I remember when microwaves were the hot new thing (was that the mid 80s?). Most of my friends' families already had or were getting microwaves, so of course I wanted my parents to buy one too. The reason? I wanted the tasty after-school microwave popcorn snack I'd have when visiting my friends.
Nowadays, I never make popcorn in the microwave.
Yes, microwave popcorn tastes good, smells great, is quick and convenient, but do you know what's in the popcorn you are eating and the bag it's popped in?
Microwave popcorn bags contain various unsafe chemicals. One of those chemicals is perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), the same chemical found in non-stick pots and pans. It's a known carcinogen to animals and when it gets into the human body, studies have found it to be linked to heart disease, birth defects, infertility, and more. There is no way to know exactly what's in those bags since the ingredients are not required to be listed, so in cases like this, it's always better to be safe than sorry.
As for the popcorn, well, it's not the healthiest thing you can put into your body. If you read through the ingredients, you may see things you cannot pronounce, unhealthy oils, artificial colours and flavours, and more sodium than you need from a snack.
You may have also heard of "popcorn lung." Popcorn lung - or bronchiolitis obliterans - is a respiratory disease that causes scarring in the lungs and breathing difficulties. The link between this disease and microwave popcorn is a chemical called diacetyl. Diacetyl was once used to give microwave popcorn its "butter" flavour. The disease is caused by inhaling large amounts of this chemical. In 2007, in response to the concerns about diacetyl, the big manufacturers stopped using the the chemical but there is still concern that what replaced it is not much safer. So again, better safe than sorry.
If you are now a little hesitant to reach for that package of microwave popcorn, then what should you do when the next craving hits? Thankfully, microwaving is not the only way to make popcorn. And no, it's never going to be as quick and convenient as throwing a bag in the microwave, but the alternative is healthier for you and tastes so much better.
You can make healthier popcorn by:
2 tablespoons coconut oil
3/4 cup popcorn kernels (my favourite is Eden Organic)
salt to taste
Turn the heat on to medium-high.
Place oil into a large pot.
Once the oil has melted, drop a couple kernels in. When you hear them start to sizzle, add all the kernels and cover with a lid.
When the popcorn starts to pop, lift the covered pot about an inch above the heat (holding the pot above the heat instead of letting it sit cuts down on the chance it will burn). Shake the pot occasionally to ensure all unpopped kernels fall to the bottom. Continue until the popping stops.
Pour into a serving bowl, add salt to taste, enjoy!
Tip: I always make extras and once cooled, I package it for healthy school snacks the next day.
Note: If you are really hooked on making popcorn in the microwave, try this better-for-you method.