Turmeric Popcorn

Toddlers, Kids, Adults

Some experts consider popcorn a choking hazard for toddlers. As described in the article below, parents are the best judge as to whether their toddler can handle popcorn or not, depending on how well she chews and swallows other foods. You can err on the side of caution and wait until your child is 4 to give them popcorn. My 2 yr old seems to handle it fine, for what it's worth. 

Popcorn, believe it or not, is a very healthy snack as long as it's not the butter and sodium-doused movie theater variety or the chemical-laden kind found in ready-to-pop, microwavable popcorn. Popping your own corn is ridiculously simple (see details below) and when done so, this crunchy, tasty snack is a rich source of antioxidants (yes, really!), fiber, folate and other minerals like iron and manganese. Combined with anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory turmeric, this is a bright, healthy and delicious snack you can feel good about giving your kids and yourselves.

Science Corner
The most vigorously studied use of turmeric and its active ingredient, curcumin, is for cancer. While most of the evidence is limited to animal studies, a few clinical trials are ongoing to determine if curcumin can treat cancers in humans. The ability of curcumin to thwart cancer in has been linked in several studies to its inhibition of a protein in the cell, called NFkappaB, which promotes the expression of genes that assist cancer growth. Research has shown that curcumin can slow cancers of various organs including the lung, breast, skin and colon. Given its poor absorption into the blood stream previously discussed here, it may be more promising for cancers of the esophagus and gut where it can exert its function without having to be absorbed. It's also important to keep in mind the limitations of dietary curcumin as a therapeutic given the high doses required. We see the benefits of dietary curcumin more as an anti-inflammatory molecule, potentially useful in preventing rather than treating cancer, which we consider reason enough to embrace it in our kitchen! 

~10 cups of popped popcorn

1/2 cup popping corn
2 tablespoons coconut oil, preferably the anti-oxidant rich, unrefined or virgin variety
1-2 tablespoons butter depending on richness desired
1-2 teaspoons turmeric powder depending on strength of flavor desired
Pinch or 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
Salt to taste

Heat the coconut oil with 4 kernels of popping corn over medium-high heat in a pot with the lid on. Once the kernels pop, take the lid off, add the remaining corn and give them a good stir. Cover the pot and take it off the heat for 20 seconds, allowing all the kernels to come to popping temperature at around the same time. Place the covered pot over medium-high heat again. Once the kernels begin popping, lift the pot off the heat and shake it from side to side every 10-15 seconds to prevent the bottom layer from burning. Once there is a 30 second gap or so between pops, turn the heat off and lift the lid off the pot. 

Melt the butter in a small pan, add the turmeric and pepper and stir for about 30 seconds. Pour in batches over the corn, stirring well between pours to evenly incorporate the seasoning. Sprinkle with sea salt to taste stirring once again. Store in air-tight containers for prolonged freshness. Serve as a snack, during an at home movie night or as a lunch box side. Spice it up further with some cayenne for adults mmmm. 

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