When you’re snacking for dinner, popcorn can’t be beat. It’s an ideal “main course” because it’s more filling than other snack foods and doesn’t rely on a fryer for flavor. It also can be made from scratch in minutes with no special equipment other than a large pot, and you can flavor it any which way you want.
It’s not necessary to save popcorn night for a special occasion, either. While you can certainly pair popcorn with a movie-watching evening, there is no law against making popcorn for dinner whenever the moment feels right. Don’t fight the feeling.
It’s a snack that really fills you up
Popcorn is an unprocessed whole grain: In fact, it’s the combination of a starchy core inside a fibrous outer hull that makes popcorn pop. It’s also high in fiber, containing nearly 4 grams per 4-cup serving, and contains a significant amount of polyphenols that can help lower blood sugar levels and help digestion.
In addition, “popcorn is a filling snack due to the volume it takes up in your stomach, which keeps us from over-snacking,” said registered dietitian nutritionist Julien Chamoun of RD Nutrition Counseling in New Jersey. Popcorn has been shown to be more satiating than potato chips, meaning you’ll feel fuller after eating it.
Keep in mind, however, that “although popcorn is a great healthy snack, when oil gets added during the cooking process, it can double the calories and the fat,” Chamoun said. He recommends an air popper as the best method to limit the amount of oil added during cooking, but if you don’t want to spring for one, you can still make popcorn with very little oil per serving on the stovetop. Here’s how.
How to make basic stovetop popcorn
To make 16 cups popcorn (about 4 servings), you’ll need 1/2 cup popcorn kernels and 2 tablespoons neutral cooking oil, such as canola or vegetable oil.
Pour the oil into a large pot, at least 6 quarts in volume. Add two or three kernels to the pot, then cover and place over medium-high heat until you hear the kernels pop.
Once that happens, take the pot off the heat, pour in the remaining kernels, and cover the pan. Wait 30 seconds, then return the pot to the burner and cook, shaking the pan frequently, until the popping slows down.
Remove the lid to carefully allow the steam to escape, then transfer the popcorn to a large bowl to season it.