Guaya Popcorn (think trail mix-ish)

Makes 8-10 cups

Snacks became an important part of my diet when I first got pregnant.  It was the only way to quell the incessant nausea.  It was relentless for about 17 weeks, after which I couldn’t complain because I was lucky to find 2nd trimester bliss where I know many women who felt ill throughout.  The good news is that the worse you feel, the better it is for the baby growing inside!  Knowing that bit of info was one thing that got me through it.  This popcorn/trail mix was another!

Corn has gotten a bad rap lately and it’s for good reason.  Because we produce so much of it here, and it’s heavily subsidized, it sneaks it’s way into EVERYTHING we eat!  It becomes our sugar, oil, starch, and animal feed, so that the burger (not the grass-fed one) you’re eating is also CORN!  But, corn, in its whole form is full of wonderful health benefits.  It is high in Vitamin C and manganese and is a great source of fiber.  Fiber is essential for a healthy digestive system and plays a key role in leveling blood sugar too, particularly when combined with protein which corn is naturally high in.  The different colors offer a wide range of antioxidant phytonutrients.  That’s good news for our cardiovascular health.

Ready for more good news!  Drying corn, whether separated as kernels or still on the cob, doesn’t significantly lower the corn’s antioxidant potency.  Traditional cultures such as the Native American tribes (in all Americas) relied heavily on dried corn throughout the cold winter.  One need not look further than how traditional cultures prepared and ate their food.  They were connected to the land that bore their food and understood it in a way that is lost upon us, as a whole, now.  But rest assured, it is the most healthful and most delicious way to eat.

If you have the chance to pick up some heirloom kernels, do so! They’re smaller and come in all those beautiful colors that will indeed up the gourmet-ante on this delicious snack.

You’ll need:

1 C organic corn kernels

2 T refined coconut oil

Sea salt, to taste

1/2 C raw almonds, chopped

1/2 C raw cashews, chopped

1/2 C pumpkin seeds

1/2 C raisins

2 T organic butter, (pastured if possible:)

1/3 C honey

1 t cinnamon

1/4 t cardamom

To make:

1. In a large (deep) stock or soup pot, heat coconut oil over medium-high heat.  After a couple of minutes, drop 2-3 kernels in to test.  When they pop, take pot off the heat and add the full cup of kernels to cover bottom of pot in one layer.  Add some sea salt and then bring back to medium heat.  Keep partially covered.  When you hear the popping, give the kernels a hand by shaking the pot back and forth a bit, to prevent any from burning.  Keep this up till you have a nice full pot of fresh popped corn.

2.  Spread the popcorn out on 1 or 2 sheet pans.  Add nuts, pumpkin seeds and raisins.

3.  In the pot, melt the butter and honey and add spices.  Add this mixture to the popcorn mix and blend well.

4.  Optional step:  I sometimes (time permitting) throw these sheet pans into the oven at 350 for about 5 minutes just so that everything gets extra crispy.  It’s not the end of the world if I don’t get to this step, but it does last longer and stays crispier.

5.  Enjoy!

P.S. For a vegan version, substitute the butter for the same amount of extra virgin coconut oil and sweeten with agave instead of honey:)

Update; April 14, 2012:

Just found this article – http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/03/120325173008.htm  It talks about the antioxidant level in popcorn!  Check it out!