One of the biggest challenges when you make the switch to the keto diet, is what to eat for keto snacks. With bread off the table, many fruits on the keto no-go list and potato chops too high in carbs, not much is left when you feel like snacking on keto. So, what about America’s – and the world’s – favorite snack food, popcorn?
Can you indulge in butter slathered popcorn as a snack on keto?
Today we will find out whether or not popcorn is allowed on the ketogenic diet. We’ll also delve into the benefits of popped popcorn and provide you with some awesome easy keto-friendly ketogenic diet alternatives.
Is it Keto Friendly?
Popcorn is permitted on the keto diet, but you have to be very careful about your intake. As we all know, once we get started on popcorn, it can be pretty hard to stop. But stop you must if you want to stay true to your keto diet. There are 5 grams of carbs in one cup of popcorn, which equates to 8 grams of popcorn by weight. But who can stop after eating popcorn at just one cup. A typical serving is 5 cups, which would work out to 25 grams of carbs.
The keto diet is a low carb diet. However, keto is also high in fat, which means that butter on your snacks is A OK. When you are following the keto diet, your goal, depending on your specific ketogenic diet weight loss strategy, is to keep the carb count 20 and 50 grams of carbs per day. That means that a typical serving of popcorn will whack a 20 gram per day keto dieter over the daily limit and provide half of the daily requirement of a 50 gram per day keto person.
From this, we see that there are too many carbs in popcorn for you to be able to eat normal serving sizes. However, if you cut the portion in half, you can enjoy popcorn every now and then as a keto snack. Keto dieters can enjoy microwave popcorn, air-popped popcorn, theater popcorn, and oven popped popcorn so long s they keep it in moderation.
One of the good things to do with popcorn is that it is high in fiber. One of the many benefits of fiber is that it fills you up. That means that so long as you are keeping an eye on your hunger sensation, rather than just eating popcorn endlessly out of habit, you should, be able to control your quantities quite well.
So, the bottom line on keto is that there are too many carbs in popcorn for you to have it frequently. You can eat popcorn as an occasional healthy snack but you need to carefully control your portions. You can, however, put as much butter on it as you like on keto!
What is Popcorn?
Popcorn is, first of all, an immensely popular snack food that is eaten around the world for decades. It is a snack that is synonymous with going to the movies. In fact, in the United States, people eat 14 billion quarts of the stuff every single year. That works out to 43 quarts for every man, woman, and child!
So, what exactly is this hugely popular snack food?
Of five varieties of corn, popcorn (Zea mays everta) is the kind that pops. Besides the more common yellow and white kernels, popcorn also comes in purple, rusty red, and black/blue—in fact, more than 1,300 kinds of popcorn have been developed by growers. But no matter what color the kernel is, the popped corn is always yellow or white.
Popcorn is simply the result of the heating of corn kernel. When heated, the kernel puffs up to form soft and crunchy popcorn. Popcorn is made up principally of a starch that contains a small amount of moisture. When the kernels are heated, the water inside turns to steam and builds up pressure. The hard surface surrounding the starch eventually no longer can resist the building pressure and the popcorn explodes, turning the kernel inside out.
Columbus recorded that natives in the West Indies sold popcorn to his crew. By the time the colonists arrived on these shores, Native Americans were growing more than 700 varieties of popcorn, although the corn brought to the first Thanksgiving was more likely parched flint corn (the multicolored corn that’s often used for decoration), rather than the legendary deerskin bag of popcorn.
Popcorn Health Benefits
When you eat popcorn, you are not only treating yourself to a delicious snack, you’re also choosing a very low calorie food option. In fact, it’s only got 27 calories per cup. That’s pretty rare when it comes to snack foods, which are usually laden with calories. Since it’s a whole grain cereal with high fiber content, popcorn has received well-earned recommendations from the American Cancer Society and the National Cancer Institute. It’s included on the American Dental Association’s list of wholesome sugar-free snacks, and both the American Diabetes Association and the American Dietetic Association allow popcorn as a bread exchange for those on special diets.
Gram for gram, popcorn has more protein, phosphorus, iron, and vitamin A than ice cream or crackers.
Nutritionally, air-popped popcorn, made without oil or salt, is the best choice. Otherwise, make the popcorn with a popper which calls for only one teaspoon of oil and make that oil a heart-healthy polyunsaturated or monounsaturated oil such as canola or safflower. You must also easy on the salt.
To date, all prepackaged microwave popcorn uses saturated fat and a substantial amount of salt. In the summer of 1994, the Center for Science in the Public Interest shocked movie theatergoers when it revealed that most movie theaters were cooking their popcorn in coconut oil, an oil whose capacity to raise blood cholesterol levels exceeds that of butterfat, beef tallow, and lard. This prompted many movie theater chains to switch to canola oil, which has the lowest saturated fat content of all cooking oils.
Popping Good Advice
Since it has the lowest saturated fat content of all cooking oils and imparts no flavor of its own, canola oil is the preferred cooking oil to use for popping corn. For variety, you could also use a flavored monounsaturated oil such as olive, corn, peanut, or macadamia oil. If you like the flavor of toasted sesame seeds, add a few drops of dark sesame oil to canola oil for a highly flavored popping oil. Use the sesame oil sparingly because it has an intense flavor.
Popcorn prepared with butter-flavored cooking spray or reconstituted butter-flavored granules becomes soggy after a few hours. To enjoy it at its best, make the popcorn in small batches and eat it, freshly made, while it’s still warm.
Before measuring the popcorn, discard any unpopped kernels. Seasonings will mix with the popcorn better if the popcorn is warm.
Protect fragile gifts for shipping or mailing by surrounding with popped corn. Air-popped corn, made without oil, is preferred, but unless the package is going to sit for several months before opening, you can also use popcorn that has been popped in oil. The popcorn offers better protection than excelsior, and popcorn is recyclable. The popcorn can be eaten or thrown out for the birds—they love popcorn, too!
Scatter a handful of popped corn over a piping hot bowl of soup for extra flavor, color, and texture. A great way to use leftover popcorn!
How to Make Basic Popcorn
Popped corn using a hot air popper:
Use ¹/4 cup popcorn for about 2 quarts popped corn; 6 tablespoons popcorn for about 3 quarts popped corn; and ¹/2 cup popcorn for about 4 quarts popped corn. Follow the manufacturer’s directions.
Popped corn made with oil:
Pour 1 tablespoon, or up to ¹/4 cup, canola or corn oil into a 5- to 6-quart heavy pan over medium-high heat. Once hot (if oil starts to smoke, it’s too hot), drop 1 or 2 popcorn kernels into the oil.
When the kernel spins or pops, add ¹/2 cup popcorn. Cover with the lid loose enough to allow steam to escape and shake the pan to coat each kernel with the oil. Continue to shake the pan frequently until popping almost stops.
Remove from heat. Makes about 4 quarts.
Popped corn using a microwave:
If your microwave oven instruction manual recommends popping corn, follow manufacturer’s directions using a microwave popper. The yield will be less than popcorn made in a hot air popper or on the stove-top, but the corn can be popped quickly without oil.
Popped corn made on the grill:
For each 2-cup serving, place 1 teaspoon oil and 1 tablespoon popcorn on a 16-inch square of heavy-duty aluminum foil.
Bring the corner of each square together and twist loosely to seal. Place the packets on a medium-hot grill, about 6 inches from the source of heat.
When popping almost stops, remove packets from the grill.
No Guilt Popcorn Trail Mix
- 1 quart air-popped corn or corn popped with no more than
- 1 teaspoon canola oil
- Butter-flavored cooking spray or reconstituted butter-flavored granules
- 1 tablespoon dried Mexican seasoning
- ¹/3 cup dried cranberries, blueberries, or cherries
- 1 tablespoon dry roasted pumpkin seeds
Put popcorn in a large bowl and lightly spray with cooking spray. Sprinkle with Mexican seasoning. Spray and toss again. Add remaining ingredients.
Eat within a few hours.
MAKES 1 SERVING
337 calories, 5 grams fat, 86 milligrams sodium
(377 calories, 10 grams fat, 86 milligrams sodium if popped with 1 teaspoon canola oil)
- 1 quart air-popped corn or corn popped with no more than 1 teaspoon canola oil
- Butter flavored cooking spray or reconstituted butter-flavored granules
- 1 tablespoon dried Mexican spiced salad dressing mix
- ¹/2 teaspoon crushed dried oregano
- ¹/2 teaspoon crushed dried thyme
- ¹/4 teaspoon garlic powder
Put popcorn in a large bowl and lightly spray with cooking spray. In a small bowl, combine remaining ingredients. Sprinkle over popcorn. Toss to coat evenly. Spray and toss again. Serve at once.
MAKES 1 SERVING
108 calories, trace fat, 87 milligrams sodium
(148 calories, 5 grams fat, 87 milligrams sodium if popped with 1 teaspoon canola oil)
Tip: If you’re looking for a more chewy, high fat keto snack, why not try pork rinds? What’s so good about pork rinds. How about zero carbs, 5 grams of fat and just 80 kilocals per serve? If you slather them with butter, they’ll be even more keto friendly.
Popcorn is permitted on the ketogenic diet but only in moderation. There are simply too many carbs in popcorn. So, limit yourself to half a cup or less every now and again and you’ll be able to enjoy this yummy keto snack without throwing yourselves out of keto . Remember, too, on keto you can use as much butter as you wish. So, now you don’t have to forego your favorite snack at the movie theater – just cut the size in half!