Kick off the new year with a healthy snack! January is National Popcorn Month. It is inexpensive, it is healthy and most people LOVE popcorn! Keep in mind that although popcorn is a very healthy snack; the items that you add to the popcorn may not be healthy.
This healthy snack is extremely versatile. You can make snack bars, trail mixes, popcorn balls, string it for Christmas trees, and use it as an eco-friendly packing material when shipping fragile items. You can change the colors of ingredients to make a fun recipe for every holiday throughout the entire year. How cool is that?
Popcorn Is Not New
Popcorn has been around for centuries. Popcorn pollen was found in Mexico City 80,000 years ago, it was found in tombs in Peru, and bat caves in New Mexico. Native Americans introduced popcorn to American colonists.
Popcorn sales actually increased during the Great Depression because it was one of the few luxuries that families could afford. Popcorn vendors tried to convince theater owners to sell this healthy snack. However, the image movie theater owners wanted was to mirror performing arts theaters and popcorn was messy. When they refused to sell popcorn, popcorn vendors put up stands right outside movie theaters and sold bags of popcorn as people entered the theaters. Movie sales exploded, which convinced theater owners to start selling popcorn inside the theater! Those that did not provide popcorn went out of business.
During World War II, when sugar was rationed in the United States, people began eating popcorn. Over the years, it has become a favorite healthy snack of the United States’ population and in fact, the United States has the most popcorn-eating people around the world.
According to a 1987 NY Times article, microwave popcorn did not exist in 1978. However, in 1983, the first year that microwave popcorn was made available nationally, the sales generated were $53 million! In 1986, the estimated sales exploded to $250 million!
According to the Popcorn Board, a popcorn kernel is a seed with a tiny plant embryo inside with soft, starchy materials and all is surrounded by a hard glossy shell surrounding the seed. When the kernel is heated to high heat, the water inside the kernel turns to steam and the pressure from the steam causes the kernel to explode, turning inside out.
Have fun with this Popcorn Trivia Quiz that is offered by the Popcorn Board.
From the Popcorn Board, learn how to prepare perfect popcorn:
- Not only is popcorn tasty and economical (for pennies you can enjoy a quart at home), it’s also easy to prepare. Whether you choose to pop popcorn in an electric popper, on the stove or over an open fire, follow these tips for perfectly popped popcorn:
- Warm the popper, heavy pan or skillet. If oil popping your corn, add 1/4 cup of cooking oil to the pan. Allow the oil to heat. The best popping temperature is between 400 and 460 degrees Fahrenheit. Oil burns at 500 degrees.
- If your oil starts to smoke, it’s too hot. Any cooking oil will work provided it can retain the proper temperature. The less saturated the fat in the oil (like corn or sunflower), the less calories you add to your healthy snack.
- Do not use butter because butter will burn.
- Do not use olive oil because it burns at a lower rate than canola oil.
- Test the heat of the oil by dropping in one or two kernels. When the kernel pops or spins in the oil, you’re ready to add the remaining popcorn. Pour just enough kernels to cover the bottom of the pan. Shake the pan to be certain oil coats each kernel.
- Kernels that do not pop are known as “old maids.” They do not have sufficient water contained within the starch to create the buildup of pressure needed to pop the kernels.
If your popcorn does not pop into fluffy, crunchy kernels, it may have lost some of its moisture. Rejuvenate popcorn by filling a 1-quart jar 3/4 full with popcorn. Add one tablespoon of water. Cover and shake every five to 10 minutes until all the water is absorbed. In two to four days it should be perfect for popping.
- Popcorn is a whole grain
- Provides energy-producing complex carbs
- Contains fiber, which you need daily
- Naturally low in fat and calories
- Has no artificial additives or preservatives
- Is sugar-free
- 3 cups of popcorn equal one serving from the grain group.
- Autumn Pumpkin Popcorn
- Basil infused olive oil
- Butterscotch Cashew Popcorn
- Cajun Popcorn Spice
- Caramel Popcorn, Light
- Cheesy Popcorn
- Cinnamon Glazed Popcorn
- Cinnamon Popcorn
- Fast and Easy Caramel Popcorn
- Gingerbread Caramel Corn
- Loaded Candy Popcorn Balls
- Mary’s Jell-O Popcorn Balls
- Microwave Caramel Popcorn
- Microwave Caramel Popcorn, Version II
- Nacho Popcorn
- No Bake Caramel Popcorn
- Old Fashioned Molasses Corn
- Parmesan Popcorn
- Peanut Butter Popcorn
- Popcorn Seasoning Mixes
- Popcorn with Infused Oil – you can also use infused olive oil (infused with different herbs)
- Popcorn with Lime and Chili
- Reindeer Snack
- Sassy Popcorn