Popcorn Spices

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Old-fashioned popping corn, not to be applauded for its nutritional contribution, is certainly very tasty and at least quite harmless. Bags and tins of dried corn kernels are sold everywhere, ready to be taken home and popped.  Save your money and skip the kind that comes packed ready-to-pop. These "poppers" contain hardened (saturated) oils and the artificial flavoring creates the illusion that they are "butter-flavored".

Herbs disguise the fact that you're not using butter—just substitute low-sodium herb margarine in any recipe calling for butter…even popcorn! When the family is sitting together around the fireplace you can treat them to something "special" without guilt.  There are 40 calories in 1 cup of buttered popcorn, 32 in 1 cup of herb margarined popcorn and 25 in unbuttered (and 134 calories in a cup of caramel popcorn!).

Here are examples of how herbs and spices can dress up your "treat" food.

Herbed Popcorn: For 8-10 cups of hot popcorn, melt ½ cup diet margarine seasoned with 1 tsp oregano and parsley and ½ tsp each of basil, garlic powder and onion powder. Let blend before stirring into hot popcorn.  And pass the Parmesan!

Spiced Popcorn:

For 2 ½ quarts hot popcorn, add ½ cup diet margarine in which you have blended:

Indian-Flavored: 1 tsp each ground cardamom, cumin and curry powder and ½ tsp each ground cinnamon, coriander and nutmeg…plus a dash of ground cloves.

Mexican-Flavored: 1 tsp each chili powder and ground cumin and ½ tsp each of paprika, crushed ground chilies and garlic powder.

Oil-Free Popcorn: Place a fry-pan over medium heat for 3 minutes, lower the heat and add ½ cup unpopped corn or enough to cover the bottom of the pan.  Cover and shake gently. Uncover when all the sounds of popping have stopped. (If you must use oil in your corn-popper, make it polyunsaturated, as in safflower (best), sunflower, corn, soy or cotton seed).

Grow Your Own Popcorn: A variety like the dwarf heirloom "Tom Thumb" takes up less space than regular corn but is grown the same way. Don't forget to site it well away from other corn varieties to prevent cross-pollination.  To dry, make sure kernels are fully mature before picking; the husks should be dry and brown. Pull back the husk, remove the silk, and hang or spread the ears out in an airy, mouse proof place to cure for several weeks.  Kernels will rub off easily when the corn is ready to be popped.

Heirloom Popcorns: Lady Finger and Pennsylvania Butterflavored.

Discover More Homemade Seasonings
Learn How to Grow Your Own Herbs

Kali S Winters

 

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