A foodie's quest to turn up the heat through strength and conditioning with whole food and a hungry mind.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Forget the Fast Food Fries!

After reading this article by Fooducate.com shunning fast food French fries (and fast food altogether) and providing an awesome homemade baked sweet potato "fries" recipe, I was compelled to make my own post.
Really, the title says it all!  Anyone who knows me, knows that fast food, and most typical sit-down restaurants, disgust me and fries are at the top of my “tainted” foods list.

French fries are the most popular fast food item in America.  Since the fries are usually side items to fast food meals, that's a lot of fast food consumption.  Before getting into the healthy, "fry" alternatives to make at home, consider these few among many negative effects from fast food:
In Kids
  • Type 2 diabetes – used to be rare in children, but poor diets have increased this risk in kids.
  • Asthma – unhealthy food diets increase the risk of developing asthma symptoms
  • Liver Disease – occurs from fat building up in the liver cells; obesity is a top contributor to liver disease
In Adults
  • Stroke – high blood pressure commonly occurring with a poor diet can cause strokes which may result in brain damage
  • Cardiovascular Disease - #1 cause of death in the world
  • Cancer – almost 1/3 forms of cancer are diet related
You can read more about the negative effects of fast food here. But now, how about some healthy and tasty alternatives to you can make at home and maybe even have fun doing it?

At home, you are not limited to only potatoes when making your own versions; aside from the sweet potatoes referenced in the article, you can use rutabagas, turnips, many types of winter squash, and even summer squash. 
Check out a few of my favorite recipes and their links below:


- 1 (2 pound) butternut squash, halved and seeded
- salt to taste


1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C).

2. Use a sharp knife to carefully cut away the peel from the squash. Cut the squash into sticks like French fries. Arrange squash pieces on a baking sheet and season with salt.
3. Bake for 20 minutes in the preheated oven, turning the fries over halfway through baking. Fries are done when they are starting to brown on the edges and become crispy.

For a spicy, savory variety, add some garlic powder, cayenne, and cumin.  For a sweet treat, I sprinkle the "fries" with cinnamon and a drizzle of honey.

  • 3 medium zucchini, sliced into skinny sticks
  • 2 large egg whites, beaten
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat bread crumbs (we make our own)
  • 2 T grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 tsp dried basil
  • Pinch of dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
- Preheat oven to 425°. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray. Set aside.
- In a small bowl, beat egg whites with a fork until frothy.
- Put the breadcrumbs, basil, oregano, garlic powder and cheese on a plate or shallow dish like a pie tin. Mix well.
- Dip the zucchini sticks in the egg whites and then into the bread crumb mixture, make sure all sides get  coated well. Place the sticks on the prepared baking sheet. I did the sticks one by one.
- Bake at 425° for about 20 minutes or until golden brown and a little crispy. Turn the fries over half way through. Serve warm.  

While plain, raw carrots are great, making these carrot fries are a real treat!

  • 1 1/2 lbs carrots
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, finely chopped
  • 1 pinch pepper
  1. Heat oven to 425 degrees F. Line a shallow pan with foil.
  2. Using a sharp knife, slice away the tip and end of each carrot; peel each completely.
  3. Cut carrots in half crosswise, then cut lengthwise, then cut lengthwise again.
  4. In a mixing bowl, combine the carrot sticks, olive oil, rosemary, sugar, salt and pepper. Stir until all are evenly coated.
  5. Place carrots in pan, spreading sticks out as much as possible. Bake for 20 minutes or until carrots are tender.
  6. Serve hot or at room temperature.
There are many alternative foods that can be turned into scrumptious fries. Just follow one of the directions for the recipes above using your food of choice and see what you can create. Think of yourself as Pablo Picasso; the kitchen is your easel, the ingredients are your paints, and the brush is both of your hands. Go be creative and have fun….make it a family event challenging everyone to bring their own food of choice.

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