Next time you’ve got a craving for something crisp and salty, don’t reach for something that’s unhealthy, over packaged, and overpriced. Below are three of my favorite tasty, easy-to-make snacks; you can whip them up yourself without bankrupting your weekly food budget. And because you know exactly what went into them, you can feel good about serving these homemade snacks to family and friends.
My first snack suggestion is perhaps the easiest and most healthful snack around: Popcorn. It’s also super cheap if you know a few simple tricks (which Orville and his ilk would probably prefer you didn’t know). When microwave ovens invaded most of the kitchens in America, the food industry pulled one of their greatest boondoggles ever and convinced us that: 1. Popcorn is too complicated and messy to make the old-fashioned way and 2. You can ONLY make it in a microwave oven if you use the special bags that microwave popcorn come packaged in (with way too much salt, chemically altered oils, artificial preservatives, artificial flavors, and some weird chemical coating on the inside of the bag).
Super Simple Microwave Popcorn
When I was a kid we popped popcorn on the stovetop in a heavy-bottomed pan, or occasionally over a fire in a special long-handled pan. Either way the finished snack cost just a few pennies a bowl. Popcorn pops because its seed coat is strong and watertight. When the insides—mostly water and starch—are heated, they expand until the pressure is enough to pop the coat. All you need to make this happen are intact kernels and heat: no oil, no salt, no special “heat-concentrating” bag.
1. Put 1/4 cup of unpopped organic popcorn kernels into a clean brown paper lunch sack, fold the top over a few times, and stand it in the center of the microwave oven. (You can also make in a microwave-safe bowl loosely covered by a lid or towel.)
2. Microwave on high until the popping slows to about one pop every two seconds. In my microwave this takes about 5 minutes—yours may take more or less time.
3. Remove the bag and eat. Or pour the popcorn into a bowl and flavor as desired. If you’re in a decadent mood, toss it with a couple of tablespoons of melted organic butter and some sea salt. For a lighter snack, spray the warm popcorn with a little all-natural cooking spray (to make the seasonings stick) and sprinkle on your choice of spices and flavorings. One of my favorite combos is brewer’s yeast and Spike seasoning. The Mrs. Dash products are also good. Or try Parmesan cheese, or chili powder and cumin, or Old Bay seasoning, or curry powder, or even cinnamon sugar… Save the paper bag; you can reuse it several times.