If you’re looking to eat healthier and improve your diet this year, there’s no need to sacrifice your favorite fried foods. Thankfully, there are a number of healthy alternatives to deep frying that cut back on calories while keeping the flavor you love.
In this article, we’ll explain why fried foods are bad for your health and offer three healthy alternatives to frying food to try instead.
Why does frying food make it unhealthy?
Deep frying is one of the most common cooking methods in American cuisine, and unfortunately, one of the worst for your health. In general, fried foods contain significantly higher amounts of fat and calories than non-fried foods. Here’s why:
- Added calories from batter— Fried foods are typically coated in flour or batter before heading to the deep fryer, adding extra calories and carbs before the food even hits the oil.
- Oil absorption— As foods are fried, they release water and absorb fat from the frying oil.
- High in trans fat— The high frying temperatures change the chemical structure of fats, turning them from unsaturated to trans fats.
What can you do instead of deep-frying?
Use an Air Fryer
While most healthy frying alternatives can’t recreate the crispy texture that comes from deep-frying, using an air fryer can recreate the crispy exterior and moist interior of your favorite fried foods. Plus, air fryers don’t leave behind a splattered oily mess on your kitchen counter.
These affordable countertop devices circulate extremely hot air around the food, creating the same delicious texture while using 70-80% less oil. An air fryer can make crispy fried chicken, bacon, chicken wings, fish sticks, and countless other fried snacks. To help create a crisp exterior, spray your food with a bit of cooking oil spray before tossing it in the air fryer.
Bake or Roast
Another healthy cooking method to try is baking or roasting foods in the oven. Using the convection setting on your oven (if it has one) can help create a crunchy, evenly-cooked exterior while keeping the inside soft and juicy. The baking method works particularly well for french fries, falafel, vegetables, and meat.
Oven-frying significantly reduces the number of calories in breaded or porous foods that absorb large amounts of oil when deep-fried. Rubbing on a bit of cooking oil or butter before baking helps create a crisp exterior for less than half the added calories.
Grill on the BBQ
Grilling instead of frying cuts fat while adding a delicious, smoky flavor to your food. Fat drips off as the food is grilled, reducing fat content. The high external heat helps crisp up the outside of food while keeping the inside moist and tender. Grilling works particularly well for meat and vegetables.
To add additional flavor to your food, marinate it overnight before throwing it on the barbeque. Marinades boost flavor while adding minimal calories. You’ll only need to use a small amount of butter or oil to coat the outside before grilling to help prevent foods from sticking to the grill.