The Best “Cheezy” Popcorn [RECIPE]

cheezy popcorn vegan

To be perfectly honest, I can’t believe I’ve been blogging for almost three years and not shared this vegan “Cheezy” Popcorn recipe yet. The nuts and bolts of this recipe take me waaaaay back to my days of doing demos at Whole Foods Market as the Supplement Specialist on the Whole Body team. If you’ve ever shopped at Whole Foods on a demo day, you know that there are tons of tasty treats all over the store waiting to be sampled and then added to your shopping cart right then and there, either by a rep from the company or a Whole Foods team member. One of the treats I used to demo a lot was a simplified version of the recipe I’m about to share with you today. It’s a healthy snack chalk-full of micronutrients and packed with flavor that can be as customized as your fingerprint — or at least as what’s on your spice rack.

A Word on Popcorn

cheezy popcorn vegan

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Popcorn (corn in general) is technically considered a whole grain — a whole kernel unadulterated or processed. While it’s a starchy food, it’s certainly a decent part of a whole foods diet, but the topic of popcorn isn’t cut and dry. We’ve talked recently about GMOs on this blog, and so much of the corn we grow in this country is GMO that it’s important to seek out organic, non-GMO popcorn kernels. This way you know you’re not getting a mouthful of pesticides to go with your whole grains, and you’re doing something good for Mother Nature too. Another important caveat about popcorn is the method used to make it.

There’s a big difference between the microwaveable stuff and the stuff that pops on your stove top or in an air popper, and the difference is in the bag. Literally. The ‘microwave-safe’ bags used to pop popcorn contain what the EPA considers a “likely carcinogen,” perfluorooctanoic (PFOA). There’s also that weird butter powder that microwave popcorn tends to feature. A chemical in that powder diacetyl is so toxic to the respiratory system that there’s an actual disease unofficially called “popcorn worker’s lung.” Why this substance is considered safe by the FDA is beyond me, but I’m going to go out a limb and say you probably shouldn’t breathe it in — or eat it. 

So, in conclusion, air-pop or do some old-school stove top action, and choose organic, if you plan to make popcorn part of your healthy lifestyle. I use this air popper and absolutely love it. (affiliate link)

Fancy Flakes (aka Nutritional Yeast)

CWB Favorite Pick (affiliate link)

The first thing I thought when I learned about the benefits of nutritional yeast was, “wow, I bet more people would try it if it
weren’t called that.” Nutritional Yeast, while possessing a less-than-appetizing name (should we rally for “fancy flakes??”), is a micronutrient powerhouse and a delicious additive into sauces, vegan “cheezes,” and even smoothies if you play your cards right.

Rich in B vitamins (including thiamin, folate, niacin, and B6), minerals (including iron, selenium and zinc), and glutathione (a potent antioxidant), it’s an awesome ingredient to add into your diet whenever you can. It’s also low in sodium but high in flavor, and it contains all the essential amino acids (plus more), making it a complete vegan protein source. For those of us concerned about candida overgrowth, nutritional yeast does not aggravate or feed candida in the body. 

For our purposes today, nutritional yeast brings the cheez too our cheezy popcorn.

Flax Oil

By now you’ve probably heard hundreds of times the importance of including Omega 3 fatty acids into your diet, and that as Americans, we definitely aren’t eating enough of them. I’ve shared my Ultimate Guide to Cooking Oil, which mentions the importance of Omega 3s, so I won’t go through all of it again, but quickly I’ll share that flax oil is great not just for Omega 3s, but also for the lignans from the hulls of the seeds pressed to make the oil. Lignans are beneficial to cardiovascular health and may play a role in breast cancer prevention. There’s still more research to be done on the potential benefits of lignans, but we also know that they’re a great fiber source as well, and come with all the benefits generally associated with adding fiber to your diet. You can buy the oil with or without the lignans. In addition to their health benefits, they also offer a more nutty flavor to the oil. 

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"Cheezy" Popcorn
Serves 4
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Ingredients
  1. 10 cups air-popped popcorn
  2. 2 tbs Organic Flaxseed Oil (with lignans)
  3. 3 tbs Nutritional Yeast (CWB Favorite Pick)
  4. 1/4 tsp Seasoned Salt
  5. 1/4 tsp Garlic Powder
  6. 1/4 tsp Lemon Pepper
Instructions
  1. While the popcorn is warm, mix all dry ingredients together in a small bowl
  2. Toss popcorn with oil first, then toss in dried seasonings
  3. Enjoy fresh
Notes
  1. This recipe is versatile and flexible. Try adding in some fresh chopped rosemary, one time, a touch of cayenne or chili powder another time, or even a sprinkle of truffle salt. The possibilities are as endless as your imagination!
Cultivated Wellbeing http://cultivatedwellbeing.com/

 

FTC DISCLOSURE: This post contains an affiliate link (CWB Favorite Picks), which means I may receive monetary compensation for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. I only link to products that I USE and LOVE. All opinions are my own.

Spaghetti Squash and Cauli-Freddo Sauce

Today’s post is a celebration of creativity in the kitchen. I love finding new ways to enjoy familiar foods and add more vegetables and healthy fats into my diet, all while creating something delicious in the process. When I make something new, I like to get Loren to guess the ingredients after he’s taken his first bite. He couldn’t figure this one out, especially after I told him it was completely vegan and nut-free. 

A good long while ago I was listening to the Fat-Burning Man podcast, and the guest was talking about her experience in healing with real foods. She had suffered from multiple chronic conditions, was in constant pain, was overweight, and overall miserable. She healed herself by completely changing her diet, eliminating trigger foods and making vegetables her primary source of calories. One of the ways that she’s maintained all the positive changes she’s seen in her life is to make sure that the food she’s eating doesn’t feel restrictive and limited, and to do that, creativity is a must. I wish I remembered her name — I looked through the list of guests and just can’t find the episode I listened to — but one creative idea that stuck out in my mind from that interview was as cauliflower-based cream sauce. I finally decided to try it last week, and inspired by a version of one that I found on OhSheGlows, I came up with my own version of Cauli-Freddo Sauce! It’s delicious and a perfect topper for regular pasta as well as veggie options like spaghetti squash and zucchini “veggetti.”  

I love this recipe because it looks, feels, and tastes dairy-based but is completely vegan and made primarily with cauliflower. It feels decadent, but not only is it ‘not bad’ for you, it’s actively good for you, as cruciferous veggies like cauliflower, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts offer a host of phytonutrients that protect us from cancer and other degenerative and chronic diseases. I served this dish with cajun catfish and roasted asparagus. It was a hit!
cauliflower cream sauce

Cauli-Freddo Sauce (Cauliflower Cream Sauce)

Ingredients

  • 1 head cauliflower
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 cup full-fat coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • juice from 1/2 lemon or 1 lime
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • Sea salt to taste 
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon cracked cayenne pepper
  • Fresh parsley, for garnish

Directions

  1. Chop cauliflower into pieces and rinse
  2. Place steaming basket inside a large pot and add about 2 inches of water 
  3. Place chopped cauliflower in steaming basket, sprinkle with salt, and cover
  4. Steam cauliflower until a fork will easily go through
  5. Remove steaming basket and cauliflower and dump remaining water
  6. Place pot back over fire and add olive oil and chopped garlic
  7. Let gently sauté without burning and turn off fire
  8. Add cauliflower, sautéed garlic, another 1/2 teaspoon salt, and all remaining ingredients (except parsley) to a high-speed blender
  9. Blend until completely smooth
  10. Plate your “pasta” with sauce on top and sprinkle with chopped parsley 

cauliflower cream sauce

For the Spaghetti Squash

Ingredients

  • 1 spaghetti squash
  • avocado oil or olive oil
  • salt

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 F
  2. Cut squash in half and grease each half with oil 
  3. Sprinkle lightly with salt
  4. Place face-down in 1/2 inch of water 
  5. Roast on 400 for 30 minutes
  6. Using a fork, scrape out the flesh into a bowl

cauliflower cream sauce

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