Theoretically, I should be in Hawaii right now, slurping up juicy pineapple while lounging by the pool. My mom needed to fly over for a business trip, and she invited me to tag along now that I work from home/coffee shops/Panera/wherever my laptop happens to be. But the price of airline tickets to the islands SKYROCKETED just in time for summer, so I stayed home while Mom is sipping mai tais in between meetings.
The night before one of our trips to Hawaii during my high school years, I started skimming through my “Seventeen” magazine I had set aside for reading on the flights. Within the first few pages, I spotted a fun snack idea: tropical-themed popcorn! Already apprehensive about downing too many packets of free peanuts, I begged my mom to drive to the store for the ingredients.
We bought popcorn kernels, a trio of dried fruits, and Cinnamon Life cereal (Mom never let us have Cinnamon Toast Crunch in the house, even though that was what the recipe required!). Back at home, I made a big batch and divided it up into individual portions for the next day.
Between my brother and me in the backseat, it barely lasted through the car ride to the airport!
So when I recently found myself munching on a few too many Teddy Grahams, tortilla chips, and chocolate bars, I resolved to recreate that tropical snack. To make it healthier, I air-popped my own popcorn in the microwave (it’s super easy!) and swapped in freeze-dried mangoes in place of their typical sugar-coated candied counterparts. With a sprinkling of toasted coconut and bright bursts of dried pineapple, this popcorn tastes exactly like paradise—complete with the pool!