A healthy eating specialist at WFM Columbus Circle and WFM Union Square, Kelly Dupuis believes in eating foods without labels (an ear of corn, a ripe tomato). As a proponent of plant-based diets, she eschews packaged substitutes offering a quick fix. For Kelly, it's all about cooking from scratch. In her weekly column, Comfort Food - Refreshed, Kelly doesn't just adapt her favorite comfort foods to her plant-strong lifestyle, she reimagines them in original recipes with a wink to the past.
This week: Kelly sneaks a healthier bag of popcorn into the movie theatre.
Photo by Sarah Shatz
If there’s one summer activity that I adore; treasure; simply hold, very, very dear, it’s a trip to the movie theater. I love the shock of the air conditioning upon entering the theater, getting there early to get the best seat. (A little too early say certain folks in my life, but the idea of having to sit in the front row to see an action film is terribly dizzying.) I love the pure and unadulterated escape for two-plus hours while the rest of the world keeps turning. My mom has been sending me movie passes ever since I moved out. I appreciate this thoroughly, as a flick in the city can cost you 13-plus dollars. Thanks, Ma.
I don’t really discriminate when it comes to movies; I dig all genres: action, documentary, foreign art film, kids animation, goofball comedy. As long as I’m entertained and transported, I’m down. So that makes me a hot commodity as a movie-going partner. The friend who is finding it hard to get someone to go with her to see the new romance movie starring some blonde starlet? I’m her gal. I can find something to appreciate about any kind of film as long as it succeeds at what it is attempting to do. I don’t expect to be intellectually challenged by the latest comedy whose leading man’s major problem is that he thinks his boss is an alien from the planet Zookat, but I expect to be thoroughly distracted. The other thing that I expect when I go to the movies? The thing that simply completes the entire moviegoing experience? Snacks, of course. Serious snacks.
Of course, there are your buckets of traditional movie theater popcorn, whose smell is quite frankly one of the most intoxicating aromas in the universe. If you put a big ol' bucket of popcorn in front of me, you can bet I’ll go at it for two-plus hours. But it’s not the healthiest munchable known to humankind -- and I have figured something out! If you provide me with, say, a snack that is both a bit sweet and a bit salty, one that is both satisfying and filling, I’m not going to have that addiction-like desire to munch for 120 minutes. I bet you’ve figured out what I do regarding movie snacks: I sneak them in the theater. Don’t tell. Well, actually, do tell. Tell everyone. In particular, about this Sweet and Salty Popcorn Trail Mix.
First off, I air-pop the popcorn. How do I do that? In my air popper, of course! You can buy one for less than 25 bucks online. Or, you can put a few tablespoons of popcorn kernels into a brown paper bag, fold it up, and put it in the microwave (without oil!) and let it go until the popping sounds are two seconds apart. It’s cheaper and healthier than store-bought microwave popcorn.
Then I flavor the popcorn with a spritz from a spray bottle full of low-sodium tamari, which is richly flavored soy sauce containing little to no wheat. It’s smoky, it’s salty, it’s got less sodium per teaspoon that salt from the salt shaker, and I love it. Add a sprinkle of nutritional yeast or Chinese five spice or even chili powder. Throw in a few dried cherries, a handful of raw cashews, and some sunflower or pumpkin seeds. Howdy. That’s a movie snack I can get into. And there’s certainly room for your own inspired take on it. The genre? Delicious.
Sweet and Salty Popcorn Trail Mix
1/2 cup unpopped popcorn kernels
5-10 sprays low sodium tamari or Bragg's Liquid Aminos from a spray bottle
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 cup dried cherries, fruit juice sweetened
1 cup raw cashews
1 cup raw unsalted sunflower seeds
In-Store Event: Stop by WFM Union Square today to chat with me about this recipe and plant-strong cooking tips. I'll be preparing this trail mix from 5:00 to 7:00 pm.
Like this post? See Kelly's topic from last week: Cantaloupe, Cucumber and Lemon-Lime Agua Fresca with Mint.
Kelly Dupuis is a healthy eating specialist at WFM Columbus Circle and WFM Union Square who delights in transforming comfort classics into deliciously satisfying and fun plant-based dishes.