Combine the famous US snack food and sweet brown powder from the cacao tree and you have the making of a healthier snack than you’ll find in the supermarket. Chocolate has become one of the most popular favors in the world and was used widely throughout the Mayan empire over 2000 years ago. It was not until the Spanish added sugar and milk that our current chocolate delights entered the culinary scene.
On a recent trip to the Savory Spice Shop, St. Petersburg FL. a college favorite snack flooded my memory as I picked up sacks of cocoa powder and a spice blend called Peruvian Chili Lime Seasoning. A college roommate was always on a diet and needed “something crunchy” to help her study. Popcorn was her best option for a low calorie snack.
Many people think popcorn is regular corn kernels but it is corn kernels with the starch extracted. The starch is used for cornstarch or laundry starch and the pith that remains can be used for packing material, explosives (fireworks) or popcorn snacks. The calories from popcorn snacks come from what is applied to the popped kernels.
Sweet corn and livestock feed corn contain up to 50% oil which contributes substantial calories. Corn products are also not a good nutrition addition to the diet since they are deficient in the amino acid lysine and B vitamin niacin. Today, some ornamental varieties of corn are grown with tiny red, white, yellow, purple and blue kernels. These ornamental varieties are offered as gourmet popcorn because the seeds dry well and can be stored for extended periods of time.
The Peruvian Chili Lime Seasoning can add a zesty taste to the Chocolate Spicy Popcorn. Chili and cumin powders complement each other to increase blood flow and improve bronchial congestion. Chili stimulates endorphins, kills pain and induces a sense of well-being. Adding grated dark chocolate to the snack mix adds calories but can be added at your discretion.
Marcona almonds from Spain are the best choice for a healthy snack because they are not pasteurized with hexane gas. Marcona almonds with rosemary, available at a local specialty market, are a favorite healthy snack. Almonds have about 150 calories per ounce (about 20 nuts) which is 60 % more calories from fat than protein.
Chocolate Spicy Popcorn
6 cups air popped corn (1/4 cup unpopped)
1/4 cup chopped Marcona almonds
1/2 cup dried No Sugar Cranberries or Cherries
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1 ounce grated dark chocolate
1/2 teaspoon Peruvian Chile Lime Seasoning (optional)
Toss together popped corn, almonds and cranberries in lightly oiled 9 inch square baking pan. Combine honey, coconut oil, and cocoa powder in bowl or saucepan. Heat to blend. Pour over popcorn mixture. Toss to blend. Sprinkle on dark chocolate and seasoning mix. Makes 3 servings.
Calories per serving 185
Protein 1 g
Fat 8 g
Sodium (no seasoning) 217mg (with seasoning) 467mg