Popcorn isn’t just meant for the movies anymore. A stop in the chips aisle at the grocery store reveals a plethora of options for at-home popcorn enjoyment that fall into three main categories: bagged popcorn that’s ready to eat, microwave popcorn, and corn kernels.
Corn kernels score noticeably higher on GoodGuide, because they have yet to be popped (in oil) or flavored with salt or butter. Turning corn kernels into popcorn is a form of processing, but one that is necessary as our bodies are unable to efficiently digest raw corn kernels. We have the choice of outsourcing this processing step to a factory or keeping it within our own kitchens. In the case of popcorn, there are a whole host of reasons to pop your own. Here are a few:
1. You know what goes in. When making popcorn from scratch, you dictate what goes in the pot. Everything from the type of oil to how much salt to add is up to you. Don’t fret over all this culinary freedom though – it’s pretty difficult to put in as much salt, butter or oil as mass producers do. Even though popcorn is touted as one of the healthier choices in the salty snack category, it’s definitely possible to make some unwise choices among these products. Plus, if your intention is to avoid unnecessary food additives, microwave popcorn bags aren’t a good choice.
2. You create your own flavors. We’ve all received the holiday sampler tins with cheddar cheese and caramel covered popcorn. By making your own, you can experiment with any spice combinations you want. (Two of my favorites are cinnamon-sugar popcorn and cumin-chili powder popcorn).
3. You impress your kids – and teach them something. Kids get a kick out of watching a small kernel transform into a fluffy, white pillow of tastiness. Plus, it’s easy to get them involved with either the actual popping (really young kids should be careful around the hot oil) or shaking up some spiced popcorn.
Today, in honor of National Popcorn Day, we encourage you to spend a little time (less than ten minutes), popping your own popcorn. If you have any spice combination ideas, share them for inspiration in the comments section!