Being health-conscious is not a fad but a necessity nowadays as the pandemic shows no signs of abating. Almost every healthy eating guide includes a reminder not to fry your food. In fact, it wouldn’t be a far cry to say that frying is among a dieter’s worst enemies. Eating fried food increases cholesterol levels, after all. But is it even possible to completely say goodbye to fried food? Better yet, let’s rephrase the question: is there really no way to enjoy fried food without sacrificing your diet?
Fortunately, there are healthy ways to fry your food:
1. Use healthy and clean oil
Healthy cooking oil is a key ingredient of guilt-free frying. The American Heart Association has a list of cooking oils that are better for you because they contain “healthier” fats and less saturated fat.
These oils can be used for generally all types of cooking you usually do with regular cooking oil. In addition to choosing healthy cooking oil, remember not to let the oil reach its smoke point because all oils degrade when they begin to smoke. In relation to this, you can examine the Nutrition Facts on your cooking oil’s label and choose a healthy oil that has a high smoking point. It is also not advisable to reheat or reuse cooking oil. For storage, keep your oil fresh for longer by storing it in a cool, dry place. Immediately get rid of oil when it has a bad smell.
When cooking, keep your oil clean. Pay attention to crumbs when cooking breaded or battered ingredients. Use a slotted spoon to remove any debris from the ban to prevent it from burning up. Burnt oil will discolor and taint the flavor of your food.
2. Make gluten-free batter and breading
Preparing your own batter is just one more way of knowing what goes in your food and ultimately in your stomach. Commercial breading and batters are usually loaded with calories. They also increase oil absorption because of their gluten content. All-purpose flour does exactly that. Hence, before frying, it is best to coat your food in your own batter. Your homemade batter must have less flour and should include gluten-free ingredients.
Cornmeal and rice flour are some gluten-free options you can choose from. You can also use oat bran with gluten-free rice cereal. Adding carbonated drinks or leavener (baking soda) to the batter is also helpful since these ingredients produce gas bubbles that reduce oil absorption.
3. Maintain proper oil temperature while cooking
Keeping the oil at an ideal temperature is important because if the temperature is too high, it will burn the food and spoil the oil’s quality. Meanwhile, if the oil is not hot enough, you’ll end up cooking the food longer, which leads to higher oil absorption. In other words, you’ll end up with greasy and soggy food.
If you want to gauge if the oil is hot enough before putting food in it, you can use the handle of a wooden spoon or wooden chopsticks. If there are bubbles around the wood, the oil is hot enough to cook in. The temperature of your cooking oil drops as you add more food items to the pan. That is why monitoring oil temperature while cooking is recommended. You can do this by using a long-stem fry thermometer.
But if you have no available thermometer, you can observe how quickly the food in the pan is getting browned. Another alternative is to avoid crowding the cooking pan. The solution to this is to fry in small batches. It is better to take your time and fry in two to three batches to maintain the quality of frying.
4. Use the best materials for frying
Use a wide nonstick pan with no chemicals or toxins that could degrade the quality of your food. After frying, use tongs or a large slotted spoon to drain oil as you lift food from the pan. Additionally, dry your fried food on paper towels for a minute or two to remove excess oil.
If you want to get rid of oil altogether, you can try using the famous air fryer. An air fryer uses a convection fan to circulate hot air in its chamber and cook your food. However, most air fryers are not ideal for large families since they have limited cooking capacity. The fryer’s usability would depend on the size and shape of the food you want to cook. Nonetheless, it’s perfect for cooking snacks for up to four people.
You can enjoy fried food as long as you use clean and healthy cooking oils, make your own batter, keep ]cooking oil at the ideal temperature, and use quality frying materials.