Add rosemary and cheese to microwave popcorn

October 24, 2007|By Jill Wendholt Silva | Jill Wendholt Silva,McClatchy-Tribune

If you can bypass the butter, popcorn is a low-fat, whole-grain snack full of fiber.

But it can be tough to resist the beast. This Rosemary Cheese Popcorn recipe gussies up fat-free microwave popcorn with an herb and cheese and a single tablespoon of butter to make the popcorn stick.

When buying microwave popcorn, watch out for "butter flavoring." Recently the Associated Press reported that a man who had eaten three bags of microwaved popcorn a day for several years was diagnosed with a severe respiratory ailment known as "popcorn lung." Diacetyl (dy-azha-TEAL), found in many brands of microwave popcorn, is the suspected culprit.

In August, Pop Weaver introduced the first microwave popcorn with a blue sticker that read "No Diacetyl Flavorings."

Since 2000, several lawsuits have been filed by Missouri popcorn plant workers who were exposed to large doses of the food additive, which can make it difficult to breathe. Now lawmakers in California and Connecticut are considering a proposed ban on the flavoring.

"We decided we need to get out of this. Let's extract our brand from any future potential controversies," Weaver says.

Of course, that might be the start of a positive consumer trend and the end of this story - if it weren't for the 1.5 grams of trans fats that appear on the Nutrition Facts panel of the Light Butter flavor.

While other microwave popcorn companies are busy getting out the trans fat, saturated fat numbers are rising. To remove the trans fats, most companies are adding palm oil, which not only adds saturated fat but also contributes to deforestation in Southeast Asia and ratchets up carbon emissions as it is shipped around the world.

"When we make changes, we need to make sure we don't create other kinds of problems," says Weaver, who says fans of his line can expect a product free of diacetyl and trans fats in the near future.

Rosemary-Cheese Popcorn

Makes 8 to 10 cups

8 to 10 cups popped 94 percent fat-free microwave popcorn

1 tablespoon butter, melted

1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary or 1 1/2 teaspoons crushed dried rosemary

3 tablespoons shredded parmesan cheese

Combine all ingredients in a plastic 2 1/2 -gallon zip-top plastic bag. Shake vigorously to coat well.

Per (1-cup) serving, based on 8: 38 calories, 2 grams fat, 1 gram saturated fat, 5 milligrams cholesterol, 4 grams carbohydrate, 1 gram protein, 85 milligrams sodium, 1 gram fiber

Recipe analysis provided by The Kansas City Star.

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