Most of us have enjoyed the buttery goodness of microwave popcorn by simply unfolding a bag and pressing the “popcorn” button. Unfortunately, that buttery goodness can be a chemicalized butter flavor with additives and ingredients that less healthy than popping corn the old-fashioned way. Microwave bags aren’t much better either. When bags of microwave popcorn are heated, they emit fine and ultrafine particles that may come with health risks, Yifang Zhu, associate professor of the environmental health sciences department in UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, told Time. Exposure to high levels of the chemicals found in the bags has been linked to lung disease among those who work in popcorn manufacturing, Time reported. (This is why you shouldn’t use your microwave’s “popcorn” button.)
We asked Sonali Ruder, MD, who is also a chef and blogger at thefoodiephysician.com how to make an amazing (and simple) bag of healthy microwave popcorn. Here’s the recipe she gave us.
Makes 1 serving
1/4 cup popcorn kernels*
1/4 teaspoon oil
Pinch of salt
Yellow and white popcorn are a bit different in appearance but not in nutrition profiles. Yellow kernels are larger and take longer to cook. They also have a tougher hull and chewier. White is smaller, lighter, and crispier than yellow. Choose a non-GMO variety like Bob’s Red Mill.
Toss the popcorn kernels in a small bowl with the oil and a pinch of salt. Pour the contents into a brown paper lunch bag. Fold the bag over a couple of times and then fold the corners in so that the bag doesn’t open during cooking.
Place the bag upright in the microwave and set the “cook” button for about 2 minutes. Turn off the microwave when the popping slows down to about two kernels between pops – otherwise, you risk scorching it.
Take the bag out of the microwave and open it carefully, watching out for hot steam. Pour the popcorn into a bowl and toss with seasonings of your choice. The heat will maximize the absorption of the seasoning’s flavor.
Personalize Your Popcorn
The beauty of this recipe is it’s so versatile. The basic recipe is tasty on its own but you can add any flavor combo that suits your taste buds. What’s also fun about this recipe is that it makes an individual portion so everyone can make their own bag, the way they like it! Set out melted butter, olive oil or toasted sesame oil, spices, cheeses and dried fruit and have everyone sprinkle on their own combos. Here’s some ideas:
- Italian seasoning and Parmesan cheese
- Rosemary and Parmesan
- Crumbled seaweed crisps
- Nutritional yeast (non-dairy, cheesy option) with cumin
- Wassabi, low-salt soy sauce and sesame oil
- Paprika, cumin and cayenne pepper
- Cinnamon sugar
- Melted peanut butter and mini-chocolate chips
- Cocoa powder and coconut flakes
- Dried fruit and mini-dark chocolate chips