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October is poppin’ out with popcorn delights

Popcorn Board

Popcorn lovers rejoice: October is National Popcorn Poppin’ Month, a seasonal celebration of one of America’s oldest and most beloved snack foods. Whether stovetop, microwave or ready-to-eat, we consume 13 billion quarts each year of this wholesome, whole grain.

Having been long regarded as a sign of good times, popcorn has found a new appreciation by today’s lean and green consumer. Celebrated for its seed-to-snack simplicity, popcorn is also non-GMO, vegan, gluten-free, sugar-free and naturally low in fat and calories, which makes it an easy fit for the dietary conscious. And it’s budget-friendly. A quart of popped popcorn costs as little as 15 cents. 

Add in popcorn’s irresistible smell, taste and versatility and it’s easy to understand its popularity.  With so many different ways to eat it — plain, buttery or loaded with goodies — popcorn always fits the mood or occasion.

Popcorn nutrition facts 

Popcorn is a whole grain that is 100 percent unprocessed with no additional additives, hidden ingredients, or GMOs. Additionally, popcorn is relatively high in fiber and has a good glycemic index of 55. 

In fact, one serving of popcorn can provide about 70 percent of an individual’s recommended daily intake of whole grain. It contains no cholesterol, it is virtually fat-free (only .1 g per cup) and contains only 100 to 150 calories in a serving of five popped cups.

Popcorn also contains a number of essential vitamins including folate, niacin, riboflavin, thiamin, pantothenic acid and vitamins B6, A, E and K. A serving of popcorn contains about 8 percent of the daily value of iron, with lesser amounts of calcium, copper, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium and zinc. 

Popcorn is a good snack for diabetics as it does not impact blood sugar levels. [Additionally, the USDA Agricultural Research Service says “low GI diets have proven health benefits. They improve both glucose and lipid levels in people with type 1, as well as type 2, diabetes. Because they are slowly absorbed, they help in weight control because they help control appetite and delay hunger. Fiber is good for diabetics because research suggests that it helps to control blood sugar levels by slowing gastric emptying.” 

Cranberry-Orange Caramel Corn

Yield: 10 cups
10 cups popped popcorn

1 cup dried cranberries

1/2 cup whole almonds

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1/4 cup corn syrup

2 Tbsp. frozen orange juice concentrate, undiluted

1 tsp. orange or vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Place popcorn, cranberries and almonds in a large bowl; set aside.

In a medium saucepan heat butter, brown sugar, corn syrup and orange juice concentrate over medium heat until butter is melted. Bring to a boil and boil 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in extract and baking soda (mixture will foam).

Pour syrup mixture over popcorn mixture in bowl; stir to coat well. Spread evenly in a large, rimmed baking sheet or roasting pan, lined with foil and sprayed with nonstick spray. Bake 30 minutes, stirring twice during baking time. Stir caramel corn as it cools on baking sheet. Store in an airtight container.

Chili Lime Popcorn Snack Mix

1 quart popped popcorn

1 tsp. nutritional yeast (available in health food stores)

1 tsp. lime juice

1/2 tsp. chili powder

1/4 tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Spread popcorn on a baking sheet.

Sprinkle yeast powder, lime juice, chili powder and salt over popcorn.

Heat about 7 minutes and toss just before serving. Serve warm.

Cheese Pepperoni Popcorn

12 cups air-popped popcorn

3/4 cup turkey pepperoni, cut into bite-size bits

Olive-oil cooking spray

1/4 cup nonfat parmesan cheese

2 tsp. garlic powder

1/4 tsp. dried oregano

1/4 tsp. dried marjoram leaves

1/4 tsp. dried basil leaves

1/8 tsp. dried sage

Black pepper, to taste

Combine Parmesan cheese, garlic powder, oregano, marjoram, basil, sage,and pepper in a small bowl; mix well. Place cooked popcorn and turkey pepperoni in a large bowl; spray lightly with cooking spray. Sprinkle popcorn and pepperoni with cheese mixture and toss to coat evenly. 

Apple Popcorn Brittle

1 quart popped popcorn

2 cups apple and cinnamon flavored cereal

1 cup cocktail peanuts

3/4 cup apple juice

1 cup sugar

1/4 light corn syrup

1/2 teaspoon vinegar

1/4 teaspoon salt

In a bowl, toss together popped popcorn, cereal and peanuts. Set aside. Butter sides of a heavy 2 quart saucepan.

In saucepan, combine apple juice, sugar, corn syrup, vinegar and salt.

Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until sugar dissolves and mixture begins to boil.

Cook to hard ball stage (250 degrees Fahrenheit on a candy thermometer).

Remove from heat. Pour syrup over popcorn-cereal-peanut mixture; toss to coat.

Spread in a buttered 15 1/2 by 10 1/2 by 1-inch baking pan. Cool until hardened.

Break into pieces.

Crunchy Popcorn Trail Mix

5 cups popped popcorn

3 cups whole grain oat cereal

1/3 cup raisins

1/3 cup peanuts (or other nuts)

1/3 cup sunflower seeds

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter or margarine

6 Tbsp. brown sugar

2 Tbsp. light corn syrup

Stir together popcorn, cereal, raisins and nuts in large microwavable bowl; set aside.

Combine butter, brown sugar and corn syrup in small saucepan.

Heat until boiling; cook for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Pour over popcorn mixture, stirring to coat evenly.

Microwave 3-4 minutes, stirring and scrapping bowl after each minute.

Spread onto greased cookie sheet; cool.

Break into pieces and store in airtight container.

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