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Popcorn: a perfect snack

 I love popcorn. When faced with a freshly-made bowl, I can never stop myself from cramming large handfuls at a time in my mouth, as if someone will take it away before I’m finished. This unladylike habit may have come from fighting for my share among the rabid popcorn eaters in my family while growing up. You’d think I’d be beyond it by now.

I remember using those convenient microwave popcorn bags, but I stopped years ago. One reason was how disgusted I was to find mice had invaded a Costco-size box of the bags and spread artifical butter flakes all throughout this built-in storage unit in my old apartment. I won’t paint the picture, but the mice must have had some kind of rockin’ party judging from the debris left behind. The other reason was learning about what was happening to the factory workers who made the microwave popcorn.

It seemed that the synthetic, artifical butter flavor used in these microwave popcorn contains diacetyl, a natural by-product of fermentation, and when diacetyl becomes airborne in the form of fumes, it can cause terminal lung disease. The workers on the assembly lines making microwavable popcorn were becoming mighty sick.

This week, the 9/5/07 issue of the Rocky Mountain News reports that the first consumer of microwave popcorn has been diagnosed with lung disease due to diacetyl fumes. The only cure is a full lung transplant.

Now, this guy reportedly consumed “several bags of extra butter flavored microwave popcorn every day for several years,” but think about it: do you really want to ingest a product that contains an additive that is known to cause lung disease when heated and inhaled? Now that you know what breathing in the buttery aroma of that bag of steaming popcorn is doing to your lungs each and every time that microwave door opens, do you still want to choose this method for making popcorn?

Not me.

popcornFor more than 15 years I’ve been in love with my Presto 04830 PowerPop Microwave Multi-Popper

Just put in a special “power concentrator” cup at the bottom, pour in a scoop of organic popcorn kernels, close it and microwave for about 2 minutes or so. Perfectly popped popcorn every time.

Popcorn is a great snack since it is fun to eat, very filling, and a whole grain so it won’t raise your glycemic index. It’s full of fiber and complex carbohydrates (the good kind!), and when cooked this way, it is a satisfying no-fat treat. I like to season it by pouring about 1/3 into a large bowl and spraying it with olive oil, then sprinkling with fine-grain sea salt, like the Celtic Sea Salt® shown here. Repeat in layers with the remaining two thirds. Sometimes I add some ground dried chipotle or Tony Chachere’s Original (creole) Seasoning to give it a kick.

If you’ve got any fun popcorn flavorings, please feel free to share them by clicking “post a comment” below!

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