Bacon-Cheddar Popcorn Salad

Bacon-Cheddar Popcorn Salad


I saw this in the deli at my local grocery store. I normally don’t shop the deli, because there is little to choose from that meets our caloric and sodium menu plans. However, they had a healthier version of potato salad that I wanted to try. (I didn’t buy it. It was made with yogurt–which I like–but in this case, the recipe wasn’t very good.)

But as the deli worker was getting my sample of the potato salad, I saw a bowl of this salad. Here is a little how my brain went:

“Hm.  This potato salad is not very good. And I think I need to get…wait. Is that bacon?  And cheese?  And popcorn?  All together????”

I left the deli without potato salad but with a container of the Bacon-Cheddar Popcorn Salad in my cart.

It was really good. A definite ranch-ish flavor, built on fresh popped popcorn, a lot of bacon chunks mixed with shredded cheddar cheese and diced scallions, all in a mayo-type base.

I don’t have a recipe yet. And I don’t know if I want to toy with this. Maybe the secret will be to use this salad as a reward on rare occasions and just limit how much I eat. I don’t know. But it is fun to find such unique combinations of favorite foods.

Now, here is my question:

How can I make that recipe, but make it healthier?  (In other words, low sodium?) I can use low-sodium bacon (that is the bacon of choice here at home), but the cheese and mayo is sodium heavy. Would it be worth making my own mayo from scratch and leaving salt out?

Old Fashioned Popcorn

Old Fashioned, Made-on-the-Stove Popcorn
Serves 2 (approximately 3 cup portions)

6 tablespoons popcorn (yellow, white, black or blue, it doesn’t matter)
2 tablespoons coconut oil
Seasoning of your choice

You will need a large sauce pan/ stock pot, at least 4 quarts, with a lid. (Don’t try this without a lid. Seriously.)

I use a 4 quart non-stick sauce pan.
You can use any oil you want. Coconut oil is more expensive than canola or even olive oil, but the flavor it gives to popcorn is incomparable.

1.  Heat 2 tablespoons coconut oil in the pan over medium-high heat. Place two kernels of corn in the oil. When they pop, you know that the oil is at popping temperature. (Is this really necessary? I don’t know. But that’s how my Mom made popcorn, and how I’ve always done it.)

Ah, the beauty of melting fat.
Doing what my Mom taught me.

The oil is ready!

2.  Add popcorn to oil. The corn should be an even single layer across the bottom.

A relatively even layer.

3.  Return lid to pan.
4.  When the popping starts, pay close attention and shake frequently. Once popping begins, it will be finished in about 1 minute.

It starting!

5.  Shake frequently while actively popping. Shaking helps the unpopped kernels drop to the bottom and pop, while moving the popped corn to the top to avoid burning.

It’s done!

6.  Pour into a large bowl and season as desired. My wife prefers a combination of popcorn salt and “Nu-Salt”, a sodium-free salt.

Delicious popcorn, fresh and hot.
 I prefer to use more savory flavors. This time I used Penzey’s Sunny Spain,
which is a salt-free blend of black Telicherry pepper, onion, garlic and lemon peel powders, and citric acid.

Nutritional data (1 portion, about 3 cups)
Calories:        279
Fat:              18.9g
Sat fat:         14.2g
Chol:           10.2mg
Sodium:        0.5mg
Carbs:         24.8g
Fiber:            5.2g
Protein:         3.8g