Thursday, September 5, 2013

Popcorn junkie

Buy a microwave bowl for about $9 on Amazon!
Nothing makes my mouth water more than a whiff of freshly-popped popcorn. The second I walk into a movie theater, I begin to salivate as the smell assaults me at the door. Not even the anticipation of seeing an Oscar-nominated film can deter me from passing up the theater’s concession stand.

Yes, I know that movie popcorn is just about the worst snack a person can eat! I know that the butter clogs my arteries, the salt raises my blood pressure, and the calories—well, I might as well apply them directly to my backside. But at the moment I encounter it, I don’t care. Any resolve I had before entering the theater quickly evaporates, and I find myself standing in line for the $11 treat.

Fortunately, you can make popcorn at home for a fraction of the calories and a fraction of the price. Since my diagnosis of celiac disease—actually, even before that—popcorn has been my favorite snack.

Most microwave popcorns are gluten-free, but you should always read the labels, before you indulge. A quick check of my “Is That Gluten Free?” app (which I highly recommend) tells me that all Jolly Time popcorn and most Orville Redenbacher’s, Pop Secret, and Newman’s Own varieties are gluten-free, and many, many other brands offer gluten free varieties as well. I especially love the 100-calorie packs offered by many of these companies.

To minimize calories even further, you can use an air popper. I used one for a while, but it was a pain to clean, and it added one more appliance to my overstuffed kitchen shelves—so I put it in a garage sale. I replaced the air popper with a microwave popcorn bowl that allows me to pop corn without using oil (Nordic Ware 60120). Without the oil, it doesn’t hold the salt well, and it doesn’t taste as good—but you can eat unlimited amounts of it without guilt. To improve the taste, I add a few sprinkles of Kernel Season’s Popcorn Seasoning. (I have chili lime, white cheddar, and kettle corn flavors sitting in my cabinet right now. All of their popcorn seasonings are gluten-free.)

Another popcorn trick I learned a while back is to put 1/3 cup of popcorn in a brown paper lunch bag, spray it with olive oil (you can get the sprayers at most kitchen stores or online), fold the bag over, and “pop” it into the microwave. This method still makes a low-calorie batch of popcorn, and the salt sticks a little better.

If calories aren’t a huge concern, and you like to purchase premade popcorn in tins (as gifts or for yourself), many popcorn companies have gluten-free offerings. I called our locally owned Ozark Mountain Popcorn last Christmas and found that their corn, which they offer in many amazing flavors, including butter, cinnamon, cheddar, caramel, peanut butter, dill pickle pop, and root beer, to name a few, is all gluten-free. Their website is

I found a great Popcorn Cake idea on Pinterest just before Doug’s birthday a couple of years ago, so guess what he got for his birthday! It’s easy to make the recipe gluten-free by purchasing gluten-free pretzels instead of the regular ones. (By the way, I think the Snyder’s of Hanover Gluten Free Pretzels, which you can buy at most health food stores, are better than regular pretzels!)

Find the recipe at Cookies & Cups. The web address is

If you’re a gluten-free popcorn junkie like I am, check out these recipes for Sweet & Salty Popcorn and Red Hot Chili Popcorn from The Gluten Free Cooking School. Here are the links:

I could keep popping off more recipes, but just thinking about popcorn has filled me with an uncontrollable urge to pop up and pop a bag into my microwave … right now!