Instead of Fries…

Hello Readers!  Now, I know that a lot of you may be cautious about your health or your family’s health, and for good reason!  Even some of the “organic” products at your local supermarket can contain chemicals and “natural” flavors that can be pretty bad for us.  I am the same way.  I can understand buying organic produce, and if you can afford to buy the organic produce do so.  But the rest of the “organic” food may not be as organic as you think.

Personally, I’ve bee a huge fan of cooking from scratch.  While I understand why people turn to organic foods when facing health concerns, I find that limiting processed foods from my diet is more effective.  However, I can’t completely disregard the need for organic as I myself was allergic to the pesticides used on berries as a child.  Yet instead of buying organic strawberries, my grandmother grew her own so that I could enjoy strawberries too.  And as it turns out it was the best solution.  If you haven’t heard, organic does not mean chemical free; organic farmers are still allowed to use pesticides and insecticides.  They just are limited on the varieties of chemicals they can use and the amounts they can use.  If you are serious about an organic lifestyle then you may want to consider growing your own food in a garden; it is truly the only way to guarantee a lack of chemicals in your produce.

But enough about that.  I want to discuss a different issue today: fries.  I get the love of fries, and they are addictive!  Even my son loves fries when we have them.  But, they can be full of chemicals and can ruin a diet.  The fries you get at your favorite fast food joint are typically nothing more than sticks of grease, fat, salt, chemicals, and crap.  They don’t represent true fries.  The bags of fries in the freezer section of your local grocery store are the same things, but they may contain even more preservatives so that they can withstand not being cooked as frequently as the ones in the fast food joints.  The best fries you can make are the ones you make at home from scratch.

But that brings us to the next issue: the carbs.  Don’t get me wrong; potatoes are awesome, and I love Idaho varieties.  I grew up on a meat and potatoes ranch-like diet.  My family often had steak and a baked potato for dinner, and our veggie side was typically more of a garnish or a salad.  Potatoes contain a crazy amount of potassium; one medium potato with skin has about 850 mg of potassium whereas a medium banana contains about 450 mg.  Big difference!

But, potatoes are loaded with carbs and calories; your average medium potato contains about 160 calories are thirty-seven grams of carbohydrates.  To put this in perspective, a single slice of whole wheat bread contains twelve grams of carbs.  So, needless to say, a potato can be pretty bad for your diet.  Plus, when you fry them they soak up all that oil, which can clog up your arteries and pores.  So when it comes to fries, what can you do to have your fun without the fat?

The answer is simple: substitute with healthy options.  The first new favorite is the sweet potato fries switch.  A serving of sweet potato contains 114 calories and its carb level, while still high, is 27 grams.  But, like regular potatoes, sweet potatoes also can absorb excess oil when fried.  So, they can still be fairly fattening.  So, keep in mind that even sweet potatoes can be as bad as potatoes.

It’s also key to note that there are two different tubes that go by the same name: sweet potato and yam.  Most people mistake the yam for the sweet potato.  A yam contains 177 calories per serving, and it has 42 grams of carbs.  So, it’s even higher than a potato on the fattening scale.  And, when made into fries, you may have to add a lot of salt or sodium-rich seasonings to cut down on the sweet factor.  So, they can kill you on the salt intake because yams are naturally sweet.  So, definitely check to ensure you are picking up a sweet potato and not a yam.  Yams tend to have a more red skin and a bright orange interior, whereas a sweet potato skin is a more muted red skin color and a lighter interior.   In fact, the sweet potato tends to look more like a potato while a yam looks more tubular in shape and typically has more of a point at the end.

So, to avoid the confusion on these two products, I tend to veer toward a different option for my fries fix: baked veggies.  I know that some of you are probably familiar with baked zucchini sticks, but there is a reason why they have become so popular.  A serving of baked zucchini fries, which is ten sticks, is only thirty-five calories and they contain 5.8 grams of carbs.  Talk about a healthy difference!

So, what does it take to make these healthy sticks?  A great recipe for these little sticks can be found at Chocolate Covered Katie’s blog.  Personally, I buy either panko crumbs or breadcrumbs at my local grocery store.  I also like to add a little extra flavor by getting the roasted garlic breadcrumbs every now and again.  While it does add some calories and salt to my healthy sticks, it’s a difference of maybe adding another 25 calories to each serving.  I can live with that.

So, tell me Readers, what do you do to cut back on the calories but keep the flavor in your home?  I would love to know!

Until next time,

-BBM

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