Make healthy flavored popcorn! Tips and tricks on taking plain popcorn to little flavor explosions. ~ by Serena Ball, MS,RD
It’s Friday. That means there’s a good chance we’ll be snacking on popcorn at some point over the weekend. Or, it may even be Sunday night dinner.
Popcorn is a healthy whole grain food. And to keep it healthy – and tasting the ‘corniest’ we usually pop it in a pot over the stove – or in a brown paper bag in the microwave. Both methods use a bit of oil – which helps the salt stick better – instead of sliding off; so you can use less salt.
However the other day, I pulled out my air popcorn popper from college. My kids had never seen an air popper before. Imagine! This is a picture of their sheer wonder at how that “hand-dryer thing” shot out a “fountain of popcorn.”
So have you noticed all types of popcorn – especially packaged and flavored popcorn is everywhere? (Heard of Boom Chicka Pop?) This article was surprising to me; it says the typical ‘fresh’ food trend has been trumped by packaged already-popped corn because it’s even more convenient than packets of that are microwaved ‘fresh.’ Got that?
Bottomline, people are eating lots of types of popcorn. So we decided it was time to expand beyond our plain salted horizons at home and create a few fun flavored versions:
I’ve re-discovered this amazing Cabot Cheddar Shake (I used to buy it when we lived in New England since it’s made with premium Vermont Cheddar.)
We’ve also tried cocoa powder + a bit of powdered sugar + salt. Happy mouth.
And this recipe for Ranch Dressing Popcorn using fresh herbs is our new favorite. It was inspired by Rosemary Popcorn from Cooking Light Magazine.
Here are a few tips for when you try this – or any stove-popped popcorn:
- Quick test if oil is hot enough – After heating the oil in the stock pot for a few seconds, add 3 kernels of popcorn and cover. When the first kernel pops, lift lid and add popcorn.
- Use oven mitts to shake the pot – The popcorn will pop a bit faster and you will have less unpopped kernals if you shake the pot occasionally.
- Make your own ‘popcorn salt’ – Take regular Kosher or sea salt and grind in a mortar and pestle until it’s super fine. It will stick better to popcorn – and again you’ll end up using less.
And the most fun tip: Break out the air popper from time to time (or pick one up at garage sale) and watch the ‘fountain of popcorn’. It will amaze your kids – or perhaps anyone born after 1985.Print
Ranch Dressing Popcorn
Make healthy flavored popcorn! Tips and tricks on taking plain popcorn explode with flavor.
- Yield: 6-8 servings 1x
- 2 cloves garlic, sliced into just a few slices
- 2 tablespoons corn oil
- 1/2 cup popcorn kernels
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
- 1 teaspoon dried basil crumbled between fingers or 1/2 teaspoon fresh basil
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, ground in mortar & pestle
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1–2 tablespoons Cabot Cheddar Shake or finely grated creamy cheese such as firm Gouda
- In a small bowl, combine garlic and oil; let set for 5 minutes. Pour oil and garlic into a large stock pot or Dutch oven; heat up over medium heat.
- With a slotted spoon, remove garlic slices and add 3 popcorn kernels; cover and turn heat up to medium-high. When 1 kernel pops, add remaining popcorn kernels. Cover and cook 2 1/2 minutes; then begin to watch very closely. When there is 10 seconds between pops, remove from heat but keep covered until popping stops.
- Toss with rosemary, basil, salt, pepper and cheese. When pouring into a bowl, scrape out all the flavorings in the bottom of the pot!
What type of flavored popcorn are you making these days? Stovetop – or microwave – or air popped?