tasty popcorn toppings
September 26, 2005 9:59 PM   Subscribe

What are some tasty toppings I can put on air-popped popcorn that contain no cholesterol, no salt, few calories and are vegetarian?
posted by croutonsupafreak to Food & Drink (33 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Garlic & olive oil.
posted by trevyn at 10:01 PM on September 26, 2005

Paprika or cayenne pepper, depending upon your tolerance for heat.
posted by mds35 at 10:01 PM on September 26, 2005

A couple dashes of balsamic vinegar.
posted by nathan_teske at 10:04 PM on September 26, 2005

Tabasco sauce.
posted by riffola at 10:06 PM on September 26, 2005

Lots of interesting oils have no cholesterol. Try chili oil, sesame oil, garlic oil or olive oil maybe. And you can add spices.
posted by thirteenkiller at 10:08 PM on September 26, 2005

Nutritional yeast. As mentioned here.
posted by holgate at 10:15 PM on September 26, 2005

second the cayenne

posted by bigmusic at 10:45 PM on September 26, 2005

black pepper. much tastier than it sounds.
posted by zardoz at 10:49 PM on September 26, 2005

a fine mist of soy and sesame oil is good, and roasted sesame seeds with a bit of seasoned nori. there might be a little salt in there, but not much.
posted by luriete at 10:53 PM on September 26, 2005

Best answer:
  • roasted garlic, thinned with a little oil or lemon juice or vodka
  • orange zest and black pepper
  • a medley of citrus zests
  • basil and garlic, thinned with vodka
  • garam masala, gently warmed in a pan before tossing with the popcorn
  • make a vinaigrette?
do report back.
posted by heeeraldo at 10:55 PM on September 26, 2005 [1 favorite]

one garlic powder two paprika
posted by Satapher at 11:04 PM on September 26, 2005

soy sauce. trust me, its damn good.
posted by devilsbrigade at 11:09 PM on September 26, 2005

hot hungarian paprika. oh yes.
posted by idiotfactory at 11:53 PM on September 26, 2005

Ugh. Why?
Few calories and no salt/cholesterol/whathaveyou— 3:1 Cayenne to sugar. It'll be just sweet enough that you'll keep popping it in your mouth, but hot enough to punish you for it. An indian couple in my neighborhood made popcorn like that for me and I love it, though since my girlfriend hates spicy food, we can't have it together.
You can also try rosemary and a bit of onion powder, or the aforementioned garlic, or pretty much any other flavor you might like. Popcorn's kinda a blank slate.
posted by klangklangston at 12:10 AM on September 27, 2005 [1 favorite]

Grated hard cheese, like Parmesan, is pretty low in fat. 1 T. of Parmesan contains 4 mg of cholesterol, if that's acceptable.

In any case, as k² noted, popcorn is the tofu of movie snacks. Add a flavoring that you ordinarily like in cooking, but might not think of. So, to your larder!
posted by rob511 at 2:45 AM on September 27, 2005

posted by wallaby at 3:09 AM on September 27, 2005

curry powder.
posted by plinth at 3:43 AM on September 27, 2005

I crave this stuff bi-nightly. Plus the guy just lives around the corner, so it's convenient for those "Oh-crap-I'm-out" nights.

I don't know if his website (yeah, it needs help) mentions it, but he now makes a popcorn topping with cheese powder and the chipotle stuff. YUM.
posted by Wiggo at 4:38 AM on September 27, 2005

Best answer: Old Bay seasoning is orgasmic on popcorn, although I think it may have celery salt in it. It's also fab on fries.

Cinnamon and sugar is yummy too.
posted by iconomy at 5:36 AM on September 27, 2005

Response by poster: Thanks for all the tips, everyone. This is for the healthy workplace committee at my job.

I joined the committee because I'm trying to get them to add fruits and veggies to the array of chocolates and candy corn available for free in the office. In the process, I got "volunteered" to bring in a snack that everyone can eat.

Normally I use about a half stick of butter and a bunch of salt for my popcorn, but there are people high blood pressure and cholesterol problems who will be eating this stuff, as well as severely overweight people dieting for the first time.

Now I get to spend the next week or so experimenting before I decide which flavors to introduce. Yum.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 7:24 AM on September 27, 2005

I use fake sweeteners - specifically splenda - on popcorn to good effect.
posted by jacquilynne at 7:27 AM on September 27, 2005

Old Bay contains salt. As does Tony Chachere's which would have been my suggestion. There is Tony's Lite with 1/3 less sodium, which puts it on par with Old Bay (160 mg), or even Tony's Salt Free!

Maybe the best way if you really want that Old Bay flavor is to mix up the same general ingredients, just omitting the salt. For Old Bay the recipe would be:

Ground Celery Seed
Ground Mustard
Red Pepper
Black Pepper
Bay Leaf (ground)
Ground Cloves
Ground Allspice
posted by Pollomacho at 8:22 AM on September 27, 2005 [1 favorite]

Second the nutritional yeast, but I must correct a comment in the referenced thread. Brewer's yeast and nutritional yeast are not the same. They have a different flavour and texture. Brewer's yeast is more bitter and nuttier, while nutritional yeast is sort of buttery and cheesy. Also, you may find brewer's yeast in a package at your normal grocer, but nutritional yeast is hard to find outside of a store that specializes in natural foods.
posted by ijoshua at 8:48 AM on September 27, 2005 [2 favorites]

Soy sauce has lots of salt in it.

You might want to throw some unsalted peanuts in there, maybe.
posted by Juliet Banana at 8:49 AM on September 27, 2005

Thirding the suggestion for nutritional (I've always heard it called "engevita") yeast. That stuff is addictive!
posted by filmgoerjuan at 9:04 AM on September 27, 2005 [1 favorite]

My roommate would always put Bragg's Liquid Aminos* on her popcorn. Tasty.

And the local indy movie theater offers wasabi as a seasoning choice. Even tastier.

*Bragg's is found in health food stores. It tastes a lot like soy sauce, but I believe it has less salt.
posted by luneray at 9:10 AM on September 27, 2005 [1 favorite]

Tony Chachere's would even make dirt taste good.

I like the cayenne suggestion, but I'd go for something a tad milder and more flavorful, like ancho.

Recado rojo, often sold simply as "achiote", is delicious and can be found in exotic spice stores.
posted by mkultra at 9:13 AM on September 27, 2005

Nacho powder. You wouldn't need so much of it that it would have any significant quantity of calories/fat/cholesterol. They have it in the popcorn section of my local supermarket.
posted by rxrfrx at 9:58 AM on September 27, 2005

Lemon Pepper is crazy delicious on popcorn (and frankly is an amazing substitute for black pepper in general).
posted by verysleeping at 10:36 AM on September 27, 2005

I second the nutritional yeast and the soy sauce (preferably tamari). Add kelp powder.
posted by hydrophonic at 11:38 AM on September 27, 2005

Err, I mean I FOURTH the suggestion for nutritional yeast. My cat loves it too.
posted by hydrophonic at 11:39 AM on September 27, 2005

Vegemite. Sorry about the salt, but it's deeelicious on popcorn.
posted by sneebler at 8:09 PM on September 27, 2005

Response by poster: So far I've tried:
sugar & cinnamon -- yummy, though weird. Marking as best, as only suggestion that fit my low-cal requirement, tasted good and didn't ruin the texture of the popcorn (of those that I've tried so far)

parmesan -- good, but doesn't stick to popcorn

parmesan & olive oil -- sticks to popcorn, tasty but too high cal for my purposes

soy sauce -- so-so taste, but saturates the popcorn, ruining texture. Too much sodium, too

balsamic vinegar -- OK taste, but saturates the popcorn, ruining texture.

clove powder -- not good; weird

Bragg liquid amino acid -- somehow avoided saturating the popcorn, but fails the taste test.

paprika -- eh. Not sure if ordinary paprika is different than Hungarian.

vegemite -- I bought that shite once. Never again. Yuck.

I also squeezed a lemon over some popcorn & sprinkled with sugar. It was a little saturated, but oddly delicious.

I'm marking "lemon zest" as best, even though it's not quite the same thing, because that's what gave me the idea.

I'll look for lemon pepper, nutritional yeast, old bay & other interesting spices next time I go to the store.

I think I'll always be a butter lover, but this should give me some ideas for my healthy popcorn presentation at work.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 5:25 PM on September 29, 2005 [2 favorites]

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