Fast food restaurants seem to be designed for temptation. With their low prices, addictive flavors, and convenient locations, fast food can be hard to resist. They typically use the cheapest ingredients, so their menu is full of health-damaging GMOs, high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), bleached flour and many chemical additives.
Fortunately, avoiding fast food is much easier when there are bone-smart, convenient, and delicious alternatives.
So I’m thrilled to bring you today bone-healthy replacements for three unhealthy, deep-fried fast food staples: onion rings, french fries, and fried chicken.
What’s The Problem With Deep-Fried Foods?
While it’s fine to have an occasional deep-fried treat, eating fried foods on a regular basis can carry serious health risks. It’s worth mentioning here that most fast food restaurants use GMO corn oil for frying.
Stroke And Coronary Heart Disease
Researchers at the University of Alabama evaluated the dietary data from more than 17,000 participants. The categories of dietary pattern included sweets, a “Southern diet” heavy on fried foods, plant-based, convenience foods, alcohol, and salad. Participants were categorized according to which diet type they adhered to, and according to head study author James M. Shikany, PhD:
“People who most often ate foods conforming to the Southern-style dietary pattern had a 56 percent higher risk of heart disease compared to those who ate it less frequently.”1
A Southern-style diet, according to the study, is “characterized by added fats, fried food, eggs, organ and processed meats, and sugar-sweetened beverages.”1
This is just the type of food that’s frequently served in fast-food restaurants.
According to a 2013 study, regularly consuming deep-fried foods is associated with an increase in the risk of prostate cancer. Researchers speculate that the formation of compounds such as acrylamide, aldehydes, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons are behind the carcinogenic nature of high-heat, deep-fried foods.
The study involved 1,549 cases and nearly 1,500 controls. Those who ate typical deep-fried foods like friend chicken, doughnuts, and French fries once a week or more had a greater risk of developing prostate cancer. Those who ate these kinds of foods less often did not experience the increased cancer risk.2
You may think that consuming too much sugar is the only risk factor for developing type 2 diabetes. But think again – fried foods are also a significant culprit.
Scientists analyzed the dietary information of more than 70,000 women and 40,000 men over the course of 26 and 24 years, respectively. After adjusting for demographic, lifestyle, and other factors, the researchers concluded that:
“Frequent fried-food consumption was significantly associated with risk of incident T2D [type 2 diabetes] …”3
The researchers note that the connection with fried foods and diabetes is likely body weight and the simultaneous presence of more than one fried-food-induced health problem at one time.
Fried Foods And Your Bones
Again, it’s perfectly fine to eat out now and then and consume these foods as treats, but wouldn’t it be great to know that you can prepare healthy foods that taste the same (or even better!) that those unhealthy deep-fried foods? After all, it’s not just for your heart health and blood glucose levels; fried foods are also bad for your bones.
High-temperature frying can produce toxic substances called peroxides that compromise your liver function, keeping it from removing bone-damaging toxins from your bloodstream.
Typically, fried foods are also high in sodium, which robs your bones of calcium. And of course, the high calories associated with fried foods promote weight gain, and they can make you feel too full to eat healthful foods.
Three Delicious Bone-Healthy Alternatives
The following recipes are healthful, pH-balanced alternatives to the bone-damaging foods that are associated with so many health problems. As an added bonus for those avoiding gluten, all of these recipes are gluten-free.
1. Onion Rings
- 2 medium yellow onions
- 1 1/2 cup rolled oats
- 1/2 cup almond flour
- 2 eggs
- 1 tablespoon seasoning mix (optional)
- Olive oil
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Coat 2 large-rimmed baking sheets with olive oil.
- Peel the onions and cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices; separate into rings. Place the rings in a medium bowl and cover with cold water.
- Place oats in a blender or food processor, and process until coarsely ground.
- Lightly beat the eggs and place in a shallow dish. Combine oats and seasoning mix in another shallow dish. Place the flour in a third shallow dish.
- Taking one onion ring at a time, dry it on a paper towel. Then coat each onion ring in flour, next dip in egg, and coat in the oat mixture.
- Place on the baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven, turn each onion ring over and bake for another 10 minutes or until very crisp.
2. Baked “French Fries”
- 2 large potatoes, unpeeled and cut into wedges
- 4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt (or to taste)
- 1/2 teaspoon dried basil or thyme (optional)
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
- Place potato wedges in a medium bowl. Pour oil, salt, and basil or thyme onto potatoes; stir until all wedges are coated.
- Arrange potato wedges in a rimmed baking sheet or jelly-roll pan, spreading them evenly.
- Bake potatoes in oven for about 20 minutes or until brown, turning once.
3. Oven Fried Chicken
- 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- Olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 ½ to 3 pounds whole chicken drumsticks and thighs, separated, skin removed
- 1/2 cup rolled oats, blended
- 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
- 1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
- 1 teaspoon dried parsley
- 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
- Freshly ground pepper, to taste (optional)
*Serve with an alkalizing side-dish to balance the pH.
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
- In a shallow dish, whisk together yogurt, garlic, and mustard.
- Add chicken and stir to coat; cover and place in refrigerator for at least half an hour or overnight.
- Oil a broiler pan or set a wire rack onto a baking sheet and coat it with olive oil.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the blended oats, sesame seeds, paprika, parsley, salt and pepper. Place this mixture in a paper bag.
- Lift one or two pieces of chicken out of the marinade and place them in the bag with the oat and sesame seed mixture. Shake the bag to coat.
- Place the coated chicken on the prepared rack. Repeat with the rest of the chicken.
- Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until golden brown and cooked through.
Onion rings, French fries, and fried chicken are three of America’s favorite “bad” foods, but these bone-smart versions allow you to eat these dishes without compromising your bones and overall health.
Bone-Building Nutrition Does Not Mean Deprivation
It’s a common misconception that eating nutritious food means giving up everything delicious and eating bland, repetitive meals. But that simply doesn’t have to be true! That’s one of the main reasons why I love sharing information like today’s post, so I can show how delicious and creative bone-healthy nutrition can be.
The Save Our Bones cookbook, Bone Appétit, is full of delicious fried-food alternatives like Coconut Crusted Salmon (page 90) and Oven Fried Sweet Potatoes (page 36). If you like crunchy fast-food tacos, you’ll love crispy Beef Empanadas (page 114).
Eat Your Way to Stronger Bones!
Discover over 200 mouth-watering bone healthy recipes for breakfast, smoothies, appetizers, soups, salads, vegetarian dishes, fish, and plenty of main courses and even desserts!
And you’ll enjoy your meals even more when you can relax knowing that you’re helping, not harming your bones.
Till next time,
1 Shikany, James M., et al. “Southern Dietary Pattern is Associated with Hazard of Acute Coronary Heart Disease in the Reasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke (REGARDS) Study.” Circulation. 134. 7. (2015). Web. August 15, 2016. http://circ.ahajournals.org/content/early/2015/07/29/CIRCULATIONAHA.114.014421
2 Stott-Miller, M., Neuhouser, .L., and Stanford, J.L. “Consumption of deep-fried foods and risk of prostate cancer.” Prostate. 73. 9. (2013): 960-9. Web. August 15, 2016. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23335051
3 Cahill, L.E., et al. “Fried-food consumption and risk of type 2 diabetes and coronary artery disease: a prospective study in 2 cohorts of US women and men.” Am J Clin Nutr. 100. 2. (2014): 667-75. Web. August 15, 2016. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24944061