Popcorn makes a tasty and healthy snack


Love to snack -- but need to watch your intake of calories and fat? Plain popping corn contains no cholesterol, sugar, artificial additives or preservatives.

Popcorn has a lot going for it.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture says one cup of plain popcorn popped in a hot air popper contains only 23 calories. The American Dental Association recommends plain popcorn as a sugar-free snack alternative.

The American Dietetic Association includes popcorn as a preferable bread exchange on weight-control diets. And because of its high fiber content (15 percent total dietary fat), popcorn has earned recommendations from the American Cancer Society and the National Cancer Institute.

Popcorn can be prepared on the top of the stove, in the microwave, or with a hot air or electric popper.

* Microwave: The microwave is quick and convenient, but be sure to follow package instructions. Never leave a bag of microwave popcorn unattended. Most brands are ready in five minutes or less.

* Hot air popper: Preheat the hot air popper for three minutes. Measure one-half-cup popping corn and pour into the popping chamber. Place a four-quart heatproof bowl under the popping chute. After popping, add butter and salt, if desired.

Popcorn can be used in snack mixes, appetizers, cookies, cereals and pies.

Pralines and Popcorn

1 quart popped popcorn

2/3 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar

1/4 cup butter

1/2 gallon vanilla ice cream, softened

2 tablespoons coffee-flavored liqueur, optional

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large saucepan, stir together popcorn, brown sugar and butter until brown sugar and butter are melted. Spread onto a foil-lined, 15x10-inch baking sheet. Bake in a 400-degree oven for eight minutes; cool ten minutes.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, mix softened ice cream with coffee-flavored liqueur. Stir cooled, candied popcorn mixture into ice cream. Freeze until ready to serve. Makes one-half-gallon.

Popcorn Cookies

2 quarts popped popcorn

1 cup light corn syrup

1 cup creamy peanut butter

3 tablespoons fruit jam

Place popped corn in a large bowl; set aside. In a medium saucepan, over medium-high heat, bring corn syrup to a boil. Boil for three minutes; remove from heat. Stir in peanut butter.

Working quickly, pour peanut butter mixture over popcorn, tossing gently to coat. Allow to cool ten minutes. Roll popcorn mixture into eighteen two-inch balls. Press thumb firmly into center of each ball. Fill each cookie center with one-half teaspoon of your favorite jam. Store in an airtight container.

Makes 18.

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