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What's in a Fry?!

The simple word of ‘Fry ‘may appear, to some, as the forbidden word in the land of health and wellbeing, however, let’s look at it in a different light. As a dietitian, I love FRY. Yes, I’ve said it. Now, let me enlighten you as to why I hold such a simple 3-letter word so dear to my tummy. Starting with…

The FRY

Fry: Sing. form of the word ‘FRIES’. Source: potatoes.  Here’s a bit of history for everyone…Upon conducting some research, I found that good ol’ French fries were not invented by the French or the Belgians. Apparently, potatoes were introduced to Europe through the Spanish. To cut a long story short, some Spanish dude in 1537 came across a village in Columbia, found the potatoes, brought them back to Spain and then eventually, were introduced in Italy and so on. But then, some historians believe that the Belgians were the first to trial the art of slicing the potato into thin strips and frying them up. Reason being, it was a method of substitution to frying up fish. When fishing became difficult due to the rivers freezing up, they would cut up potatoes as they did the fish and fry away. The word ‘French’, to be honest with you, I skipped researching that part, as it was time consuming…

The evolution of the fry came a long way after that. Elongated pieces of fried potatoes = Fries. Thickly cut strips of fried potatoes = Chips. Different country, different word yet wherever you go, someone will know what French fries are. If you think about it, and which I find funny, is that the potato is practically fat free. Once in ‘Deep Fry’ position, the fat is absorbed by the potatoes shooting up the calories and possibly absorbing some other nasties with it depending on type of oil used. Am I an advocate for the deep-frying? Only as a treat! There are numerous ways were you can end up with yummy crunchy golden strips of goodness without the need of gallons of oil. One way I would do it involves the following:

  • Slice the potatoes into thin strips taking the shape of French fries. You can use sweet potatoes for a lower GI.
  • Toss with olive oil (and don’t be too generous with the oil)
  • Place them in baking tray and lightly season.
  • Bake at 350°C – 400°C for 30- 45 minutes.
  • Halfway through baking flip them over to crisp on both sides.
  • When they’re ready to go, place them in a bowl with paper towels to drain the extra oil and voila! Enjoy.

The Stir FRY

A good wok, CHECK! Choice of lean meat, CHECK! Variety of vegetables all chopped up, CHECK! Stir-frying is a Chinese method of cooking also called chao where a small amount of oil is used (traditionally peanut or sesame oil) at high temperatures to quickly sear the food. The mixture of food, which includes small pieces of meat or tofu and vegetables, does not retain much oil making it a healthy way of cooking (if you are actually doing it right and using a small of amount of oil- preferably canola or sunflower). When exposing vegetables to heat for a short period of time rather than extended periods of heating, retains more nutrition. The reason why I love stir-fries is simply because of convenience and time. With a good choice of sauce such as low salt soy sauce, some sweet chilli and a tiny bit of honey, you could have a great dish within minutes. Add some rice-based noodles to the dish as a source of carbohydrate. A great recipe to try: Ginger Beef and vegetable stir fry (Source: www.taste.com.au)                                          

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 350g lean beef sirloin steak, sliced on the diagonal
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 6cm piece ginger, thinly sliced
  • olive oil cooking spray
  • 4 green onions, sliced on the diagonal
  • 200g snow peas, trimmed, sliced in half on the diagonal
  • 150g oyster mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 red capsicum, sliced
  • 120g baby corn, sliced in half on the diagonal
  • 2 tablespoons reduced-salt soy sauce
  • Cooked brown rice, to serve

Method

  • Place steak, sesame oil and ginger into a shallow ceramic dish. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes if time permits.
  • Heat a wok over high heat until hot. Spray with oil. Add one-third of the beef. Stir-fry for 1 minute or until browned. Remove to a plate. Repeat twice with remaining beef, spraying wok each time.
  • Spray wok lightly with oil. Add vegetables and stir-fry for 3 minutes or until just tender.
  • Return beef to wok with soy sauce. Stir-fry for 1 minute or until heated through. Serve with brown rice.

The FRY up

A favourite on a Sunday morning after a big night out or just simply, a Sunday morning delight. The Fry up aka a full English Breakfast involves the following key ingredients: eggs, bacon, hash browns, sausages and a thousand other foods depending on region. A Fry up could also be called a ‘heart attack on a plate’ but I would like to change that. It all comes down to how you cook such fine ingredients (‘fine’ being, lean cuts, less butter, lots of vegetables). The key is in portion and overall fat consumed. My Fry up make-over includes the following:

  • Eggs: Crack eggs in a bowl, add a teaspoon of original pesto, add some skimmed milk, salt and pepper then whisk. Add eggs to a non stick hot pan and scramble.  Add to plate.
  • Mushrooms, Baby Spinach & Avocado: Slice mushrooms of choice, marinade in balsamic vinegar. Grill then add to plate. Stir-fry baby spinach for a minute or two in a hot pan, add seasoning then add to plate. Slice some avocadoes, season with cracked pepper, add to plate.
  • Wholegrain Toast: Slice, toast, serve (1 slice per person)
  • Sausage (optional):  Sausages do contain a high amount of saturated fats hence I would consume wisely. Key is: portion – 1 small sausage GRILLED. Low fat options are available and yes they do taste just as good!

So after a bit of insight on what I love about ‘Fry’, things don’t seem so bad after all? Just remember what the key things to consider are: portions, frequency, ingredients and extras, which are things that you are in control of and can modify. Until my next post, enjoy the ‘Fry’!

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