The beginning of a new year marks the annual pledge many of us make for healthier eating habits after the long gluttonous run from Halloween thru New Year’s day. With the heft of the holidays weighing in both body and mind comes the desire for clean, simple, lighter eating. Cue popcorn.

Popcorn is a simple yet satisfying whole grain. By itself, popcorn is delicious and unfussy. Popcorn is naturally low in fat and calories, which makes it a great choice when trying to lose holiday weight. The fiber in popcorn makes you feel fuller longer, which helps curb hunger. Eating a little more here means you’ll eat a little less there.

Yet health and wellness-minded consumers today look for added nutrients to boost the system. Why eat only whole grains when you can sprinkle on protein and antioxidants? Powders, herbs, ground roots, seeds, and spices like turmeric, matcha, maca, and chia can make your snacks more nutrient rich. And while there’s no substitute for a balanced diet, pairing these on-trend ingredients with whole grain popcorn is a natural.

Maca Almond Popcorn Bars
Love almonds? Then you’ll love the taste of these chewy, yummy popcorn bars that boast whole grain, fiber, protein, and an extra nutrient kick from Maca root. Makes: 16 bars

Ingredients:
8 cups unsalted, unbuttered popped popcorn
3/4 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup flaked oats
1/3 cup almond butter
1/3 cup brown rice syrup
3 tbsp honey
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp maca root powder
Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper. Place popcorn in large mixing bowl.
2. Spread almonds and oats on baking sheet; bake for about 5 minutes or until lightly browned and toasted. Let cool completely; add to bowl with popcorn.until dissolved. Pour over popcorn; toss to combine. Spread onto baking sheet. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.
3. In saucepan set over medium heat, combine almond butter, brown rice syrup, honey and salt. Stir in maca root powder until smooth and dissolved.
4. In large mixing bowl, pour almond butter mixture over popcorn mixture; toss gently to coat evenly. Transfer mixture to prepared baking pan, patting down and spreading to edges. Let cool until firm. Cut into bars.