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So, you want to have a movie night at home with your family but you have a quiet craving for movie theatre popcorn?
Thankfully, the answer is much much easier than you thought – and significantly healthier!
Enter… homemade movie-style popcorn oil.
There are only two ingredients in this homemade popcorn oil, and they're both nourishing fats that help you avoid sugar and help your brain function optimally. Namely, coconut oil and palm oil.
Now, when I say “palm oil,” I'm talking about a specific kind of palm oil. It's RED palm oil that is sustainably grown and harvested. Yes, there is such a thing.
The reason red palm oil is important here is both for flavor and for carotenoids. You know that nutrient that helps bell peppers be so brilliantly red and carrots so brilliantly orange? Those are carotenoids, and they are exactly what give this fat its deep orange color as well.
They're also the secret to making popcorn taste like movie theatre popcorn – it's that salty, savory goodness you just can't put your finger on.
Nutritionally-speaking, palm oil is somewhat similar to coconut oil in that they're both derived from the fruit of their respective palm tree varieties and carry a similar nutritional profile.
Like coconut oil, red palm oil is very easily digested and used by the body. It includes both short and medium chain fatty acids (aka fats that increase your metabolism and that your body can burn very easily for energy), with about 40-50% saturated fats, 40% monounsaturated fats, and 10% polyunsaturated fats. This makes for an excellent pairing with coconut oil, which is about 86% saturated fat and about 90% medium chain fatty acids.
And best of all, both of these tropical oils are known for their ability to promote heart HEALTH, despite their high levels of saturated fats. (source)
All in all, this turns your formerly-guilty pleasure into brain food.
Buying Recommendations for Sustainable Red Palm Oil
However, even MORE important than including a healthy amount of red palm oil in your diet is sourcing red palm oil that is sustainably and ethically grown and harvested.
Palm oil has a long and storied history of being UNsustainable. It it notorious for its human rights violations for those who grow and harvest palm oil, for destroying habitats for orangutans and numerous other species via rapid deforestation, AND for having grown in popularity on the back of the slave trade.
But sustainable palm oil DOES indeed exist – and in fact, for small family palm oil plantations and companies choosing sustainable practices, sustainable palm oil is an essential livelihood.
The only way to know a company's practices is to read the label and/or visit their website to view their harvesting practices and eco-certifications. One certification in particular to watch for is from the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, or RSPO.
If there is no indication either on the label or on the company's website about their practices, you know that they very likely do not practice sustainable methods, as any company who wants your business and to be known as a reputable company in eco-friendly circles will go out of their way to make that information available.
Here's a general list of companies producing sustainable, ethical red palm oil. Please please please let me know of other companies you know of that have a reputable product, as I'd love to make this a thoroughly comprehensive list – and support as many family farms and ethical companies as possible!
For palm shortening, I also purchase from Spectrum Naturals.
Okay – enough talking (seriously!) – let's make homemade popcorn oil!
Homemade Movie-Style Popcorn Oil
- 1 ½ cups coconut oil
- ½ cup red palm oil
- 2 tablespoons ghee, optional
- Melt the two oils together over low heat and swirl gently to mix well.
- Pour into a dark-colored glass jar. You may also use a mason jar and cover it with a paper lunch sack to block out light.
- Store in a dark cupboard at room temperature for up to 6 months.
To make popcorn
- Melt 2-3 tablespoons of popcorn oil over medium heat to pop 1/2 cup of unpopped popcorn kernels.