Of course it's movie theater staple, but popcorn doesn't have to be relegated to the cineplex. You can do a lot more than you think with those crunchy white kernels—which is why we always keep some on hand.
Popcorn is a great choice nutritionally, too. This simple snack is a surprisingly good source of polyphenols (beneficial plant compounds that act as antioxidants), as well as fiber. It’s also super low in calories per portion, with just 30 to 40 calories per cup. So mix it up! We've got three new ideas to keep your meals popping.
1. As crunchy popcorn croutons
Toss popped popcorn with olive oil (or toasted sesame oil, sunflower seed oil, coconut oil—whatever you prefer), herbs, a pinch of salt, and nutritional yeast or Parmesan cheese. Spread out on a cookie sheet and bake in a 300 degree oven until the popcorn is totally dry and lightly golden, about 8 minutes. Use on top of salads or soups or any other place you’d normal use a bread-based crouton!
If you like flavored popcorn, then you can simply add those straight-from-the-bag varieties to salads and soups.
2. Tossed with trail mix
Trail mix is delicious—but the calories can be outrageous. For a mega-sized portion without mega calories, mix 2 tablespoons of trail mix with 2 cups of popped corn and a pinch of cinnamon. You'll still get your trail mix fix without that way-too-full feeling.
3. Chocolate Covered Popcorn
If you're craving chocolate, pair it with a healthy dose of fiber. Drizzle some melted dark chocolate over popped corn and let it cool. Then nosh away—you'll eat much less than you would if you indulged in a candy bar.
Bonus tip: If you want to pop popcorn at home but don’t want to use the stove-top method, you can pop plain kernels in a brown paper lunch bag in the microwave. All it takes is 3 minutes!
Photo credit: Sarah Sosiak via Flickr