Monday, March 5, 2012

Monday Meet Whole Foods: Popcorn!

Today's new whole food is: 


You might be thinking right now, "uh, popcorn?" What is there to know about popcorn? It pops and you eat it and that's it right? 

Wrong! Popcorn is more than just a snack food. Did you know you can grind popcorn in a grinder and make a wonderful corn flour or corn meal. It makes the tastiest cornbread that you've ever tasted!
It can be used in many wonderful ways and I'm going to show you a few of my favorites this week! I hope you enjoy learning all about popcorn!

What is Popcorn?
Popcorn is an ancient grain that has been around a LONG Time! The Native Americans are believed to have discovered it. They introduced it to the early settlers of our country who liked to eat it as a breakfast cereal. 

How does it Pop?
I've wondered this for a while so I did a little research about it online. Here's what I discovered. Popcorn has a unique property of having a very tough outer shell or hull, unlike most other grains. But like all grains, inside the hull there contains a certain amount of moisture and oil. When popcorn is heated quickly, the moisture inside becomes steam. This steam softens the starch inside the grain making it pliable. But at the same time the steam creates pressure on the outer hull. This pressure increases as the heat is increased until finally the hull breaks. With this release of pressure, the starch and proteins inside the kernel are converted to a foam, that we know as popped popcorn!

How do I use it?
You can use popcorn by popping it in the microwave, air popper or in oil on the stove top. There are other oil poppers you can find out there to use as well. I've even popped popcorn over the campfire with a neat little campfire popper! In addition to popping, and as I mentioned before popcorn can be ground into flour and used in yeasted or non-yeasted breads or pancakes.

How healthy is it?
That depends on what you put on it! But let's just talk about raw popcorn. Raw popcorn is a whole grain and low in calories, high in fiber, and sugar free! Corn fiber has been documented to have many digestive benefits, including lowering the risk of colon cancer. Consuming corn, like popcorn has been shown to help people with diabetes regulate their blood sugar levels. Combining corn with legumes creates a complete protein and help improve overall nourishment. 

Where can I buy it?
Raw popcorn can be found in most grocery stores or online. I like to buy mine in bulk at WinCo or other places locally. I don't recommend the microwave pre-packaged kind because it is high in fat and sodium and other harmful ingredients. 

Got a Recipe?
This week I'll be sharing some of my favorite recipes using popcorn, including how to make your own microwave popcorn! If you have a favorite popcorn recipe, please feel free to leave a comment or send me an e-mail!

If you need more ideas, get inspired with this episode (free streaming) of chef Brad's fusion grain cooking show all about popcorn! You can find the recipes he uses in the show at his site

Information from this post came from: chefbrad, wikipedia, and whfoods

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