4 Healthy Ways To ‘Fry’ Your Food
Using different cooking techniques can help you achieve the taste, but not the health consequences, of fried foods.
“FAT EQUALS FLAVOR.” That was the motto the chefs chanted in the New York City culinary school where I taught for 10 years. They, of course, were right: Fat enhances food’s taste, flavor, juiciness and aroma. Eating a fat-filled meal also makes you feel satisfied since fat takes longer to digest.
But the fat you take in with fried foods – think onion rings and chicken fingers – also carries with it some health consequences. Eating a diet high in fried foods can increase your cholesterol levels, which increases your risk of heart disease. Fried foods also tend to be calorie-heavy, which can lead to weight gain if you eat too much of them.
Luckily, there are healthy ways to create fare that tastes like it’s fried. Here’s how:
1. Saute and bake.
Combining cooking methods can give your food a one-two crispy punch. Instead of deep-frying foods like French fries, battered fish fillets and chicken fingers, heat 1 to 2 tablespoons of olive or canola oil in a saute pan in order to brown the food on each side. After the food is browned, transfer it to the oven to finish cooking it. If you don’t want to use oil in the saute pan, use chicken or vegetable broth instead.
2. Grill and bake.
One of my favorite ways to make chicken wings is to marinate them and then cook them on the grill. Once the wings are browned and the skin is crispy (a few minutes on each side), transfer the wings to a sheet pan and continue cooking in the oven. The results are mouthwatering!
3. Add a crumb coating.
If you’re looking to make your breaded dishes healthier, you can still get that crispy fried crunch by using a dried crumb coating. Panko (or Japanese) breadcrumbs are larger in size compared to traditional breadcrumbs and pack a fabulous crunch. In my first cookbook, “The Greek Yogurt Kitchen,” I dip chicken in a combo of Greek yogurt and buttermilk, bread them with flour, cornmeal, panko breadcrumbs and spices, and then bake them to create what I call “Crunchy Buttermilk Chicken Fingers.”
4. Air fry.
This popular way to cook food takes conventional convection cooking to the next level. Air-fried food is cooked by circulating hot air around the cooking chamber using a convection fan. “I think it actually makes the food taste even better [than traditionally-fried foods],” says Dana Angelo White, a registered dietitian and author of “Healthy Air Fryer Cookbook: 100 Great Recipes with Fewer Calories and Less Fat.” “It has all the craveable crispiness of fried foods, but instead of tasting grease, you actually taste the food.” Amazingly, an air fryer can cook a wide variety of dishes. White’s cookbook features everything from egg sandwiches for breakfast to chicken wings for game day to fresh baked strawberry shortcake for dessert. “Fried chicken wings can tip the scales at more than 150 calories each,” White says. “This version slashes the fat and cuts the calories by more than 400 calories per serving.” White was kind enough to share the recipe below from her newly released cookbook:
Sriracha Honey Chicken Wings
Start to finish: 35 minutes
1 tablespoon Sriracha hot sauce
1 tablespoon honey
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
16 chicken wings and drumettes (about 2 pounds)
Preheat the air fryer to 360 degrees F.
In a large bowl, whisk together the Sriracha, honey, minced garlic and kosher salt, then add the chicken and toss to coat.
Spray the fryer basket with a nonstick cooking spray, then place eight pieces in the basket and cook for 15 minutes, turning halfway through. Repeat this process with the remaining wings.
Remove the wings from the fryer and allow them to cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes before serving.
Nutrition information per serving: 167 calories; 4 g fat: (1 g saturated); 66 mg cholesterol; 309 mg sodium: 5 g carbohydrates; 0 g dietary fibers; 5 g sugars; 26 g protein.