This winter themed popcorn mix includes festive pomegranate arils, dark chocolate chips and lemon zest. A simple and irresistible snack!
Most people have an affinity for either salty or sweet snacks. For all of my life, I’ve been firmly in the sweet camp.
Yeah, fries and chips are good (never really understood the draw of pretzels though – unless making your own spiced seasoned pretzels, those are good!) but how anyone can pick those things over chocolate blows my mind.
I can respect the difference of opinion but I can’t even pretend to understand it. Chocolate has my heart. That said, things change a little for me when you combine sweet stuff with a traditional salty snack. And that’s exactly what’s going on here in this pomegranate popcorn situation.
This whole salty/sweet combination really took hold when I tried kettle corn for the first time a couple years ago.
I know it sounds crazy – trying kettle corn for the first time in your 30s but when popcorn never sounded appealing, it was just something I always dismissed. Well, one bite into kettle corn kernel and my opinion on popcorn was forever changed.
So now a jar of popcorn kernels resides in my pantry and while it still doesn’t get anywhere near the level of attention as the dark chocolate stash, I do break it out occasionally to create fun snack mixes like this one or this simpler chocolate covered popcorn.
WHAT’S IN POMEGRANATE POPCORN MIX?
The ingredients for this winter inspired snack mix are pretty simple. You’ll need the following:
- popcorn kernels (please don’t use microwave bagged popcorn – gross!)
- coconut oil for popping
- pomegranate arils (the fancy word for pomegranate seeds)
- dark chocolate chips
- lemon zest
- sea salt
HOW TO MAKE POMEGRANATE POPCORN
First, pop the kernels by placing the coconut oil in a large pot with a tight fitting lid over medium-high heat.
Once hot, add the kernels, cover with the lid and shake the pot to coat all the kernels in the oil.
Continue shaking the pot pretty frequently as the kernels start to pop (this helps keep them from burning) until there’s about 3 seconds between pops.
Once there’s about 3 seconds in between kernels popping, you know most have popped.
Turn off the heat and remove the lid. Transfer the freshly popped popcorn to a large bowl and toss with the lemon zest and sea salt.
You can add the pomegranates and chocolate chips at this point or, since they tend to fall to the bottom of the bowl, I prefer to portion the popcorn out then top each portion with the pomegranate seeds and chocolate chips.
HOW TO EASILY SEED A POMEGRANATE
I have a love/hate relationship with pomegranates. They’re one of my favorite winter fruits but they don’t make it easy to enjoy!
On one hand, I love the burst of bright, tangy sweet freshness of those arils and all their wonderful antioxidant super-fruit powers. On the other, man, do I dislike seeding it!
If you’re not careful, your kitchen can end up looking like a murder scene and your clothes stained all over.
I’ve found the easiest way to seed a pomegranate is under water!
Gently (this is key) cut the fruit in half, fill a large bowl with water and submerge the halves.
Pick the arils apart from the fruit underneath the water this way you avoid all fruit splatter.
The pith will mostly float to the top to be skimmed off while the seeds will sink to the bottom.
Of course, you can also buy them pre-seeded in the grocery store or even frozen if you can find them.
It’s not a cheap convenience to buy them pre-seeded but sometimes it’s worth it!
Since this pomegranate popcorn recipe uses just 1/2 cup of the arils, use up the rest in your morning oatmeal, smoothie bowl, yogurt or make some Orange Pomegranate Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies – ’tis the season after all!
Having a holiday party? Try this pomegranate salsa for a wonderfully festive option!
If you’re thinking “ok, I can get behind the pomegranates and chocolate chips (ps- check out this pomegranate bark or pomegranate chocolate chip pancakes if so) but what’s the deal with the lemon zest?”
Let me tell you how well the nice burst of lemon brightness is in this salty sweet popcorn combination!
Since it’s winter, I thought a citrus zest (orange zest would work well too) would be perfect in this pomegranate popcorn mix.
And, it really does work incredibly well to balance the salty and savory coconut oil popped corn.
Leave it out if it freaks you out too much but I highly suggest trying it.
Clearly, a popcorn snack mix with some pomegranates, chocolate chips and lemon zest is no culinary feat.
But, it seemed like a fun seasonal snack idea to share especially during Christmas week.
So when you’re home, cozy on the couch with the family enjoying one of the many classic (or cheesy) holiday movies, it’s the perfect thing to make a big batch of and crunch away on.
Both salty and sweet people will be pleased (here are more sweet and salty popcorn recipe ideas for those of you) and you can even pass it off as having some nutritious health benefits thanks to those gorgeous garnet colored pomegranate seeds!
MORE POMEGRANATE RECIPES TO ENJOY:
Balsamic Pomegranate Flank Steak (this is a beauty AND great for a holiday main course!)
Pomegranate Orange Scones
Pomegranate Feta Bison Burgers
Honey Apple Hummus Toast with Pomegranates
- 1 teaspoon coconut oil
- 1/3 cup popcorn kernels
- 1/2 cup pomegranate arils
- 1/4 cup dark or semi-sweet chocolate chips, *see note for vegan
- zest of 1/2 a lemon
- sea salt to taste
- Place coconut oil in a large pot with a lid over medium-high heat.
- Once hot, add popcorn kernels and cover with the lid.
- Shake the pot frequently to coat kernels in the coconut oil and continue doing so as they pop. When there is 2-3 seconds between popping, turn off the heat and remove the lid.
- Transfer the hot popcorn to a large bowl. Add the lemon zest and salt and toss to combine.
- Portion the popcorn out into bowls and top with an even amount of pomegranate arils and chocolate chips.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.
Gina Matsoukas is an AP syndicated writer. She is the founder, photographer and recipe developer of Running to the Kitchen — a food website focused on providing healthy, wholesome recipes using fresh and seasonal ingredients. Her work has been featured in numerous media outlets both digital and print, including MSN, Huffington post, Buzzfeed, Women’s Health and Food Network.