Who doesn’t love popcorn? It’s crunchy, light, airy, and oh-so-satisfying — especially on movie night. Plus, it can actually be quite healthy when it’s not dripping in butter and oil. And in terms of actual nutrition, popcorn is full of fibre, low in calories and surprisingly satiating, so you won’t be tempted to rip open a bag of chips afterwards.
The good news is that whipping up a healthy alternative to the movie theatre calorie bomb doesn’t have to be time-consuming. We’ve found five quick and easy recipes that are so tasty you won’t even miss all the grease. As a bonus, your friends will undoubtedly be impressed by your creativity when you serve up flavours like lemon, pizza and curry.
1. Lemon Drop Popcorn:
Well + Good NYC is definitely onto something with its refreshing Lemon Drop Popcorn. The zesty lemon flavour elevates the air-popped kernels from blah to wow. Plus, it doesn’t get much easier than this: simply toss air-popped popcorn with lemon-infused olive oil and sea salt, and voila – you’ve got yourself a tasty Lemon Drop treat. Not sure how to make lemon-infused olive oil? Check out this great recipe from Seattle Pi.
2. Pizza Popcorn:
Pizza isn’t exactly known for being low-cal. So why not satisfy your 'za cravings with this great Pizza Popcorn recipe from Fitness & Freebies? You’ll need 1/3 cup butter, 1/3 cup popping corn, 1 tablespoon pizza seasoning mix and ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese. For the best results, pop the kernels with the butter using the stovetop method, and then sprinkle with the seasoning and cheese. Goodbye, pizza cravings!
3. Peanut Butter Healthy Microwave Popcorn:
Satisfy your sweet tooth without expanding your waistline with this easy Peanut Butter Healthy Microwave Popcorn recipe from The Yummy Life. You’ll need 1 tablespoon coconut oil, ½ teaspoon salt, 2 tablespoons of PB2 powdered peanut butter, divided, 1/3 cup popping corn and 1 tablespoon powdered sugar. Mix the coconut oil, salt and 1 tablespoon of PB2 in a 2.5-3 quart microwave-proof bowl. Microwave until the oil is melted. Add popping corn and stir. Cover the bowl with a vented lid and microwave on high for 3-5 minutes. Remove from microwave and add the remaining PB2 and powdered sugar while the popcorn is still hot, then enjoy!
4. Curry Spiced Popcorn: Introduce the kids to international tastes by serving this mouth-watering Curry Spiced Popcorn recipe from The Picky Eater blog at their next birthday party. You’ll need 12 cups of air-popped popcorn tossed in 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, 1-2 tablespoons of additional extra virgin olive oil, 1-2 cloves of garlic, cut into slivers, 1 tablespoon curry powder, 1 teaspoon ground cumin and ½ teaspoon salt. Heat the olive oil and garlic until the garlic is golden, then remove the garlic from the oil and discard. Add the curry, cumin and salt to the oil, then toss the oil mixture evenly over the popped corn and serve immediately.
5. Lemon-Parm Popcorn: This irresistible Lemon-Parm Popcorn recipe from Kitchen Daily delivers the perfect mix of tangy and savoury. Plus, it only takes 5 minutes to whip up. You’ll need 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil, ½ teaspoon lemon pepper, a pinch of salt, 3 cups air-popped popcorn and 1 tablespoon freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Whisk the oil, lemon pepper and salt in a small bowl, then toss it evenly over the air-popped popcorn. Sprinkle it with the Parmesan and serve right away. (As if you could resist.)
Related on HuffPost:
<strong>THE GOOD NEWS:</strong> Edamame is full of <a href="http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=56288">protein and fibre.</a> <strong>SNACK TIP:</strong> Buy frozen edamame beans and keep them in your office freezer, says registered dietician <a href="http://www.eatingforenergy.com/">Diana Steele of Eating For Energy in Vancouver, B.C.</a> Pop them in the microwave and add cherry tomatoes for a quick and wholesome snack.
Cucumbers And Low-Fat Cheese
<strong>THE GOOD NEWS:</strong> Cucumber is packed with vitamin K (needed for strong bones) and low-fat cheese is full of calcium. <strong>SNACK TIP:</strong> Steele recommends making mini cucumber sandwiches by taking low-fat cheese and turkey and wedging them in between two slices of cucumbers — the kids will also love this one.
<strong>THE GOOD NEWS:</strong> Low calories and tons of fresh fruit. <strong>SNACK TIP:</strong> Start a smoothie club at work. Steele recommends having one person make smoothies at the office for everyone in the club once a week. Keep this role rotating and try flavours like mixed berries and tropical fruit.
Apple And Peanut Butter
<strong>THE GOOD NEWS:</strong> Apples can <a href="http://www.besthealthmag.ca/eat-well/nutrition/15-health-benefits-of-eating-apples">boost your immune system</a> and natural peanut butter is full of protein. <strong>SNACK TIP:</strong> Dip sliced apple pieces in plain Cheerios for a crunchy snack.
<strong>THE GOOD NEWS:</strong> Eaten in portions, homemade trail mix can be <a href="http://www.myfitnesstrainer.com/free_fitness_library/p112/trail_mix_healthy.php">packed with fibre,</a> according to MyFitnessTrainer.com. <strong>SNACK TIP:</strong> For kids, Steele recommends making a homemade trail mix with seeds and dried fruits (avoid nuts because of allergies) and for yourself, add in popcorn or even whole wheat pretzels.
<strong>THE GOOD NEWS:</strong> When made at home, muffins are low in fat and packed with healthy oats and dried fruits or vegetables. <strong>SNACK TIP:</strong> No, we're not talking about the store-bought kind or the sugary ones you pick up from a bakery. If you still want to snack on muffins, Steele suggests making a batch of zucchini pumpkin muffins. <a href="http://recipes.sparkpeople.com/recipe-detail.asp?recipe=1324023">Check out a recipe here</a>.
<strong>THE GOOD NEWS:</strong> If you are buying tortillas from the store, avoid ones with excessive salt, sugar and corn, according LiveStrong.com. For the most part, homemade tortillas are not as bad as the store-bought kind. <strong>SNACK TIP:</strong> Take a whole wheat tortilla and spread almond butter on top. For an extra nutritional boost, wrap it around an banana. This is the perfect afternoon snack, Steele says.
<strong>THE GOOD NEWS:</strong> Greek yogurt is a great source of <a href="http://www.sheknows.com/health-and-wellness/articles/961123/health-benefits-of-greek-yogurt"> calcium, protein and probiotics</a> (which is good for your digestive system), according to SheKnows.com. <strong>SNACK TIP:</strong> Mix berries or granola with a cup of sugar-free Greek yogurt, Steele says.
<strong>THE GOOD NEWS:</strong> Apples in general have been known to <a href="http://www.fitday.com/fitness-articles/nutrition/healthy-eating/is-applesauce-healthy.html#b">prevent types of cancer and sugar-free apple sauce is a great fibre booster</a> in the morning, according to FitDay.com. <strong>SNACK TIP:</strong> Sprinkle crushed graham crackers over sugar-free apple sauce.
<strong>THE GOOD NEWS:</strong> Forget butter and salt, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/01/30/healthy-popcorn-recipes_n_1242564.html">making popcorn in an old-fashioned pot over the stove with seasoning and a touch of oil can actually be a healthy snack</a>. <strong>SNACK TIP:</strong> For a good evening snack, mix over-the-stove popcorn with flax seed oil and a bit of your favourite seasoning.