Popcorn is one of our favorite snacks, and who can resist the buttery aroma of freshly popped corn at the movie theatre? Popcorn is a healthy treat. It’s good for the elimination what with all the fiber, and isn’t sweet so won’t damage your teeth. But I’m not so sure about microwave popcorn.
I’m not so sure about microwave anything. I don’t own one, and do quite fine without it. But microwave popcorn in particular has gotten some negative publicity lately.
The inside of microwave popcorn bags is coated with a chemical that prevents the bag from disintegrating into a soggy mess while doing said popping. I don’t like the sound of that. When these chemicals are heated, a compound called perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) is produced. According to the EPA, PFOE is a carcinogen.
See the letters “fluor” in that name? Yep, it has fluoride in it – and in a few weeks you’ll learn on this show (although you probably know already!) why we don’t want to eat fluoride. PFOA also happens to be an ingredient in Teflon pans, something else I bet you’ve retired the use of.
I even heard tell of some popcorn factory workers becoming ill with respiratory diseases when exposed to the “buttery flavor” ingredient (which sounds pretty mysterious to me). The chemical used for artificial butter flavor is Diacetyl, and word has it that 54 of these workers settled out of court. I’m sure they got a nice chunk of change, but what about the rest of us?
You would rather use real organic butter than some mystery “buttery flavor” mishmash, wouldn’t you? I’m sure you make it a point to stay away from artificial flavors too. The FDA says that only a minimal amount of PFOA makes it into the popped corn, but we know about the FDA don’t we? Most brands of microwave popcorn contain trans fats, something we should all avoid like the plague. Interestingly, even some products labeled “trans fat free” are lying – they can have small amounts of trans fats (under 0.5 gram per serving) and claim “zero” on the nutrition facts.
Way to tell the truth, huh?
A few companies have come out with “natural” microwave popcorn, like Newman’s Own, which uses palm oil instead of fake fats. Their website also claims their corn has no added Diacetyl, but still. Another issue with microwave popcorn has nothing to do with your health, but with the waste created by the packaging.
Microwave popcorn is a metaphor for what’s wrong with the world: We want convenient, disposable, ultra fast products at the expense of our own health.
I have never owned a microwave oven, so I’ve always enjoyed popcorn the old fashioned way. Making it is half the fun!
Make Real Old Fashioned Popcorn without a Microwave
If you want just the popcorn, oil, salt and butter, you’re going to have to pop the kernels yourself in a pan. You could use an air popper, but I find that cooking it on the stovetop makes it taste even better. The air popped corn will sometimes be too tough and chewy. I think it’s because they don’t get hot enough.
It’s actually quite simple to make popcorn from scratch, but there are a few tricks to it that can make a huge difference in the quality of your snack. My ten year old makes our popcorn most of the time, and if he can do it, so can you.
First, you need organic popping corn, a hot pan and hot oil.
Corn is one of those things you should always eat organic, because much of the corn sold in this country is genetically modified. You can get in in bulk cheap at the health food store, or online.
* Pick a heavy bottomed pan, and use coconut oil. Coconut is the oil movie theaters used years ago that gave popcorn its characteristic yummy “movie theater” taste and smell. Movie theaters moved away from using coconut oil around the time it was being vilified (without cause, thanks to the food monopolies doing their thing) as a fattening, artery-clogging oil and vegetable oil was being promoted as the healthy alternative (actually, the opposite is true!).
* Put 3 Tablespoons coconut oil in your pan, put it on the stove on medium heat. Place 3 individual popcorn kernels in the pan.
* When the oil and pan are hot enough, one of the kernels will pop. Immediately add 1/2 to 3/4 cups of popcorn kernels to the pan, put the lid on the pan and start moving your pan around. When the popping slows down, turn off the stove and continue moving the pan. When the popping slows way down or stops altogether, your popcorn is ready. This is where the “art” of popcorn making comes in. It might take a few tries to get it just right.
* Pour the popped corn into a paper grocery bag if you have one. If not, a large bowl is fine, or several bowls if your popcorn eaters are greedy (mine are!).
* Put the pan back on the stove and add plenty of butter to the pan. There should be enough leftover heat to melt the butter.
* Pour the melted butter over the popcorn in the bag or bowl, add sea salt to taste, and vigorously shake the bag up and down to mix it up, or gently toss the popcorn in the bowl.
Enjoy your healthy, microwave less popcorn.
It promise you it will taste far better than anything you could prepare in the microwave and you will know (and be able to pronounce) everything that is in it.