Nooch popcorn is having a moment and I’m here for it. My vegan chili cheese popcorn is the answer to your salty, smoky, spicy healthy snack dreams.
Anybody else a fan of chili cheese corn chips? Just me? Ok then.
When I was a kid, I loved chips. I was never much into candy or ice cream. But give me a bag of Doritos, Ruffles or corn chips and I was a happy girl. When my Grandma would bring home a variety pack of chips to take to school, I’d immediately snag a bag of the corn chips – plain, ranch, or my fave the chili cheese flavor.
If you’re judging me right now. No need. I haven’t always been a healthy eater. I didn’t even know that dietitians existed or that healthy eating was a thing until I was well into my college years. And today, while I strive to eat whole and healthy most of the time, when I want a treat, I go for it. What’s fun though is when I can take something I used to love and make a healthier version.
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Anyway, I’ve always enjoyed the flavor combination of chili and cheese but not the heavy, greasy side effects. Nowadays, I still enjoy tortilla chips (plain and too often) as a base for nachos or to scoop salsa as a precursor to a Mexican meal but I can’t tell you the last time I had those little corn chips. I’m a lot more choosy about what goes into my body now but it doesn’t mean I’ve given up on flavor.
That’s what inspired this recipe. That and I recently wrote a piece about nutritional yeast for US News and want to start using it a little more often in my meals. I’ve added it to roasted vegetables but not much else.
SO, I am really excited to share this recipe with you. It’s over the top on flavor and because of the nutritional yeast and whole grain popcorn (hello fiber!), it’s also a healthy snack option. Plus it’s easy and cuts a bunch of the junk you’d get in a typical chili cheese flavored snack.
Watch me make it in the short video below courtesy of Food & Nutrition Magazine.
At 160 calories for a 1-ounce serving (about 31 chips), here’s the ingredient list from a popular Chili Cheese Corn Chips brand:
Corn, Corn Oil, salt, whey, cheddar cheese. spices, whey protein concentrate, maltodextrin, tomato powder, monosodium glutamate, onion powder, more cheese Romano cheese, dextrose, sugar, buttermilk, butter, citric acid, natural flavor, sunflower oil, garlic powder, annotto extract, disodium inosinate, disodium guanylate, caramel color.
My Chili Cheese Flavored Popcorn comes in at about 160 calories for 4 cups (assuming all of the kernels to pop and the seasoning sticks) and boasts this short ingredient list:
Corn, avocado oil, salt, nutritional yeast, garlic powder, onion powder, chipotle powder, smoked paprika.
Bonus: Your fingers will still be left slightly stained with red-orange, spicy goodness after enjoying this snack.
Vegan Chili Cheese Popcorn - Nooch Popcorn
- ¼ cup nutritional yeast
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
- ¼ teaspoon chipotle powder
- 2 tablespoon avocado oil
- ½ cup white popcorn kernels yields about 16 cups popped
- In a small bowl, mix the nutritional yeast through chipotle powder. Set aside.
- Heat the avocado oil in a medium stockpot with a lid over medium-high heat. Add the popcorn kernels and allow it to pop. Shake the pot occasionally to make sure all kernels are covered in oil. Listen for the popping to slow, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat. (You can also use an air popper or the microwave to pop the popcorn.)
- Transfer the warm popcorn to a large bowl. Sprinkle with seasoning. Mix to coat. Serve warm or let the popcorn cool completely and store in sealed container for a couple days.