Fried foods are a favorite snack for many people as we head into football season. While fried food certainly a delicious treat, it can be very heavy and leave you feeling weighed down. While I don’t advocate that you make a habit of eating fried, there will be times when you do want that special treat to serve your guests at a football party.
Sometimes, frying is the only option. For example, it’s the most consistent way to get a perfectly cooked batch of plantain chips to replace that ever-present party staple, potato chips. When these occasions do occur that you must fry a food to get it just right, use a healthier cooking oil. Skip the “vegetable oil,” which is filled with unhealthy fats, and consider one of these cooking oil alternatives.
Chefs and home cooks alike are growing more fond of avocado oil for a few very good reasons. Above all, avocado oil is easy to work with as it has a smoke point of a very high 500 Fahrenheit. This allows you to get your pan screaming hot to get an instant sear that locks out excess oil and locks in the nutrients.
The flavor of avocado oil is best described as buttery and slightly nutty. The aroma is pleasant and mild.
Avocado oil, like the raw avocado, nourishes your body with essential fatty acids. This means that avocado oil can fight inflammation, help control your blood pressure, and fight heart disease. If you must fry foods, this oil is a fantastic option. However, there is one caveat. There could be two grades of Avocado Oil on the shelves at your local market. Be sure to find one that’s indicated as food grade. There is also a cosmetic grade variety, which will leave your hair and skin moist but is not suitable for frying foods due to a low smoke point.
Peanut oil is a long-time restaurant quality frying oil. It has a distinct purity in flavor that allows high-volume restaurants to use the same oil for many batches without changing the oil.
Peanut oil has a smoke point of 450 Fahrenheit. This gives you an ideal temperature for frying party faves like chicken wings. You can cook them very quickly which seals the moisture inside the chicken which will prevent them from a greasy flavor.
The flavor of peanut oil has a little bit of a nutty taste, but that flavor doesn’t interfere with the flavor of your food. The aroma also has a light, nutty scent at you cook. Peanut oil is high in monounsaturated fats and naturally cholesterol free. This makes peanut oil a heart-healthy option for frying. Be sure to purchase 100% peanut oil to reap maximum health benefits. The blended versions of this oil are cheaper because they are mixed with unhealthy oils.
RICE BRAN OIL
Rice bran oil is an underutilized oil for frying. Simply put, most cooks don’t realize that it has a high smoke point of 450 degrees Fahrenheit. This oil has been used for centuries in Southeast Asia, China, and India. The flavor is delicate and neutral. The scent is mildly aromatic and you will recognize the unique aroma as Asian as you heat it up. A long-time use for rice bran oil in Asian medicine is as an aid to help relieve menopausal hot flashes in women. This oil contains an antioxidant called gamma-oryzanol which assists the body in stabilizing menopausal hormones. Thus, it reduces the occurrence of hot flashes.
Remember that while you want to maintain a healthy lifestyle through clean eating, there may be occasions when frying will be the best way to prepare delicious food. When those occasion does happen that you need to break out your fryer, entertain your football party guests, and try one of these healthy alternatives to vegetable oil. These oils will give your foods a purer taste and raise the health benefits.
Nicole Vidmar is the editor, publisher, and graphic artist of My Kitchen Adviser. Nicole is a busy mother to two children and a dog. Her passion is cooking and baking healthy meals and sharing her love for cooking with others.
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