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.
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