2017-07-26 / Entertainment

Add ‘pop’ to plain popcorn

By ANGELA SHELF MEDEARIS

On a recent movie date night with my husband, I spent a small fortune on a bag of popcorn at the snack bar. I must admit, although it hurt my wallet, I was able to take comfort in the fact that plain popcorn is actually a good snack choice — especially for diabetics, as it does not impact blood-sugar levels.

In fact, one serving of popcorn (about 3 cups) can provide about 70 percent of our recommended daily intake of whole grain and energy-producing complex carbohydrates.

Popcorn contains no cholesterol, is virtually fat-free (only 0.1 g per cup) and contains only 100 to 150 calories in a serving of five popped cups. Popcorn also contains a number of essential vitamins, including iron, folate, niacin, riboflavin, thiamin, pantothenic acid and vitamins B6, A, E and K, with lesser amounts of calcium, copper, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium and zinc. It also contains fiber, providing roughage the body needs in the daily diet.

Air-popped popcorn has only 30 calories per cup; oil-popped popcorn has only 35 calories per cup. When lightly buttered, popcorn contains about 80 calories per cup.

Here are some facts about popcorn you should know:

1) There has never been, nor is there currently, any genetically modified organism (GMO) popcorn or popcorn seed for sale in the U.S. or international markets.

2) Microwave popcorn does not contain perflourooctanoic acid. PFOA is sometimes used in grease-resistant coatings for paper, such as fast-food wrappers, candy wrappers and pizza box liners. The grease-resistant coating in the majority of microwave popping bags is not produced with PFOA. As always, read the label.

3) You should NEVER use a paper bag to make microwave popcorn. Plain and recycled papers often are made from unknown materials that could catch fire or interfere with microwave cooking technology. Use pre-packaged microwave popcorn or microwave-safe popcorn poppers, or the traditional stovetop method, or an electric popcorn popper.

Here are my suggestions to put some flavorful POP into your plain popcorn!

VEGGIE POPCORN: Pulse 2 cups each mixed veggie chips and dehydrated snap peas in a food processor until powdery; toss with 8 cups hot popcorn and 2 cups each veggie chips and dehydrated snap peas.

CHEESY POPCORN: Toss 16 cups hot popcorn with 2 cups shredded cheddar, 1 cup grated parmesan and 1/2 cup grated pecorino; spread on baking sheets. Bake at 350 F until the cheddar melts, about 3 minutes.

PEPPERONI PIZZA POPCORN: Cook 1 cup chopped pepperoni in 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in a large pot until crisp; drain on paper towels, reserving the drippings. Pop 3/4 cup popcorn kernels in the drippings; toss with the pepperoni, 1 cup shredded mozzarella, 1/2 cup grated parmesan, 2 tablespoons olive oil and 1 teaspoon each granulated garlic and dried oregano.

SPICY PORK- RIND POPCORN: Heat 1/4 cup vegetable oil with 1 1/2 tablespoons chili powder, 2 teaspoons grated lime zest and 1/2 teaspoon cayenne in a skillet over medium heat, 2 minutes; drizzle over 16 cups hot popcorn. Toss with 2 cups pork rinds and 1 tablespoon lime juice.

SZECHAUAN CHILE POPCORN: Heat 1 cup each peanuts and dried arbol chiles, 1/2 cup each peanut oil, sesame seeds and Szechuan peppercorns, and 4 teaspoons each sugar and kosher salt in a large skillet over medium heat until the nuts and chiles are toasted, 4 minutes; pour over 16 cups hot popcorn. Toss with 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil.

SRIRACHA LIME POPCORN: Whisk 5 tablespoons melted butter with 1/4 cup Sriracha, 1 1/2 teaspoons grated lime zest and 1 tablespoon lime juice; drizzle over 16 cups hot popcorn and toss.

SALT AND VINEGAR POPCORN: Combine 1/4 cup malt vinegar and 2 teaspoons kosher salt in a small spray bottle; shake to dissolve the salt. Spray over 16 cups hot popcorn.

PEANUT BUTTER POPCORN: Heat 1 cup honey or agave syrup and 3/4 cup sugar substitute over medium heat, stirring, until dissolved and well-combined, about 5 minutes. Stir in 1 cup peanut butter and 1 teaspoon each vanilla extract and kosher salt until smooth; pour over 16 cups hot popcorn and add 2 cups peanuts, if desired, and toss. Spread on baking sheets and let cool.

PEANUT BUTTER-BANANA POPCORN: Make Peanut Butter Popcorn recipe above, add 1 cup dried banana chips and 1/2 cup chocolate chips with the peanuts. Angela Shelf Medearis is an award-winning children’s author and the author of seven cookbooks. Her new cookbook is “The Kitchen Diva’s Diabetic Cookbook.”

©2017 King Features Synd. and Angela Shelf Medearis

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