These healthy popcorn recipes feature homemade popcorn seasonings and healthy popcorn toppings for a simple, satisfying snack. We'll also answer your questions on how to make homemade popcorn!
If you love salty snacks but are looking for something a little (or okay, a lot) healthier than the standard chips and crackers, my healthy popcorn recipes are the perfect solution!
One of my go-to gluten free snacks, popcorn is anything but boring. You can make it sweet, savory, or even spicy. You can add in dried fruit or nuts and seeds to give some extra flavor and protein. Homemade popcorn is super simple and always a winner with kids. You really can't go wrong!
If you're looking for healthy school lunch ideas, popcorn is also a great addition there. To take it to the next level, set out some healthy add-ins at the beginning of the week and let your child create their own healthy popcorn recipe, mixing in nuts and dried fruit of their choice. They can enjoy it all week long and you can enjoy a break from the not-so-healthy snack requests.
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Spiced Popcorn Mix
- 2 T cumin
- 1 T paprika
- 1 T oregano
- 1/2 T turmeric
- fresh ground black pepper to taste
- 1 bag air popped popcorn* (~ 14 cups)
- 2 cups walnuts
- Combine the spices to create a spice mix.
- Toss 1 bag air popped popcorn with 1/4 cup spice mix.
- Add the walnuts to the mix.
Cinnamon Toast Popcorn
- 6 cups air popped popcorn*
- 2 T coconut oil
- 5 T maple syrup
- 1.5 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp salt
- parchment paper
- Preheat oven to 250 F.
- In a small pot over med heat warm 2 T coconut oil, 5 T maple syrup, 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon and 1/4 tsp salt until melted.
- In a large bowl, pour mixture over 6 cups popcorn and stir until well coated. Pour onto parchment lined sheet pan.
- Bake in oven for 10-12mins.
Popcorn w/ Dried Figs & Pecans
- 1 large bag air popped popcorn* (~14 cups)
- 2 cups chopped pecans
- 2 cups chopped dried figs
- 1 T pumpkin pie spice
- Quarter the dried figs and chop pecans.
- Toss 1 bag air popped popcorn with 1 T pumpkin pie spice.
- Add dried figs and pecans into popcorn mix.
What is the nutrition like for these healthy popcorn recipes?
Popcorn on its own has some serious nutritional value. Add in nuts and dried fruit? It's a super healthy snack packed with vitamins! Here's some more information on what some of the ingredients in our healthy popcorn recipes offer:
- Popcorn: Made from a special kind of corn, popcorn is a whole grain, naturally gluten free food. It's high in manganese, magnesium, phosphorous and zinc and also contains moderate amounts of vitamins B1, B3 and B6. Popcorn is also an excellent source of fiber. Despite all of these benefits, it's important to choose high quality popcorn – many microwave varieties contain harmful chemicals and low quality oils.
- Walnuts: Many consider walnuts to be the healthiest nut, in part due to their high antioxidant content. They may help reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer and type 2 diabetes, as well as supporting healthy brain function and healthy gut bacteria. They are a true super food!
- Pecans: Pecans and other nuts are considered excellent for heart health and they also add healthy fat to help keep you full.
- Figs: Good for digestion and heart health, figs are high in copper and vitamin B6.
- Cinnamon: Frequently used in traditional medicine, cinnamon is good for your heart and also may help stabilize blood sugar. Research also suggests that cinnamon may help lower cholesterol.
- Turmeric: Turmeric is widely considered the healthiest spice around due to its potential to prevent and slow cancer, lung disease, and brain disease.
What is air popped popcorn?
Air popped popcorn is popped without any oil. Popcorn kernels have a small amount of water inside of them and hot air can be used to make this water expand and cause the popcorn to pop.
You can buy air popped popcorn or you can make your own. You can buy a microwave air popper or you can actually just use a standard brown paper bag.
All you need to do is pour about 1/4 cup of popcorn kernels into a brown paper bag (think old school lunch bag). Pour 1/4 cup of kernels into a paper bag and tightly fold the top a few times. Then simply microwave for 2-3 minutes, listening for when the pops are a few seconds apart.
Then your popcorn is ready to season with one of our homemade popcorn seasoning recipes!
This method has all of the convenience of microwave popcorn without the harmful PFOAs in the microwave bags you can buy at the store.
You can of course also buy a standard air popper. It's super easy to use and you'll quickly make up the cost of buying a few bags of popcorn.
How to Make Homemade Popcorn – Do I need a popcorn maker?
While many people love the convenience of an air popper, you do not have to have one to make homemade popcorn. You can also easily make delicious homemade stovetop popcorn!
For this method, pour 2-3 tablespoons of high quality oil into a dutch oven over medium heat. Extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil or avocado oil all work well.
Test the oil to see if it's hot enough by tossing a few kernels into the oil to see if they sizzle. When the oil is hot, pour in 1/2 cup of kernels and put the lid on the pot. Cook for 2-3 minutes, gently shaking the pot to help distribute the kernels so they all pop. When the popping sounds are a few seconds apart, your homemade popcorn is ready!
While this method isn't totally oil free, it is so much healthier than movie theater or microwave popcorn. Plus it's totally delicious!
What are some other healthy popcorn seasoning & healthy popcorn toppings ideas
Oh my, where to begin? Basically, anything you might enjoy in trail mix makes an excellent addition to a popcorn mix. Here are a few of my favorite homemade popcorn recipe add-ins!
- Coconut chips
- Mini chocolate chips if you're in the mood for more of a treat
- Dried cherries
- Goji berries
- Shelled pistachios
- Dried herbs for a savory mix (dill or rosemary would be delicious!)
- Red pepper flakes
- Nutritional yeast for a cheese-like flavor and a major vitamin boost
- Rosemary pecans
FAQ – Everything You Want to Know about Healthy Popcorn Recipes
What is the healthiest thing to put on popcorn?
There are many healthy popcorn toppings but I would argue herbs and spices are one of the healthiest choices, as they are generally nutritional superstars and it's hard to get enough of them! Try turmeric and black pepper for a super healthy choice. Drizzling olive oil on popcorn is also a nice way to add some healthy fats, and to help your healthy popcorn toppings stick.
Is there a healthy popcorn to eat?
Absolutely! Either air-popped popcorn or homemade stovetop popcorn are healthy choices.
How healthy is popcorn without butter?
Popcorn without butter (or other less-than-healthy ingredients) is quite a healthy snack. It's a whole grain and includes quite a bit of fiber as well as some healthy vitamins and minerals. It is high in carbohydrates so I love mixing with some nuts for a balanced snack.
Is making popcorn on the stove healthier?
Yes! Making popcorn on the stove is absolutely healthier than microwave popcorn. You can control the amount of salt and oil and there are no weird chemicals to contend with. Air popping popcorn is also a healthy choice.
What is the healthiest oil to pop popcorn on the stove?
Coconut oil, avocado oil and olive oil are all healthy oils to choose for popping popcorn on the stove.
I want more healthy gluten free snacks!
While fruit or sliced veggies are of course excellent options for snacking, sometimes you feel like something a little more special. Here are a few of my favorite, totally crave-able gluten free snacks:
- Guacamole Stuffed Peppers: Any snack that's veggie packed AND feels like a treat is a winner in my book. These guac stuffed mini peppers fit the bill!
- Easy Paleo Ranch: Dipping makes veggies so much more fun but you don't want to choose a dip that totally negates the nutrition of the veggies! Our paleo ranch is the perfect solution. The salsa ranch in this post also makes an excellent dip for veggies!
- High Protein Almond Butter Energy Bites: If you're in the mood for more of a sweet snack, you can't go wrong with these almond butter energy bites! Like our healthy homemade popcorn recipes, they're totally customizable to fit your family's preferences.
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