I’ve been the bearer of bad news lately. First it was skim milk, then salad dressing and last week I was urging you to “just say no” to nonstick cookware. It’s generally more fun to add than subtract and I’m happy to be here today to tell you to eat more of something. That “something” is popcorn and it happens to be a family favorite of ours.
A couple of weeks ago I experienced a popcorn convergence of sorts. We were in San Francisco at the divine Ferry Building/Market. My boys and I made our way through the various vendors. We hit Happy Girl Kitchen Co. where my son selected cinnamon, plum jam and I snagged a small jar of Meyer lemon and ginger marmalade. My salty son settled on porcini salt and we purchased gifts for both Granny and nanny. As I was picking up some fruit and nuts for the plane ride home, I came across a bag with what looked like red rice in it. It wasn’t red rice though, it was Rancho Gordo’s “Premium Crimson Popping Corn” and I couldn’t wait to try it. The only problem was that I was heading back to a hotel so the Rancho Gordo I purchased would have to wait.
The next day we headed home. I sat down at the American Airlines terminal with a green juice (gotta love the SF airport) and a stack of magazines. As I leafed through the September issue of O, I saw an article featuring Cat Cora of Iron Chef fame and creator of the best lamb chop recipe ever. Cat talked about her boys getting home from school famished and her love for popcorn. I ripped out her recipe for “Pizza Popcorn” and felt between the crimson corn and this article; the universe was trying to tell me something. The universe was saying, “eat more popcorn” and you have to listen when the universe talks.
Why eat popcorn?
Popcorn is a gluten free, whole grain. As much as I love quinoa (technically a seed) and brown rice if I can choose those grains or popcorn there’s really no contest. Popcorn is a fantastic fiber source. Surprisingly, popcorn is also a good source of antioxidants particularly polyphenols. Polyphenols may sound familiar as they’re found in high levels in green tea and red wine. And popcorn is a high volume food; you get to have a nice serving. Three cups of plain, air-popped popcorn have under 100 calories leaving a little room for toppings.
When you’re buying popcorn, and I’m not naming names, you don’t want to go for the boxes with bags of microwave popcorn inside,. There are many problems with these products. First, some contain bad fats, second one of the chemicals used for buttery flavor has been linked to lung disease in popcorn factory workers (Google “popcorn lung” and then purge any boxes you own) and finally the same chemical in nonstick cookware or PFOA is also in the lining of the microwave bags. The bottom line? PYOP or pop your own popcorn.
We use this handy glass popper we got as a gift from the NY Rangers. I find it infinitely more useful than a Stanley Cup though my offspring may disagree. It’s very similar to this from Crate and Barrel. The O article also mentioned placing ¼ cup popcorn and ½ tsp. oil in a brown lunch bag. Fold over the top and microwave for 2 minutes or until popping stops. My friend Julie Negrin changed my life when she posted about popping in a pot on the stovetop (same proportions as above) cover for 3-4 over med-high heat. And finally there’s the whirly pop that my friend D. swears by.
Popcorn toppings are endless. Nutritional yeast, truffle salt, fresh herbs such as rosemary and cayenne pepper are some of my favorite or try the Pizza Popcorn. It turns out there was a popcorn secret I didn’t know. That crimson corn? When you pop it, it turns white. It’s really the best popcorn I’ve ever had.
What are your popcorn secrets/how do you pop it? What are your favorite after school or after work snacks?