Popcorn Trail Mix

Believe it or not, popcorn is a whole grain and is beneficial to our bodies! It only becomes unhealthy when we soak it in butter (butter is both packaged and movie popcorn's natural habitat). Plain popcorn actually makes this trail mix dynamic and nutritious. Pop the popcorn in a thick-bottomed pan, in the microwave using a paper lunch bag, or in an air popper (see below). Spray the popcorn with a mister filled with olive oil so that the seasoning sticks. I love to use an olive oil infused with a combination of buttery-flavored plants, called Organic Butter Infused Olive Oil. I buy it at a local store called Olive my Heart in Hudson, Ohio. It's worth the effort to have buttery-tasting olive oil around, especially for popcorn, but extra virgin olive oil without the buttery taste will still do the trick. Make this trail mix for your next movie night!  
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5 cups popped popcorn (1/4 cup unpopped kernels) mister filled with olive oil (or non stick spray) sea salt (to taste) 1 cup peanuts (no salt or lightly salted) 1 cup dried cherries or dried cranberries (any type of dried fruit) 1 cup dark chocolate chips


1) Choose one of the following methods to pop the popcorn. After it is popped, mist with olive oil, mix peanuts, dried fruit, and chocolate chips in a large bowl with the popcorn. Enjoy this healthy snack!
2) Stovetop: Put 1 tbsp oil into a large, deep heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat.  Drop in 1 kernel of corn and when it pops add 1/4 cup popcorn kernels, replace lid and  give the pot a firm up-and-down shake every 30 seconds or so to heat evenly.  When popping slows after 2 to 3 minutes, remove the pot from heat and transfer popcorn to a bowl.  Separate out unpopped kernels.  Lightly salt.
3) Microwave:  Place ¼ cup popcorn kernels in a paper lunch bag.  Fold over the top edge a few times.   Microwave on high for about 2 minutes, or until kernels have mostly stopped popping and there’s 3-5 seconds between pops.  There are also some popcorn bowls specifically designed for microwave air-popping that work effectively.  Spray the popped popcorn with a mister filled with oil so that the seasoning will stick and lightly salt.  Separate out unpopped kernels.
4) Popcorn Popper:  Some poppers require oil, while others use hot air.  Follow the manufacturer's instructions.  When using a hot-air popper, have an oil mister filled with olive oil ready to spray on the hot popcorn as it comes out of the popper and lightly salt.  Separate out unpopped kernels.