are you one of those who uses the microwave to heat a bag and that’s it? Did you know that you can also prepare popcorn at home in an easy, fast, and cheap way? Best of all, you can control your portions and the amount of salt and fat you add to it.

In this article, we’ll give some tips to make this delicious snack at home. In the paragraphs below, you’ll find ideas to give your popcorn a different touch and analyze its nutritional value.

The nutrients and benefits of popcorn

This snack, which is so well-known and popular all over the world, consists of grains. It’s a special kind that explodes when exposed to heat. Therefore, it’s a whole food that has its own nutritional values and even some health benefits:

  • Popcorn consists mainly of carbohydrates, 9 grams of protein, and 5 grams of fat (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated).
  • It also provides B vitamins and minerals such as magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, and copper.
  • What’s more, it has antioxidant polyphenols that protect cells from free radical damage.
  • Popcorn has a good amount of fiber. Studies have shown that eating popcorn on a regular basis reduces the risk of suffering problems such as hypertension, coronary diseases, jaundice, diabetes, and obesity.
  • It can help reduce body weight when you use it to replace other more caloric snacks. In addition, it has a greater satiating (filling) capacity than French fries.

All these properties are due to the nutrients that the corn grain has. Therefore, it’s a great snack if you eat it in moderate amounts and in its basic form.

It’s best to reserve toppings and dressings such as chocolate, honey, or cheese for special occasions. For day-to-day snacks, you can give your popcorn a special touch with oregano, spices, or a little cocoa powder.

Popcorn and a movie.
You can prepare popcorn and enjoy a movie at home rather than going out to the movie theater.

Find out more: Try These Easy and Delicious Vegan Snacks

How to prepare popcorn at home

Three basic ingredients and three steps are all it takes to cook this appetizer. They’re not difficult to get and you can store them for a long time. That way, they’re always on hand if you experience any unexpected cravings.

Necessary ingredients

The first step is to get some corn grains that are suitable for making popcorn. This aspect is important, otherwise, they don’t pop.

You can find raw popcorn at any store that specializes in bulk foods. And, of course, you can also find packaged kernels in supermarkets and department stores.

The other two ingredients you will need are salt and a small amount of extra virgin olive oil. This is the most recommended type of oil, as it can withstand high temperatures and is a healthy option that you can find on the market.

Cooking utensils

In this case, the list is again short and concise. To prepare popcorn at home, you only need a large cooking pan or casserole with a lid. The grains require enough space to grow since they can multiply their volume. To serve the final product, you need a salad bowl or small bowls.

Read more: 6 Healthy Snacks You Can Bring to Work

Three steps for the recipe

The following is the basic way to prepare this snack at home. Once you’ve made it, you can personalize the recipe in many ways and obtain infinite varieties. By following the recipe below, you’ll end up with a large bowl of popcorn that consists of four servings. If you’re a real fan, then you may want to increase the quantities:

  1. Pour between 2 and 3 spoonfuls of oil into the pot you’ve chosen. This amount is necessary to create enough steam. Place on medium heat.
  2. Add half a cup of corn grains. Mix with the oil and stir from time to time until they begin to take on a toasted color. Cover and let them pop.
  3. The popcorn makes its characteristic noise after about two minutes. At this point, give the pan a shake to mix the kernels. Then, leave it a bit longer. However, if smoke comes out from under the lid, you’ll need to turn down the heat.
  4. When the popping sound becomes less frequent, remove from heat. Then, open the lid so that the popcorn doesn’t go soft.
  5. Pour immediately into a bowl or serving tray.
A bowl of caramel corn.
The preparation of this snack is simple, so there’s no excuse not to make it at home.

How to get a personalized snack

Plain popcorn with just a touch of salt is already a tasty and aromatic snack that’s hard to resist. However, many people like to explore new combinations and flavors. At the same time, others eat it so often that they want more variety. Either way, it’s easy to season this snack with different spices.

Although everyone has their favorite combinations, here are some ideas to give a special touch:

  • Cheese flavor: Just spray with a little oil (better with a spray bottle) and grate parmesan cheese on top. Brewer’s yeast or nutritional yeast flakes make a similar vegan option.
  • Chili powder or chile flakes if you want a spicy touch.
  • Mixed spices: Here, imagination and personal tastes come into play. You can choose from pepper, turmeric, curry, masala, etc.
  • Vinaigrette: Just prepare a simple vinaigrette or add some special touch, like mustard or honey. Pour it in a spray container and spray the popcorn once you’ve already served it.
  • For those with a sweet tooth: Just melt a few ounces of your favorite chocolate and mix it with the popcorn once it’s cooked. You can also get try sprinkling your popcorn with raw cocoa.

It’s easy to prepare popcorn at home

To prepare homemade popcorn, you just need to have special kernels to make it, salt, and oil. You can make it in any large saucepan with a lid because they need space to grow. In just a few minutes, your snack is ready and waiting.

It’s also a very popular snack that, when made at home, can be a healthy option to eat between meals. Even if you’re following a weight-loss diet, it’s possible to include popcorn. With the right ingredients and without going overboard with salt and oil, you can enjoy popcorn guilt-free!

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  • Coco MG Jr, Vinson JA. Analysis of Popcorn (Zea mays L. var. everta) for Antioxidant Capacity and Total Phenolic Content. Antioxidants (Basel). Enero 2019. 8(1):22.
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  • Nguyen V,  et al. Popcorn is more satiating than potato chips in normal-weight adults. Nutrition Journal. Setiembre 2012. 11:71.