'No-Fry' Fried Foods
Deep-fried favorites get a nutritional makeover, and taste yummy!
Do you, like so many of us, often find yourself tempted by foods deep-fried
in a vat of fat: potato chips, fried chicken, corn dogs, French fries? Well, I
say: Why be tempted? Give your favorite fried foods a makeover, and you've got
(with only a few exceptions) to-die-for-tasting, oven-fried foods that won't
make those jeans feel tight.
Take a look at the "before" and "after" nutritional profiles
of a couple fried foods I've lightened up:
KFC Extra-Crispy chicken breast
Elaine's oven-fried chicken breast
|Calories -- 460
||Calories -- 261
|Fat -- 28 grams
||Fat -- 8 grams
|Saturated fat 8 grams
||Saturated fat 2 grams
|Carbs 19 grams
||Carbs 13 grams
|Protein 34 grams
||Protein 32 grams
SAVINGS: About 199 calories and 20 grams of fat per
Ballpark garlic fries
Elaine's oven-fried garlic fries
|Calories -- 490
||Calories -- 256
|Fat -- 28 grams
||Fat 7.7 grams
|Saturated fat 10 grams
||Saturated fat 3.3 grams
|Carbs 56 grams
||Carbs 42.3 grams
|Protein 4 grams
||Protein 5.9 grams
SAVINGS: About 230 calories and 20 grams of fat per
Obvious and Not-So-Obvious Health Benefits
Obviously, oven-frying has countless health benefits for people with heart
disease and for those carrying around a few extra pounds. Oven-frying is also
less likely to cause discomfort in people who suffer from irritable bowel or acid reflux -- or any other
medical condition in which greasy, high-fat foods can cause big problems.
Why We Love Fried Foods
It's All in the Crunch
What makes fried foods so irresistible? We all know why: It's the CAAARUNCH!
But after 15 years of lightening recipes, I've found that
anything a deep-fat fryer can do, your oven can do just as well most of the
time, and sometimes even better.
Whether it's fried chicken, french fries, or beef flautas, you can get that
crunch when you oven-fry. And you can achieve that mouth-watering "crispy
on the outside, moist on the inside" eating experience.
It is a bit of a trade-off, though. What you lose in calories and fat grams,
you gain in cooking time. If you're willing to try these oven-frying techniques
and add a few more minutes to your prep time, you can have your fried chicken
and eat it, too.
Flawless Faux-Frying Techniques
Almost anything that's traditionally coated in crumbs -- chicken nuggets,
fish sticks, crab cakes -- can be oven-fried, often with the same crumb
mixture. I use these 6 techniques to create tasty, lower-fat, oven-fried
- Use a small amount of oil to coat the surface of the food, then brown in
the oven instead of deep frying.
- Add moisture to meat by marinating it in buttermilk, then oven-fry.
- Give fried yeast breads like donuts time to rise on their own. Coat the
outside with canola cooking spray and brown in the oven.
- Batters offer a bit of a challenge, but you can do two things: First,
sometimes you can thicken the batter with a starch ingredient so it stands up
better to oven-frying -- versus a thinner batter that is deep-fried in hot oil
to cook quickly. Second, you can change from a wet batter to a drier crumb
coating (crumb coatings generally oven-fry very well.)
- Make a crispy crust by adding crispy ingredients to the outside of the
food, then oven-fry, instead of deep-frying in hot oil.
- Broil foods to quickly add color and a crispy texture.