Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Popcorn at the state fair and as a great snack

Posted on May 5, 2013 at 1:00 a.m.

Mary Ann Lienhart-Cross

Food & Nutrition

Last week I shared information with you about German chocolate cake and that it is the baked item choice of Elkhart County 4-H Fair president Tim Graber. I do hope that many of you are practicing and planning to enter your cake in July. Another wonderful opportunity in the Home & Family Arts Department that you can participate in is “Celebrate the Year of Popcorn.” Each year, an Indiana-grown food is highlighted at the Indiana State Fair, and this year it is popcorn. Since popcorn is also locally grown, we have Yoder’s Popcorn in Topeka as the sponsor.

The contest is being held Saturday, July 20, in the Home and Family Arts Building. There are four categories you could enter: popcorn balls, flavored-savory, flavored-sweet and flavored-caramel. Bring your entry to the building between 11 and 11:45 a.m. Judging begins around noon. There are prizes for first place in each category as well as an overall grand prize. See the 2013 Open Class Home & Family Arts Department booklet for rules and regulations.

Now I want to provide you with information that will motivate you to prepare and eat more popcorn. It’s hard to believe a snack food that tastes so good can actually be good for you! I am not necessarily talking about the salty, buttery popcorn at the movies or the microwaved kind. With suggestions from organizations such as the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, American Dental Association and the National Cancer Institute, there’s no doubt popcorn is a perfectly sensible snack to fit into any meal/fitness plan. Popcorn is a whole grain, making it a good-for-you food. Popcorn is naturally low in fat and calories. Popcorn has no artificial additives or preservatives and is sugar-free.

I do hope that I am whetting your appetite and that you are thinking about making some popcorn soon. Popcorn is ideal for between-meal snacking since it satisfies and doesn’t spoil the appetite. Three cups of popcorn equals one serving from the grain group. Air-popped popcorn has only 31 calories per cup; oil-popped popcorn has only 55 calories per cup. When lightly buttered, popcorn contains about 133 calories per cup.

So how does popcorn fit into MyPlate? Here is how: any food made from wheat, rice, oats, cornmeal, barley or another cereal grain is a grain product. Grains are divided into two subgroups, whole grains and refined grains. Whole grains contain the entire grain kernel — the bran, germ, and endosperm. Refined grains have been milled — a process that removes the bran and germ — and removes dietary fiber, iron and many B vitamins. Popcorn, bread, pasta, oatmeal, breakfast cereals, tortillas and grits are examples of grain products.

Generally, the USDA recommends six ounce equivalents of grains with at least three of those coming from whole grains. In general, three cups of popcorn, a slice of bread, a cup of ready-to-eat cereal, or 1/2 cup of cooked rice, cooked pasta or cooked cereal can be considered as 1 ounce equivalent from the grains group. Popcorn is a starch exchange recommended by the American Diabetes Association and the American Dietetic Association.

Here are some popcorn ideas that you might want to try. I know I want to try popping popcorn in a cast iron Dutch oven over a wood fire. Season plain popcorn with garlic powder or seasoning salt. Season the popping oil with spices to create a lightly flavored savory treat. Top soup or salad servings with popped popcorn.

To obtain a copy of the Open Class Home & Family Arts booklet, visit our website at http://www.ag.purdue.edu/counties/elkhart. Your Purdue Elkhart County Extension Office is open to being testers of your popcorn creations. Enjoy healthy, good food with family and friends.

Mary Ann Lienhart-Cross is an Extension educator in consumer family science. Write to her at 17746 E. C.R. 34, Goshen, IN 46528; call 533-0554; fax 533-0254; or email lienhart@purdue.edu.