Popcorn for Kids: Nutritional Value, Health Benefits & Recipes

Popcorn for Kids – Benefits and Recipes

Medically Reviewed By
Gayatri Dawda (Nutritionist)
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As a child, you must have loved eating popcorn but now you must not like it the way you did earlier. But if you have kids, you can understand their love for popcorn. Whenever you take your kids for a movie, they must be asking for a large bucket of popcorn full of butter or cheese. Do they? Of course, it cannot be denied that popcorns taste delicious and kids love them but are popcorn healthy for children? Can you give it to them as a snack? If yes, then you must be looking for some unique popcorn recipes too. This article covers information about popcorn in detail.

Is Popcorn a Healthy Snack for Children?

This is a question that all moms ask. No doubt, kids love eating popcorn, and as parents, you find it hard to deny them of something they love. But, when it comes to their health and the choice of foods, you are bound to get apprehensive. But, don’t you worry. Popcorn is not unhealthy. Plain, air-popped popcorn is a healthy snack for a child old enough to eat it.

When Can Your Child Eat Popcorn?

The right age for your child to begin eating popcorn is around four or five years of age.

Nutritional Value of Popcorn

The chart below lists the nutritional value in 36 grams (3 cups) of “Air-popped” Popcorn. (Energy = 139.3 calories)

Nutrition and Vitamins Weight in grams
Fat (Total) 1.6 gms
Saturated Fat 0.2 gms
Carbohydrates 28 gms
Net Carbs 22.8 gms
Sugar 0.3 gms
Fibre 5.2 gms
Protein 4.7 gms
Vitamin A 3.6 μg
Sodium 2.9 mg
Potassium 118.4 mg
Phosphorus 128.9 mg
Folate 11.2 μg
Water 1.2 gms

Source: https://www.fatsecret.com/calories-nutrition/usda/air-popped-popcorn?portionid=62046&portionamount=35.000

Health Benefits of Popcorn for Children

Who knew the little old popped up a bit of corn held so many nutritional benefits?

1. Digestion

Each individual popcorn kernel is a seed, composing of bran, endosperm and germ, similar to whole grains touted for their health benefits. They contain high amounts of fibre that help in digestion.

2. Vitamins B

Loaded with vitamins B3 and B6, folate and pantothenic acid, popcorn helps in proper brain function and protects the body against infection.

3. Carbohydrates

Corn contains carbohydrates which are a good source of energy and help your kids get through the day without feeling lethargic.

4. Minerals

Minerals are an important class of micronutrients like manganese, zinc and magnesium (nutrients needed in small amounts) which help in the proper functioning of the cells.

5. Guilt-Free Snacking

The high amount of dietary fibre in popcorn keeps one full. Hence, it prevents overeating and weight gain in young kids.

Risks of Giving Popcorn to Young Children

The risk of making popcorn for toddlers and babies is that they can end up choking on them. Babies and toddlers don’t have the ability to chew and grind food properly or to identify choking hazards while chewing.

Precautions to Take While Giving Popcorn to Kids

Here are some precautions to consider when giving popcorn to your child:

  • Teach your child to eat only the fluffy part of the popcorn and not ingest the hard part.
  • Do not allow your toddler to move about or run around while eating.
  • When heavily flavoured with butter, salt, and the like, the health benefits of plain air-popped popcorn are reduced.
  • There is a risk that popcorn may choke up in the child’s respiratory tract, so be cautious while feeding. Also, get trained in CPR & Heimlich manoeuvre techniques which will help in such situations.
  • Avoid excessive corn intake, as it may lead to weight gain.
  • Look for Non-GMO raw corn for your child.

Safe Alternatives to Popcorn for a Young Child

The best alternative would be puffed-corn snacks such as those found in the chips section. Avoid spicy corn puffs, especially for babies because they will not just be unpalatable, but children are prone to wipe their eyes and nose even as they eat, and they might put their finger in their eyes after eating spicy puff corn and it may hurt their eyes.

Easy and Tasty Popcorn Recipes for Children

Here are some kid-friendly popcorn recipes that can be tried at home.

1. Banana & Honey Popcorn

Who doesn’t love banana or honey? We all do and kids simply enjoy anything sweet! So, try this recipe of banana and honey flavoured popcorn for your kid.

Banana & Honey Popcorn

What You Need

  • Ripe Bananas
  • Honey
  • Plain Popcorn

How To Prepare

  • Mash the bananas to form a pulp and transfer it to a bowl.
  • Add the popcorn on top and drip as much honey as you’d like over it.
  • Enjoy.

2. Popcorn Lemony

This recipe adds a tangy twist to popcorn and kids will love it.

Popcorn Lemony

What You Need

  • Plain popcorn
  • Unsalted butter (4 tbsp)
  • Salt (1/2 tsp)
  • Powdered sugar (1 and a half tsp)
  • Lemon zest (2 tsp)
  • Pure vanilla extract (1/2 tsp)

How to Prepare

  • Heat the butter slightly so that it melts.
  • Add the rest of the ingredients (not popcorn) to the melted butter and mix.
  • Coat the popcorn with the mixture prepared.
  • You can even add some poppy seeds to the mixture for a nutrition boost.

3. Cheesy and Spicy Popcorn

There’s nothing like some flavourful cheese and spices along with popcorn.

Cheesy and Spicy Popcorn

What You Need

  • Plain popcorn
  • Salt (1/2 tsp)
  • Grated cheese (1/2 cup)
  • Pepper powder (1/2 tsp)

How to Prepare

  • Mix the finely grated cheese with pepper powder and salt.
  • Sprinkle it on the popcorn and mix.
  • Heat for about 10 seconds in the microwave and it is ready.

4. Buttered Popcorn

Butter popcorn is extremely delicious and kids will love its taste.

Buttered Popcorn

What You Need

  • Plain popcorn
  • Unsalted butter (3 tbsp)
  • Salt (1/2 tsp)

How to Prepare

  • Melt butter in a pan.
  • Heat the popcorn in a microwave, slightly (10 seconds should do).
  • Add the melted butter to the popcorn and mix well.
  • Sprinkle salt and serve.

5. Almond and Coconut Popcorn

Try this recipe of almond and coconut popcorn.

Almond and Coconut Popcorn

What You Need

  • Plain popcorn
  • Salt (1/2 tsp)
  • Few almonds (slivered)
  • Shredded coconut (3/4th cup)
  • White chocolate chips (1/2 cup)

How to Prepare

  • Saute coconut and almonds together in a non-stick pan.
  • Add salt to the sauteed coconut and almonds and mix them with white chocolate chip cookies.
  • Warm the popcorn slightly in the microwave and mix other ingredients to it.

There is no other snack like popcorn. Eating popcorn while watching your favourite TV show or movie gives you immense pleasure. So, don’t wait, try these popcorn recipes for kids and let them enjoy.

Also Read: Healthy and Tasty Pizza Recipe for Kids

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