Americans love fast food, but unfortunately, it's one of the reasons that as a nation, we are getting fatter and fatter. To satisfy the fast food cravings of those who are trying lose weight, Los Angeles food writer, chef and caterer Devin Alexander compiled her healthy alternatives to fast food favorites in her new book, "Fast Food Fix:75+ Amazing Recipe Makeovers of Your Fast Food Restaurant Favorites."
Read an excerpt below.
McDonald's French Fries, Medium
SAVE: 106 calories, 12 g fat, 2 g sat. fat
According to my friends who are true fast food followers, the thing that sets McDonald's fries above most all other fries is that they're extra salty and they're crisp. I knew the salt would be no problem -- simply add more. But how do you get fries to bake to perfect crispness? During my research, I tried to reproduce the double-fried technique by double-baking them. Unfortunately, it didn't work. Slightly frustrated, I tried coating them in egg whites and egg substitute. I tried tossing them in a small amount of various oils before baking. I tried baking them on a cooling rack to see if the air would circulate and crisp them. I even tried baking them on a pizza stone. But nothing was working. All I could think was "How can I write a fast food cookbook and not include a recipe for McDonald's-style french fries?" The idea haunted me.
Then one day during a midafternoon jog, the answer suddenly occurred to me ... because there's too much moisture in the potatoes for them to crisp during baking, I needed to release some of the water first. I ran home at record speed (for me), went directly to the kitchen, and tried parboiling the fries before baking them -- the result was a virtually perfect batch of McDonald's style fries. Phew.
1¾ teaspoons salt, divided
2 russet potatoes (1 pound)
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add 1 teaspoon salt. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400°F. Set the potatoes on a cutting board. Make straight cuts on the 4 long sides of the potatoes to remove the peel. With a vegetable peeler or small knife, peel the ends of the potatoes. Discard the peels. With a knife, cut the remaining potatoes lengthwise into ¼-inch thick sticks. These can vary in length. On a scale, weigh 9 ounces of potatoes or measure 2 cups. Transfer the potatoes to the boiling water. Cook for exactly 2½ minutes but no longer or they will break. Drain in a colander. Set aside for about 5 minutes to cool.
Transfer the potatoes to a mixing bowl. Add the oil and ½ teaspoon salt. Carefully toss to coat well. Place the potatoes, not touching, in a single layer on a large nonstick baking sheet.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, turning the potatoes about every 5 minutes, or until crisp and golden. Sprinkle, if desired, with the remaining ¼
Makes 1 serving
244 calories, 5 g protein, 46 g carbohydrates, 5 g fat, <1 g sat. fat, 4 g fiber Original McDonald's Medium French Fries: 350 calories, 5 g protein, 47 g carbohydrates, 17 g fat, 3 g sat. fat, 4 g fiber