Vegan Chili Cheese Nooch Popcorn

Vegan Chili Cheese Nooch Popcorn
Photo: Marisa Moore, MBA, RDN, LD

My vegan chili cheese popcorn is the answer to your salty, smoky, spicy, healthy snack dreams.

When I was a kid, I loved chips. Chili cheese flavored ones were my favorite. Much has changed since then. 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.

I’ve always enjoyed the flavor combination of chili and cheese but not the heavy, greasy side effects. I’m choosier 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 wanted to start using nutritional yeast 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 you know exactly what goes in it.

To compare my popcorn to the store-bought chips version:

At 160 calories for a 1-ounce serving (about 31 chips), here’s the ingredient list from a common chili cheese corn chips product:

Corn, corn oil, salt, whey, cheddar cheese, spices, whey protein concentrate, maltodextrin, tomato powder, monosodium glutamate, onion powder, Romano cheese, dextrose, sugar, buttermilk, butter, citric acid, natural flavor, sunflower oil, garlic powder, annatto extract, disodium inosinate, disodium guanylate, caramel color. 

My popcorn comes in at about 160 calories for 4 cups (assuming all the kernels pop and the seasoning sticks) and boasts this short ingredient list:

Corn, avocado oil, salt, nutritional yeast, garlic powder, onion powder, chipotle powder and smoked paprika.

Bonus: Your fingers will still be left slightly stained with red-orange, spicy goodness after enjoying this snack.


Vegan Chili Cheese Nooch Popcorn

Serves 4; makes about 16 cups

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup nutritional yeast
  • ½ teaspoon fine salt
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon chipotle powder
  • 2 tablespoons avocado oil
  • ½ cup white popcorn kernels

Instructions

  1. In a small bowl, stir together nutritional yeast, salt, garlic powder, onion powder, smoked paprika and chipotle powder. Set aside.
  2. Heat avocado oil in a medium stockpot with a lid over medium-high heat. Add the popcorn kernels and cover. 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.
  3. Transfer the warm popcorn to a large bowl. Sprinkle with seasoning. Stir to coat. Serve warm or let the popcorn cool completely and store in a sealed container for a couple days.
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Marisa Moore
Marisa Moore, MBA, RDN, LD, is based in Atlanta and specializes in culinary nutrition, communications and consulting. She blogs at marisamoore.com. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter.