Popcorn is a popular snack in American households today; in fact Americans consume 16 billion quarts of popcorn annually, which is about 52 quarts per person. It is safe to say that Americans consume more popcorn than any other country in the world!

Did you know that popcorn is a whole grain? Many people don’t realize that popcorn is a whole grain, and when cooked properly, can be a nutritious snack loaded with health benefits. Popcorn is high in fiber and antioxidants, in particular polyphenols which are found in a wide variety of plants and have shown to decrease free radicals in the body that can lead to disease and illness. In fact, a serving of popcorn contains more antioxidants (polyphenols) than a serving of fruit!

It is important to remember that microwave or movie theater popcorn is loaded with butter and extra salt that quickly turns a healthy snack into an unhealthy snack. In order to keep popcorn a healthy snack, purchase popcorn seeds at the store and pop them yourself at home using the stove or an air popper. This allows you to control what is added to the popcorn and can keep it the healthy whole grain snack that it is. Instead of adding butter and salt try adding other spices and seasonings such as chili powder, garlic powder, or parmesan cheese. Try the recipe below for a tasty, healthy popcorn snack!

Lemon-Parmesan Popcorn
Serving Size: 2 cups
2 tsp grated lemon rind
1 tsp ground black pepper
¼ tsp salt
1.5 oz grated parmesan cheese
2 Tbsp olive oil
½ c un-popped popcorn kernels

1. Combine lemon rind, black pepper, salt, and parmesan cheese in a small bowl.
2. Heat oil to medium size sauce pan over medium-high heat. Add popcorn kernels and cook until popping slows or stops. Let stand in the pan for 1 minute. Pour 6 c of popcorn into a large bowl and mix with half of the cheese mixture then poor the other 6 c of popcorn into the bowl and cover with the remaining cheese mixture. Toss popcorn to coat.
Nutrition Information per Serving:
Calories: 128, Fat: 7.2 g, 4.4 g protein, 11.6 g carbohydrate, 2.5 g fiber, 189 mg sodium
Recipe Source: http://www.cookinglight.com

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