Making Fried Food Healthy: 3 Questions to Ask Yourself for a Healthy Fried Crunch
Now if you’re wondering if those are healthy, I think we can all agree the answer is no.
But that doesn’t mean this essential cooking method is off limits if weight loss is one of your goals. As a member of The Fabulous Five, what I call my must-have cooking techniques, frying can be flavorful, fun, and healthy. It all comes down to three things…
#1: What are you frying?
#2: Where are you getting your crunch?
#3: What fat are you using?
We’re going to break each of these down in a minute and give you some options, but I want to start by first defining frying…
To fry, is to cook food in hot fat at approximately 325-375 degrees, over medium high heat. There are two kinds of frying; pan frying and deep frying.
Pan frying, or shallow frying, uses more fat than when you’re sautéing foods. The pan should be filled to about half the height of the thickest part of the product.
Deep frying is the big vat of hot oil you may be more familiar with. When deep frying, you totally submerge the product in fat. Although healthy fats are an essential part of a healthy diet, too much of anything is…well, too much.
So because health is the name of the game today, we’re going to focus on pan frying.
What Are You Frying?
The key to any healthy diet is a well-rounded dose of fruits, vegetables, proteins, and fats. Yes, I did say fat and we’ll get more into that later, but my point here is that if you’re frying an Oreo or a stick of butter, you’re adding insult to injury.
But what about frying foods that we all know are healthy? Things you know you should be eating, but aren’t. Things you want your kids to eat, but they won’t?
Using the pan frying method, a combination of the right spices, and even a tasty dipping sauce, is a great way to trick your kids, and yourself, into getting those healthy foods more often.
Carrot, zucchini, and sweet potato fries – all the crunch + the veggies.
Here’s a list of things you can easily fry for the healthy…
- Sweet potatoes
- Butternut squash
- Brussels sprouts
Frying seems to go hand-in-hand with finger foods, so slice these options into sticks or rounds for a dish that feels indulgent, but keeps you on track.
Where Are You Getting Your Crunch?
A major part of frying, and achieving that desired crunch, is the breading. Again, you have options. You can use a wet batter that typically involves buttermilk, beer, and other mixtures of liquid and starch…not what you want to keep on the healthy train.
Or, you can use a naturally derived dry batter like almond flour or rice flour. Just dress it up with some coarse sea salt and freshly ground pepper, red pepper flakes for spice, or a combination of other spices complementary to the product you’re frying.
You’ll still hear the crunch in each bite, and the spices will make the flavors come alive, but you don’t overdo it on empty carbs and processed additives that your body can’t digest anyway.
Use almond flour for a natural and protein-packed fried crust.
What Fat Are You Using?
Fat and weight loss have had a long and controversial relationship. Regardless of where you stand on the subject, the truth is there are good fats and bad fats, and today we’re talking good fats.
The good fats you should be using for frying are unrefined raw coconut oil and real butter. That’s right, butter is back, and a meta-analysis published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine agrees.
Both of these fats can be used in medium to high heat cooking and have additional health benefits to help you reach your goals.
The fats you should not fry in include…
- Sunflower oil, due to high amounts of Omega-6 fats which have been shown to contribute to certain forms of cancer.
- Rapeseed oil and canola oil, due to significant amounts of a poisonous substance called erucic acid, which is associated with heart disease.
- Safflower oil, due to high amounts of polyunsaturated fat.
As always, your choices are really what influence your ability to reach your goals. Think about what you’re eating, how it’s prepared, and how you can make it more healthy without scrimping on taste.
Food is life and we all need it, so stick with Chef Gerrie for more tips on mastering your kitchen…and thus, your weight loss goals! When you cook your own food, you have total and complete control over what you’re getting.
Now isn’t that a novel idea!?!?
Let me know what your favorite thing to fry is and how you make it. Post in the comments section below or on my Facebook page, Chef Gerrie’s Chef Gerrie. See you there!