Popped Culture

With weeks of holiday decadence finally coming to a close, new diets are blowing up. In keeping with that trend and exploding with flavor are these satisfying varieties of homemade popcorn, a low-cal snack (when prepared properly*) that can be worked into any meal plan.

To make popcorn on the stovetop, combine 2 tablespoons of oil, 1/2 cup of corn kernels and a pinch of kosher salt in a large pot over medium-high heat. Cook covered until the kernels pop, shaking occasionally to ensure even cooking. Once the popping slows to several seconds between pops, remove the pan from the heat and dump the popcorn into a large bowl. This will produce the 8 cups of hot popcorn needed for each recipe below.

*FAT CHANCE
According to MyFitnessPal, an online calorie-counter by Under Armour, a large buttered popcorn at AMC Theatres has 1,030 calories and 35 grams of saturated fat. It has no sugar, though, so... still don't eat one.

TRUFFLE PECORINO

Ingredients
2 1/2 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
2 tsp. truffle oil
8 cups hot popcorn
2 tbsp. freshly grated Pecorino cheese
Truffle salt (or kosher salt)
Freshly ground black pepper

Process
Mix together butter and truffle oil in a small bowl, then drizzle over hot popcorn while tossing. Top with grated Pecorino cheese. Season to taste with truffle salt and freshly ground black pepper.

SRIRACHA LIME

Ingredients
3 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
2 tbsp. Sriracha (garlic chili sauce)
3/4 tsp. lime zest
1 1/2 tsp. lime juice
8 cups hot popcorn
Kosher salt

Process
Whisk together butter, Sriracha, lime zest and lime juice in a small bowl, and set aside. Add hot popcorn to a large bowl and drizzle with Sriracha butter while tossing. Season to taste with kosher salt. This variation is more on the wet side (think buffalo popcorn), so it's best enjoyed immediately.

ROSEMARY BROWN BUTTER

Ingredients
3 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 tbsp. finely chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 tsp. lemon zest
8 cups hot popcorn
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Process
Warm butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. The butter will melt, then foam and bubble, then begin to brown. You will notice little brown bits forming at the bottom of the pan. Stir frequently during this process and keep your attention on the pot. The butter can go from wonderfully brown to burnt in just a few moments. You will know the butter is done when it gives off a nutty aroma and turns a golden brown (about 5 minutes). Stir in the rosemary and lemon zest, then pour over hot popcorn while tossing. Season to taste with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.

HAPPY VEGAN

Ingredients
2 tbsp. nutritional yeast
1 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
3/4 tsp. kosher salt, plus more to taste 3/4 tsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
8 cups hot popcorn
3 tbsp. olive oil

Process
Mix nutritional yeast, garlic powder, cumin, salt, sugar and cayenne pepper in a small bowl and set aside. Add hot popcorn to a large bowl, then drizzle with olive oil while tossing. Top with yeast-spice blend (not all of it will be used). Season to taste with kosher salt.

MEXICAN

Ingredients
1/4 cup crumbled cotija cheese
Zest of 2 limes
8 cups hot popcorn
2 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
2 tbsp. chopped cilantro
Ground ancho chile, for sprinkling Kosher salt

Process
Mix cotija and lime zest in a small bowl and set aside. Add hot popcorn to a large bowl, then drizzle with melted butter while tossing. Top with cotjia cheese, chopped cilantro and a sprinkling of ground ancho chile. Season to taste with kosher salt.

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