French Fry Alternatives

By Virginia Butters

Just about everyone loves French fries, but fitting these deep-fried delights into a low-calorie, low-fat, or low-sodium diet can be a challenge.

The solution? Don't give up fries - find alternative ways to enjoy them! Using other cooking methods and even different vegetables can make "fries" a tasty and healthful part of your daily eating plan.

The simplest change is to switch from deep frying to baking or "oven frying" your potato or vegetable wedges. Tossing vegetable wedges in just a tablespoon or two of oil before baking them at a high temperature will give the finished product a golden brown and crispy "crust" without adding lots of unwanted calories or sending the fat count soaring.

If you're making oven "fries", you might want to consider partially precooking the potatoes or other vegetables as a first step. Parboiling or microwaving potatoes for a few minutes not only makes them easier to cut into wedges, it cuts down on the final baking time and changes the texture just enough to make oil and spices cling nicely.

But changing the cooking method is just one way of making alternative "fries". Why not do a complete change-up and try making "fries" with some not-so-common vegetables? The texture will be similar enough to be satisfying, but with enough difference to be interesting.

Rutabaga Fries
- One large rutabaga
- non-stick cooking spray
- 2 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil
- salt, pepper, garlic powder, chili powder (or other spices of your choice)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Scrub rutabaga well and peel (a vegetable peeler makes the process go quickly). Halve the rutabaga, then parboil for five minutes. Drain, then slice each half into wedges. Combine the wedges with the oil and seasonings in a shallow dish, tossing well to coat each wedge completely. Spray a cookie sheet with non-stick spray and arrange wedges on it in a single layer. Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes. Flip the wedges with tongs or a spatula and continue to bake for 15 - 20 more minutes, or until wedges are golden brown and fork-tender.

Turnip Fries
- 4 medium sized turnips, trimmed and peeled
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon chili powder

Heat oven to 425 degrees. Halve turnips, then cut each half into "sticks" about 2 inches long and 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Toss sticks with oil, salt, and seasoning, making sure all sticks are well coated. Arrange in a single layer on cookie sheet or shallow baking pan and bake for 15 minutes. Flip all wedges and return to oven for another 15 minutes. Serve hot with ketchup, salsa, ranch dressing, or sour cream for dipping.

By Virginia Butters. If you enjoyed this article, check out some of my other posts on topics like kitchen wall clocks. Be sure to read my posts on similar subjects at Retrorama.

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See also: Avoid Destroying the Color, Texture and Nutrients in Vegetables

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