How can I possibly do this snack justice? We snack on this in the evenings multiple times a week (almost nightly). It is truly a part of our lives. I have made my husband as addicted as I am to this wonderful delicacy. I arrived home from my tennis match on Tuesday night around 10pm to find that he had just finished making some, and there was a bowl reserved for me! It's true love, I tell you.
So, what makes popcorn so wonderful for this migrainuer. Well first and foremost, my lengthy list of migraine dietary restrictions and my attempt at being gluten-free with my son limit my yummy snack options. But here are some other qualities that make popcorn a great snack food:
1. Popcorn is a wholegrain shown to reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer. A 30g serving is equal to a daily serving of brown rice or whole-wheat pasta.
2. It contains three times more fiber than sunflower seeds. It keeps you feeling fuller longer and balances blood sugar levels. It helps to lower the bad cholesterol (LDLs).
3. It has a dose of B vitamins.
4. It is it's extremely large polyphenol count that is thought to reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease. Polyphenols are antioxidants that decrease free radicals which are known to cause cancer and heart disease. The hull (not the white part) is what contains all these wonderful polyphenols.
5. Recent research shows that popcorn contains a potent antioxidant called ferulic acid. This wonderful little substance has shown to have therapeutic effects against cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and neurodegenerative diseases because of it's antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity. That's right migrainuers--I said anti-inflammatory activity!
Not everyone buys into all these benefits due to the fact that because popcorn is so fibrous it may just go through are intestines without all these wonderful things being fully absorbed. It is also cautioned that there are better sources of polyphenols and fiber in fruits and veggies.
The next thing you need to know is not all popcorn is created equally. Let's start by talking about the kernel itself. There are estimates that the majority of corn in the United States is grown from genetically modified seeds (90%). Buying certified organic popcorn is the best way of knowing you aren't eating a "frankenkernel". In our pantry right now you would find Arrowhead Mills kernels and Skinny Pop Popcorn (which is already popped and bagged) both of these products claim to be free of GMOs. There is much controversy about the safety of genetically modified produce. If given the choice, I choose organic.
If selecting a safe popcorn kernel wasn't something that is stressful enough, now consider the method of popping it.
1. Microwaving: Much of the popcorn consumed by Americans is microwaved. The microwaving isn't necessarily bad. Its the packaging, flavoring, and potential extraneous ingredients that might be bad. Most microwave popcorn bags are lined with perfluorochemicals (PFCs) which are associated with cancer and reproductive issues. The butter flavoring used in many microwave popcorn brands is diacetyl. This chemical has been known to cause lung damage in both factory workers and consumers. There are websites the can walk you through microwaving your organic kernels in a safe brown bag at home if this is your preferred method. It is not mine.
2. Air-popping: This requires a air-popping machine. If you own a machine you can pop your organic kernels this way as well. This method probably makes the popcorn with the least calories. I do own one of these, but I prefer the last method of popping because in my opinion it yields the most tasty popcorn EVER!
3. Stove-top method: This is how we do it.
For this I use a 3.5-quart stainless steel or some other non-Teflon pan with a lid. I cover the bottom of the pan in olive oil, about 3-4 tablespoons (many people recommend coconut oil or ghee). Olive oil is my oil of choice simply because that is what is in my pantry all the time.
I then put 3 kernels in the pan and turn the heat up to medium-high on my gas stove.
coating the kernels in the oil. Then I wait... and they begin to pop. I shake the pan a little now and then as the kernels keep popping to avoid a possible burn.
bowl (2 different bowls usually) and then I add some salt.