One miserable Saturday morning my size 10 jeans wouldn’t close. Worse yet, my tee shirt had love handles. Was this the sorry end of 60 years of happily mindless snacking?
FAITH’S MAGIC POPCORN DIET
Until that fatal Saturday I had always reserved movie time for indulging my illicit popcorn passion—which invariably spoiled my dinner. Was this a clue?
Here’s what I learned from Google:
POPCORN TAKES THE POUNDS OFF
Popcorn is low in energy density, which means you can eat a lot of it without consuming a lot of calories. In fact, filling up on 3 cups of air-popped popcorn costs you only 93 calories! Suddenly starving and it’s only 3:30 in the afternoon? Grab a bag of popcorn with enough salt in it to taste and you’re set until dinner. And you may even eat smaller potions for dinner. (Plus skip dessert!)
POPCORN OFFERS 3 HEALTH BENEFITS
WHOLE GRAINS: Each whole grain of popcorn contains the germ (healthy oil, vitamin E, protein, B vitamins and minerals); the bran (fiber, B vitamins, minerals, protein and antioxidants); and the endosperm (starch, protein and antioxidants).
FIBER: Popcorn provides about 4 grams of dietary fiber for every 4 cups of popped corn. Most Americans only consume half their recommended daily fiber intake (25 grams for women). Fiber not only helps keep you regular, but may also reduce your risk of heart disease, reduce blood cholesterol, and lower your risk of type 2 diabetes.
ANTIOXIDANTS: A University of Scranton study in 2012 found that antioxidant concentration in popcorn is quite high, surpassing that of most fruit. Health benefits may include reducing your risk of such degenerative diseases as: osteoporosis, heart disease, cancer, neurodegenerative diseases and diabetes.
NOT ALL POPCORN IS GOOD FOR YOU
Popcorn made with ingredients like butter, caramel, cheddar, etc., will deliver a lot more calories, large doses of sugar, artificial flavors, and other unhealthy additives. Some ready-made popcorn doesn’t even use the whole grain, thus eliminating much of the fiber and other health benefits.
MAKE YOUR OWN POPCORN
Start with air-popped popcorn. While the popcorn is still warm, add herbs like dried, crushed basil, oregano or chili powder, plus a little salt, and toss. Or lightly spray extra virgin olive oil on the popped kernels, then sprinkle with garlic powder, and toss. Or just toss with some salt and black pepper. The herbs and extra virgin olive oil will give you antioxidants; garlic strengthens your immune system; black pepper has anti-bacterial properties.
FAITH’S POPCORN ADVENTURE
Following a tip from my friend (and partner) Marge, I bought Skinny Pop Popcorn (available at Walgreens Pharmacy, Whole Foods, other supermarkets, and online at Amazon.com and Jet.com, Inc.). Skinny Pop is non-GMO and gluten-free, and has no trans fats, artificial ingredients, preservatives, peanuts, or dairy. After experimenting with various flavors, I ended up with Skinny Pop White Cheddar popcorn— compromising over cheddar’s calories for flavor. I popcorn binged for a week and lost 10 ugly pounds, regaining my size 10 jeans and losing (most of) my love handles.
TRADER JOE’S POPCORN
I also found healthy, packaged popcorn at Trader Joe’s—a favorite place to shop for reasonably priced food. (Plus they hand out yummy, free snacks. What a deal!)