Crunchy, salty, and satisfying, popcorn is a great snack — and it can be healthy too. Air-popped popcorn has only 31 calories per one-cup serving, and the whole grain is packed with antioxidants and fiber, helping you fight disease while keeping you fuller longer. But if you've been snacking on prepackaged, buttery, or salt-laden kernels, it's time to take a look at your snacking habit. Instead of loading up on high-calorie toppings, make homemade popcorn, either by microwave or stove top, using one of these six healthy topping alternatives instead.
- Raw coconut oil: Like butter, it's sweet and salty, but raw coconut oil also may have several important health benefits, including raising your good cholesterol levels. Try cooking one tablespoon of popcorn in two teaspoons coconut oil.
- Use sea or rock salt: Instead of topping popcorn with refined salt, use sea or rock salt, which don't contain the additives that table salt usually does.
- Kettle corn: At 120 calories for a small serving, kettle corn is a great choice when sweet or salty cravings strike. Make your own batch using raw, organic sugar and sea salt; try this kettle corn recipe from healthy chef Bethenny Frankel.
- Indian-spiced: Popcorn tastes great with crushed coriander and a pinch of cayenne. Using spices eliminates the need for salt.
- Cheezy: Nutritional yeast tastes cheesy, is full of B-vitamins and essential amino acids, and is naturally salty. Try this nutritional yeast popcorn recipe for a butter-free bowl. To make a "Mexican" twist, add crushed cumin and a pinch of cayenne.
- Chock-full of chocolate: This 130-calorie chocolate popcorn recipe is delicious and easy: spread popped popcorn on a baking sheet, melt chocolate chips in the microwave, then drizzle over popcorn and let sit until hardened.