Healthy Popcorn Snack Ideas

healthy popcornCraving a crunchy and salty or sweet? Try these popcorn recipes for a quick whole grain snack.

Popcorn fits into the grain group on the food pyramid. Since the hull remains attached after cooking, it is considered a whole grain and contains quite a bit of fiber per serving. Each three cup serving has about 4 grams of fiber. There are also less than 100 calories per three cup serving. This low calorie level leaves room to add toppings and flavors without guilt.

For each of the following recipes, air pop popcorn kernels, or pop them in oil over the stove. For oil cooking, coat the bottom of the pan with canola oil and place one kernel in the bottom. Heat on medium until kernel pops. Add desired amount of popcorn kernels and put lid on. Keep on medium heat until popping slows down. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.

Parmesan Popcorn

For every three cups of popped popcorn, add one tablespoon of grated parmesan cheese. Be sure to mix it well in the bowl when the corn is still hot. This will prevent it from falling to the bottom of the bowl. Since cheese is so salty, it eliminates the need to add any salt to the finished product. It also gives it a cheesy tang that I love!

Cinnamon Sugar Popcorn

For every three cups of popped popcorn, sprinkle a mixture of 1/8 (or less) tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp brown sugar and 1tsp maple sugar (or cane sugar, or white table sugar.) Toss when hot to coat evenly. I find maple sugar works best with this recipe because the fine texture coats the popcorn easier than raw cane sugar or other larger granulated sugars.

High Fiber Nut Popcorn

Add 2 tbsp sunflower seeds, 2 tbsp slivered/sliced almonds, and 2 tbsp raisins to 3 cups popped popcorn. Toss to mix evenly. This recipe works well as a trail mix or late afternoon snack. The nuts and dried fruit add extra fiber to help keep you full longer. For added sweetness add mini dark chocolate chips or a mixture of cocoa powder and maple sugar. (Yum!)

Image credit to creative commons user Ayelie

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About the Author

Rachel is a Registered Dietitian and food and nutrition enthusiast from southeast Michigan. She has her Bachelor’s in Dietetics from Central Michigan University and completed her dietetic internship at Michigan State University. Rachel aspires to get a Master’s of Public Health in the near future. Her passions include cooking, baking, and even grocery shopping. She supports local food, slow food, and good food! Rachel’s spare time is devoted to attending local concerts and festivals, reading and playing tennis.

  • What a great idea! Thank you so much for the inspiration!

  • Me

    We spray tamari and then powdwer with nutritional yeast. Believe it or not, yummy.

    • Nutritional yeast and popcorn are a match made in delicious heaven! My friend Liz fed a batch to her omnivore coworkers, and they devoured it.

      • Nutritional yeast is the best popcorn topping of all time. Many movie theaters on the west coast often carry yeast shakers for their popcorn concession stands; is that common in other movie theaters elsewhere?

        • Rachel Fox, RD

          Oh my goodness, I can not wait to try this. Sounds interesting.

        • I haven’t seen it at theaters here in the Atlanta area. Maybe I should sneak in some nooch of my own next time I’m at the movies!

  • Parmesan cheese on popcorn? BRILLIANT! How did I never think of this, considering I love the cheesey smartfood popcorn!!!

  • This makes sense if made with organic popcorn. Otherwise, you’re feeding your family genetically modified foods. Almost all corn in the US–other than organic–is now GMO.