When I started to work in the area of agri-food, I was introduced to the difference between the sweet corn and popping corn. There are several types of corn. Popcorn kernels are the only type that swell and burst when heated. Sweet corn can be enjoyed straight from the cob due to the natural sugar content in the kernels, which ranges from 9 to 44%. In comparison to sweet corn, ‘pop’ corn does not taste very good in its kernel form.
- On its own, popcorn is a good source of carbohydrates specifically dietary fibre. It’s low in calories. A cup of air-popped popcorn with no oil or butter contains approximately 30 calories. That being said, the way in which we prepare popcorn and add the extras determines whether it is considered a healthy snack or an indulgent food.
- There are many techniques for preparing popcorn. For the pre-packaged or processed forms of popcorn (e.g. microwave popcorn) it is important to read the nutrition facts table. As some contain alarming amounts of calories, fat (especially saturated fat), and sodium.
Make it a healthy snack
One way to make popcorn a healthy snack it to enjoy it from scratch. This allows you to control the amount of added calories, fat and sodium. Popcorn kernels are available at most supermarket or grocery stores, as well as farm retail sites and specialty stores. This option is great for the whole family.
If you’re looking for individual sizes, there are 100 calorie mini microwavable bags on the market. This helps with portion control. Make sure to consider the sodium level when consuming this snack option.
Last year, I was introduced to a local Ontario grown and processed popcorn snack. The kernels (available on line) are grown in Norfolk County by the Ontario Popping Corn Company then shipped to From Farm to Table in Cambridge where they are popped and packaged in ready to eat snacks. They are low in sodium and under 100 calories. The dill pickle flavour is my favourite!
Chili Lime Popcorn Recipe
Here is a great summer popcorn recipe from MarthaStewart.com. I recommend using air popped corn to cut out the 2 tbsp of oil for a lower fat snack.
Have Fun Popping and Enjoy!