Popcorn is more than just a fun snack for movie nights. It's a whole grain that's low in calories and high in fiber. It also features antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, like vitamin B, magnesium, iron and zinc.
All that said, not all popcorn preparations and toppings are created equal. Drowning your popped kernels in lots of butter, salt or artificial flavorings could end up sabotaging your efforts at a healthy snack. The best option? Air popping your popcorn in a pot on the stovetop or in an air-popper machine. Season it with herbs, spices, nutritional yeast or other seasonings that don't add sodium or fat.
Besides eating it straight from the bowl, we loved the idea of using plain, air-popped popcorn in this whole-grain snack bar. Sweet and a little bit salty, this trail mix bar also features rolled oats, almonds, dried cherries and mini chocolate chips. It may remind you of a chewy granola bar but we think it's more interesting and fun. And you can know it’s healthy because it’s homemade.
Popcorn Trail Mix Bars
(Download a printable pdf of this recipe)
Yield: 16 bars
6 cups air-popped popcorn, crushed
2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup chopped almonds, unsalted
1 cup dried cherries
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
1 Tablespoon cinnamon
3/4 cup honey
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
Line a 9 x 13-inch baking dish with parchment paper. In a large bowl, mix together the popcorn, oats, almonds, cherries, chocolate chips and cinnamon. In a small pot over medium-high heat, combine the honey, brown sugar and salt. Cook until the brown sugar dissolves, about 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently to avoid burning. Let the mixture come to a low boil for 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove pot from heat and pour honey mixture over popcorn mixture. Use a rubber spatula to stir until dry ingredients are well coated.
Transfer the mixture to prepared baking dish. Use wax paper to press the mixture into the baking dish into an even layer. Let cool for about one hour, then cut into 16 bars.
Nutrition Information Per Serving: 217 Calories; 5 grams Fat; 1.5 grams Saturated Fat; 0 mg Cholesterol; 40 mg Sodium; 44 grams Carbohydrates; 3 grams Fiber; 3 grams Protein