Easy, healthy popcorn

Microwave popcorn is so 80s. And it’s not good for you. At all.

  • #1 on Shape’s list of 50 foods that seem good for you, but aren’t
  • The coating in the bag contains a number of dangerous chemicals that cause “popcorn lung” or bronchitis obliterans. Yikes! (see AARP, Care2, Discovery Health)

You could pop your popcorn in a brown paper bag in the microwave. Or, you could go old-school and pop it on the stove. It doesn’t take much longer, and you’re more involved in the process and that happiness gets cooked right into your snack. Here’s how we do it:

popcorn

1. Add some coconut oil (just enough to cover the bottom) to a pot and let it get really hot. Medium heat for about 2 minutes.

popcorn

2. Add 1/4 cup of popcorn kernels. Cover and let it pop! After a few minutes, you might shake the pot a little to move the kernels around.

3. Let it pop for a few minutes, until the space between the pops gets longer and longer. (Don’t take the lid off!) As you shake it, you can hear how many kernels are left. When you feel like you’re down to the duds, turn off the heat, remove the lid, and snack!

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It’s that easy!

It’s healthier than microwave popcorn, and you can choose your flavors, including butter flavor!

Now, I’ve been super jealous of the Holidrizzle Chocolate Peppermint Kettle Corn popcorn at all the stores, so I decided to make my own with some leftover peppermint candies. (This one has dairy and palm oil, so it’s off the list.)

1. I made some popcorn according to the above directions. Then, I moved all the popcorn to a bowl and added about 1 TBSP of coconut oil to the pan.

popcorn

2. I ground the peppermint candies in the food processor until they were very small. (I should have ground a little more, but it’s ok.)

popcorn

3. I added the candy grounds to the pot and stirred. Then, I added the popcorn and stirred to coat.

popcorn

It turned out great! The secret is to let the candies get a little melty. Then, they stuck to the popcorn. (Call it a dentist’s nightmare.) It’s not a healthy snack, but it’s not too bad, and I know I can make it myself.

Next time, I might try White Chocolate Peppermint Popcorn by Simply Scratch.

Choose organic!

Organic has a bad reputation for being more expensive than conventionally (or GMO) grown food. It’s just not true! For example, the organic coconut milk costs the same as the non-organic at Krieger. So, keep and open mind and compare prices. You might find a better deal in the organic aisle!

Choose organic

Coconut milk is a great healthy fat to add to smoothies. You can also make whipped cream!

Related: I really think it should cost more money to put chemicals and pesticides into our food than it does to grow them without. Check out what our local CSA has to do to qualify for organic certification. Why do they have to pay more to prove they are doing good?

Winding down in the garden

Now that our hot, hot summer has departed and the cooler temperatures of fall are setting in, we’re shifting things around in the garden. The tomatoes are still growing like wild (I will try to buy 5 tomato plants next year, not 9!) and the peppers are still giving it their all.

October 2012

greenhouse

We’ve cleaned out the cucumbers and melons, and planted radishes, beets, leeks, parsnips, and onions. The radishes look good, but there are no parsnips and just one beet. Any suggestions? Those are my favorite root vegetables, so I would really love for them to succeed.

Certainly, we’ll have freezing temperatures soon, and we’ll have to give in and pull up the remaining tomatoes and pepper plants. I can’t wait to see how long the greens last in the garden. Plus, I planted a bunch of seeds in the little greenhouse – kale, bok choy, arugula, and lettuce. Cross your fingers!

Chipotle doing good

ChipotleThe last time I had a Chipotle burrito, I nearly cried. Too spicy for my wimpy palate. (And they were owned by McDonald’s then.) After reading about the restaurant and it’s related foundation, I decided to give them another try. My husband and I split a bean burrito with chips and salsa.

Chipotle uses local food and ethically-raised animals. (though they still buy animals for people to enjoy, you can get a meatless meal) They support family farms and are partnered with inspiring movements like Farm Aid and Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution. They saw what factory farms have to offer, and they have rejected it in favor of better food and community engagement.

I’m really inspired by how they are committed to supporting local farmers and using better ingredients. I am, however, disappointed that there are no women on the Chiptole Cultivate Foundation board. There’s a real opportunity to set an example by being more inclusive and open-minded. Also on my wish list… less fattening food! Some students have a Chipotle burrito and chips as a snack before dinner. Yowch! Those calories are taking their toll on kids and families (and our health care system!).

This video explains their mission, and got me on a Willie Nelson kick that is still going after 3 months. Love.

Bad blogger

I know I’ve been seriously slacking here. Writers block? Maybe.

I’m embarking on a new journey that I’m not quite ready to disclose here yet. But, I hope to document some of my thoughts and new discoveries here, so you can expect to see more posts from me about food, energy, and wellness. Those are my passion, and our food industry impacts the planet in a huge way, so it’s all relevant.

Thanks for hanging in there with me!

Cleveland Zoo 2012Isn’t she lovely? She lives at the Cleveland Zoo.

Lemon in the garden

Lemon thinks he likes greens, and he definitely loves to explore new places. He won’t run away, so we take him out in the garden sometimes. We don’t allow him to eat the plants, but he does it anyway.

Lemon in the garden

We’ve had a good crop of tomatoes and cucumbers so far, and one kabocha squash. I hope we get more squash. They’ve sure spread out enough!

Garden

cherry tomatoes

Garden

kabocha squash

Pollinators in trouble

Scientists continue to warn us about how pollinators are in trouble, and how our food supply is in danger too. Some species of bees have declined by 96% in some areas.

In California alone, researchers reported last year in the journal Rangelands [sub. req.] that native species pollinate more than one-third of the state’s crops, making them a multi-billion-dollar contributor to its rural economy.

Garden

The problem

Colony collapse is a real problem, and supposedly still mysterious. There are a few potential problems, and they’re all preventable. We all know that pesticides are affecting the bees. Most pesticides that kill bad bugs kill the good ones too. Certainly, it’s a challenge to keep a vegetable garden from getting destroyed by insects, but without bees, there is no garden. Pesticides are causing a bigger problem than they’re solving. The other potential cause is that bees need to eat their honey throughout the winter. Well, instead of letting them eat the honey, beekeepers are harvesting the honey and feeding the bees high fructose corn syrup. What?! Yes, they’re taking the bee’s natural honey and giving them a processed food instead.

How we can help

I don’t like all the doom and gloom… I want to know how to help. Check out this TED Talk about urban and city bee farmers and how they can help solve the problem. If you don’t have room for a beehive (which, regrettably, I don’t), you can plant a pollinator garden to give the bees and their friends lots of options and variety. Additionally, some countries have banned the use of the pesticides that are killing bees. Maybe we could encourage our country to do the same.

bees

Sources

Avocados

I never liked avocados as a kid. In fact, I only started eating them about 2 years ago. Now, they’re my new favorite thing! I can’t get enough. We put them in everything from smoothies to dinners. Last night, I made a fantastic guacamole (1.5 avocado, 1/3 cup salsa, lime and lemon juice) to bring to a neighborhood party. And, I recently learned that you can even replace butter with avocados – it’s a 1:1 ratio.

avocados

Healthy fats

Avocados are so good for you because they have healthy fats. One avocado has 15 grams of unsaturated fat, which is good for your heart. The anti-inflammatory combination of the fats and carotenoids are helpful for relieving arthritis.

Good cholesterol

Avocados help promote good cholesterol, and lower bad cholesterol. So, if you have a family history of high cholesterol, think about adding avocados to your salads, salsa, and snacks. Southern Living tells more reasons to eat avocados.

Garlic

Last October, I learned that we can grow garlic, right here in Ohio! It’s the easiest thing ever. You just take one clove (not the whole bulb) and plant it a few inches deep, with the pointy end up. Wait about 6-8 months and you’ll have a whole bulb of garlic. If you buy locally grown organic garlic, you could have your own healthy, local garlic all year round.

garlic

I planted 6 garlic bulbs in October, and a few weeks ago, they were ready to harvest. You know they’re ready when 1/2 of the leaves are brown, and 1/2 are still green. Harvesting was easy. We just dug them up. You can hang them in a cool, shady place to dry, or keep them in the fridge and use them within 2 weeks.

garlic

Part of our CSA program requires that we work for 3 hours at the farm. That’s it. Just 3 hours for the whole summer. What a deal!

garlic at Crown Point

Our 3-hour commitment came up last Sunday when they were harvesting garlic. It was the day after the week-long, intense heat wave and we are so glad it broke! We had such a pleasant morning in the field, listening to the birds chirping as we dug and tied hundreds of bunches of garlic. Crown Point will dry it for us and we’ll see it in our share later this year.

garlic at Crown Point