All along my vegan journey, many of my food habits changed for the better. Instead of meat, dairy and eggs, my meals are filled with healthy vegetables and whole grains. However, I have one vice that remains – I love fried food. Ever since I was a kid, my favorite foods were fried. My family would go out for ice cream and I wanted fried chicken…with French fries. And while nothing makes me happier than biting into crispy fried tofu, I rarely deep-fry anything. It just isn’t necessary. Fried food is a staple of American dining but we all know that obesity, diabetes and heart disease are on the rise and fried food is filled with unhealthy fats. Even if we start out with a low-fat vegetable, it absorbs a lot of fat when fried. There are healthier ways to cook our food that involve less or no fat and not sacrifice any of the flavor. Here are 5 alternatives to frying food that taste great.
Sautéeing is one of my favorite ways to cook food, mainly because it’s quick, easy and the food gets a ton of flavor. Veggies also keep a lot of their nutrients since it is such a fast method of cooking. Sautéing involves cooking veggies over high heat in a pan with a bit of oil or other liquid such as broth or water and some aromatics. This method works for almost any ingredient including tofu, seitan, greens, asparagus, mushrooms, peppers, zucchini, onions, and green beans. Use any of these 10 Simple and Awesome Homemade Saute Sauces to make your sauteed food delicious. Then try these Sauteed Avocados and this Early Summer Light Veggie Saute.
Although the terms “saute” and “stir-fry” are often used interchangeably, they are not the same thing. Stir-frying happens at a much higher heat and at a much faster speed. The food also has to be constantly stirred and tossed so it doesn’t burn. Stir-frying is seen in Asian cuisine, and it is a fast way to make dinner for the whole family. For tips, check out the Secrets to Stir-Frying and Sautéeing Veggies Chinese-Style. Learn How to Make Stir-Fry – No Oil Necessary and 6 Ways to Make Awesome Meatless Stir-Fries. Then make the Ultimate Teriyaki Stir-Fry, Pineapple and Peanut Stir-Fry, and Shiitake Asparagus Stir Fry With Toasted Cashews and Wasabi Avocado Cream.
Steaming gets a bad rap and is often associated with bland and boring food. That’s so untrue! Steaming cooks vegetables and makes them tender, bright, flavorful and keeps most of their nutrients. Steaming is a good method for delicate vegetables such as asparagus or greens, or those that need to get softened before sautéing like Brussels sprouts or carrots.
Try steaming and make these Tempeh and Kale Steamed Gyoza, Steamed Vegetables with Garlic Sauce, and Steamed Sweet Potatoes with Wild Rice, Basil, and Tomato Chili Sauce. You can even steam desserts like these Healthy Steamed Chocolate Molten Cakes.
Grilling is easy and you end up with food that has a rich, deep, smoky flavor. Veggies caramelize so they get sweet and crisp. Tofu, seitan and tempeh get those beautiful grill marks and taste so good. Before grilling, let your food sit in a tasty marinade for at least 30 minutes. See The Ultimate Guide to Making Flavor-Packed Marinades for Plant-Based Dishes for lots of delicious recipes. Not sure how to grill? Get specific grilling times and other grilling instructions in my article, How to Grill Tasty Veggies Indoors and Out. Follow my 5 Tips for Amazing Summer Skewered Food and make these Pineapple Vegan Kebabs. Feel good about eating this Grilled Buffalo Tofu Po’ Boy with Apple Slaw, Grilled Artichoke and Quinoa Lettuce Wraps, and Grilled Avocados with Roasted Tomatoes. You can even grill dessert like these Grilled Fruit Kebabs and this Grilled Apple Pie with Coconut Whipped Cream.
Roasting is one of the easiest ways to cook food. It’s also the way I suggest preparing a vegetable if you are worried you won’t like it. Roasting vegetables involves caramelizing them in a hot oven. The natural sugars of the veggies come out leading to a sweet, savory intense flavor that is like no other. Roasting is also a great method because you don’t need to be there for the cooking. Simply preheat the oven to 400 degrees or so, line a baking sheet with parchment paper and chop your veggies into whatever shape you want. Toss them in a bit of oil and season them with your favorite herbs and spices. Let them roast until they are tender on the inside with a crisp crust. You can roast any vegetable including onions, garlic, tomatoes, broccoli, potatoes, and squash. For detailed cooking times and temperatures, check out The Ultimate Guide to Roasting Vegetables. Then make this Cheesy Whole Roasted Cauliflower, Miso Roasted Eggplant and Zucchini, Creamy Lemon Ziti with Roasted Asparagus and Coconut and Turmeric Roasted Potatoes.
We may use the term “oven-fried” but the method being used is actually baking. We can bake all the foods we usually fry and still have them come out crispy and delicious. Crispy tofu? You bet, make this Crispy Baked Tofu with Shredded Veggie Quinoa. French fries? They taste even better when made in the oven like these Cinnamon-Spiced Baked Sweet Potatoes. Baking is similar to roasting, except the food doesn’t get caramelized. Try Baked Onion Rings, Baked “Fish” Cakes with Lemon-Herb Mayo, Healthy Baked Vegan Pakoras, Homemade Baked Potato Chips, and Baked Broccoli Burgers. Learn How to Make Perfect Baked Tofu and How to Make the Perfect Baked Potato.
Braising and stewing involve cooking ingredients slowly in flavorful liquid. It is done over low heat and can take from 15 minutes to up to several hours. Vegetables and other foods that are cooked in these methods become soft, tender and full of flavor. These are also methods that allow you to walk away from the stove and do something else while the food cooks. Since the food cooks in liquid for a long time, braising and stewing are best done with heartier veggies like root vegetables, potatoes, beans, squash and celery as well as tofu, tempeh and seitan. You can braise food in water, broth, wine or any flavorful liquid. For the most flavor, saute the ingredients in a little oil with aromatics until they are browned and then add the liquids for them to cook in. You can also braise food in a slow cooker like this Slow Cooker Braised Tempeh with Figs and Port Wine. Learn How to Braise Your Food for Maximum Flavor and then make this Braised Red Cabbage with Apples and Beer, White Wine and Miso Braised Baby Bok Choy, and Braised Seitan Short Ribs in Spicy Chile Sauce. For stewing, indulge in this South Indian Lentil Stew and this African Groundnut Stew.
With all these healthier ways to cook, there’s no reason to fry food except once in a while as a treat. When you do choose to fry, it’s important to do it correctly so Learn How To Fry Food The Right Way by Following These Tips. But for most of your day-to-day cooking, try these alternative methods to frying.
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