January 19, 2015 PHOTO; FOR USE WITH AP LIFESTYLES

Peanut-honey popcorn: big flavor, little fat

BY MELISSA D’ARABIAN

Associated Press

Powdered peanut butter sounds, pardon the pun, a bit nuts.

While fitness buffs sang its praises when it first hit the scene a few years ago, I scoffed. But after seeing it take up more and more space on the shelves of my local supermarket, I caved and bought it for the first time. At first I stayed fairly traditional in my usage: I added a scoop to my chocolate or banana morning smoothie, or added it to cookie dough to make a lower calorie peanut butter cookie.

But it grew on me. Soon, I was adding it to curries and sprinkling it on my oatmeal or over frozen yogurt. It really is quite good.

Powdered peanut butter is just what it sounds like — peanut butter that has had all of the moisture and most of the fat removed. You’re left with a fine powder (similar in texture to cocoa powder) that has the flavor of regular peanut butter. It can be used as is or reconstituted. For the latter, you just stir 1 tablespoon of water or other liquid (such as almond milk) into 2 tablespoons of powdered peanut butter until smooth.

One serving (2 tablespoons) of reconstituted peanut butter has a fraction of the fat and calories of traditional peanut butter — 45 calories, 5 grams of protein, 1.5 grams of fat and 1 gram of sugar. Compare that to the 188 calories, 16 grams of fat, 8 grams of protein and 3 grams of sugar in the real deal.

I love the creamy decadence of real peanut butter as much as anyone, but it’s worth considering powdered if there are times when you want the flavor with a leaner profile. Plus, I find powdered peanut butter can be used in ways the regular stuff can’t. For example, this recipe for salty-sweet peanut popcorn. It is awards season, after all. So I figured I’d share my favorite popcorn treat.

The recipe is simple, with just enough sweetness from a hit of honey to balance the salty peanut flavor. Using coconut oil for the popping rounds out the flavor. It’s truly addictive!

SALTY-SWEET PEANUT-HONEY POPCORN
Start to finish: 10 minutes
Servings: 8

Prefer the microwave? Use unflavored plain popcorn and pop according to package directions, then transfer to a large bowl and proceed with the recipe starting with the honey.

1 1/2 tablespoons coconut oil
1/2 cup popcorn kernels
1/4 cup honey
3 tablespoons powdered peanut butter
1/2 teaspoon fine salt

In a heavy, large saucepan over medium, heat the coconut oil. Sprinkle in the popcorn kernels and give a quick stir with a wooden spoon to coat the kernels in oil. Continue cooking and stirring until the first kernel pops. Once it does, cover the pan and, using oven mitts, grasp the pan by both the handle and the lid, then gently shake the pan (on the heat) to keep the kernels moving as they continue to pop. Do this for about 2 minutes, or until there is a 2-second delay between pops. Remove the pan from the heat and transfer the popcorn to a large bowl. Be very careful; the popcorn will be very hot.

Drizzle the honey over the popcorn, then use wooden spoons to toss to coat evenly. Sprinkle the peanut butter and salt over the popcorn, then toss again to coat.

Nutrition information per serving: 110 calories; 30 calories from fat (27 percent of total calories); 3.5 g fat (2.5 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 0 mg cholesterol; 18 g carbohydrate; 2 g fiber; 9 g sugar; 2 g protein; 160 mg sodium.

Food Network star Melissa d’Arabian is an expert on healthy eating on a budget. She is the author of the cookbook, “Supermarket Healthy.” http://www.melissadarabian.net