5 Healthy Popcorn Toppings From Around the Globe



Just looking at the above symbol makes my heart skip a beat.  It requires no words as I think those interlocking rings could be among the most recognized symbols in the world.  That period of just over two weeks, the Olympic Games, that begin this weekend (squeal!), represents a time when disagreements and boundary lines are on-hold (or should be) and a time for many parts of the world to unite over some healthy competition! But, healthy competition requires a healthy snack.





The Olympic Rings

So a bit more about the Olympic rings,  What exactly do they mean? The rings, made up of blue, black, yellow, red and green represent the five different areas of the world involved in the Olympics: Africa, Australia, Asia,  Europe and the Americas (North and South America are considered one area.). According to the International Olympic Committee, "The Olympic symbol expresses the activity of the Olympic Movement and represents the union of the five continents and the meeting of athletes from throughout the world at the Olympic Games."




Chew On This

I am not encouraging a snacking habit, especially when the TV is involved, but for the Olympics, I will make an exception. But, let's try to choose a healthier choice and one that is pretty well universally enjoyed - popcorn.  As far as snacking goes, popcorn may have a few good points.  They are listed below as well as some pointers when it comes to this favorite snack of many.

The polyphenols in popcorn may combat cancer and heart disease.  But, not so much in the delicate fluffy part but more in the hull itself,  Yes, the part that can get stuck in your teeth. Put up with that because that is where the good stuff hides.

Popcorn has fiber.  It has both the soluble and insoluble types of fiber and about 2 grams per 3-cups of popped corn.

Go for organic. Organic popping corn, found in lots of bulk bins, does not carry the pesticide residues or other toxins commonly found on conventionally grown corn, and it will not have been genetically engineered either (as genetic engineering is not allowed in production of certified organic foods).

Step away from the microwave.  The microwave stuff is laced with chemicals. Choose an air popper (no additional fat!) or make it on the stove.  (Click the green link to see exactly how. This video uses olive oil, but I would consider another oil with a higher smoke point or ghee. Click on the green link for more information on that.)






Drizzle on This

In keeping with the Olympic enthusiasm building here, how about our popcorn representing the five continents that participate in the games.  Before you pop your corn, create your toppings (depending on what continents you want to feature, of course). Then, it will be ready to sprinkle on the popcorn immediately after to adhere to those golden nuggets.

Here are five toppings to drizzle with the spices, herbs and healthy oils that further enhance the healthy meter for this snack. So, no matter who you are rooting for in the competitions, pop some corn, make a great topping or two and let the games begin!

For about four cups of popped corn . . .

European Topping (Italian)

Combine the first four ingredients together in small saucepan and heat gently on low flame for about two minutes or to allow the flavors to meld.  Drizzle the warm flavored oil over the popped corn and toss well. Sprinkle with fresh herbs and cheese. Toss again, taste and adjust seasonings.
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • large pinch of red pepper flakes. crumbled
  • large pinch of salt
  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil (on the higher end if air popped)
  • 1/8 - 1/4 cup of grated Parmesan cheese,
  • 1/8 cup of fresh basil and parsley, very finely minced

Asian Topping

Combine the first six ingredients together in small saucepan and heat gently on low flame for about two minutes or to allow the flavors to meld.  Drizzle the warm flavored oil over the popped corn and toss well. Sprinkle with fresh chives. Toss again, taste and adjust seasonings.
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  • pinch of Szechwan pepper, ground
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1.5 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
  • 1.5 tablespoons grapeseed oil
  • 2 tablespoons green onion or chives, finely minced

American Topping

Combine the first nine ingredients together in small saucepan and heat gently on low flame for about two minutes or to allow the flavors to meld.  Drizzle the warm flavored oil over the popped corn and toss well. Sprinkle with salt. Toss again, taste and adjust seasonings.
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoons paprika
  • pinch of ground cumin
  • dash of black pepper
  • 2 - 3 tablespoons olive oil (on the higher end if air popped)
  • 1 teaspoon salt

African Topping

Combine the first eight ingredients together in small saucepan and heat gently on low flame for about two minutes or to allow the flavors to meld.  Drizzle the warm flavored oil over the popped corn and toss well. Sprinkle with salt. Toss again, taste and adjust seasonings.
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon sugar
  • dash of cinnamon
  • dash of allspice
  • dash of cayenne pepper
  • pinch of ground turmeric
  • 2 - 3 tablespoons olive oil (on the higher end if air popped)
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Australian Topping

Combine the first eight ingredients together in small saucepan and heat gently on low flame for about two minutes or to allow the flavors to meld.  Drizzle the warm flavored oil over the popped corn and toss well. Sprinkle with salt. Toss again, taste and adjust seasonings.
  • 1/8 teaspoon paprika
  • pinch of ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  • pinch of coriander
  • pinch of ground turmeric
  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil (on the higher end if air popped)
  • 1 teaspoon salt

You'll find me popping and cheering this weekend.  And, what about you?  Which Olympians will  you be rooting for and what topping will you make?


popcorn: photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/serialk/3457495757/">SerialK</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/">cc</a>

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