One of the best things about living in London is the theatre. There are dozens of shows to choose from every night of the week, from grand big-budget productions to small-scale acts performed in cozy local playhouses. The best part is the price – even the big shows can cost less than £20 if you don’t mind sitting amongst the gods. Recently, I’ve been taking advantage of this and indulging in one of my top-secret guilty pleasures: musicals. A few months ago I saw Wicked (loved it) and last Thursday I took Tim to see Hairspray (liked it). In both cases I paid less than £20 for my ticket and snuck in some homemade popcorn and bottled water to cut costs even further.
There’s something wonderful and nostalgic about munching on salty popcorn in a dark theatre while watching an old dude in polyester fondle the fake boobies of a fat man in drag, all the while singing “you’re like a stinky old cheese babe / just gettin riper with age.” It got me thinking about how sad it is that popcorn has developed a horrible reputation for being a fat-laden butter bomb. Without the grease and the fake cheese, popcorn is actually a pretty healthy snack choice. It’s a natural, whole food and if you air pop it with one of those cool air-popping gizmos, two cups of popcorn has just 61 Calories and 2.4g fiber. Best of all, you can augment your popcorn with whatever tasty seasonings you like, such as salt, pepper, or my favorite, cayenne pepper.
Even if you don’t have an air-popper, you can do like I do and make it on the stove (see recipe below). “But what about Microwave popcorn?” you ask. Like many things that come out of a factory, microwave popcorn is riddled with controversy. There’s some evidence that the bags used for microwave popcorn contain a carcinogenic acid, and the EPA is studying potential bad things associated with the fake butter used to flavor “buttered” microwave popcorn. I say it’s best to stick with whole foods, even if (or especially if) one of those foods is real butter tossed with natural, unadulterated popcorn.
Stove-Top Popcorn Recipe
Makes 2 quarts
- 3 Tablespoons peanut, grapeseed, or other high smoke point oil
- 1/3 cup of organic or non-GMO popcorn kernels
- salt and seasonings to taste
Heat the oil in a 3-quart saucepan on medium high heat. Put 3 popcorn kernels into the oil and cover the pan. When the kernels pop, add the remaining popcorn kernels in an even layer. Cover, remove from heat and count 30 seconds. Return the pan to the heat. The popcorn should begin popping soon, and all at once. Once the popping starts gently shake the pan by moving it back and forth over the burner. When the popping slows to several seconds between pops, remove it from the heat, add salt and seasonings, and serve.
Is low fat popcorn a healthy snack? [World’s Healthiest Foods]