‘French-fries’ without the guilt

Sweet potato fries. Courtesy dreamstime.com.

As a fitness professional, I do more than teach my clients how to exercise.

I try to instill healthy habits, including how they can better manage their food choices. Of course, this is easier said than done, especially with clients who are motivated to exercise but use it as a way to justify eating more than they should or to stick with unhealthy eating habits. Let’s explore a common food vice sabotaging weight loss and health — French fries.

Also called shoestring fries or hot chips, French fries are widely considered a necessary pairing to a burger or sandwich. Many people grew up eating deep-fried, cut-up potato slices, starting at a very young age. I could try to tell you the dangers of eating French fries — that they contain high fat, high cholesterol and high carbohydrates — but if you, like many other people, associate French fries with comfort food, breaking the habit will take time. 

Probably the best way to curb an unhealthy eating habit like a French-fry addiction is to show healthier versions of this deep-fried favorite. You can have your cake — err, French fries — and eat it too with these recipes:

ZUCCHINI FRIES

Do you know a relative who goes on and on about how great his kid is and it makes you wonder, “Can this child do no wrong?” Well, if your family were vegetables, then zucchini would be that child. You can’t ignore that this vegetable is nearly 50 percent lower in calories compared to other low-calorie vegetables like broccoli in the same serving size. You can’t ignore how zucchinis are loaded with potassium, which is a nutrient that helps to lower the risk of stroke. You also can’t ignore how the vegetable is so versatile. It can be used as a replacement for noodles — when prepared like this, they are often called “zoodles” — used in bread, and of course, used as a healthier version of French fries.

Making zucchini fries only takes the vegetable, flour, eggs, breadcrumbs and other seasonings. 

AVOCADO FRIES 

This fruit is known as a “superfood” for its abundance of nutrients, healthy fats and flavor, but what also makes this fruit super is its versatility. Of course, there are the obvious other uses for avocados such as guacamole, salads and sandwiches, but they also make a great alternative to deep-fried French fries. Avocado fries are pretty easy to make. Most avocado-fry recipes call for panko crumbs, a sprinkle of seasonings and oven-baking for 20 minutes. 

SWEET POTATO FRIES

Maybe this list of healthier French fries should have started off with sweet potatoes. They offer the starchy taste that fries are known for, yet they contain a slightly higher amount of fiber, which can help people feel full and satisfied. Sweet potatoes also have a lower glycemic index, which means blood sugar doesn’t rise as high compared to eating typical French fries. However, keep in mind that if the sweet potatoes are deep fried, people lose out on the nutritional benefits. So if you order sweet potato fries from the restaurant, they need to make sure that the fries are either baked or roasted. Baking helps to maximize the nutritional benefits without adding extra calories or fat from oil.

CARROT FRIES 

If you don’t want a recipe that involves adding breadcrumbs, then carrot fries are an easy recipe and a great alternative to regular fries. All carrot fries usually need is a coating of olive oil, salt and pepper. Bake them at a high temperature and remove after 20 minutes.

French fries, shoestring fries and hot chips: No matter what you call them, they’re a no-no. This summer, make fit food choices without taking a bite out of taste.

Reach Giovanni on twitter @GiovanniRoselli and his website, GiovanniRoselli.com.

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