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Umami Popcorn

 
One of the many things I learned in Santa Cruz was how to  prepare popped corn as a delicious yet healthy snack. I'm talking nutritional yeast, folks! This replaces chips as my go-to junk food fix. I  realized that I was actually craving the taste umami.

Umami is called the fifth taste by the Japanese. Neither salty, bitter nor sour, this craving is only satiated by a compound found in nature called glutamate, and is called the savory taste. An amino acid, glutamate is a building block of protein. And protein is a key ingredient in repairing damaged muscle that is used during any strenuous activity.

Any work-out or ride that has one breathing heavily—unable to carry on a conversation—means that one is at their aerobic capacity, pushing their VO2 max. At this level of activity, one is creating minute tears in one's muscle tissue. This is a normal process and the muscle will generate new tissue where the existing tissue has torn. This is how muscles grow. While resting after strenuous activity, intake of protein is vital in repairing and building up that muscle tissue. Recovery is an important part of any training regimen, and this snack supports healthy repairing and building of muscle. Nutritional yeast is a naturally-occurring glutamate.

The artificial alternative to naturally-found glutamate would be MSG—monosodium glutamate. A key flavoring component found in junk food is MSG. And I believe that by substituting the MSG for its natural cousin, like the glutamate found in nutritional yeast is a small, yet vital motif in the theme of one's health.

While there are differences between nutritional and brewer's yeast, I use the yeast interchangeably. Both contain vitamins and minerals, and nutritional yeast has an overabundance of B vitamins, with the brewer's yeast having chromium, which helps maintain blood sugar levels. The use of raw extra virgin olive oil delivers vitamin E, which is known to help skin glow. So, please experiment and let us know what you think!

Umami Popcorn

*I use a Whirly Pop to pop the corn, but please use your prefer method to pop the corn kernels.

Apx. ¼ cup popping corn kernels
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
1-2 TBSP decent-quality extra virgin olive oil
2-3 TBSP nutritional or brewer's yeast

Pop corn according to preferred method; pour freshly popped corn into large mixing bowl. Lightly pour half the olive oil over the popcorn, distributing evenly. Dash with salt & pepper(s). Add 1 tablespoon of yeast. Gently toss with hands, add remaining olive oil & top with the rest of the yeast. Eat directly from mixing bowl. Enjoy!

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