Have you ever finished dinner, put the kid(s) to bed, sat down on the couch and thought, "I could eat my body weight in salty snacks". Just me? I'd like to say that my tendency toward snacking comes from my increased appetite from nursing, but let's be real, I was eating like this way before I had Chewbacca.

Part of my desire to graze might be actual hunger, but I'm guessing 90% of it is just mindless eating. And yes, I know this is a terrible habit, but rather than figure out the crux of my mindless eating, I decided it was much healthier to find snacks that I could eat with reckless abandon that wouldn't destroy my pants size.

I once read a health magazine (one of the one-syllable magazines that start with S that have an insanely fit photo-shopped starlet on the cover, SELF, SHAPE, SHAME, not sure which one) that had an article about healthy snacking. For their suggestions, they said "craving something salty? Eat carrot sticks. The crispy snap will make you think you're eating potato chips." It was at that point I realized the editors had lost their ever-loving minds. Who is going to confuse a carrot with a potato chip? No one. Ever.

Now, I'm not going to suggest that air-popped popcorn is just as good as potato chips, because nothing is as good as potato chips (alright, maybe french fries). But I've come to terms with the fact that I can't eat potato chips all night long and retain any authority when telling Chewbacca to eat his vegetables. So I've come up with a pretty good compromise with air-popped popcorn.

After several years of perfecting this science, here are all my tips to making a truthfully delicious snack that you can eat to your heart's content.

Step 1: Buy a microwave popper like one of these. You don't need an air popper, because those are loud and expensive and it's another thing you need to store in your house. As Boston residents, we know that ain't nobody got room for that. These go right in your microwave and don't need any oil. Just throw in some naked popcorn kernels and pop away. We have a fancy microwave with a "popcorn button" (well, maybe that's standard on microwaves now), so I don't know exactly how long it takes, but I would guess somewhere in the neighborhood of 2 minutes.

Step 2: Buy an atomizer like one of these. You can use any kind of oil. I really like sunflower oil, but olive, vegetable, canola will all work. And you can even go in one of those fancy olive oil stores where the oil is more expensive per ounce than caviar. I got a gift certificate to one of those stores and bought some truffle Moroccan oil and it was crazy delicious on the popcorn. But we went through it in a week, and I just couldn't justify a 100 dollar a month popcorn habit. Although I did think about it for longer than was probably acceptable...

Step 3: Get some seasoning. I've tried a lot of "natural" options, like parmesan cheese, dill, and even old bay seasoning. But real talk? I'm addicted to Kernel Seasons. The stuff that's at the movie theater and is probably full of chemicals (strike that, definitely full of chemicals). I have looked into it, and they don't use MSG, nor do they contain the chemical that gives people popcorn lung (actually a thing). So I figure it's okay to use. You might be tempted by the other flavors, but trust me here: White cheddar or Nacho Cheese. It's what you want. We also have used nutritional yeast, which is a great option to get some extra protein and be healthy, but if I have both of those options in my cupboard, I'm choosing Kernel Seasonings almost every time.

Step 4: Put it all together. You want to think in layers so that you don't get halfway through the popcorn and end up with jagged cardboard tasting popcorn. So put in half the popcorn, then mist with the oil, then season. Without the oil, the seasoning will just fall off the popcorn. Then do it again. Popcorn, oil, seasoning. It's like making lasagna, but popcorn.

Step 5 (optional): I don't recommend this for every night, because humans just can't handle this much awesome on a regular basis (and some of these can add serious calories) but if you really want something special, I suggest adding the following:

-scattering goldfish crackers in the mix, because it's like a delicious treasure hunt of fishes.

-sprinkling Frank's Red Hot over the popcorn, but use sparingly or your mouth will be on fire.

-scattering m&ms or mini marshmallows in the popcorn, just prepared for some melting action, delicious, delicious melting.

If you're going to seriously get into this, I also recommend getting bulk popcorn from amazon. We've tried a lot of different types and this brand seems to be the best bang for your buck. I'd feel bad about advertising the fact that we regularly go through 12.5 pound bags of popcorn, except for the fact when prepared like this (minus the m&ms), it's super healthy. Air-popped popcorn is full of fiber, and only 30 calories for a cup. I think the editors of SHAME magazine would be proud.

#stuffilove #food



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