Stove Top Popcorn

I’m going to be honest with you: I love movie theater popcorn. The golden (or just bright yellow, let’s be real here) salty puffs that mean total self-control when you go to the food counter to get some noms. The smell that wafts from the concession stand as soon as you walk into the theater. Yup, that popcorn.

Flavacol, available at certain grocery stores. Mmmmm, salt… Image from http://amazon.com/

You can probably guess that this overpriced foot item isn’t healthy for you. Movie theaters use a synthetic flavoring that gives their popcorn the bright yellow color, addictive taste, and luxurious smell. This flavoring is Flavacol and is even available for consumers to purchase at some grocery stores. So what’s in Flavacol? Truth is, not much. According to Livestrong, this stuff has four ingredients: salt (no surprise there), artificial flavor (to be expected), and FD&C yellows #5 and #6. It may not sound like much, but one teaspoon of this stuff contains 2,780mg of sodium. Based on a 2000 calorie diet, that’s 116%. Just think of how many teaspoons of this stuff goes in to movie theater popcorn machines! Plus, FD&C yellows #5 and #6 have been linked to hyperactivity in children. Why feed children popcorn that makes them hyperactive at a movie theater as they sit for 80 minutes when they should be outside?

After a bit of snooping on the internet as to how movie theater popcorn is made, I learned that companies cook the kernels in coconut oil to make the popcorn smell and taste appealing. While I love movie theater popcorn, I’ve found a healthier alternative. This recipe is adapted from the one I found on the Real Food Enthusiast blog with a few minor alterations in the process.

Serving size: serves one hungry person in need of a snack

Unpopped popcorn kernels and coconut oil. Photo taken by yours truly.
Three ingredient popcorn? Yes, please!

Ingredients:

1/4 cup unpopped popcorn kernels (you can buy them at almost any grocery store alongside the bag popcorn)

1 tbs coconut oil

Salt to taste

Melt the coconut oil and stir in salt. Photo taken by yours truly.
Melt the coconut oil and stir in salt until dissolved. Photo taken by yours truly.
Test one kernel in the oil Remember not to fully put the lid on the pot! Photo taken by yours truly.
Test one kernel in the oil Remember not to fully put the lid on the pot!
Photo taken by yours truly.

Steps:

1. Heat the coconut oil over medium-high in a pot. I personally use a little over 1 teaspoon. As the olive oil melts, stir in salt until dissolved.

1.5 Enjoy the smell of coconut in your kitchen.

2. After about 2 minutes since the coconut oil has melted, drop one kernel and quickly cover the pot with a lid. Make sure air can still escape from the pot (such as a hole in the lid, or not putting the lid all the way over the top of the pot), otherwise your popcorn will not pop. If the kernel pops, go ahead and add the 1/4 cup of unpopped kernels. I stress this again, make sure air can escape out of the pot.

3. Quickly stir the kernels around in the oil to coat before putting the lid back on. You don’t want popcorn flying all over your kitchen, but you still want it to pop, so make sure air can escape out of the pot. (Yes, I reiterate that for a third time. Third time’s the charm, right?)

4. As per microwave bag instructions, remove the pot from the stove top once the pauses in between popping are about 3 seconds or more. Keep the lid on for another minute or so in case you have any late poppers.

5. Put in a bowl and enjoy!

This is how much 1/4 cup unpopped kernels yields. Time to do homework! Photo taken by yours truly.
This is how much 1/4 cup unpopped kernels yields. Time to do homework!
Photo taken by yours truly.

 

While this popcorn is light, it has an incredibly satisfying taste!

 

I realize that not everyone wants to eat popcorn made in oil or can’t get coconut oil. Some people may not want to buy microwave popcorn bags at the grocery store since they also contain large amounts of salt. Alternatively, you can purchase a microwave popper that uses no oil like this one:

Catamount Corn Popper. Image from amazon.com

I own one and it makes pretty decent popcorn. However, I find that many kernels remain unpopped at the bottom of the popper, no matter how many or how few I use. It’s a pretty cool device since you can put butter on the top and it will melt and drop down onto the popcorn as it pops. Even so, I have not had huge success with using butter as the butter isn’t as evenly distributed as I would like it to be. Compared to the method described above, this doesn’t use oil so it is healthier. Then again, that’s all relative depending on the amount of butter you decide to use.

(Let me just channel Julie and Julia and say that without butter, popcorn is nothing.)

Thanks for reading this post! I’m still in the process of writing my food article which was suggested by one of our readers. I’ve done my research but it just needs to be written. (It will be LONG!) Hopefully I’ll have it ready for the next blog rotation. Until then, enjoy the popcorn!

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