This week’s healthy eating tips are about baking food that you normally would fry and to make things from scratch whenever possible.
I know baking isn’t something anyone wants to do in the heat of the summer (when Ramadan falls this year in the U.S., insha’allah) but you hopefully have the grill as a substitute and really look forward to using it all summer long. In the meantime, get used to baking or oven roasting as a preliminary way to ease up on frying foods whenever possible—and when I say ‘fry’ I am referring to deep frying or using lots of oil in cooking, not the gentle sauté that is the base for so many great dishes, such as soups, stews, curries and the like.
Here are some examples:
Potatoes: how often do you fry potatoes as a dish all their own or as part of another dish? As long as they’re cut thin, they bake pretty quickly. This goes for sweet potatoes, Yukon and the all-American baking potato.
Peppers: Peppers retain a lot of oil when fried, so the best way to prepare them in a less greasy manner is to roast them over a stovetop or on the grill.
Greens: you might normally bake greens, but you can. For example, you can bake hearty greens like cabbage and radicchio. If you want to make the same dishes grilled, simply use a grill pan or wrap in parchment paper then foil (I’m not a fan of cooking food wrapped in aluminum).
Squash, tomatoes and other hearty veggies: Roasted tomatoes are so delicious and even if you wouldn’t eat them as a side dish or alone for any reason, you can save them to puree into dips or add to soups and stews, which provides a complexity of flavor that is hard to miss in the final dish.
As a sampler of oven-roasted goodness, here’s my three-ingredient recipe for home baked fries, cut thin enough to cook quickly and provide a crunch yet thick enough to give that perfect chew in the middle we all love about this favorite American food. Who needs a restaurant?
Oven-Baked French Fries
1 pound Russet potatoes
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Wash potatoes thoroughly, scrubbing off any dirt. Dry completely (this is the secret to a crispy fry).
Bake for 35-40 minutes. Remove and let cool slightly before serving.
What are some of your favorite foods to bake or grill instead of fry?