Fries… the American side dish.
I’ve been reading a lot of books and articles lately about food culture and the important role it has played in the health of societies over the course of centuries past. The traditional foods of cultures are what have kept them healthy, alive and living in harmony with their environments since the dawn of time.
In fact, for many places the traditional cuisine is synonymous with the culture itself…. French, Italian, Chinese, Greek… no sooner has the name of the culture been spoken when visions of buttered poultry, olive oil, rice, and lamb spring to mind. This concept of culinary heritage is exciting, diverse, and delicious. Surely, we as Americans shouldn’t be left out. As the grand melting pot of cultures we should have the best food culture of them all. All the bests of every place rolled into one! Right?
My answer would be, wrong. What comes to mind when you think of American food? For me, nothing stands out more predominantly and symbolically than the French fry. French fries can be found on most street corners of the country, served with fast food, by street vendors, and even in expensive restaurants. On top of their commonality, they are symbolic of our attitude towards food as a whole: cheap, bountiful, deep fried, and nutritionally sparse.
Obviously, they are delicious, and as someone who has always had more of a leaning towards salty foods over sweet, I have eaten more than my fair share of fries over the years and enjoyed them all. But what if there was a way to enjoy our favorite national side dish without condemning our bodies to the task of metabolizing empty, starchy, calories and vegetable oils? Enter, the inspiration for this very bog… the sweet potato. While the sweet potato is also a starchy tuber, not all root vegetables are created equal. Sweet potatoes are filled with complex carbohydrates, antioxidants, and anti-inflammatory agents and have been shown to be beneficial in the diets of diabetics, Alzheimer patients, and those with inflammatory diseases.
Pair all of these health benefits with a light coating of omega rich, metabolism-boosting, olive oil and I can’t think of a better, more delicious, way to reinvent the American food culture. So, next time you’re looking to indulge in an salty American classic, skip the drive-thru, preheat your oven and give this recipe a try.
3 medium sweet potatoes
3 TBS of Olive Oil
Salt to Taste
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Begin by peeling your sweet potatoes, but do not rinse them. You want to reduce their moisture as much as possible. Do your best to cut the sweet potatoes up into “French fry” shaped matchsticks. You definitely want to air on the thinner side to ensure that they are not too mushy. Place your sliced potatoes in a large bowl and coat with olive oil. If you are planning on adding Cajun seasoning, sprinkle that in as well and toss to coat. Spread the fries out on cookie sheets in a single layer and sprinkle with salt. The less the fries touch the better. Bake at 450 degrees for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes turn the fries over and continue to bake for another 15 minutes. When the fries begin to look golden and baked, remove them and enjoy. These will definitely be softer than the kind you get at a restaurant or from a bag, but they still held up very well, they are easy to make, and their flavor turned out wonderfully!