Long before microwaves — even long before popcorn poppers — there was popcorn: whole grain and naturally gluten-free.
We’ve been eating it for at least 2,500 years, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Only recently have we taken this simple, healthy, DIY treat and paid someone else to make it for us.
New to South Florida is Chicago, or rather, Chicago Mix (7.5 ounces, $3.99) from G.H. Cretors, the family brand of the man who invented the popcorn popper in 1885. You take your caramel corn, you take your cheese corn, mix ’em together and get something sweet, salty and creamy.
What makes this corn pop is the blend. The caramel corn has that true burnt-sugar taste and a shell that’s yielding, not tooth-crackingly hard. Its primary ingredient isn’t popcorn, it’s GMO-free brown sugar, followed by sugar, butter — not the weird synthetic butter-flavored stuff — and brown rice syrup. The cheese corn contains real cheddar and cream and nothing artificial. A 1-cup serving contains 140 calories, 8 grams fat, 220 milligrams sodium, 1 gram fiber and 2 grams protein. Available at your local supermarket.
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If G.H. Cretors — and many others — make popcorn naughty, Miami’s own Shawnee Chasser makes it nice. Shawnee’s Greenthumb Popcorn (2 ounces, $3.99) is our favorite for wacky health.
Chasser, of hippie vintage, packs her vegan organic popcorn with nutritional yeast for luscious cheesy flavor and plant-based vitamin B-12, a smidge of cayenne for kicks and cardiovascular health, and spirulina, a greenish algae rich in protein and amino acids.
Spirulina is energizing, immunity-building, and with its fishy, grassy taste, often difficult to get down. Shawnee’s Greenthumb provides a painless spirulina delivery system, with the nutritional yeast outshining spirulina’s mild marine taste. A side benefit: The spirulina dust will turn your thumbs and indeed your whole hands a zombie-esque green-blue.
One cup contains 130 calories, 5 grams fat, 240 milligrams sodium, 3 grams fiber and 5 grams protein. Available at Whole Foods.
You can, of course, make popcorn yourself. At home. Without a microwave or electric popcorn popper.
A bag of Jolly Time popping corn (32 ounces, $2.29) is GMO-free, available in supermarkets and makes a whole room full of popcorn for less than the microwave stuff. Make it as naughty or nice as you like.
Ellen Kanner is the author of “Feeding the Hungry Ghost: Life, Faith and What to Eat for Dinner.”
Gadgets? Fugettaboutit. All you need for rockin’ homemade popcorn is a 3-quart pot with a lid — not enamel and not your favorite. Corn comes out pale, fluffy, cheap, cheery and a guaranteed crowd-pleaser. Make about 8 cups, serving 6 to 8.
2 tablespoons grapeseed or other neutral oil
1/2 cup popcorn kernels
1/2 teaspoon sea salt or more to taste
In a large pot heat the oil over medium-high heat for 1 to 2 minutes. Add about half a dozen popcorn kernels. Cover the pot. When the kernels pop, lift the lid, pour in the remaining kernels and shake to coat them with oil.
When the corn begins to pop in earnest, about 1 to 2 minutes, reduce heat to medium and continue shaking pot frequently. When the popping begins to slow, another 1 to 2, turn off the heat but continue shaking pot for another minute or until kernels stop popping. Pour into a large bowl, add sea salt and give a gentle toss to combine. Taste for salt. Enjoy.
Source: Ellen Kanner.