Maybe it was pregnancy hormones or perhaps the anticipation of the holiday season, but for me, the last month or so was marked by an unusually high intake of sugary treats. Food aversions have followed me well into my third trimester, making it difficult to stomach nutritious foods such as chicken breast and hearty greens, yet until now, my sweet tooth was untouched. It wasn’t unusual for ice cream, pie, and Christmas candies to make their way into my diet on a daily basis.
Following my recent bout with pneumonia, however, things have started to turn around. My sweet cravings are ebbing, and I am finding myself preferring more savory dishes. Even vegetables are making a comeback, though to be fair, I’m still coating them with gobs of ranch dressing to make them more pleasing to my picky palate.
Much like broccoli florets drowning in a creamy dip, this “Cheesy” Popcorn is admittedly not an ideal choice nutritionally speaking, but it is delicious, satisfying, and made with real food, which is more than can be said for its microwaveable counterparts. It was introduced to me by our friends Seth and Lauren, and it has undoubtedly become one of my favorite salty snacks.
The key to its irresistible flavor? Nutritional yeast. Though common in vegan cuisine, this ingredient is not something most of us use every day. It’s a deactivated yeast that is yellow in color, and it imparts a nutty, cheesy flavor when used as a condiment. It is low in fat and sodium and high in dietary fiber, protein, and b-vitamins. In fact, the amount of nutritional yeast in a single serving of this prepared popcorn yields more than 100% of the recommended daily value of riboflavin, thiamin, and niacin. Combined with the dietary fiber inherent in the popcorn itself, it makes for a relatively healthy snack.
- 1/2 cup popcorn kernels, popped
- 5 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
- 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast, plus more to taste
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- In a large bowl, pour the cooled melted butter over the popped popcorn kernels and toss so that the butter is evenly distributed. Add the desired amount of nutritional yeast, salt and pepper and toss once more.
Tips and Tidbits
- While they are technically two distinct products, nutritional yeast is sometimes referred to as brewer’s yeast. It can typically be found in the bulk section of natural food stores.
- I like a lot of butter in my popcorn, but if you want to go lighter on fat and calories, feel free to reduce the quantity to suit your taste. In fact, all the ingredient amounts above are really just a guideline. Try out different ratios and combinations until you find what is most pleasing to you.
- It may seem unnecessary to add the liquid and powder components separately, but I’ve found that if I add the yeast, salt and pepper before the butter is distributed throughout the popcorn, those ingredients tend to clump up instead of coating it evenly.