Rachael Recommends November 2023

Posted by Rachael McDonald on November 16, 2023

Rachael Recommends || November 2023

If you're like me, the anticipation and magic of the holidays is already hitting hard. It's all I can do to keep from playing Christmas music all day long. It's true; we are about to enter the most wonderful time of the year. But, with this most wonderful time also can come temptations and challenges. Many of these temptations come by way of treats that we rationalize indulging in in honor of the holidays. 

Now, if you've been a reader of mine for a length of time then you know that I am all for the occasional sweet treat, guilty pleasure, or decadent snack. I'm not calling you to rid yourself of all delicious pleasures. But, what if there was a way to "clean up" some of these treats to keep them not only delicious, but to make them healthier and less "fat-gain promoting" too? 

Enter: my next "round" of recommendations. In this and next month's special holiday issues, I hope to share with you some of my "cleaned up" holiday treat faves. I'm willing to bet you'll want to enjoy these more often than just the holiday season. 

First up for this month - popcorn! A versatile treat that is sure to bring everyone together. Read on and try not to drool :)

Happy Thanksgiving to all. I am grateful for your reading time!


Pleasing Popcorn - 3 ways

There's no popcorn that tastes better than stovetop popped corn! Not to mention that it is much healthier than the microwaved popped version. (Did you know that microwave popcorn is full of toxic chemicals and unhealthy oils)? With stovetop popcorn, you control the ingredients making it better for you and much more versatile! It's also way easier (and quicker) to make than you think! Here's the recipe I use for my 5-minute popcorn. Plus, check out the two additional ways to dress it up for the holidays (or any time). This is sure to be a crowd pleaser!

5-Minute Stovetop Popcorn

What you need:

1 large stock pot

1 large mixing bowl

3 Tbs. avocado oil (or extra virgin olive oil, or refined coconut oil)

4 Tbs. butter, melted (use real grass-fed butter)

1/2 C. organic popcorn kernels

1/2 tsp. himalayan pink sea salt (or Celtic sea salt) 

How to make it:

In a large stockpot or dutch oven, add the oil and three popcorn kernels, heating over high heat. Cover the pan. These are the "test kernels" and once they pop, it signals that the oil is officially hot enough to pop all the kernels at the same time. 

Measure out the remaining 1/2 cup of popcorn kernels.

Begin preparing your butter by melting it on the stovetop over low heat.

Once the three test kernels have popped, immediately add the 1/2 cup of popcorn kernels to the pan. Cover and remove from heat, gently swirling from side to side for 20 seconds. Return the pan to the heat, and the popcorn kernels will almost immediately beginning popping.

When the stockpot is approximately halfway full with popcorn, slightly crack the lid to allow excess steam to escape. 

If needed, you can gently shake the pan side to side to allow any remaining kernels to make it to the bottom of the pan to pop. Once the popping has slowed or just stopped, immediately pour the popcorn into your serving bowl.

Evenly pour the butter across the popcorn, tossing to coat. Sprinkle in the salt. Mix thoroughly. 

2nd Way: Chocolate Peppermint Drizzle Popcorn

What you need:

Sheet pan

Small pot

1 batch stovetop popcorn

6oz. dark chocolate (I like the Alter Eco or Hu brands)

1/2 C. crushed Yum Earth candy canes

How to make it: 

Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

Pour the the popped popcorn onto the baking sheet.

Melt the chocolate on the stovetop over low heat. Stir frequently to prevent burning. 

Put several candy canes in a plastic bag with a zipper. Close the bag. Using a rolling pin, back of a large spoon, etc. crush the candy canes to desired size. 

Drizzle the melted chocolate over the popcorn.

While the chocolate is still hot, scatter the peppermint over the top. Leave the popcorn at room temperature until the chocolate completely cools and hardens, about 1 hour.

Break the popcorn apart with your hands and transfer it to an air-tight container. Store at room temperature for up to 3 days. I doubt it will even last that long!

3rd Way: Dairy Free "Cheesy" Popcorn

What you need: 

Large mixing bowl

1 batch stovetop popcorn

1/4 C. nutritional yeast

1/2 tsp. pink himalayan salt or Celtic sea salt 

How to make it: 

Right after making your stovetop popcorn, mix the nutritional yeast and salt (skip the salt here if you've already added some) in a large mixing bowl along with your popcorn. Mix thoroughly.