All Natural Microwave Popcorn

by Dana S on March 29, 2011

Popcorn is the ideal healthy snack: tasty and loaded with whole grain and fiber. In fact, 1 cup of popcorn provides as much fiber as a large apple. Unfortunately, most of the convenient microwave popcorn is also loaded with artificial ingredients, sodium and calories. The good news? You can have the convenience of microwave popcorn without all the junk! Make your own to save both money and your health.

A registered dietitian who I work with showed me this fun trick to making your own. First, start with around 1/4 cup of popcorn kernels and place in the bottom of a brown lunch bag. Then add 1 tsp of olive or canola oil and any seasonings that you would like (Check out Erin’s The $5 Dinner Mom Breakfast and Lunch Cookbook for great recipes such as Cajun & Pizza Popcorn). Shake the bag well. You can also skip the oil altogether to save on calories. If you choose to skip the oil, wait to add the seasonings until after the popcorn is popped.

Fold the brown paper bag over several times tightly. Microwave using your microwave’s popcorn setting. Stop cooking the popcorn once there are 1-2 seconds between pops. If you didn’t add oil, use a spray margarine (such as I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter) and then add your seasonings. This version will only contain 25 calories and 5 grams of fiber per cup! The cost? Only around 25 cents for 8 cups!

What is your favorite seasoning for popcorn?

{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

Krystal March 29, 2011 at 6:58 pm

I am sending this to my dad. He LOVES microwave popcorn, but after having worked in a movie theater, I can’t stand the smell… this just might work. :D


LifeAsAMomma March 29, 2011 at 8:21 pm

We have movie day at my home daycare on Friday afternoon’s and the kids love to have popcorn, but I rarely will let them have it because the store bought is so unhealthy!
They are going to be so excited this Friday when I make this!


Dana @ Budget Dietitian March 31, 2011 at 7:50 pm

I hope the kids liked it!


Kaycee Fisher March 29, 2011 at 9:48 pm

The ONLY thing(s) that should go on popcorn are butter and salt. Or caramel. Or cheese. ;-) But, that is it! And egads, not together. At least for the last two. :-X


Dana @ Budget Dietitian March 31, 2011 at 7:51 pm

I love all of those toppings!


Food on the Table March 30, 2011 at 1:41 am

Wow, looks so simple to make! Although you did mention that store-bought microwave popcorn is heavy on the sodium and calories, my favorite popcorn seasoning isn’t exactly the healthiest choice (if it even counts as a “seasoning,” per se) — almond bark. Melt a few block of almond or chocolate bark, toss it with popcorn, throw in some dried fruit (cranberries and apples are my faves), and your family, friends, and yourself will be begging for more!


Dana @ Budget Dietitian March 31, 2011 at 7:52 pm

The RD that taught me this trick has used white chocolate almond bark on her popcorn as a special treat after Christmas! :)


Catherine March 30, 2011 at 8:03 am

We’ve been making popcorn this way for a couple of years. I thought my husband would never surrender the bags from the grocery store but he likes to do it this way. I love raisinettes in my popcorn:)


Julie R March 30, 2011 at 8:14 am

Wow! Thank you. I love popcorn, but with dietary concerns stay away from microwave bags. This is such a great idea, thank you so much for sharing it!


Cheri March 30, 2011 at 6:54 pm

We’re dairy free, so we use margarine and salt. I recently got up the nerve to shake some nutritional yeast on my serving, and darned if it doesn’t taste cheesy! (Of course, I suppose nutritional yeast may be an acquired taste…)


Alison March 30, 2011 at 10:47 pm

Many years back, someone turned me to the microwave popper that you put 2 tbsp of popcorn in the bottom and pop for 2 minutes which can be found at Target for $10. I think that it is a great air popper without the extra machine (even though I have always wanted one). I had never heard of using a brown paper bag to do the same thing. I will remember that the next time I recommend the popper. I have been using my popper for many years now and I have gotten it as a gift for tons of people. I love the taste of fresh popped popcorn and I even had some for lunch today with melted butter and salt :)


Dana @ Budget Dietitian March 31, 2011 at 7:53 pm

I haven’t seen that popper before. I will keep my eyes peeled to check it out.


Stefanie March 31, 2011 at 6:24 pm

I heard about this from a dietician too at our local Fare for All and it saves us so much money. I don’t recommend walking away from the microwave while doing this as sometimes they don’t all pop in the allotted time. My kids like to toss in a tablespoon of butter to the bag – it does make a bit of a mess if you don’t put a plate underneath.


claire March 31, 2011 at 10:55 pm

I love this idea! I have been wanting to do this as a homeshool lesson. saving money, cooking, healthly eating… thank you for the info!


Dee April 2, 2011 at 8:09 pm

I learned about this last year online. Being frugal, you start to research more and read a lot about saving money. It works..this is good popcorn, not greasy or sickly smelling like other microwave popcorn.


Katie in Ohio April 4, 2011 at 7:24 pm

Wow! This is fabulous. Thanks for the tip. I added a little sugar and it made terrific lowfat kettle corn! I did burn the first batch a little – so keep a close eye on it.


Lindsay April 6, 2011 at 10:38 pm

As the mom of a special needs daughter with a very sensitive stomach I am always careful what chemicals I am letting her eat! This is a great idea! We will be using this for our Friday Family movie nights!
They would also be great little neighbor gifts!!


Sarah May 2, 2011 at 10:08 pm

I’ve been making this with cinnamon and sugar – it’s somewhat like kettle corn. Love this trick though I bought a bag of kernals a month ago and still have a lot left!


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