brown bag popcorn – a healthy, inexpensive snack

A whole-grain yummy food, homemade popcorn could be the easiest and cheapest snack to make for yourself. And it's faster to make than peeling an orange. Seriously. All you need is a paper bag, a little oil and basic seasonings, like salt and pepper.

To prove to you how inexpensive it is, popcorn kernels will cost you around four cents an ounce. Popular microwave brands cost three to six times as much, depending on the brand. Even better, each two-person serving pops up from 1/4 cup of kernels providing around four cups of pillowed popped corn for pennies (say that five times fast ... ).

So, here's how you do it, Mark Bittman style:

Brown Bag Popcorn
  • 1/4 c popcorn kernels
  • 1/4 tsp salt*
  • 2 tsp corn, vegetable or canola oil
In a brown paper bag, combine the kernels, salt and oil. Tightly fold the top over a couple of times and give it a good shake. To keep things neat, place the bag on a microwave-safe plate and nuke the bag for 2-3 minutes, or until there are few seconds between pops. Upon opening the bag, watch for any steam that might come out of the bag and season additionally, if needed.

*Try jazzing it up with superfine sugar for a sweet-salty mix, fresh-chopped herbs and Parmesan for a more refined taste, or season salt and cayenne pepper for a spicy treat. 

That's it! Believe me when I say you'll be planning movie nights around the popcorn, not the other way around.

(Another benefit of making it at home? Avoiding diacetyl, a naturally occurring chemical that shows up in beer, wine and other foods and added to microwave popcorn brands to make it smell and taste more buttery. The problem is when you inhale it: it can cause breathing problems and permanent lung damage from repeated exposure. To make matters worse, the commercially produced bags of popcorn are lined with flurotelemer to make them grease resistant. This unnatural chemical is similar to the coating put on dangerous non-stick Teflon pans and releases perfluorooctanoic [PFOA] – a known carcinogen – directly onto the kernels when heated. Mmmmm.)

Enough said: homemade popcorn is healthier and cheaper. And just as easy.

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