It’s no secret snacks are a major part of my everyday life. If you’ve followed along on social media (or ever sat with me though a meeting or conference call) you know I usually have something tasty to munch on when hunger strikes. For Labor Day I’m switching things up by focusing on a snack meant to be enjoyed at home with a drink in hand. Presenting: Popped and Paired! A collection of perfectly paired popcorn and cocktail mixes that are great for relaxing at home.
Disclosure: The graphic that appears in this post was created by SkinnyPop and I’m sharing it with permission. I did not receive free product and I was not compensated for my time.
Popcorn has always been a favorite snack of mine when I want something crunchy, salty, and munch-able. In college I was the queen of dorm room microwave popcorn. I’m proud to say that I never once burned it and set off the fire alarms (although plenty of other people in my high-rise dorm did). But as I learned more about nutrition and health, I gravitated away from the ready-to-go microwave options and started making my own on the stovetop. I had the PERFECT pot for it too – I knew the exact ratio of oil to popcorn kernels and it came out perfectly every single time.
Fast forward a few years and Mr. Street Smart and I were heading towards co-habitation…somewhere along the way my favorite stovetop popcorn pot got, er, misplaced/dropped/forgotten. I’ll never know where it ended up but I’ve never been able to replicate the perfectly popped batch of stovetop popcorn since then.
Nowadays it’s more about convenience than anything else. While I love to cook and always will, sometimes making my own popcorn sounds like, well, a lot of work. It isn’t – I’m fully aware this is just my own personal laziness peeking through. That’s why I’m glad to have options like SkinnyPop on hand. They have a range of flavors that I enjoy but I always come back to the classic: the Original has just the right amount of salt and plenty of crunch.
And to be clear, I don’t share this with you because I believe SkinnyPop is any more or less healthy than other popcorn options. In all honesty, the name alone is something of a turnoff because I don’t like the word “skinny” in association with food or health. As a non-diet dietitian who believes in the power of intuitive eating, I don’t think foods should have a positive or negative connotation and calling a food “skinny” implies it’s better. Or that you don’t have to feel guilt or shame if you indulge in it.
To summarize: Eating popcorn will not make you skinny….eating popcorn will not make you fat….eating popcorn doesn’t make you a good person….eating popcorn doesn’t make you a bad person….you get the idea.
But the stuff tastes good so I’m willing to look past the name. And although I try to avoid brands that promote food-fear nonsense and go overboard with the free-from labeling, I begrudgingly accept the fact that if I boycotted every brand that did that, I’d have to grow my own food and cook from scratch nearly 100% of the time. So, I do my best to look past the labels that carry little or no meaning for me and use them as an opportunity to start a conversation about those issues if someone else asks me about them.
The popcorn and drink combos featured below highlight a few examples for how popcorn and cocktails can compliment each other at your next backyard gathering or friendly get-together. I’m certainly no mixologist, and my adult beverages of choice usually require little more than a bottle opener (I would include a cork-screw, but let’s be honest, I don’t mind me some twist-top wine). So these drink mixes are about as advanced as I want to get!
Do you spot any new favorites on that list?
If you need one more idea, check out my take on the classic Vodka Tonic: my Raspberry Mint Vodka Tonic.
Raspberry Mint Vodka Tonic
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 0 minutes
Yield: 2 servings
12 oz. diet or regular tonic water
2 oz. vodka
Squeeze of lime juice
2 Tablespoons infused vinegar
6 to 8 ice cubes
10 to 12 fresh raspberries
2 to 4 fresh mint leaves
Add the tonic water, vodka, and ice cubes to tumbler glasses. Stir to combine, then add a squeeze of lime juice and 1 Tablespoon of infused vinegar to each glass. Top with fresh raspberries and 1-2 mint leaves each, swirling to combine.
Enjoy with extra ice if desired.
Recommended flavors for infused vinegars include: raspberry, strawberry, or blueberry aged white vinegars. These can usually be sourced from local purveyors of speciality vinegars and olive oils.
Infused vinegar….I know you might be thinking that sounds like an odd thing to add to alcohol, but trust me on this one! I used the Cascadian Raspberry infused aged white vinegar from The Tasteful Olive. They’re a local store here in Kansas City that carries a huge range of specialty olive oils and vinegars. Tastes are free! If you’re not in KC I’m betting you have a similar shop near you so I encourage you to check it out if you haven’t already!
So now the question is, which popcorn flavor would make the perfect pair with this mix?
I know what I would choose, but if you’ve got an idea of your own drop it in a comment below! And if you’re celebrating Labor Day (or any other day) with a nice cold drink in your hand, be sure to share this recipe with someone who’s feeling adventurous!