Kernels and Kids

Yesterday, my husband and I took our boys to a pumpkin patch to release some energy and spend some time with their friend Caden and his mom, Ty.  Pumpkin patches sure have changed in the last fifteen years – bouncy castles, snake tunnels and an interesting invention where the kids go inside of a plastic bubble, it gets filled with air {from a leaf blower}, and they are thrown in a pool to be tossed about and run in place {like a hamster}. Sometimes I feel like our generation makes it so hard to have simple, wholesome fun for the offspring of their own. The toys nowadays say 6 and up, but watch my husband and I try to put them together, and you’ll be quite entertained. Everything needs batteries or a charger, and if it doesn’t, it’s tossed aside within 30 seconds.

This concept made me begin to think of my childhood, and the things we did when we were little. Scarcely is it anymore that you see grandkids in the kitchen with grandparents or parents, but that was my sisters and I when we were young. Seeing the boys play in huge vats full of dried corn kernels, and how they were so effortlessly and naturally happy was a delight – all the nostalgia also made me think of making treats in my grandma’s kitchen, and this particular event made me think of the time we made popcorn balls.

Last year I tried my hand at making popcorn balls with the kids; after about 20 minutes in, the boys got bored and left to watch TV to my dismay. After all the effort, the burnt hands and the trial attempts, I actually came out with something better than decent, and boy were they cute. I took them to Jacob’s kindergarten Halloween party that year.

Although not necessarily known for being healthy, there are healthy alternatives you can use to make popcorn balls. I didn’t use them, but you might try them.

Instead of using corn syrup, use brown rice syrup {it contains more complex sugars than corn syrup which provides less of a spike in blood sugar} and if you use bagged popcorn, go with natural – no butter, salt or sugar added. I used healthy pop, and the lack of flavor worked perfectly with the sweetness.

One VERY IMPORTANT RULE – use silicone gloves when forming the balls, as it is extremely easy to burn your hands {learn from my mistakes}.

Popcorn Balls

Tools you will need:

Sticks {try to find rounded ones, like you would see in a lollipop, instead of popsicle sticks}

Halloween Rings {you know, the spiders, bats and skulls}

Cellophane sheets {I purchased the kind that are iridescent}

10 cups popped popcorn {approximately 2 bags}

1/2 cup brown rice syrup

1 cup packed light brown sugar

½ tsp. salt

margarine or oil

Food Coloring of your choice

Pop popcorn.

Place the brown rice syrup, brown sugar, salt, and ¼ cup water in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until the entire mixture boils, then turn down to medium-low heat, keeping a constant, low boil for about ten minutes. Pour in 5 drops of food coloring of your choice at the very last minute.

Here’s where you need the gloves: rub butter on your gloves and in a HUGE bowl, pour the uber-hot liquid over the popcorn balls, and work fast. Try to get every kernel coated, then quickly shape the balls into the size of a large apple {I made them a little larger than one serving, but hey, it’s Halloween, right?}. Stick the sticks in the center and put a toy ring around the stick, close to the popcorn ball.

Place the ball on a 1/2 sheet of cellophane paper {AFTER it has cooled}, grab all the ends up towards the top of the stick, and tie with festive ribbon.

Makes about 8 popcorn balls.

Here is your end result:

Nutrition Facts:

Calories 214.6
  Total Fat 1.9 g
  Saturated Fat 1.0 g
  Polyunsaturated Fat 0.2 g
  Monounsaturated Fat 0.5 g
  Cholesterol 3.8 mg
  Sodium 264.4 mg
  Potassium 126.7 mg
  Total Carbohydrate 60.8 g
  Dietary Fiber 1.5 g
  Sugars 53.0 g
  Protein 1.2 g

21 thoughts on “Kernels and Kids

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