I've never met a person who doesn't love French fries. And, to be frank, I have no desire to meet such a person.
I know traditionalists who love their fries with ketchup; European folk who love theirs with mayonnaise; gourmet eaters who prefer truffle oil; and some, like my girlfriend, who just want to eat them plain (I prefer a combination of ketchup, Tabasco, and malt vinegar, for what it's worth).
But fries come at a cost. They are, to put it politely, not the healthiest dog at the park. They're also the rare food that McDonald's can make a lot better than you can, meaning they're a nearly impossible snack to acquire if you don't want to make a trek to a fast food joint.
My solution is French fry alternatives: snacks that are just as tasty and addictive, but easy to make at home and much healthier than deep-fried potatoes. Here are my five favorite alternatives, which work as a snack, or alongside a juicy burger.
I'm a huge bell pepper fan, but let's be honest: they can be a little bland. Because bell peppers are so sweet, however, they can take heavy flavors very well. I like to cut mine into strips and coat them in a large amount of seasoning for a crunchy, fresh taste.
You can use whatever flavors you like, including premade rubs and spice blends, but I prefer a simple mixture of salt, pepper, garlic powder, and cayenne. Serve them as is, or with hummus, ranch, or blue cheese dressing.
Green beans have a reputation for being boring, but they don't have to fit their stereotype. You can extract a lot of flavor from the beans by baking them until they start to char and get a little crispy. I toss mine in olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and freshly grated parmesan cheese, and then pop them in an oven at 375°F until they're nice and crisp.
Carrots are a perfect potato substitute. They're hearty like potatoes, and they do well with aggressive seasoning. I coat mine with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and then bake them at 450°F; the super-hot oven ensures that they develop a crisp exterior, just like a French fry. I even think they're perfect dipped in ketchup!
And while you can make carrot fries with standard carrots, heirloom carrots (which come in amazing colors) add fun presentation value, and bring a stronger array of flavors to the table.
Cut a zucchini into small rounds, toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and bake at 425°F until crisp. What could be easier? A word of warning: cook more than one zucchini at a time, as these chips are as addictive as they are easy to make.
Or, if you want something a little more luxurious, you can make breaded zucchini fries.
You may think that kale chips sound like something for hipsters and hippies. And while everyone I know who fits into those two categories does indeed enjoy a good kale chip or seven, so will you. I am definitely not on the kale bandwagon, but dang... these chips sure are something else!
I make mine with olive oil, salt, white pepper, garlic powder, and lemon zest, but a simple salt and pepper mixture works brilliantly as well. After seasoning (only use the leaves, no stalks), cook kale chips at a low temperature (preferably 300°F), as that lets them crisp up without burning. Then, eat them all!
Do you have any other great French fry alternatives for happy snacking?
French fries aren't the only thing you can replace in your diet. Check out the following guides for more alternatives for common foods.