The Bad News About Microwave Popcorn

There is nothing quite like the smell of a big bowl of popcorn.

Its one of my go to snacks- whole grain and low fat naturally (assuming its not doused in butter). It keeps me full and I can eat a big bowl without totally busting my calorie allowance. I like to keep snacks under 200 calories, and that allows 3 cups of my popcorn! I know I’m not alone when I say that sometimes I just want quantity when munching during a movie or relaxing. Disclaimer: you shouldn’t eat in front of the tv, it is a super easy way to over eat.


Making healthy popcorn from scratch is just as easy as making a prepackaged bag- I promise!

Prepackaged microwave popcorn, however, is a totally different beast.

This has gotten quite a bit of buzz recently. Here’s the quick version of why the prepackaged microwave popcorn is bad news:

  • Preservatives used in the flavorings may cause stomach and breathing issues, and are being phased out in other countries
  • The chemical that lines the bags in most varieties has been linked to cancer and infertility in animal studies
  • Take a look at the ingredients- how many do you recognize as something in a household kitchen? If you can’t pronounce it, a general rule of thumb is that it’s very processed and you shouldn’t put it in your body.

My favorite alternative- corn kernels and olive oil!

This bowl may not be the most attractive item in my kitchen, but it is one of my very favorite gadgets. I got it for about $10 on amazon, and I use it constantly. This is my popcorn bowl- it’s literally a bowl designed for air popping popcorn. It couldn’t be easier to use!

My after-school snack popcorn recipe: (afterschool snacks are a habit that started in my childhood & carried into my career)

  • put dollop of olive oil in the bowl (about 1/2 tbsp.)
  • add about 2 tbsp. corn kernels
  • microwave for 2 minutes and 40 seconds
  • salt and pepper to taste and shake around to distribute

combine oil and kernels in the bowl and 2.4 minutes later you’ve got a satisfying snack!

I love this bowl because it doesn’t require little popping inserts like some on the market. I’ve read that you can also do this using a brown paper bag, but I like my dandy bowl because it’s reusable and prettier to eat out of. Yes, I like to feel like my food is pretty. It’s even vented at the top so you don’t scald yourself after popping! It really takes 3 seconds more work than using prepackaged popcorn.

I’m also known to shake a bunch of hot sauce on my popcorn from time to time, to my fiancée’s disgust. A little spice can actually up the health benefits of your food (post about that here)…if you’re into that sort of thing.

If your sorrow is overwhelming from the absence of the prepackaged fake buttery goodness, go ahead and put a little REAL melted butter on top. It’s not the healthiest thing you’ll ever do, but it’s certainly better than putting the chemicals from packaged popcorn into your body.

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16 thoughts on “The Bad News About Microwave Popcorn

  1. I love popcorn too :) apologies in advance I could go on for ages about popcorn…
    I don’t have a air popper bowl so I cook popcorn on the stove top in a big cast-iron dutch oven. It takes about 5 minutes but since you have to shake the big heavy pot over the heat once the kernels start popping I consider it a work out…. That way I can eat a more popcorn. I usually cook mine in olive oil and recently I’ve been topping it with a blend of Spicy Hatch Green Chili Powder, Ground Cumin, Garlic Powder, a little salt and black pepper. But when I want something a little sweet and salty I pop it in coconut oil and add just a pinch of salt at the end.


  2. I’ve got a great machine for air-popping corn kernals. Couldn’t get a healthier version than that! (although I am always on the look for flavour ideas…!)


  3. Hi Kim, am totally with you on popping my own kernals – I do it in a big pot on a high heat with coconut oil, and lots of shaking…..surprised to hear there’s less than 200 calories in 3 cups…I’ll be popping corn more often in that case! Laura


  4. This is great! I added that item to my Wish List on Amazon and will definitely be getting it. I love homemade popcorn, instead of the bagged stuff, but admit that it’s been many moons since I bought anything but the bagged type! :-\


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