Mark Bittmann, in Food Matters, was the first one to really plant the seed in my brain that popcorn — if it isn’t made with quotation-marks “butter” and toxic levels of sodium — is actually a healthy whole grain snack. While he was on his low-cholesterol “Vegan Before Six” diet (where he lost 35 pounds) for his afternoon snack, he would add popcorn kernels into a lunch bag, fold over the top to seal, and microwave it for a few minutes. I haven’t yet tried this technique, but I have completely adopted popcorn as a go-to afterschool snack for my daughters. I use some insanely delicious crimson popcorn called Rancho Gordo, (procured at the Stone Barns gift shop, but you can also buy online) which pops into beautiful cloudy white puffs that actually taste the way you think a natural piece of popcorn should taste.
I think popcorn taps into some deep happy place in my daughter’s brains that has something to do with seeing Pixar movies and birthday parties, because even though I’ve made this popcorn for them about two dozen times now, they still look at me like they can’t believe their luck. So of course, I feel like I’m mother-of-the-year.