Most popcorn balls are made using corn syrup or some other unhealthy ingredient to hold them together. In addition, they’re often loaded with salt
Most popcorn balls are made using corn syrup or some other unhealthy ingredient to hold them together. In addition, they’re often loaded with salt and high in sugar. However, popcorn balls can be a healthy treat if you use the right ingredients. As a bonus, you can make healthy popcorn balls in less than 15 minutes.
The problem with popcorn balls often starts at their base, which is buttery, salty popcorn. If you use air-popped popcorn, you immediately make your treat healthier. A 1-cup serving of regular-flavor popcorn made with oil has around 64 calories and 4 grams of fat. In contrast, 1 cup of air-popped popcorn has 31 calories and 0.3 grams of fat. You can air-pop popcorn in a brown paper bag with the top rolled shut in the microwave. Alternately, pop the kernels in a specialty machine made for air popping. Popcorn will keep in a sealed bag for up to a week without going stale, so make as much as you’d like. Most grocers also carry bags of air-popped popcorn, but purchasing the kernels and popping them yourself is typically cheaper.
Make it Sticky
Popcorn balls need a sticky substance; you can use heated honey as the healthful binding agent. You shouldn’t need more than 1 teaspoon of honey to hold 1/2 cup of popcorn together. A 1-teaspoon serving of honey has 21 calories and no fat. While honey still contains sugars, they’re natural and not unhealthy in small amounts. Choose a pure honey with an essence you enjoy; the higher quality the honey is, the better your popcorn balls will taste. Most natural grocers carry a wide range of honeys. To heat the honey, melt it in a saucepan over low heat until it’s thin. Be careful; it will cause severe burns if you get the hot honey on your skin. Drizzle it over popcorn and stir the popcorn until it’s coated.
Before your popcorn balls take shape, you can add extra flavor to complement the honey. Ground cinnamon, grated nutmeg, dried ginger and even cayenne pepper are examples of healthful choices. Add as much as you want; 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon has just 6 calories. Cocoa powder, vanilla bean seeds and ground cloves are also delicious in popcorn balls. Alternately, add your chosen flavoring to the honey before drizzling it over the popcorn. If you choose this method, be careful when adding ingredients to the honey, as some will make it bubble violently. The alcohol in vanilla extract has this effect, for example.
Shape and Store
Once the honey has cooled — which requires less than 10 minutes — the popcorn is ready to shape into balls. Using your hands is the best way to do it, but you’ll end up with messy fingers. Keeping a layer of plastic wrap between your hands and the popcorn balls is the perfect solution. Use as much pressure as you need to form the popcorn mixture into balls. If you’d like to serve the popcorn balls on sticks, poke the stick in the center of a loosely shaped ball before you apply pressure to hold it there.