Homemade Popcorn with Olive Oil

by Susan on May 8, 2012


I will never, ever tell you to eat more corn. Even in its purest, organic form corn is NOT a vegetable (as it’s so often presented), and is very starchy. Corn is also high in sugar and can promote inflammation the body, likely because it causes blood sugars to rise.

That’s not to say that corn doesn’t have any benefits. It is a good source of fiber and lutein, a compound essential for vision. The really unfortunate thing about corn, though, is that it is such a highly genetically modified crop. It has also snuck its way into so many packaged and processed foods, though the cheap man-made sweetener high-fructose corn syrup.

Growing up in New Jersey (it’s the Garden State, people!), corn in the cob was synonymous with summer for me. I still buy local corn for my family in the summer; it is hard to find organic cobs, but I try to get local corn that has been minimally treated and NOT genetically modified.

But I need to pause and stop my tirade against King Corn, as I never meant for today’s post to go this way… in fact, I wanted to make it all about keeping things simple and good.

Just as juicy, sweet corn on the cob can be one of the purest joys of summer, freshly popped popcorn can be a wonderful treat. It’s the perfect accompaniment to a cozy movie night in with your kids, or as part of an afternoon snack.

I wince when I see the popcorn at movie theaters, bowling alleys and similar venues. It’s a common misconception that what makes such popcorn so unhealthy is simply the buttery coating slathered on it. Actually, a large tub of movie theater popcorn has more fat and calories than two Big Macs, BEFORE they pour the “butter” on.

It’s popped in cheap and unhealthy canola or coconut oil (NOT the unrefined, nutritious variety), and then finished off with artificial butter, salt and artificial food coloring. Ew.

By the time I reached my twenties, I knew that such popcorn was a nutritional time bomb. So I turned, like so many others, to the convenience of the microwave. It was quick, easy and promised to be healthier. I shared on my Facebook page a few weeks back the sad reality about microwave popcorn’s nutritional value. In case you missed it, here’s a different article that gives even more information. In short, it’s possibly carcinogenic. Nice.

If you’re still with me, I promise it was worth the wait! As several of my fans posted, it’s easy and worth it to pop your own corn at home. You can control the ingredients and how much oil and salt you use. Your kids can have a field day watching and listening to the kernels pop. It’s cheap. It’s healthy. It’s fun. Win win win.

This isn’t so much a recipe as it is a technique. I’m not going to tell you precisely how much oil and salt to use, as it really depends on your taste buds. You can obviously experiment with other toppings, too, such as grated parmesan or a little natural sweetener to create your own kettle corn.

Homemade Popcorn with Olive Oil

1/2 cup organic corn kernels
3 tbs. olive oil
more oil and salt, to taste

Place a large pot over medium heat. Pour in about 3 tbs. olive oil and drop in a couple of kernels of corn. Put a lid on, slightly off kilter to allow steam to escape. As soon as you hear those test kernels pop, dump in the rest of your kernels.

With the lid back slightly ajar, jiggle and shake the pot over the heat. This ensures every kernel will get popped and help you avoid scorching. The whole process should take about 3 minutes. Remove your pot from heat when the popping sound has slowed.

Pour popped corn into a bowl and drizzle lightly with a little more olive oil and season with salt.

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