Plant-Based in Real Life

Air Popped Popcorn at Its Best: A How To

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Whole food popcorn is easy!

On one hand, I know you’re super excited to start making whole food, plant-based (WFPB) air popped popcorn, so I’ll keep things quick and easy.  Fortunately, air popped popcorn is a whole food, a whole grain in fact, as you find it in nature, and as long as you don’t load it with junk, it will continue to be a whole food.

On the other hand, I realize how you would love to tear the plastic wrapper off that strangely greasy packet of microwave popcorn you unfortunately still have in your cupboard and throw it in to pop for three minutes.  It just seems so easy.

air popped popcorn

Toss that greasy bag already!

But that’s where I have to stop you. This is because the manufacturers fill those weird packets with all kinds of bizarre oils and artificial flavorings that you will not find in the natural world.  That gunk is seriously processed, so it doesn’t fit in the whole food, plant-based lifestyle.

Indeed, as Michael Pollan says in his book Food Rules, “If it came from a plant, eat it; if it was made in a plant, don’t.” Microwave popcorn definitely was made in a plant, so it’s out.

However, the awesome news is that you can make air popped popcorn extremely easily, too. In fact, nothing could be simpler.

Air popped popcorn is the ticket

What you’re looking for is popcorn kernels without any additional oils, flavorings or preservatives added, in other words, popcorn like you would find it in nature. Needless to say, you don’t go near melted butter when you’re eating a whole-food, plant-based diet—remember, no dairy or oils. But don’t worry, I’m going to hook you up with a scrumptious popcorn solution that your tummy and arteries will thank you for. 

Reconnect with your popper

Luckily, there is a really easy, delicious solution to your popcorn problems. I hesitate to call this an actual recipe because it’s so much easier than that.  Don’t you remember when you were little and somebody you knew still had an air popcorn popper? Oh, yeah…it’s all coming back…  There was a little cup that you’d measure the popcorn kernels into, then you’d just pour them into the top of the air popper and a few minutes later you’d have a huge bowl of freshly popped popcorn. 

I have good news for you: they’re still around! There are countertop models as well as air poppers for use in the microwave.  So, get a hold of one. has a good selection of air popcorn poppers at a wide variety of price points.

In my case, the popcorn that gives me consistently good results–think light, fluffy and flavorful–is Jolly Time White Popcorn Kernels. First measure the kernels according to the your air popper’s instructions, then pour them into the popper, and finally marvel like a little kid as the kernels pour into your bowl.

Now you’ve got your mountains of popcorn.  Sure, the plain popcorn itself tastes fine, but some toppings sure would be nice…

How about some extra flavor?

You’re in luck.  Try a little spritz of Bragg Liquid Aminos, a soy sauce substitute.  You can buy their handy spray bottle, which is convenient. 

But if that’s a little too salty for you, you can use this little hack: buy the standard-size bottle of Bragg Liquid Aminos, and fill a spray bottle halfway. Next, fill the other half with water to cut the saltiness. Here we’re talking about a basic empty plastic spray bottle like you would find in the beauty or garden section of your supermarket.  We actually keep a spray bottle with this water-Liquid Aminos mix in our kitchen.  Then spray the tiniest bit on the top of your popcorn. What we’re talking about is a very light spritz on your popcorn—definitely not enough to make it soggy—just a misting to make the next ingredient stick a little.  

Nooch love

The next step is to sprinkle on Bragg Nutritional Premium Yeast Seasoning, which is yellow yeast flakes.  We use nutritional yeast, affectionately known as “nooch”, on all kinds of things, from popcorn to salads to pasta to give them a savory, cheesy flavor.  Nutritional yeast is also fortified with vitamin B12, which is definitely a plus for those of us eating a whole food, plant-based diet, in that we need to supplement with that vitamin.  Nutritional yeast is my go-to seasoning since I don’t cook with butter, oil or cheese.

You can find nutritional yeast in the bulk bins or in plastic canisters in the natural foods section of your supermarket, or of course online  

Movie night is a snap

There you go! This is popcorn as it should be—fresh, hot and natural.  And if you’re really salt sensitive, just nix the Liquid Aminos and go straight to the nutritional yeast.  You’ll be all set for movie night.  Kids enjoy helping make popcorn, too! 

Take it to work!

Who says it’s hard to find whole food, plant-based snacks?  It’s not hard at all when you can fall back on air popped popcorn. In fact, it just doesn’t get easier than this. You can take a large container of it to your work for an easy, filling, whole grain snack and you’ll be ready when the afternoon munchies hit.


Would you like more suggestions for what kind of whole, plant-based foods to eat as snacks? Why not click over to my article Twelve Foods You Need to Eat Every Day or The Daily Dozen Checklist?    

If you’re looking for more books, cookbooks and films on the whole food, plant-based diet, please check out my list of Resources.

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure for more info.
Visit my Resources page.
Hi! I’m Katherine from Plant-Based in Real Life. I blog about the whole food, plant-based (WFPB) diet for the prevention and reversal of chronic disease. I love writing about how eating plant-based foods can help you live a long and healthy life. I first learned of the “plant slant”, eating mostly plants for optimal health, from The Blue Zones by Dan Buettner, and my family decided to go entirely plant-based after watching the Forks Over Knives documentary. Originally from the American West, I lived in Mexico for sixteen years, first as a student, then as a wife and mom. I hold an undergraduate degree in International Trade from the Universidad de Guanajuato in central Mexico and a Master in Management from Southern Oregon University. In 2017 I completed the Center for Nutrition Studies’ Certificate in Plant-Based Nutrition.


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