Lately, I've been working hard trying to have some positive impact in this world, and trying not to have all the challenges in society get me down... (yes, I'm trying to focus on my spiritual practice, do some exercise, and connect with friends and family...all those things I know will help...) but really, I just want to have a little more fun, even if it's just something a little wacky for dinner. If I'm starting with popcorn as the base for dinner, then I've basically already won the fun game, and if it's loaded popcorn, that takes it to a whole other level. The basic premise here is to pop up a big bowl of kernels, season it up good, and top it with the types of foods you might put in a taco or on a baked potato, plus a bunch more veggies to round it out. Give a quick mix and dig in with a spoon. Bring on the giant smiles and happy bellies.
Let me be honest here we got this idea from a wacky youtube show called Good Mythical Morning, which we occasionally watch when we need something to laugh at (yet another way to have fun). This is a variation on their loaded baked potato and 7-layer dip popcorn, except we're not eating this in a movie theater or with our hands. The best part for us is piling toppings into a big mixing bowl filled with our favorite popped snack food and digging in with a spoon. It makes dinner feel super fun.
The other fundamental part of this meal is keeping it easy and using whatever you have in the kitchen. If we're out of lettuce to shred, we add some shredded carrots and chopped fresh spinach. No sour cream? Try a little plain yogurt, or just leave that out all together. We've been warming up some black beans (rinsed from a can) and green peas (frozen) to boost the protein, and basically just see the popcorn as delicious replacement for the rice we often eat at dinner. The other thing I love to do is add a few sprinkles of spices to the popcorn such as adobo (like garlic salt), smoky paprika, chili lime seasoning or any spices I'm in the mood for. Grated romano or parmesan cheese is also one of my favorite additions.
So let's talk about popcorn for a second. You can always use popped, bagged popcorn if you've got it, but popping your own is easy, cheaper and usually healthier. You can use a heavy bottomed pot with a lid and a little oil, an air popper, or a microwave (just put 1/3 cup kernels in a lunch sized paper bag and microwave until the popping slows way down). You can drizzle the popcorn with a little olive oil, melted better or coconut oil to help the spices stick, you can also leave this out if you want. I often buy organic popcorn so that it's not genetically modified, (Trader Joe's has an inexpensive option). If you make the popcorn yourself, you don't need much oil or salt, and you get to skip those other strange ingredients that we can't even pronounce.
When I posted this on facebook, people went nuts, both with total excitement and a little horror at the thought of messing with the perfection that is popcorn. All I can say is that this is so completely delicious, so easy and brings a huge smile to the whole family, so it's totally worth it.
Would love to see what you load your popcorn up with! Please post pix or comments below!
1. 3/4 cup popcorn kernels - popped (oil or butter optional)
2. Protein: beans, chili, meat, peas, chopped pumpkin seeds, etc...
3. Vegetables: shredded lettuce, chopped baby spinach (fresh or cooked), scallions, tomato, onion, shredded carrots, etc...
4. Seasonings: hot sauce, salasa, smoky paprika, chili-lime seasoning, adobo (garlic salt)
5. Cheese: sour cream, shredded cheddar, grated romano, parmesan or cotija cheese,
Lay out a buffet of options starting with some big bowls and your popcorn, followed by all the other prepared toppings. Have each person scoop plenty of popcorn into their bowl and pile on lots of wonderful toppings. Mix and dig in with a big spoon.
My favorite version is: popcorn, black beans, lots of shredded greens, scallions, smoky paprika, grated cheese, a squeeze of lime and a little hot sauce...it's sooooo good!