A few weeks ago, I was delighted to discover a study that provided perfect justification for eating copious amounts of one of my favorite snack foods—popcorn. According to Dr. Joe Vinson, popcorn is not only a good source of whole grain fiber but also an extremely concentrated source of polyphenols. Indeed, popcorn contains comparatively higher amounts of these antioxidant compounds than fruits and vegetables. While Dr. Vinson’s findings are encouraging, they’re not an excuse to skip your greens in favor of cartons of movie theater popcorn. Those fruits and vegetables contain a variety of vitamins and minerals not found in popcorn.
Nonetheless, the surprising antioxidant content of popcorn does indicate that it can be a nutritious snack option. The key is to prepare it without smothering these “nutritional gold nuggets” with hundreds of Calories’ worth of butter or oil. Seth and I happen to love making our own air-popped popcorn for our movie nights, so this study provided the perfect excuse to get creative with our favorite snack.
Spicy Cilantro Popcorn
- 1/4 cup popcorn kernels
- cooking spray*
- 2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 3 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
- salt, to taste
You’ll also need a paper bag for cooking the kernels.
1. Pour kernels into a brown paper bag, and fold the top closed. You can tape it closed if you like, but it’s not necessary.
2. Place in the microwave and use the “popcorn” button if available. If your microwave doesn’t have that feature, try cooking for about 1 minute on high, or until there are 2-3 seconds between pops.
3. Transfer popped kernels to a large bowl and spray generously with cooking spray. Sprinkle lime juice, salt, cayenne pepper, and cilantro over the top and toss to combine.
*If you happen to have one of those handy Misto sprayers for your oil of choice, by all means use that! I used an olive oil-based cooking spray.
Nutrition per entire recipe: 165 Calories, 2.1g fat, 0mg cholesterol, 291mg sodium, 33.4g carbohydrate, 6.8g fiber, 0.3g sugar, 5.5g protein