Did you know that the average American scarfs down more than 50 quarts of popcorn per year? I know I eat my fair share. In theory, this whole grain sibling in the maize family is a healthy whole grain snack, low in calories (just 31 per cup, air-popped) and high in dietary fiber. But, more often than not, the “healthy treat” is a real fat and sodium bomb. A study by the Center for Science in the Public Interest revealed that a large tub of popcorn (from Regal Cinemas), holds 20 cups of popcorn with 1,200 calories, 60 grams of saturated fat and 980 mg of sodium. This doesn’t even include the mystery yellow oily substance the concession stand pours on top after asking, “do you want butter with that”?
Store-bought microwave popcorn is even worse. For extended shelf life, the kernels are sitting in artery-clogging trans-fatty oils and use the chemical diacetyl for fake butter flavoring. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, there are nearly four dozen other chemicals in a package of microwave popcorn including the aforementioned nasty diacetyl. Diacetyl vaporizes at high temperatures and seeps out when you open the bag and breathe in the buttery aroma. Repeated exposure to the toxic steam can actually give you “popcorn lung.” This sounds silly, but it is a serious respiratory disease known as bronchiolitis obliterans.
The good news is that you can make your own popcorn completely free of anything using a brown paper lunch sack. It’s as easy as making toast or boiling water. In celebration of “Caramel Popcorn Day” on Sunday, April 7th, you can jazz up your plain popcorn with a healthier sweet coating. I hope you love my Crunchy Caramel Almond Popcorn with Coconut Oil & Honey recipe In fact, why don’t you pop in a movie tonight and make this salty-sweet snack can be the starring attraction!
Crunchy Caramel Almond Popcorn with Coconut Oil and Honey
- ¼ cup organic popcorn kernels
- 2 teaspoons coconut oil (I am fond of the Now Foods brand)
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 2 teaspoon Stevia (2 – 4 packets)
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1-ounce (about 24) roasted, salted almonds
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
Pour popcorn kernels into brown lunch-sized paper bag. Fold down top and place in center of microwave; cook on high for approximately 3 minutes or until kernels have slowed down to popping every three seconds. Set aside.
Stir in baking soda; this will cause mixture to foam up. Remove from heat and toss in almonds and popped corn. Stir until popcorn is coated with caramel mixture.
It’s fine to eat as is, but if you like it crunchier, place on parchment-paper lined rimmed baking sheet and bake at 250 F degrees for about 30 minutes. Sprinkle with sea salt.
Makes four 1-cup servings.