Four Ways to French Fry (Without Salt or Potatoes!)

low so good cookbookAfter lupus caused her kidneys to fail, Jessica Goldman Foung refocused her life and work to study food, health and the ways they interact. She began SodiumGirl.com in 2009 to capture her adventures in a low-sodium life.Today, Jessica is the go-to, low-sodium and special diet expert, contributing regularly to Food52.com, theKitchn.com, FoodNetwork.com, and Huffington Post Living. As well as appearing in print and broadcast media, including “Dr. Oz,” “Access Hollywood Live,” Cooking Light, Shape, Woman’s Day, Ladies Home Journal, Better Homes & Gardens, Oprah.com, Well+ Good, and Lupus Now (cover story). Jessica works closely with the National Kidney Foundation and American Heart Association on patient education and recipe development. She released her first book, Sodium Girl’s Limitless Low-Sodium Cookbook, in 2013. And released her second, Low-So Good: A Guide to Real Food, Big Flavor, and Less Sodium, in June 2016.  You can find Jessica on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest

four ways to french fries


For my last meal on this earth, I would most certainly request the following menu: A small plate of French fries to start, followed by a main course of French fries, with a quick palate cleanser of French fries, all finished with a surprise treat of, YES, more French fries.

By now, it should be clear that I’ve never met a fried spud I didn’t like. But as someone living with kidney failure and needing to say goodbye to over-salted prepared foods (as well as potatoes – thanks, potassium!), I did what I always do when it comes to foods I love: get creative, think outside the packaged box, and find another way to please my palate! Whether that’s a Bloody Mary, a pizza party, or, French fries.

Luckily for us all, it turns out making fries from scratch, without packaged ingredients is quite easy. And better than that, potatoes are not the only ingredient that can be cut and baked into fry-like shapes (or dipped into delicious sauce). Which brings me to my four, unprocessed and spud-free fry alternatives, for every taste and occasion: Crunchy Parsnip Fries; Chili Polenta Fries; Curry Tofu Fries; and Raw Jicama Fries.

Even if you can eat potatoes, I encourage you to give these fries a try. Because twisting traditional recipes is a great way to wake up the taste-buds as well as your creativity in the kitchen. So suspend fry-reality for a bit, and dig into these healthy snacks. And for your dipping pleasure, pair your fries (any of them!) with these two homemade hot sauces.

four ways to french fries

Recipes from Jessica’s latest book Low-So Good: A Guide to Real Food, Big Flavor, and Less Sodium. Photo by John Lee.

parsnip fries
5 from 2 votes
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Crunchy Parsnip Fries

Parsnips are very similar in appearance to carrots - though they're not in the same family of vegetables.  They have a slightly sweet flavor, but they're actually a bit savory and work great in this recipe.

Course Side Dish, Snack
Cuisine American
Prep Time 16 minutes
Cook Time 22 minutes
Total Time 38 minutes
Servings 4 people
Calories 109 kcal

Ingredients

  • 4 medium parsnips root ends trimmed
  • 2 tablespoons yellow medium-ground cornmeal
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt-free garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried dill
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper or to taste

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F [200°C]. 

  2. Coat a large baking pan with vegetable oil or cover with aluminum foil.

  3. In a large resealable plastic bag or a big bowl, mix the cornmeal, vegetable oil, garlic powder, dill, black pepper, and cayenne. Add the parsnips. If using a bag, close and shake; if using a bowl, mix with your hands until the parsnip fries are coated with the cornmeal mixture. 

  4. Transfer the coated parsnips to the prepared baking pan, laying them out in a single layer. 

  5. Bake until crispy, 20 to 22 minutes, flipping halfway through.

  6. Serve warm.

Recipe Notes

Variation: Want a healthful topper for your next barbecue? Use a peeler to make long ribbons from the parsnips instead of fries, yielding about 2 cups [240 g]. Bake as directed until crispy, 8 to 10 minutes. Enjoy them like onion rings.

polenta-fries
5 from 2 votes
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Chili Polenta Fries

Put a new spin on polenta with this inventive - and incredibly tasty - dish!

Course Side Dish, Snack
Cuisine American
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Servings 4 people
Calories 112 kcal

Ingredients

  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cup yellow medium-ground cornmeal
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon salt-free chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried dill
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt-free garlic powder

Instructions

For the Polenta

  1. Lightly coat an 8-by-8-in [20-by-20-cm] baking pan with olive oil.

  2. Add 1 teaspoon of the chili powder, the dill, and garlic powder; turn the heat to low; and continue stirring until the polenta is thick and the liquid is absorbed, 10 to 12 minutes. 

  3. Remove from the heat and transfer to the prepared baking pan, using a spatula to evenly spread the polenta to the edges of the pan; the polenta should be about 1/2 in [12 mm] thick. 

  4. Put in the refrigerator to cool, uncovered, for 30 minutes or up to overnight.

For the Fries

  1. Run a knife around the edge of the polenta to loosen it from the sides of the pan. 

  2. Hold a cutting board on top of the pan and flip, letting the polenta fall out of the pan and onto the cutting board. 

  3. Brush the top of the polenta with a little olive oil and sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 teaspoon chili powder. 

  4. Cut the polenta into fry shapes—skinny fries or thick steak fries, whatever you’re craving. 

  5. Place them in a single layer in the prepared baking pan and bake for 10 minutes. Flip and bake for another 10 minutes, until golden brown. 

  6.  Turn on the broiler for the final 2 minutes if you want them extra crispy.

  7. Serve warm.

tofu fries
5 from 2 votes
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Curry Tofu Fries

Tofu is a suprisingly flexible food - it has so many different applications.  Try this spicy, savory version and see for yourself!

Course Side Dish, Snack
Cuisine American
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 4 people
Calories 200 kcal

Ingredients

  • 14 ounces firm tofu drained, compressed, patted dry
  • 3 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons salt-free garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon Maharaja- Style Curry Powder or other salt-free curry powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper or salt-free chili powder

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F [200°C]. 

  2. Coat a baking pan with vegetable oil or line with aluminum foil.

  3. Cut the tofu into french-fry shapes. Spread the tofu fries on the prepared baking pan in a single layer.

  4. In a small mixing bowl, combine the sesame oil, garlic powder, curry powder, and cayenne. Using a pastry brush, paint the tops of the tofu fries with one-half of the seasoned sesame oil. Bake for 20 minutes. 

  5. Carefully turn the fries, and paint with the remaining half of the seasoned sesame oil. Return to the oven and cook until the tofu fries become slightly puffy and crispy, about 15 minutes longer.

  6. Serve immediately. 

jicama fries
5 from 2 votes
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Dill Oil Jicama Fries

Here is a fun, savory-sweet snack or side dish - with no cooking involved!

Course Side Dish, Snack
Cuisine American
Prep Time 15 minutes
Servings 4 people
Calories 147 kcal

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup roughly chopped fresh dill
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt-free garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice or lemon juice
  • 1 pound jicama

Instructions

  1. In a small food processor (or blender), combine the dill, garlic powder, pepper, olive oil, and orange juice and pulse until smooth.

  2. Peel and cut the jicama into french-fry shapes, about 1/2 in [12 mm] thick and 3 in [7.5 cm] long. 

  3. In a medium bowl or a shallow container, mix the jicama with the dill oil. 

  4. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes, or up to overnight, before serving. 

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3 Comments on "Four Ways to French Fry (Without Salt or Potatoes!)"

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Arthur in the Garden!
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I love parsnips fries!

Brenda Williams
Guest

I will have to try the parsnip fries. We love them, but we usually boil them, coat them in flour and fry them. This is a much better idea! 🙂

Megan K.
Guest
My mom and I have been making baked parsnip fries since I was a kid! She was brilliant at finding ways to get me to eat veggies that seemed strange to a child. Now I’m the biggest lover of vegetables. I’m definitely intrigued by the curry tofu fries. However I do not use oil, so I may experiment with that recipe. The photo in the e-mail sent said, “Four ways to french fry without oil or potatoes!” Then I saw the focus was on sodium and figured out that it was to say salt. I was quite excited to finally see a recipe from this group without oil which is, in my opinion, a processed food. I want to be clear that eating the whole food that contains free oil is different, such as nuts and avocado. Unprocessed definitely has a different definition for everyone, and I’m glad to see… Read more »
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