Popcorn Trail Mix ~ Sensible, Portable Snacking

For me, eating popcorn has always felt a little bit like eating air.

There’s just not a whole lot going on there.

And although I’ve recognized for some time that popcorn is a whole grain that is a perfectly healthy snack (particularly when not slathered in copious amounts of fake butter), still, it has never managed to grab my attention for very long.  Not until now that is.

What I love about this idea is that it captures the whole grain benefits and low calorie component of popcorn while matching it up with the more substantive heavy hitters in the snack department: nuts, seeds and dried fruit.

You get to enjoy taste, volume and satisfaction without over-consuming calories. Two cups worth of this popcorn trail mix will bring you in line with a small handful of nuts/seeds and a sprinkling of fruit that is ideal for a snack.

Nuts and seeds are delicious and they also offer many potential health benefits but, on their own, a mere half cup can quickly amount to a calorie intake in the range of a meal rather than a snack.  I don’t generally like to over-focus on calories (I find it takes away from the more important understanding of what those calories are comprised of) but having a general idea of ranges is usually wise. 

Popcorn Trail Mix ~ Sensible, Portable Snacking

  • 1/4 cup corn kernels (will make about 8 cups or 2 quarts – adjust quantities if you wish to make more or less)
  • 1 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 cup chopped walnut, or other nut of choice
  • 1/3 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup dried apricot, sliced thin
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened desiccated coconut shavings

For the Topping (see other suggestions in Notes below)

  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt or other coarse grain salt


Coconut oil has a higher smoke point than olive oil and I like to use it for cooking popcorn.

You can substitute any nuts/fruit of choice in this recipe to create your favourite version.

I found the simple topping combination of cinnamon and sea salt surprisingly delicious in this batch – a perfect complement to the sweet notes.  But, if you prefer something on the pure savoury side, one of my favourite combinations is: parmesan, cumin, sea salt, a pinch of cayenne and nutritional yeast (you can play around with proportions).  Nutritional yeast has a subtle cheese/nut flavour and is a good source of fortified B12 – particularly helpful for vegans.  It is often sold in the form of light yellow/golden coloured flakes (easy to combine with other herbs & spices and shake on popcorn).  You can find nutritional yeast at health food stores of bulk food stores.



Carefully pop corn in a large dedicated pot on stove with coconut oil.

Place popped corn in a large bowl and add nuts, seeds and dried fruit.  Sprinkle with cinnamon/sea salt topping or other topping of choice. 

Further divide popcorn into smaller bowls or bags for snacks at school and the office.

It's only fair to share...Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on StumbleUponShare on Google+Share on LinkedInEmail this to someone


  1. justonecookbook says

    Eating air! That’s great way to describe it and it’s healthier than other typical snacks. I have a close friend who is very crazy about popcorn and cannot go sleep without eating it while watching tv. She’s funny. Anyway, I’m going to make this one and give some to her. I love this unique popcorn!

  2. Linda says

    I’m like you Kelly, I’ve not been a huge fan of straight up popcorn but this is truly something I’d like. It’s also so perfect for this time of the year. I think this would be a fun cocktail party treat!

  3. says

    You’re so smart to bulk up high-calorie trail mix with popcorn for a perfect snack! Popcorn by itself def is kinda dull…although i do enjoy it. I wish I had some of this to take on my trip with me…

  4. Mandy - The Complete Cook Book says

    What a terrific idea! To come and think of it, I haven’t made popcorn for the longest time!
    :-) Mandy

  5. Koko says

    Kelly this looks fantastic- I am a popcorn FIEND! Although I must admit…I usually air pop it and then slatherrrrrrr it in coconut oil and sea salt- oops! This looks like a super satisfying, lower cal snack. Love it!

  6. says

    Kelly, I love the “eating the air” idea! I have never thought about it, but it’s probably what partly makes popcorn healthy… So light in weight and so much fun! I love popcorn and I still remember how surprised I was to learn it was actually healthy if made at home without any butter over it. Your snack bowl looks fabulous. I know I will prepare it next weekend! Thank you for this extraordinary – and yet so easy to realise – idea.

  7. says

    I’m a popcorn fanatic :) I like to sprinkle on sweet and spicy seasonings. Never thought about combining it with fruit and nuts (and I totally wish I would have) because this is genius. It’s the best of both worlds.

  8. says

    Now this is a bowl of popcorn! Love the addition of the dried fruit and nuts/seeds! Bobby and I eat a lot of popcorn and sometimes I want to jazz it up. This is definitely jazzing up a bowl of popcorn.

  9. says

    So true, I don’t focus on calories either. One tends to become obsessed with numbers when we have to focus more on the nutrition health value to sustain our body in a healthy manner.

    You know the locals here would love your popcorn mix. Simply because u have added coconut oil and scraped coconut and we have those ingredients in masses!

  10. inspirededibles says

    Thank you for your thoughtful response Helene! Next time I’d like to try coconut chips from the coconut meat… I couldn’t find the chunkier pieces on this occasion. Glad you like this!

  11. inspirededibles says

    Haha, I know what you mean about ‘discovering’ the health properties of popcorn… we don’t tend to associate it as a super food ;-0). Thank you for your kind words, as always, Sissi!

  12. inspirededibles says

    I know, I love how portable this is… you could even sneak it into a movie theatre – I’m so bad that way… I always have my backpack of home goodies in the theatre – easier on the pocket book too ;0)

  13. inspirededibles says

    Haha, what a great story! I’ve definitely gone through brief popcorn phases but it hasn’t generally caught on like other snacks… I quite like this change-up!

  14. says

    Delicious sounding and with a lot of appetite appeal too! I am one of those weird one’s that enjoy just plain old unbuttered popcorn and I despise that crap they sell at movies (we usually sneak in our own popcorn. I love the addition of the trail mix, Kelly, great idea!

  15. says

    “particularly when not slathered in copious amounts of fake butter”

    Hmm, what if I slather it in copious quantities of “real” butter… oooh, and salt… so much salt! I guess that’s still frowned upon (but oh so delicious!).

    But seriously though: this looks like a great snack, and definitely a change to the “usual” way of having popcorn. I was wondering, what do you feel about air-poppers? I used to have one and it was certainly very effective, and healthy, needing no fat at all, but I always found the popcorn lacked a certain “je ne sais quoi”, and any thing you sprinkled on top fell right off :/

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *