When it comes to salty snacks, there’s no denying that popcorn reigns supreme over potato chips, pretzels, cheesy crackers and more. Plus, it’s only corn…right? Well, yes and no. We’ve broken down the dos and don’ts of popcorn, so you can determine the best way to snack smart—just in time for the Academy Awards this Sunday!
When in Doubt, Skip the Microwave
Everyone knows the mouthwatering smell of microwave popcorn—but that’s not just butter that’s tempting your taste buds. Microwave popcorn manufacturers use a scent-enhancing chemical that is believed to produce a toxic gas when warmed up in the microwave. Another no-no? The grease-and-water-resistant coating inside the paper bag contains hormone-disrupting PFAAs (perfluoroalkyl acids, if you want to get fancy) that are under investigation for their possible role in causing early puberty and heightened breast cancer risk.
The good news? You can avoid the health risks of commercial bagged corn and still use the microwave by buying organic popping corn and cooking it in an air popper!
- Stovetop Pop
Still not sure about the microwave? Head to the stove! Popcorn was around long before microwaves—earliest reports date back to the 1840s—and it was made over an open flame. Simply drizzle a little oil in an iron or stainless steel pan, add kernels, cover and shake until popped.
- Bye-Bye, Butter
There’s no denying the deliciousness of butter-drenched popcorn with a hefty sprinkle of salt. But there are so many other just-as-delicious topping options! A drizzle of coconut oil and a sprinkle of garlic powder or chili powder will do the trick. Why not try a dash of hot sauce or some grated Parmesan? Get creative—you might just create a new favorite snack.
- Box Office Bust
Better think twice about getting in line for that bag of movie theater popcorn. On average, a small bucket of popcorn without butter can cost you anywhere from 250 to 670 calories, depending on how the theater pops its kernels. Since it’s better to be safe than sorry, try to fill up on a healthy meal before the flick and you’ll be more likely to skip the concession stand altogether.