Ask a Nutritionist: 3 New Ways to Use Popcorn

June 3, 2015
by Stephanie Clarke RD and Willow Jarosh RD, C&J Nutrition for Thrive Market
Ask a Nutritionist: 3 New Ways to Use Popcorn

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

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4 thoughts on “Ask a Nutritionist: 3 New Ways to Use Popcorn”

  • sally jo

    I'm surprized you would reccomend using a micro-wave; anyone serious about their health should throw their's out. Also make a vegan "parmesan" cheese for no dairy.

    • thrivemarket

      Thanks for sharing your perspective, Sally! If you don't use a microwave, popping popcorn on the stove is a great option. Just heat some oil in a pot over medium-high heat, add popcorn kernels, and cover. When you hear the popping sound slow down to a near stop, remove the pot from the burner and dump your freshly popped corn into a bowl.

      • sally jo

        You miss my point....I know how to make popcorn....I use a BPA free air popper. You as a "nutritionist" should not be recommending unhealthy advice to those who may yet not know the dangers of using microwaves....all I am suggesting is for you to do your homework if you are going to contribute to this site that advocates good health....thanks for your reply.

  • merrymj

    We love our Tiny But Mighty popcorn in a bowl of tomato soup. My mother added popcorn to the soup way back when she read that Jackie Kennedy served it that way at the White House, Been doing it ever since.

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