The Great Popcorn Off: Caulflower Popcorn vs Metcalfe’s Skinny Topcorn

Deb hasn't sworn for at least 10 minutes - we're frightened.

Deb hasn’t sworn for at least 10 minutes – we’re frightened.

Monday night is Dexter night in our house – and we have a routine of eating ‘Happy Dexter Snacks’. Quite why a serial killer with a sweary sister should trigger us to consume carbs, sugar or chocolate I have no idea, but still it’s the only show we snack during and it’s become a tradition. This Monday though the snacks had a purpose……we were having a Popcorn Off. Popcorn is having a bit of a moment here in the UK shops with lots of gourmet brands coming out. It’s also having a bit of a moment online with people coming up with alternatives to the normal, erm, popped corn-based,  stuff…..which brings us nicely to my contenders….


Beloved of Paleos, this had intrigued me since I saw a recipe online. Just as cauli-lovers SWEAR that it makes brilliant pizza crust and amazing mash (which it does) they’re now claiming it also replaces popcorn. You make it by mixing it with olive oil and a little salt then baking in the oven for an hour. As such it’s not as low in calories as you might think – our portion made from half a head of cauliflower contains about 275 calories. It is however low-carb


New kid on the healthy eating block in the UK this is making its noise in the hipster and low-calorie quarters. At just 118 calories for a large bag it comes in intriguing flavours – like wasabi, which of course is the one I picked. After all, why would I go for something normal like toffee when I can pick a burny Japanese condiment. It of course is not low carb!

Left: The Cauliflower. Right: The Topcorn

Left: The Cauliflower. Right: The Topcorn

We sat down and started munching….and here’s what we found.


Actually, this really does work – ours suffered a little from my amateur cooking skills. I think I used a dash too much oil and, as normal while cooking, I had got distracted by something shiny and not turned it quite as often as I should have. It’s supposed to be brown and caramelised all over – mine was a bit black in places and a bit white in others, but still the bits that were perfect were really good – at first. But then about 30 minutes later I got THE most disgusting after-taste ever. I’m not sure what happens to it, but it was like having something mouldy in my mouth – and it would not shift. Thank heaven for ad breaks and toothpaste is all I can say.

Because of that – plus the fact that it’s a faff to make and higher in calories, I mark Cauliflower Popcorn 3 out of 10. If you are a better cook than me though and on a low carb diet I would say definitely try it.

The recipe I used was this one You’ll note mine doesn’t look quite like theirs!


It’s not as firey as wasabi peanuts, in fact, to get much of a taste you do have to hunt for the greener looking pieces, but it is very good – a strange mixture of sweet, salty and firey, we only ate half the pack between us. That made a seriously satisfying snack for about 28 calories each. It is carby, which meant ‘diet fail’ for me, but for everyone else, what’s not to love. Low calorie, low-fat, it takes ages to eat and you feel really full afterwards – and you don’t need to run back and forth to the kitchen every 10 minutes (or burn your treat when you don’t). I would have liked a bit more flavour, but I’d score it 7 out of 10. If you want to try it yourself it’s in supermarkets nationwide..

So, any suggestions for next week’s Happy Dexter Snacks?


Main image: this thing on? Talk to me, it's lonely down here

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