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Thumbnail image for popcorn.jpgWelcome to the first of what I hope will be regular Foodie Friday features.  Today, popcorn, a yummy way to get your afternoon crunch on without hitting the chip aisle!

Popcorn is a whole-grain snack because it contains, well, the whole grain: germ, endosperm, and bran.  It’s rich in antioxidants, fiber, and B vitamins.  Eaten regularly, it can help stave off diabetes and lower cholesterol.  All for less around 50 calories per 1-cup (popped) serving. 

With everything that’s done to American corn these days (like how it’s
made into Coke), it’s a simple, tasty pleasure to chow on corn in its natural, healthful state.

Here’s how I make popcorn on the stovetop.  No microwave or fancy popper required!

1. Coat the bottom of a large, heavy pot with olive oil (2-3 T should do it).
2. Set the pot over medium-high heat and add 1 cup of organic corn kernels.
3. Sprinkle with a heavy pinch of kosher salt, and shake to coat the kernels in the oil.
4. Put potholders on each hand (the thing gets hot!) and shake occasionally until the kernels start popping. Continue shaking the pot as the kernels do their dance. Fun fact: popcorn pops at 347 degrees Fahrenheit!  
5. Remove from heat when 5 full seconds go by between pops. 

Of course, the challenge is to make popcorn tasty without drowning its health benefits in butter.  I enjoy mine “naked,” just salted and perfectly crunchy and warm.  But if you hanker for more flavor fun, here are two delicious variations to try:

Chili Lime Tequila Popcorn – need I say more?  From Heidi Swanson.

Popcorn with Rosemary Infused Oil – I made this last Halloween and used the leftover oil for cooking for days afterwards.  Yum!  From Giada De Laurentis.

How do you popcorn?  Please share your faves!

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