I recently hosted my first workshop on “healthy eating made simple” sharing my learnings so far from the nutrition course I’m taking. At first I was stumped on what to focus on, but finally decided on the topic of simplifying healthy eating. I personally found it to be confusing and overwhelming to keep up with what exactly was the best diet for me and my family’s health!
Going back to the basics by adding more vegetables into every meal and reducing processed foods can add so much of the nutrients missing from our current American diet. One of the ways I’ve been heeding my own advice is in the snacking arena. With two small kids, snacking can be an all day obsession – whether to keep boredom at bay, to distract from a tantrum, to bribe for good behavior, to simply satiate to stave off hanger. So much power in these in between bites!
There are a lot of default kid snacks – much of which are made with refined flours and loaded with sugars. They’re easy and convenient and the kids love them – but there’s absolutely no nutritional value to them and these simple carbs turn into sugar after we digest them. Plus I tend to overeat these snacks when I’m hungry and then end up feeling really sluggish and generally crappy afterwards. wonk wonk.
To avoid them I’ve recently tried an experiment and eliminated things like crackers, pretzels, chips, cereal, etc. (which are all of my weaknesses too!) from my shopping cart altogether and instead (still working on) filling the cupboard with healthier alternatives, one of which are organic popcorn kernels.
They’re cheap, and so easy to pop at home for homemade popcorn to top with whatever spice you choose. Popcorn is also a whole grain and low in calories and most importantly for me, satisfies the crunch and salty umami cravings with the flavor toppings I choose.
I’ve been making popcorn in a large pot and sprinkling seasonings like old-bay, seasoned salt, furikake, nutritional yeast, and topping off with spirulina for its powers as a protein-filled, antioxidant-boosting superfood – because why not make your popcorn a vehicle for some nutritious goodness too??
Here’s an official recipe for a popcorn seasoning that I’ve free-handed for a while until I googled for some real measurements.
adapted from Goop.com
Makes about 3 cups
- ¼ cup non-GMO popping corn
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon spirulina
- 3 tablespoon nutritional yeast
- ½ teaspoon flaky sea salt
- ⅛ teaspoon cayenne
- Heat 1 tablespoon of the coconut oil in a large metal pasta pot (or similar) over medium-high heat.
- Add two corn kernels, cover with the lid leaving it slightly ajar, and cook until the kernels pop.
- Add the ¼ cup of corn and cook with the lid slightly ajar, shaking the pot every 30 seconds or so, until almost all of the corn has popped (you’ll know because there will suddenly be much longer breaks between popping sounds). Cover with the lid and turn off the heat while you prepare the seasoning.
- Combine the remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil, garlic powder, onion powder, spirulina, nutritional yeast, sea salt, and cayenne in a large bowl and mix together with a rubber spatula.
- Add the popped corn and toss with the spatula (or your hands) to evenly distribute the seasoning.
One of my favorite things to do at a local movie theater we used to live near is to concoct my own mix of flavorings with the popcorn spices the theater provided. I would spend ten minutes sprinkling and shaking while my husband would save me a seat for the movie. If you’re wondering where this was – it’s the Sunshine theater in downtown NY – not sure if they still do this though – plus I would now bring my own nutritional yeast 🙂 !