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Cheesecorn!



I love popcorn and in particular popcorn made with coconut oil, salted, and topped with a gallon of clarified butter. Butter! Oh how I love butter on popcorn. Clarified butter! Warm, delicious clarified butter, lots and lots of clarified butter, however I am told it is not good to consume too much butter (damn doctors anyway), so I resorted to eliminating butter from my popcorn and it left me wanting. I needed to find something that was pleasurable; but not butter. Tall order. So I have searched for a trade-off that would give me my popcorn fix and keep me closer in line with the demands of my primary care physician, and I have failed constantly.

I made popcorn in a hot air popper, once, served plain - YUCK!

I use canola oil now to pop popcorn most of the time; a good source of monounsaturated fat that can help reduce my bad LDL cholesterol level and is a good source of alpha-linolenic acid, an omega-3 fat which is good for my heart health.

Before you go off on canola oil I must say there is always a conspiracy theory being circulated by some armchair rocket scientist/food expert about something telling us that "insert food name here" is bad for us and canola oil is no exception. I sought answers from the all knowing Internet and read up about canola oil on the Mayo Clinic website, so I will stand by the Mayo Clinics observations on the matter and continue to use it to pop my corn or toss my salad even. Click on link for more information. 

Mayo Clinic on canola oil (click here)


To compensate for the lack of butter, I have tried many of the different versions of popcorn flavourings on the market, but to get a pleasurable flavour out of them requires using a lot of the topping so the salt adds up which becomes bad. Very bad. The single largest ingredient of popcorn flavouring is salt with a myriad of multi-syllabic ingredients to follow, bad, very bad.

My favourite non-butter popcorn flavouring is cheddar cheese as in cheesecorn. Eating a bag of it then leaving telltale orange fingerprints over everything I come into contact with is a big treat; juvenile I know, but a treat none the less. My all-time favourite cheesecorn is made by Nuts On Clark (odd name I know) and I got addicted after buying a big bag of it at Chicago's O'Hare airport, and once addicted, anytime I traveled through O'Hare I was forced to buy another bag. Addicted or smitten? Regardless, it is THE BEST!!!

Nuts On Clark 

Now while I'm not a doctor, I don't play a doctor on TV, nor did I sleep in a Holiday Inn last night, I do know that excessive salt is bad so I started searching the Internet for less damaging type of popcorn flavour, lower salt, no butter, (cheesecorn anyone?) than what I could find locally.  During one such search I stumbled onto Nuts.com and they sell mushroom popcorn. Mushroom popcorn?  Yup mushroom. Mushroom shape that is. I was intrigued. 

Nuts.com (click here for link)

Popcorn pops into two distinct shapes - mushroom shape and butterfly shape.  The butterfly shape is the one you get when popping the standard store bought popping corn like Orville sells, or other purveyors like movie houses offer. Light, fluffy, tender, that is of course if you use fresh and good quality popcorn.
Mushroom popcorn from Nuts.com on left
Butterfly popcorn from Orville on right
 

The mushroom shape is a little denser, chewier and compact. It is the popcorn you get most often when purchasing caramel corn, cheese corn or packaged popcorn sold in the grocers potato chip aisle. Its compact shape lends itself to being robust enough to handle transportation well, grab hold of toppings well and does not break apart when being coated using the little cement mixer type thingies that are used in commercial popcorn shops. I like it for the chewier texture.

Trying to find a good quality popcorn powdered cheddar cheese locally was impossible and doing my due diligence on all matters popcorn at Nuts.com I found the cheddar cheese topping of my dreams and my topping search was over. Can I have an Amen please!!!!
My research told me that mushroom popcorn would be best for cheesecorn and looking at their website they offered it, so that part of the search was complete.

I also had an education on powdered cheddar cheese. When looking at the ingredients of the cheese I found on the Internet searches, I discovered there are many offerings and many of them have salt as a major component and one serving will kill you according to my doctor.  There are cheese powders that have cheese as the major ingredient which is better or preferred even, that is what I was searching for.


I know by reading the nutrition labels on powdered cheddar cheese that there is a saturated fat content because after all it is pretty much just dehydrated cheese with a few multi-syllabic ingredients and a little salt for flavour thrown in but not all powered cheddar cheeses are created equal.

I determined through extensive speculation and guessing that when compared to using a gallon of butter, a little sprinkle of powdered cheddar cheese would be the trade-off I was searching for. I have not consulted my doctor on my determinations, however, Orville is dead and I'm not feeling so good myself, so my findings should be considered suspect. Tasty, but suspect...

Nuts.com powdered cheddar cheese is what I needed. My search was complete.  I ordered 5 pounds each of popcorn and the cheddar cheese topping and in less that 5 days it was delivered to my door. Crossed the border unscathed too, so their shipping to Canada is spot on.

Well it turns out that 5 pounds of powdered cheddar cheese is a lot. Not a little - a lot; so I will be sharing.  5 pounds of popcorn is not a lot, so I will not be sharing that. Eager to sample my purchase, I made a few batches. Once made and sampled I was transported to Nirvana - delicious!!! The rest of the family agrees as well. However my joy is tempered by the single word - moderation, and I will try to be moderate, I promise...

I have done a quick calculation of the fat and calorie count using the coconut oil, salt and melted butter of my old favourite and compared it to the same size bowl of cheesecorn made with canola oil and the powdered cheddar cheese and by my calculation it is less fat and less salt, but then I'm no expert.

While not an everyday snack, I will be enjoying it on movie night and Susan will always know where I am by the orange fingerprint trail that is left behind. So now I know everything there is to know about anything. Again...

My stovetop popcorn popper is a pleasure to use.

I simply crank up the heat and add some canola oil.

Add the popcorn, close the lid and crank the whirlygig slowly.

Once the popcorn stops popping I pour it into a paper bag.

Sprinkle some cheese over it and shake the bejeezus out of it.

Pour into my old faithful popcorn bowl and enjoy, orange fingers and all...

Nuts.com is worth a visit and their service was excellent and given the speed at which the popcorn is disappearing I will be in contact with them again real soon....


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