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Kaylor: Popcorn can be a healthy, economical snack

By Staff | Dec 5, 2014

Popcorn can be a healthy snack, if made with little or no added salt and butter. It’s also good for you because it counts as a whole grain. USDA’s Choose MyPlate recommends getting at least half of your grains from whole grains. Three cups of popped popcorn equal one serving from the grains group. Check out the following tips to make popcorn fun and healthy.

Popcorn Popping

Tricks & Tips:

Popcorn and nutrition – Popcorn is whole grain, contains fiber, and is naturally low in fat and calories. Air-popped popcorn has only 31 calories per cup; oil-popped popcorn has only 55 calories per cup. When lightly buttered, popcorn contains about 133 calories per cup. Popcorn can be a great snack option between meals because it satisfies and doesn’t spoil your appetite. Be sure to check the Nutrition Facts Label when buying pre-packaged popcorn. Do a comparison between different brands and types and pick one with lower fat, sodium, and calories.

Popcorn at meals and as snacks – Put popped popcorn on top of soups or salads, season plain popcorn with garlic powder, or season the popping oil with spices to create a lightly-flavored savory treat. Try combining popcorn with dried fruit and nuts to create your own custom snack mix. Create easy to prepare and tasty popcorn dessert bars; tint liquid mixture for different holidays.

Popcorn popping tips – Not only is popcorn tasty and economical, it’s also easy to prepare, whether you choose to pop popcorn in an electric popper or on the stove.

First, warm the popper, heavy pan or skillet. If oil popping your corn, add 1/4 cup of cooking oil to the pan. Allow the oil to heat. The best popping temperature is between 400 and 460 degrees Fahrenheit. Oil burns at 500 degrees. If your oil starts to smoke, it’s too hot. Any cooking oil will work provided it can retain the proper


Don’t pop popcorn in butter because it will burn.

Test the heat of the oil by dropping in one or two kernels. When the kernel pops or spins in the oil, you’re ready to add the remaining popcorn. Pour just enough kernels to cover the bottom of the pan. Shake the pan to be certain oil coats each kernel.

Kernels that don’t pop do not have sufficient water contained within the starch to

create the build-up of pressure needed to pop the kernels.

Eating popcorn is a great way to increase your intake of whole grains and your daily fiber intake. Be careful when adding toppings like butter and salt because it can turn into an unhealthy snack. Try to make popcorn with little or no added salt or butter.

By: Lisa Franzen-Castle, RD, PhD, Nutrition Specialist UNL Panhandle Research & Ext. Center


3 tablespoons coconut oil

cup popcorn kernels

2 tablespoons honey, or more to taste

Salt to taste

1 pinch ground cinnamon, or more to taste

Heat coconut oil in a large pot over high heat. Drop 3 popcorn kernels into the hot oil and place a lid on the pot; cook until 1 kernel has popped. Remove the lid and pour in the remaining popcorn. Return the lid to the pot and cook popcorn, shaking pot back and forth over burner, until there are 1 to 2 seconds between pops, about 5 minutes.

Quickly transfer popcorn to a large bowl; evenly drizzle honey over popcorn. Add salt and cinnamon; toss popcorn with your hands to coat evenly.

Source: Allrecipes.com

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