Healthy diet programs should allow for some snacking. Effective diets don’t need to be draconian. You don’t have to swear off your favorite indulgences, just moderate them a bit. People can get into trouble with snacking because they overindulge in high calorie treats, frequently after dinner and typically in response to emotional needs. Rather than trying to totally eliminate snacks from your repertoire, think about substituting some lower calorie, more nutritious goodies.

Many of my clients have found popcorn to be a satisfying substitute. Popcorn gets a bad rap because of the butter-soaked move theater version. In reality it’s a very healthy food and without the grease, has only 120 calories in 4 cups of popped corn. Popcorn is a nutrition powerhouse, a whole grain food with 4 grams of fiber and more antioxidants than most fruit.

The most low-cal way to prepare popcorn with added flavor is to air pop it, spray it with cooking spray and add your favorite spices. Here are two options. Use your imagination.

Flavorful Popcorn Recipes

Cinnamon Spice Popcorn


• 4 cups air-popped popcorn
• 1-2 sprays cooking spray
• 1/8 cup powdered sugar
• 1 tsp ground cinnamon
• 1/8 tsp ground or freshly grated nutmeg
• 1/8 tsp ground allspice
• 1/8 tsp table salt

Southwestern-Spiced Popcorn

• 4 cups air-popped popcorn
• 1-2 sprays cooking spray
• 1 tsp chili powder
• ½ tsp ground cumin
• ½ tsp paprika, preferably smoked paprika
• ½ tsp salt
• ½ tsp garlic powder


1. Place popcorn in a large bowl; spray with nonstick spray, tossing well.
2. In a small bowl, stir together the spices.
3. Sprinkle over the popcorn, tossing all the while, until well coated.

Click here for the full recipes.