Popcorn is a snack of all trades. It’s at once the ultimate movie companion and anytime noshing option. Microwave popcorn will always have a special place in my heart, but from now on, I might just be swapping kernels for protein-packed popped lotus seeds, also known as phool makhana or fox nuts.
The white seeds harvested from from the lotus flower are often used in both sweet and savory Indian cooking. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the nuts pack 5 grams of protein per cup, as well as 67 grams of magnesium (a hefty chunk of your daily recommended amount), and 52 grams of calcium. For a simple snack, that’s pretty darn impressive.
Honest Cooking blogger Ila Dubey Dhulipala recommends sautéing two cups of the seeds with a tablespoon of ghee and waiting for the phool makhnas to turn golden brown. “They can guzzle up several tablespoons of ghee if you choose to use that much! But even as less as half a teaspoon will do just as well, providing the essential aroma while roasting,” she writes. Then, you just add a pinch of salt and a shake of pepper and you’re ready to marathon watch a Stranger Things with reckless snack abandon.
When popped, the seeds have a chewier texture than popcorn, and you can use them in a variety of other dishes, too. Lotus seeds are often added soups, seed buns, vegan raita, and even puddings. In other words, like popcorn, they’re a Swiss army knife ingredient. If you’re not already cooking with ’em, popped lotus seeds for dinner it is.
While we all love popcorn, Trader Joe’s on-the-cob microwave popcorn is a #fail. And if you’re on the hunt for more snacks, a dietitian loves these.