Easy, Healthy, Homemade French Fries (Gluten-Free, Whole 30, Vegan )
Updated: Sep 15, 2020
It's time to let go of french fry guilt and embrace the nutrient dense qualities of homemade, oven-roasted fries. With only four ingredients, these simple, nutritious spuds will soon become an easy go-to side dish. Grab your favorite condiment and let's go!
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Fast Food Fries vs. Homemade Fries
What gives French Fries such a bad name? Frankly, it's the fast food industry. They have turned a hearty root vegetable into a chemically processed, addictive snack.
They make this toxic transformation by using cooking oils that are chemically processed and often rancid by the time they hit the shelves due to their unstable natures. Even if these unstable vegetable oils (like canola, corn and soybean oil) can be stabilized, they are often overheated and reused over and over again creating even worse toxic byproducts, such as acrylamide -- a known carcinogen and neurotoxin.
Not only this, but they often use chemical additives like gluten and refined sugar along with hefty amounts of chemically refined table salt to make fries highly palatable.... a.k.a. totally addictive! In fact, McDonald's french fries contain 19 ingredients in their signature spuds.
Homemade fries, on the other hand, use a few simple, minimally processed ingredients so you can get the full benefits of this fun and satisfying side dish without any of the sketchy fast food additives.
Since french fries are "carbs," which makes some nervous, be sure to check out my post on how I use carb cycling to support my adrenals, stress levels and sleep! You might be surprised out how much a starchy side dish like this can help balance your hormones!
Choosing a Healthy Oil
Since one of the main issues with fast food fries is their poor quality fats, what kind of fat should we use to make healthy fries?
If you have read my post on low-fat diets, you'll know why I believe getting plenty of healthy fat in your diet is a GREAT idea! Our cells, brains and hormones rely on healthy fats for many bodily functions.
Some great choices for healthy cooking fats are:
Good old-fashioned lard
These are all stable and time-tested choices.
High Heat Cooking with Olive Oil! Safe or not?
You may have heard that olive oil isn't stable at high temperatures, but a 2018 Australian study put that myth to rest.
The study found that extra virgin olive oil is the most stable cooking oil you can keep in your kitchen. It even beats avocado and coconut oil, which are both good options as well.
Olive oil also has so many other amazing properties which support healthy aging for our bodies and brains. Plus it tastes phenomenal!
Just make sure it is cold-pressed so it's magical compounds aren't compromised during processing. Here are a few minimally processed cooking oils that I've researched and can recommend. I personally use the Life Extension Olive Oil which is very high in antioxidants and I love the Alive Coconut Oil for other uses, like making muffins and healthy desserts:
Lowering the Glycemic (Sugar) Load
Now that we've got the cooking oil covered, let's deal with the obstacle to enjoying french fries. This one begs the question: why are potatoes never on the superfoods list?!
Here's why. Spuds are a starchy carbohydrate with a high glycemic index, or high glycemic load. This means they can quickly raise your blood sugar. This poses a major problem for some people.
In fact, those with blood sugar or cardiovascular issues are often told to lay off starchy carbohydrates -- especially potatoes. However, studies have found that the glycemic index of potatoes can be reduced by 30-40% when potatoes are cooked and then cooled and then reheated.
Not only that, but potatoes are a terrific source of minerals like potassium, magnesium and iron along with vitamin C, B6, and folate!
Cooking and cooling potatoes also increases resistant starch. This is starch that resists quick digestion and ends up fermenting in the colon. That may sound gross, but in fact this process provides our lower bowels with important short chain fatty acids (like butyric acid) which have been shown to help decrease the growth of colon cancer cells.
To sum it up, a study published in 2005 in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics advises:
Individuals who wish to minimize dietary glycemic index can be advised to precook potatoes and consume them cold or reheated.
So if you can control yourself, cook those fries ahead of time and reheat before you eat!
Nutrient Dense Ingredients
We may not be used to seeing french fries on the superfood list, but there is no reason why this version should not be.
Let's take a look at the nutritional value of homemade french fries:
These underground root veggies have a lot to offer. First off, growing under the earth makes them very high in important vitamins and minerals like potassium, magnesium and iron along with vitamin C, B6, and folate. Spuds are also a great source of fiber which helps bind and carry toxins out of our bodies. And depending how they are cooked (see above), they boast lots of resistant starch which supports blood sugar regulation and a healthy colon.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil:
Extra virgin olive oil is a celebrated ingredient of the health-promoting Mediterranean Diet. It has been heavily studied for its many anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds. This ancient cooking oil has been associated with lower disease risk including heart disease, cancer, obesity and Type 2 diabetes. And a 2018 study showed that it tops the charts for high-heat cooking. Pour it on!
A good quality sea salt or pink Himalayan salt is loaded with naturally occurring minerals versus iodized table salt which has been processed and contains additives like sugar and anti-caking agents. No thank you! I love this natural pink salt which has over 80 trace minerals; this can also be found in a good quality sea salt.
The benefits of a few dashes of black pepper on your fries (or any meal) cannot be overlooked. Black pepper contains a compound known as piperine, which has been shown to stimulate digestion as well as protect the liver from negative drug reactions. It also fights free radicals (the stuff that promotes diseases like cancer). Don't be shy about seasoning with this powerful ingredient!
Let's put it all together!
Easy, Healthy, Homemade French Fries (Gluten-Free, Whole 30,Vegan Friendly)
Prep: 5-10 minutes Bake: 45 minutes Total: 1 hour Servings: 2-4
The links below are affiliate links chosen for product quality and purity.
1.5-2 pounds of potatoes or 4-5 medium potatoes (like Yukon Gold or red potatoes) or 2 large potatoes (like Russet potatoes)
1/4 teaspoon or several grinds of black pepper
Preheat oven to 365 degrees. I'm not sure why, but this has been the magic temperature so that the fries do not burn on the outside, but cook all the way through and stay crispy. Try this out, but you may need to adjust temp to your own oven.
Meanwhile, clean potatoes, leave skins on (loaded with vitamins) and slice into 1/4 inch wide (or so) sticks.
Spread potatoes on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Toss to coat.
Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Once oven is heated, place potatoes on middle rack of oven and turn after 10-15 minutes to make sure they don't stick and cook evenly. Continue to turn every 10-15 minutes until the fries are turning golden on the outside and tender on the inside -- approximately 45 minutes total. Test a couple out to see if you like the texture.
Remove from oven and eat them hot or let them cool if you wish to lower the glycemic load. You can later reheat them on the same baking sheet or in a cast iron pan on 350 degrees in the oven for 7-10 minutes.
Enjoy with a balanced meal of healthy protein like roasted chicken, salmon or steak and a side of veggies!
Hungry for more healthy carbs & fats?
Check out my posts on:
Let me know if you try these healthy fries out and how you like them! You can post in comments below or tag me in any photos on Instagram @nourishandcherish.ntp!
De Santis, S., Cariello, M., Piccinin, E., Sabbà, C., & Moschetta, A. (2019). Extra Virgin Olive Oil: Lesson from Nutrigenomics. Nutrients, 11(9), 2085. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu11092085
Ferdman, R. (2019, April 26). There are 19 ingredients in McDonald's french fries. Retrieved September 14, 2020, from https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2015/01/22/there-are-19-ingredients-in-mcdonalds-french-fries/
Fernandes, G., Velangi, A., & Wolever, T. (2005, March 30). Glycemic index of potatoes commonly consumed in North America. Retrieved September 14, 2020, from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0002822305000040
Guillaume C., et al. “Evaluation of Chemical and Physical Changes in Different Commercial Oils during Heating”. Acta Scientific Nutritional Health 2.6 (2018): 02-11.
Kinnear, T., & Wolever, T. (2010, April 01). The effects of cooking, cooling and reheating on the Glycemic Index depends on potato variety. Retrieved September 14, 2020, from https://faseb.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1096/fasebj.24.1_supplement.553.2
Lanza, B., & Ninfali, P. (2020). Antioxidants in Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Table Olives: Connections between Agriculture and Processing for Health Choices. Antioxidants (Basel, Switzerland), 9(1), 41. https://doi.org/10.3390/antiox9010041
Nayak, B., Berrios, J. D., & Tang, J. (2014). Impact of food processing on the glycemic index (GI) of potato products. Food Research International, 56, 35-46. doi:10.1016/j.foodres.2013.12.020
Robertson, T. M., Alzaabi, A. Z., Robertson, M. D., & Fielding, B. A. (2018). Starchy Carbohydrates in a Healthy Diet: The Role of the Humble Potato. Nutrients, 10(11), 1764. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu10111764
Srinivasan K. (2007). Black pepper and its pungent principle-piperine: a review of diverse physiological effects. Critical reviews in food science and nutrition, 47(8), 735–748. https://doi.org/10.1080/10408390601062054
About the Author
Roxie Daggett is a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner (NTP) with a virtual practice in Sedona, Arizona. Her passions include studying nutritional research pertaining to memory, brain health, genes and longevity. When she is not geeking out on nutrition she enjoys messing around in the kitchen with old world recipes, reading and hearing stories from elders and farmers about traditional food sourcing, and wandering around the Red Rocks with her heroic husband and Staffordshire bull terrier.
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