Saturday, October 13, 2012

Popcorn Challenge - Vegan Style

I successfully have gone to two swim practices in a row now. Even though I am really slow and completely out of shape, I am liking being back in the pool. Most nights I come home from work and I either cook, go out to eat or laze around the house watching TV. The only thing I get close to accomplishing is food related and I figure it is time to change it. One of my favourite things to do after swimming when I was a kid was to go for doughnuts. Kind of like the reward for doing something healthy. Balance it with a little unhealthy. Now that I am vegan, I can't just whip through the Timmy's drive through on my way home. The only place in this city that has doughnuts sometimes that are vegan aren't open that late. So, I saw two options... Either make doughnuts or find another after swimming treat. I am not quite ready to try my own doughnut recipe (Maybe soon though?) I decided, it would be much smarter to find another snack.

Enter popcorn.

I think one of the best snacks in the world is popcorn. The smell is addictive and it is practically impossibly to mess up. You can air pop, oil pop or get the microwave bags and have a filling snack in minutes. I remember when I went vegan, I realized that almost all microwave popcorn is not vegan. This was a very sad day. I think the worst is when I smell it. That chemical butter smell is highly addictive. I couldn't just give up popcorn and most certainly was not going to just eat it plain.. so I learned how to make popcorn without a bag and a micro wave. Two ways that I use:

1. Air pop - You can buy an air popper for less than $20. I find they last me about a year or so and tend to start clunking out on me after that. The nice thing about these things is that there is no added fat to making the popcorn and you can make as much as you want. I find about 1/4 cup is more than enough. Major drawback is that the machine is not well made and doesn't last that long and there are always kernels that don't pop.

2. Oil popping - All you need is popcorn, a tablespoon of oil and a big pot and just like the air popper, you can have popcorn in a couple minutes. The trick to oil popping is first warm the pan, then add the oil (I find the best are peanut or coconut. You want any oil that can heat to a high temperature; olive oil will burn) Once the oil is hot, add 4-5 kernels of popcorn and put the lid on it. When those kernels pop, you know the oil is ready. Add the remaining popcorn and cover the pot. take it of the heat for 20-30 sec. this allows the kernels to all get to the same temperature. Next put it back on the heat and move it around on the element so it doesn't burn. Every kernel will pop this way.
Very important - put a couple kernels in the pop and wait for them to pop

Then add the rest of the kernels and take it off the heat
for 20 seconds. Now everything is the same temp.

2 minutes later - Voila! 

In order to make popcorn a worthy blog post, I thought I would write about different ways I make popcorn that are vegan. You can just buy some vegan butter or margarine and add it like you would normally, but like most vegan people I have to make it more interesting. Tonight I tested four different flavours, two sweet and two savory.

The Sweet

Popcorn and brown rice syrup
This of this as a slightly more healthy version of caramel popcorn. The nice thing about it is that you just need to add a couple spoonfuls of brown rice syrup and you're ready to eat. No cooking caramel or worrying about burning the sugar. Another good thing about this is that you don't get the blood sugar spike as bad with brown rice syrup.. that's why I get to call it a slightly healthier version. In the end, it's still a sugar, but it is also a great treat. You could also do this with maple syrup or agave.

Brown sugar and cinnamon
I made this with cinnamon toast in mind. I personally just like brown sugar more than white, so you could use whatever sugar you want. Add about 1 Tbsp of sugar for every 1/2 tsp of cinnamon. taste and adjust if you want. I also add a small bit of canola oil to this to help the sugar stick to the popcorn. Sweet and spicy, this is a flavour combo that cannot be beat. You could also dice up some apple to go in here or melt down some peanut butter. Actually, adding both of those together would be amazing. I think I'll try that next time!

The savory

Chili powder, salt, cayenne and paprika with olive oil
This is probably the one that I do the most. It is salty, smokey, and a little spicy. Totally delicious. I don't really measure when I make this, but I would say about Tbsp olive oil and tsp of paprika and chili powder and maybe 1/8 tsp of cayenne.

Garlic powder, salt and nutritional yeast
This is a nice way to have a salty snack and get some B12 in your diet. Nutritional yeast is not for everyone, but it is a nice combo with garlic. Sometimes I add Italian seasoning to this as well. Depends on the mood. I add about 1-2 tsp garlic powder, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp Italian season, 1 tsp nutritional yeast and some olive oil to bind it. Toss and you're ready.

I think my favourite thing about popcorn is that I have total control over it. I can make it salty or sweet or both. Completely up to me. that and it only takes minutes to fulfill the craving. I hate to wait when I want something.


  1. I like the garlic powder, salt, and nutritional yeast recipe. Popcorn has been one of my favorite snacks for years. When I went vegan I started using nutritional yeast. It wasn’t a perfect topping but pretty good. I never thought to add garlic powder which sounds very yummy.

    1. Do try it. I love garlic and thought it was pretty good. Nutritional Yeast can be good or bad, but oddly it seems to work well with popcorn!

  2. I am a huge popcorn fan! Yours looks really good. I like the chili powder one! :)

    1. The Chili powder recipe is the one I do most. It is the perfect blend of salty and smokey.