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To Fry or Not to Fry

Fried food, sometimes called comfort food in my world, tastes so good. Unfortunately, fried food is not considered a healthy choice. But could it be some fried food is okay? It certainly tastes good, but is it a Killer Kraving?? Depends on who you talk to. I think some fried food is okay once in a great while, but only if you make it yourself. I could go on and on about the perils and horrors of what’s in that “grease,” but I’ll save us both and not go there.

Remember the deep frying craze? It’s been over 30 years since the makers of Fry Daddy and its younger, smaller version, Fry Daddy Jr. made their American debut. There’s even a GranPappy and CoolDaddy! We bought into the marketing hype; dazzled by the lure of scrumptious “healthy fried” foods. Their message, “You can make delicious deep-fried foods, fast and easy. And the non-stick surface is so easy to clean.

I was curious about what the “experts” had to say. So I went over to my favorite holistic physician and the trusted Harvard School of Public Health. Here’s what they had to say:

According to Dr. Joseph Mercola, M.D., fried foods are so bad for you they shouldn’t be eaten. They often contain trans fat which raises bad cholesterol. And frying in high temperatures creates substances such as acrylamide which is carcinogenic. Hmm, sounds dreadful.

A Harvard School of Public Health (Dept. of Nutrition) study shows that eating fried food once a week increases risk of both type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Fried foods eaten 4-6 times per week, increases risk of type 2 diabetes 39%, and a 55% increased risk of type 2 diabetes if consumed 7 or more times per week. 100,000 men & women studied over 25 years, makes for a good argument against eating fried foods.

For those of us that grew up on the delicacies of homemade french fries, donuts, State Fair Elephant Ears or rosettes, fried chicken and so much more, it’s hard to imagine ever quitting fried food entirely. I admit I get my share of fried food cravings. I like to think (hope) my version is the lesser of evils.

Wait a minute, did I mention the “cooking oil?”

Important Note: If reusing your oil, refrigerate it. Cooking oil will go rancid after one week or so, especially at warm temperatures.

How do I do it? Easy. Here’s some tips and my favorite recipe for frying vegetables.

#1 Choose a “healthy” cooking oil. My favorite is fair trade palm oil shortening. It’s hard to find where I live however, I can order it from Azure, an online source based in Oregon. Other healthy versions are organic high-oleic safflower oil and organic coconut oil. These oils are safe for cooking at high temperatures.

#2 Use very little oil. You don’t need 4 cups. Get your oil hot prior to adding your food.

Vegetable Tempura

This recipe is a version of the one my niece, Spring, introduced me to years ago. She’s a wonderful cook and her family is blessed to have her.

Prepare your chosen vegetables by washing and cutting into small bite-sized pieces. I enjoy onion, broccoli, mushroom, and bell pepper.

1 cup of whole wheat flour in a small bowl, add seasoning if you desire, such as sea salt or pink salt and black pepper, or dried garlic and onion powder.

1 beaten egg, optional, in another small bowl

In a cup add ¼ - ½ cup of ice water

Dip several veggies in the egg and then the water and lastly, into the flour.

This recipe isn’t set in stone. Sometimes I’ll mix the egg with the flour and then dip the veggies into the water.

Cook in hot oil for several minutes, brown and finish cooking other side.

Serve with rice noodles or rice sprinkled with Bragg’s Aminos- best soy sauce ever!

To fry or not to fry, that is the question. Better frying is the answer.

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