French Fries

French fries are my downfall. They’ve always been a weakness for me. I just can’t seem to control myself when confronted with a plate of greasy, salty, crispy crunchy fries. Preferably dipped in copious amounts of mayo and ketchup.

The lame thing is, french fries can be healthy. They’re just potatoes, which–contrary to popular belief–are actually really good for you. (Potassium, fiber, vitamin C–all things your body needs, packaged up in a fat-free, sodium-free, cholesterol-free spud!) But fat-free, sodium-free, cholesterol-free isn’t how french fries are usually served. Think deep-fried, heavily salted deliciousness.

I tried for years to get the baked french fry thing down. I’d toss them in olive oil and sea salt and roast them. I’d have high expectation for those fries. But nearly every time they’d turn out soft and floppy. Tasty, but very un-french fry like. I eventually gave up on them and went back to deep frying them. That was not only super unhealthy, but it was also not successful either. Those french fries usually ended up soft, too.

Salvation came when, in an effort to reduce the oil in our diets, I tried baking them with no oil. No fat. Just spuds and seasoning, lined up on a cookie sheet. I had low expectations. “Roasting something with no oil? No way will this be good,” I figured.

But boy, was I wrong! No oil, it turns out, is the secret to crispy crunchy french fries! Not only have I figured out how to make crispy homemade french fries, I’ve also redeemed my downfall food. This is a side dish you can feel good about. No oil, no fat. Just wholesome potato goodness.

French Fries

Serves 1 (double and triple the recipe as needed, just add more spuds and more seasonings for each additional person)

Ingredients:

  • 1 large russet potato
  • salt, to taste
  • any seasonings you’d like, to taste (favorites of mine include ranch seasoning, chili powder+nutritional yeast, dried rosemary+garlic powder, dried oregano+dried basil+garlic powder+onion powder)

Preheat oven to 425. Spray a cookie sheet with just enough oil spray to keep the potatoes from sticking to the pan.

Thoroughly wash and dry the potato, but do not peel. Slice it into long, thick matchsticks. Toss with salt and seasonings. Arrange on prepared cookie sheet, making sure that they’re not piled on top of each other. Each french fry should be completely touching the bottom of the cookie sheet.

Place on the bottom rack in the oven and bake 15 minutes. By this point, the bottom of the fries should be golden brown and roasted. Flip them over with a spatula and bake 15 minutes more, until the other side is equally roasted. Flip them again and bake 5-10 minutes longer if you’d like them crispier/more browned.

Enjoy!

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Slow Cooker Refried Beans

This recipe is a goldmine. It’s insanely cheap and the possibilities it creates are endless. A few ways you can use up these beans:

  • enchiladas–mix them with some shredded cheese and roll it up in corn tortillas. arrange in a casserole dish and pour enchilada sauce all over.
  • bean&rice burritos–mix some up with some brown rice. put it in a big tortilla, along with some jalapenos and salsa. roll it up and toast it in a skillet.
  • tostadas–spread some on top of a fried (or baked…the point is to crisp it up) corn tortilla. add whatever other toppings you like: avocado, cheese, olives, taco sauce, salsa, etc.
  • beans&rice–no explanation needed for this one. just simple deliciousness.
  • refried bean tacos–use it as taco base (instead of ground meat) in hard or soft taco shells
  • taco pizza–use it instead of pizza sauce to make a taco pizza. pile on some cheddar cheese, olives, tomatoes, roasted corn, etc.
  • Mexican pizzas–get two crispy corn tortillas (either fried or baked), spread a layer of taco sauce and then the beans on both. Stack them up and put shredded cheese and diced tomatoes on the top layer. cook it under the broil for a few minutes, until cheese is bubbly.
  • side dish–to any Mexican food you like.

This also freezes very well. Most times, I’ll freeze half a batch once it’s done cooking and cooled off. Just spoon it into a freezer ziploc bag and lay it flat in the freezer. It’ll defrost super quick, making for easy weeknight dinners down the road.

Slow Cooker Refried Beans

Makes about 6-7 cups of cooked beans

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound of dry pinto beans
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, smashed
  • 1 tablespoon of chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon of cumin
  • 1 teaspoon of paprika
  • 5 cups of water

Place all ingredients in a slow cooker. Cook on high for 5 to 6 hours or on low for 8 to 10 hours. You want them to get reallllllly soft.

Generously salt to taste once they’re done. Give them a good stir and then mash them up with a potato masher (or a fork, if you don’t have one of those). If it’s runnier than you’d like, let it sit on the counter with the lid off. It’ll thicken up if it’s left to sit at room temperature like that.

Have fun coming up with ways to use these up!

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Roasted Chickpeas

These crunchy chickpeas double as a snack and a garnish for salads and soups. Here they are in yesterday’s lunch:

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(Other all-stars in this gorgeous salad include: a plateful of spinach, 1/4 of a cucumber, 1/4 of an avocado, a couple tablespoons of diced red onion, and some drizzled green goddess dressing.)

You can season them anyway you want. For a curried soup, toss them with curry powder. For tomato soup, try them with basil and other Italian seasonings. My favorite is ranch seasoning. I’ve included the spices for that, but feel free to leave them out and season with whatever you desire.

Roasted Chickpeas

Makes ~2 cups of chickpeas

Ingredients:

  • 1 can of chickpeas, drained, rinsed, and patted dry
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of dried dill
  • salt to taste

Preheat oven to 450. Spray a cookie sheet with nonstick spray.

Toss the chickpeas with oil and seasoning. Place them on the cookie sheet and arrange in a single layer.

Bake 30 minutes or so, until dried and browned. Shake the pan every ten minutes.

Done!

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Sweet Potato Rounds

This side is:

  • simple
  • easy
  • cheapppp
  • delicious
  • kid-friendly

It’s the perfect side to a black bean burger or any veggie burger. I’ve also made it just for snacking! My kids quickly devour these sweet potato rounds. It’s like a potato chip, but healthier and tastier. 🙂

I usually serve this with diced avocado. I love how the textures go together (fatty, soft avocado+crispy, kinda crunchy sweet potatoes=mmmmm). Also, what doesn’t taste good with avocado? Serious question.

Sweet Potato Rounds

Serves 1 (for every additional person you’re cooking for, add another sweet potato, another 1/4 of an avocado, and a little more oil and spices)

Ingredients

  • 1 sweet potato
  • 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon of the seasoning of your choice (I used everything bagel seasoning here, but you could also just use salt and pepper)
  • 1/4 of an avocado, diced (optional)

Preheat the oven to 450. Spray a cookie sheet with non-stick spray.

Slice the sweet potato into thin rounds. Toss with the oil and seasoning. Arrange on the baking sheet. You want them spread out so that they’re not overlapping. This helps them get crispy!

Bake for 10-15 minutes. Use a spatula to flip them over and then bake 10 minutes longer.

Let them cool then serve alongside the diced avocado.

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Mmmmmm, everything bagel seasoning…onion-y goodness. ❤