This past year has been a big one! I got settled into a new state, turned a quarter of a century old, traveled back and forth from here to Texas planning a wedding, went to Canada for the first time (yes, the International Peace Garden counts in my book), explored the North Dakota State Fair, finished my Master’s degree, and I got married! The year 2018 has been a good one to me and I can only hope it has been just as good to the rest of you.

New Year’s Eve is a time of reminiscing on all of the good, and the not so good, events that took place over the past year. It is also a time of looking towards the future and bettering yourself whether it be physically, mentally, at the work place, in the social scene, etc. Whatever your goals, there’s no better time than the New Year to implement these goals. One of my goals for 2019 is to incorporate more whole grains into my diet. Whole grains are packed full of fiber, B vitamins, iron, magnesium, and selenium.

Did you know that popcorn is considered a whole grain? One single serving of popcorn is 4-5 cups popped! Talk about getting your bang for your buck! Popcorn that is unbuttered contains no cholesterol and has only ~0.1 g of fat per cup, so ~0.5 g of fat per serving (4-5 cups). One serving of popcorn only contains 100-150 calories and it also includes essential vitamins and minerals:

 B vitamins (folate, niacin, riboflavin, pantothenic acid (Vitamin B6), thiamine
 Vitamin E
 Vitamin K
 Iron
 Calcium
 Copper
 Magnesium
 Manganese
 Phosphorus
 Potassium
 Zinc

Some other fun facts about popcorn are that there are a couple of different types that affect its shape and its color. Mushroom popcorn pops in a round circular shape that resembles a mushroom, hence its name. This type of popcorn is better for chocolate covered popcorn or caramel corn due to its sturdy structure. If you want to buy mushroom popcorn you’ll have the best luck ordering kernels through a specialty popcorn shop. Snowflake, or butterfly, popcorn is the type of popcorn you typically see at movie theaters or in the bags you pop at home. This type of popcorn is more irregular in shape and no two pieces are the same, which gives it the name snowflake popcorn. 

Snowflake popcorn on the left and mushroom popcorn on the right

We can take this even further with popcorn color. There are yellow kernels and white kernels. Really there is not much difference nutritionally or in flavor, but yellow kernels are noticeably more yellow than the white kernels. Movie theaters will likely use yellow kernels to give the popcorn a more buttery appearance, as if they don’t yellow it up enough with their own butter!

Yellow kernels on top and white kernels on bottom
Yellow popcorn on the left and white popcorn on the right

Who knew there was so much to this tasty snack!

*NOTE: Popcorn is the most nutritious when you pop your own kernels on the stove top, in the Instant Pot, in a paper bag in the microwave, or how I did with my popcorn popper in the microwave. It is lower in fat and other processed chemicals this way than in the prepackaged popcorn bags.

Here is the recipe I used to pop my own popcorn. I hope you enjoy!

DIY Popcorn

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup popcorn
  • Cooking spray
  • Salt

Directions:

  1. Pour 1/3 cup popcorn into a paper bag or microwaveable popcorn popper and spray kernels lightly with cooking spray (only if you’re doing in paper bag).
  2. Cook in microwave for about 3 1/2 minutes or until there are about 1-2 seconds between pops.
  3. Remove from microwave and let cool for 30 seconds to a minute. Lightly salt and enjoy!!