Popping Your Own Popcorn!

Did you know that October is “Popcorn Popping” month? That makes it the perfect time to check out these tips on making your popcorn fun and healthy!

**Popcorn Facts**

*Popcorn is considered a whole grain. So it is a great way to increase your whole grain and daily fiber intake! USDA’s Choose MyPlate recommends getting at least half of your grains from whole grains.

*Air-popped popcorn only has 31 calories per cup, while oil-popped popcorn only has 55 calories per cup.

* Corn was domesticated over 9,000 years ago in Mexico, and remains of popcorn have been found to date back to 3600 B.C.E!


Follow the directions below to pop your own popcorn at home!

• First, 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. (Don’t pop popcorn in butter because it will burn.)
• 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 don’t pop do not have sufficient water contained within the starch to create the build-up of pressure needed to pop the kernels.

You can spice up your popcorn with several low-calorie ingredients. Try garlic powder for a savory kick, or add dried fruits and nuts to create your own snack mix!

Halloween is the perfect time to enjoy a themed popcorn snack. Try distributing an orange colored plate of popcorn to kids and see what jack-o-lantern faces they can make! You can also give them different toppings to flavor their individual servings. Give 1 teaspoon of topping per 1 cup of popcorn. Try Parmesan cheese, cinnamon, nutmeg, Italian seasoning, garlic powder etc.

Let us know what creative ways you like to serve your popcorn in the comments below!

Authored by or Adapted from Lisa Franzen-Castle, PhD, RD, University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension Nutrition Specialist. Healthy Bites Newsletter, September 16, 2012 at https://food.unl.edu/documents/October_Popcorn_Webletter_09_26_12.pdf