Long gone are the days when popcorn was restricted to the cinema. Increasingly, people are enjoying this delicious snack in the comfort of their own homes. Making popcorn is both economical and simple.
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With January 19th being National Popcorn Day, we needed no better excuse to experiment with a few recipes of our own to rival the traditional butter, sweet and salt varieties.
In recent years popcorn has seen a shift from its simple sweet, salt and butter days, towards a more gourmet style, with flavours ranging from Mango and Coconut to Apple Pie.
According to The Grocer, sales of popcorn grew in the UK by a whopping 38% in 2015, with the average UK consumer munching their way through 5kg each year.
As we become more conscious of the toll unhealthy food choices are taking on our health, we are reaching out for foods that not only satisfy the taste buds, but also our health needs.
But How Healthy is Popcorn?
At its most basic level, popcorn is a whole grain that is naturally low in both calories and fat, whilst being full of fibre. According to US studies popcorn also contains high levels of antioxidants. Popcorn is free from gluten and is a GM free food.
A 30g serving of air popped popcorn will contain just 93 calories, 1 gram of fat and 3.5 grams of fibre, making it the ideal snack or treat.
But don’t reach for your popcorn just yet. It’s what manufacturers do during the next stage of the process that determines just how good (or not), popcorn is for you.
Some commercial popcorns are made in fattening oils and contain excessive amounts of salt or sugar, so check the label before diving in.
So, how can we get our popcorn fix, whilst still keeping our health in check?
Making Popcorn at Home
Homemade popcorn is quick and easy to make. Not only is it fun to watch the kernels exploding, you get to choose what goes on it.
What You Need
Popcorn Kernels – readily available in supermarkets
Oil – optional when making your own. Our favourites include coconut, canola, and peanut.
Flavouring – the skies the limit! Experiment with lots of tastes – try some herbs or spices, butter, chocolate or honey.
How to Make Popcorn
On the Stove – Heat a little oil in a large heavy based saucepan. Fill the saucepan no more than 1/3 full with popcorn kernels. Cover the saucepan with a tight fitting lid and continue to heat. Gradually the kernels will begin to explode, the popping growing in intensity as they get hotter. Once the frequency of the popping slows down, remove the saucepan from the heat and slowly lift the lid off.
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In a Microwave – In a microwave safe bowl add popcorn kernels. Place a microwave safe lid on top (make sure you use one with vented holes). Set off on full power for 3 to 4 minutes, or until popping has slowed down to 1 – 2 seconds between pops.
In a Popcorn Maker – usually you only need to put the popcorn kernels in the machine and press an on button.
Chocolate & Cinnamon Popcorn Recipe
60g dark chocolate
1tbsp coconut oil (optional)
100g Popcorn kernels
1-2 tsp ground cinnamon
1. Place popcorn kernels in microwaveable bowl with vented lid or in your popcorn machine. If using a microwave put on full power for 3 to 4 minutes, or until popping has slowed down to 1 – 2 seconds between pops.
2. Melt the chocolate either in a bowl placed over a saucepan of boiling water, or slowly in a microwave, stopping every 10 seconds to stir and to avoid over heating.
3. Lay the popcorn on a lined baking tray. Slowly drizzle the melted chocolate over the popcorn. I like to mix a little coconut oil into the melted chocolate as it makes it easier to pour (plus I love coconut oil!)
4. Sprinkle the ground cinnamon over the popcorn.
5. Leave the chocolate to set before serving.