New Castle News

March 28, 2012

Lori Brothers: Love popcorn? Cut the butter

Lori Brothers
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — A few years back my Dad bought a Whirl-Pop popcorn maker for my household for Christmas.

It was the kind you use on the stovetop with a little handle you twirl to keep the popcorn from burning on the bottom of the pan. The only thing that would have been better would have been an air-pop popcorn maker, then there’s no fat from oil at all.

We eat a lot of popcorn in my household. We like the Whirl-Pop much better than microwaving. I just add a little sea salt, or garlic salt, and we start munching.

Do you know that if you are a popcorn eater, you are probably consuming more than twice as many whole grains as people who don’t eat popcorn. When it comes to whole grains, “popcorn” is actually recognized by the U.S. Department of Agriculture as its own category of whole grain.

In the Dairy Guidelines for Americans, outlined by the American Dietetic Association, popcorn is number four on the “most commonly consumed” grain list. The top three whole grains consumed by Americans are whole wheat, whole oats and whole-grain corn.

Three cups of popped popcorn (a serving size) is equivalent to a one-ounce serving of grain. USDA recommendations for adults is five to eight ounces of whole grains per day. That could add up to a lot of popcorn (Certain health issues may not allow for popcorn consumption, so know your own digestive system.)

I suggest you consider replacing processed snacks, such as potato chips, corn chips, pretzels with popcorn, unless you are choosing to eat a low-fat whole grain cracker, or whole wheat pretzels, popcorn is one of the smartest snacks you can choose.

Besides that, it is a high fiber snack, popcorn also has protective antioxidants and trace amounts of B vitamins, magnese, phosphorus, zinc, copper and iron. Watch what you put on your popcorn, however. According to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, “Eating only a medium-sized movie-theater popcorn is the equivalent of consuming three large burgers topped with 12 servings of butter.”

So, popcorn eaters beware and be wise. Cut the butter out. I found some creative, healthier ways to include popcorn to add some fiber to your diet. Even if you just choose to use the microwave varieties for simple healthy munching, make sure you pop the low-fat versions.

Recipe 1

Low-Fat Popcorn Cookies



One cup at a time, grind the popcorn in a blender at low speed until it’s fine.  The goal is 1 1/2 cups of finely ground popcorn.

In a medium bowl, beat 2 egg whites on high speed until soft peaks form.  Make a meringue by gradually adding 1/4 cup sugar; beat until egg whites are stiff.  Next, beat in cinnamon, salt and vanilla.  Gently fold in ground popcorn and 1/3 cup unsweetened shredded coconut.

Place rounded tablespoonfuls onto a baking pan sprayed with cooking spray (or use parchment paper.)  Bake at 325 degrees, 10 to 12 minutes or until lightly browned.

Recipe 2

Yummy Yogurt Corn



Put popped popcorn in a large bowl and keep warm.

In a 2 1/2 quart saucepan, combine yogurt and light pancake syrup.  Bring to 225 degrees on a candy thermometer and remove immediately from heat.

Add maple or caramel extract.  Pour over popped popcorn, stirring to coat.

Recipe 3

Low Fat Parmesan Popcorn


Have Parmesan cheese and salt mixed in a measuring cup and ready by the popper.  Have bowl ready for popcorn.

Put oil and popcorn into popper.  Fasten the lid securely and stir constantly over high heat. Popping should start in about 2 minutes.  Remove from heat when popping almost stops.

Quickly open lid and pour mixture over hot corn then close lid and continue stirring (no heat) until thoroughly mixed.  Pour into large bowl.  Makes 6 servings.

You can replace the parmesan with any of the following seasoning combos:

Tex-Mex Popcorn: 1 tablespoon each cumin and chili powder.  Pizza Popcorn: 2 teaspoons minced garlic, 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning, 1 teaspoon paprika, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper.  Hot Mustard Popcorn: 1 1/2 teaspoons dry mustard, 1/4 teaspoon cayenne, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, 1 teaspoon thyme.