Of all the snacks, popcorn seems to be the most healthy (despite what the Center for Science in the Public Interest says) and, as Beckerman proves in this book, it certainly is the most versatile, especially when you make it yourself.
Beckerman starts with a quick history. Popcorn really is all-American, these is archeological evidence from New Mexico native-American sites that dates back 4,000 years. As American agriculture delivered greater yields through technological improvements, there was more corn and more popcorn—at county fairs, from street vendors, at the movies, and at home.
She then offers tips for making popcorn at home, and there’s no reason or need not to. Pre-packaged microwave popcorn is expensive, overly packaged, and with “butter flavor,” overly processed. In a microwave-safe bag or on the stovetop, popcorn is super easy and super simple. Even the expanding overflow makes it fun in an I Love Lucy kind of way.
And for even more fun, try her sweet and savory recipes. (Beckerman admits, this is where it gets less healthy.) In recipes for bar snacks, balls and bars, and candies, she coats the kernels with flavors like wasabi, cool ranch, or sesame and soy. In recipes for savory dishes, she incorporates popcorn into stuffed mushrooms, nachos, meatloaf, and salads. Desserts and candies range from tutti-frutti to chocolate.
All these options prove popcorn’s versatility. I’ve made popcorn bread (here’s one recipe, and there are plenty of others out there). Beckerman expands that into cupcakes, cookies, and even a gateau. She points out popcorn’s further usefulness as a gluten-free coating for chicken or fish, after you’ve given it a whiz in the food processor.
Most of these recipes are clever flavor combination of stuff you’ll have in your pantry—lemon basil, maple, garlic cheddar, or pad thai—making popcorn an early instant snack and making movie night at home extra special.