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Healthy Frying Basics

Healthy Frying Basics

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We were surprised—and delighted—to perfect some frying techniques that fill the bill for healthy eating.

Upon tasting a perfectly fried food, people often swoon and exclaim, “It’s not greasy at all!” As if that were a miracle. And we’ve said it, too. Yet even with the ungreasy evidence in our hands, we instinctively regard a perfect beer-battered shrimp or French fry as a fat bomb. But here’s the happy truth: If you fry in the right oil and follow our guidelines carefully, fried foods can have a place in a healthy diet. Science shows how proper frying minimizes oil absorption while creating that sublime, toasty crust. In our Test Kitchen, six breaded, fried catfish fillets and a basket of hush puppies absorbed only ¼ cup oil! It’s all in the technique. See our step-by-step guide to healthy frying and recipes.

Although it’s true that properly fried foods aren’t as bad as we once thought, frying should be an occasional treat. A few critical factors to keeping fat and calories in check bear repeating; keep these in mind every time you fry.

Eating healthy should still be delicious.

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Keep Oil Clean. If debris builds up in the pan, it will burn after a few minutes. This is especially a problem when frying breaded and battered ingredients. Burned particles in the oil will cause it to discolor and infuse it with an off flavor that will taint the food. So use a slotted spoon to remove crumbs as you go.

Make better batter or breading. Coating foods yields a tasty crust, but breadings and batters done wrong can inflate calories and promote oil absorption. All-purpose flour adheres well because it contains gluten, but too much flour causes the food to absorb more oil. Adding gluten-free ingredients like cornmeal or rice flour reduces absorption. And batters that use leaveners or carbonated beverages produce gas bubbles that discourage oil absorption as well.

Use moderation. Pair fried entrées with a healthy side or salad.

Choose a heart-healthy oil with a high smoke point. See Nutrition Notes box at left.

Heat oil to the proper temperature, and use a candy/fry thermometer to monitor it.

Maintain the proper oil temperature during cooking; otherwise, the food begins absorbing excess oil, not only adding fat and calories but also rendering it soggy. Greasy fried food is badly fried food.

When battering foods before frying, be sure to use carbonated liquids, a small amount of leavening (baking soda), or both in the batter. These release gas bubbles as the food cooks, further reducing oil absorption.

Drain cooked foods on paper towels for a minute or two after cooking, so any excess oil doesn’t cling and soak into the food.

Air frying is healthy

Compared directly to deep fat frying, food cooked in an air fryer is much more healthy. You will use little to no oil in preparing your food.

Air frying is quick

The convection fan in your air fryer moves super heated air around your food very quickly. This means cooking can be as much as 20-30% quicker than using a regular oven.

Air frying can save energy

When you switch your regular oven on, you have to heat a huge cavernous cooking space. If you’re like me, often times you will only be preparing a small amount of food too – resulting in a huge waste of energy.

With their relatively small internal cooking space, air fryers heat up much more quickly, have less space to maintain heat, plus cool down quicker. The result is usually less energy used and…

Air frying can help your AC in the Summer

I don’t know about you, but I hate turning my oven on in the Summer months. That huge oven area has to be heated, it has to kept at temperature, and it has to cool when you switch it off that heat enters your home which your AC in turn has to work hard to offset. If you live somewhere where you rely on your AC to work at its very best, you really don’t want to pump all that extra heat into your home.

Great for uniquely small kitchen space

For those who might not have the luxury of a full kitchen, an air fryer can represent a very flexible and functional way to cook, heat and reheat.

Healthy Frying Basics - Recipes

Want to enjoy the tantalizing taste of Asian food at home? Invest in a wok! Stir-frying is one of the easiest ways to create a delicious, healthy dinner in minutes. Learn to prepare meals the Asian way: light on meat, heavy on the vegetables, and quick-cooked on high heat to retain vitamins and flavors. A few basics is all you need to get cooking!

Purchase your wok. You don't need to spend hundreds of dollars on state-of-the-art cookware. A standard, stainless-steel wok, purchased for less than $50, will serve its purpose well. The heavier the wok, the better it will retain heat. This is important because you must cook at a high temperature to avoid stewing or steaming your ingredients.

Season your wok. Before you use your wok for the first time, you must season it. Seasoning the wok is a way to "break it in" to ensure even heat-distribution during stir-frying, and helps lock in the flavors of the food as it's cooking. When you remove your wok from its packaging, you may notice a greasy film on the surface. Wipe this film away, and wash your wok in warm, soapy water. To season your wok, put it on the stove over medium-high heat for a few minutes. Add a drop or two of oil, and swirl it around to coat the surface evenly. Remove from the stovetop to let cool for a bit, and then use a paper towel to wipe out the oily residue. You may want to season your wok once more before you begin cooking with it.

Gather your utensils. Professional chefs use a mesh ladel to toss meat and vegetables around in the wok, but if you don't have one of these, a wooden spoon will do just fine. Place several large, clean bowls and plates on the counter next to your wok so you can set your cooked items aside as you prepare them in batches. Other items you'll need: a chef's knife, cutting board, and several bowls of different sizes to store liquid mixtures and chopped herbs and vegetables.

Cut and dry food prep. The most time-consuming part of stir-frying is preparing the ingredients. You'll want everything portioned out and cleaned, chopped, sliced and diced in advance. The actual stir-frying is fast and furious (you've probably heard those pans rattling like mad while waiting for your Chinese takeout!) so meat, vegetables, noodles, spices and oils should be ready and within reaching distance so you can grab and get on with it. Chop everything into bite-sized chunks to ensure quick and thorough cooking. Make sure there's no extra water or other liquid in your wok while stir-frying meat and vegetables. As mentioned earlier, liquid in the wok will cause your meal to stew instead of lightly fry.

Stir-fry in batches. Properly stir-fried food retains its crisp, firm exterior and tender, juicy inside by cooking small portions at a time. Heat the wok, drizzle in enough oil to coat the surface, and add enough small cuts of beef, pork or chicken to just cover the bottom. Fry on medium-high heat, tossing the entire time. When your first batch of meat is thoroughly cooked, remove from the wok and drain on paper towels. Fry the second batch in a little more oil, and then set aside. Oil the pan once more, toss in a few cloves of crushed garlic and/or ginger, and stir-fry the vegetables, adding the thicker ingredients like potatoes and carrots first, and then tossing in quicker-cooking ingredients like scallions and mushrooms at the end. When the vegetables are done, return the meat to the pot with the vegetables, and finish with your liquid sauces and seasonings. Give everything a quick toss, simmer for a few minutes and then remove from heat.

Learn the flavors. Thai cooking is immensely popular right now similar to Chinese, but with its own exotic spices and flavorings, some of which take their cue from Indian cuisine. Malaysian, Japanese, Vietnamese and Korean fare all boast their signature recipes as well. With practice, you'll learn which spices and sauces go with what and how to identify their flavors. You can buy most of what you need at an Asian specialty store.

Always have some Asian cooking staples on hand: soy sauce, oyster sauce, hoisin sauce, fish sauce. Fresh ginger, garlic, chillies, galangal, Asian shallots, scallions, kaffir lime leaves, cilantro and lemongrass. Green or red curry paste, shrimp paste. Noodles and rice. And of course. plenty of fresh meat, fish, tofu and vegetables. Pork, chicken, beef, shrimp, prawns, scallops. Onions, carrots, broccoli, snow peas, bok choi (Chinese cabbage), mushrooms (regular, oyster mushrooms, shitake mushrooms).

There really is no limit to what you can do with a wok, an assortment of meats, vegetables, spices and sauces. If you're the creative chef, feel free to experiment. If you're a "by the book" cook, go out and purchase a stir-fry cookbook which will explain each technique in detail as well as familiarize you with the exotic ingredients. Above all: know that stir-frying is a healthy way to prepare and enjoy the foods you love in the comfort of home


Cashew Cream

Place cashews in a large bowl, and cover with enough water to fully submerge the cashews. Allow to soak for at least 4 hours, up to overnight (to quicken this process, you can use boiling water and allow the cashews to soak for 30 minutes).

2. Drain the cashews and place in a high-powered blender. Add just enough water to cover the cashews along with a generous pinch of salt, and blend on high speed for 1-3 minutes, until completely creamy. Allow to cool completely, jar, and refrigerate until ready to use.

Overnight Oats

Put ½ cup of old fashioned oats, ¼ cup chia seeds, and ¼ cup cashew cream (diluted with 3/4 cup water) in mason jar.

You can also add about a teaspoon of vanilla extract, an artificial sweetener of your choice, and a pinch of Kosher salt.

Close and give a good shake, put in fridge, and let sit overnight.

Add berries of your choice and mint to top it off!

Turkey Bacon BLT

Cook 4 slices of low-fat turkey bacon to your liking.

Put a couple tablespoons of cashew cream in small bowl. Add sprinkles of mustard powder, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper to make it taste a bit more like mayo. Lightly whisk together and taste test your creation.

Thinly slice your heirloom tomato while you lightly toast your whole wheat bread.

Spread your “mayo” on the bread.

Place spinach or butter lettuce, turkey bacon, and tomato on bread to assemble. Finally add toothpicks and cut diagonally to enjoy!

Cashew Chicken Salad

Butterfly 3 chicken breasts, press them between sheets of plastic, pound them to a uniform thin-ness using a meat pounder or frying pan.

Add chicken to a pot of not-quite-yet boiling water, about 185°F. This will lower the temperature so keep the heat on until water is at 185°F again. Cover the pot and after about 15 minutes check if the chicken is at 165°F internally.

Let chicken cool off for about 15-20 minutes. Then, place them on a plate, cover with plastic wrap, and put in fridge for about an hour to chill completely.

After chicken is cool, chop up into bite sized pieces and add a few Tbsp of cashew cream.

Chop up an apple into bite sized pieces, finely mince 4 green onions and 2-3 Tbsp parsley, and add to chicken and cashew cream. Sprinkle curry powder, Kosher salt, and black pepper to your liking.

Shrimp Pasta with Garlic and Basil

Cook the pasta according to package directions, until just shy of al dente, and drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water. Set aside.

Optional: In a large, high-walled sauté pan, add shrimp shells and just enough water to cover. Simmer for 25 minutes, until liquid is reduced by half and opaque, and drain - set aside, and use in place of white wine to finish the pasta.

In a large sauté pan, heat 1 Tablespoon olive oil over medium flame until shimmering. Add the shrimp, sautéing 1-2 minutes on each side, until pink and cooked through. Set aside and cover with aluminum foil to keep warm.

In the same sauté pan, heat the remaining olive oil over medium flame until shimmering. Add the shallot and sauté for 1-2 minutes, until translucent. Add the garlic and oregano, cooking until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the cherry tomatoes and sauté for an additional 3-5 minutes, until the tomatoes have blistered and softened, adding a bit of water to the pan if the contents begin to burn.

Reserving a teaspoon for garnish, add the basil, and return the shrimp to the pan to warm through. Add the pasta, wine or shrimp stock, 1/4 cup of the reserved pasta cooking water, and the cashew cream. Cook an additional 1-2 minutes, tossing frequently, until the sauce has thickened and the pasta has absorbed most of the cooking liquid. Remove from heat and toss in parsley. Garnish with remaining basil and serve.

Basic Principles Of Deep Frying Food

Frying medium heated on top of the range in fritures should be discouraged because it is a safety hazard. An alternative is to use a bench-model fryer with a thermostatically controlled electric immersion element. The best fryers, however, are those which stand on the floor and have well positioned thermostats and controls. They should also have an insulated drain tap and a built-in receiver for the oil. This type of fryer is impossible to tip over, unlikely to overheat, and easy to maintain.

Thermostats are delicate calibrated instruments that may incorporate an on-off switch, but their main purpose is to set and maintain a maximum operation temperature. This temperature can be adjusted by the cook, according to the type of food to be fried and the frying medium being used. It must be understood that setting the thermostat at a high temperature will not make the oil heat faster. On the contrary, in a busy kitchen, the cook is likely to forget to reset it to the correct temperature, with the result that the oil overheats and becomes too hot for frying. When the thermostat calls for heat, all available energy is released into the fryer.

The amount of energy available is determined at the time of manufacture of the fryer and cannot be altered later. Therefore it is important to set the thermostat at the correct temperature and wait for the oil to reach the operating temperature you have set.

To Operate A Deep-Fryer
1.Make sure the drain tap is closed.
2.Place a quantity of frying medium (fat or oil) into the fryer and melt it on the coolest setting possible. Some fryers have a melt cycle. If the fryer is set at a high temperature, the fat or oil touching the heated surface will burn and break down before the rest of the fat is melted.
3.When the oil is melted, add more oil to fill the fryer to operating level as shown by a mark in the fryer. If the oil is already above this line, remove the excess. The pan should be half to two-thirds full.
4.Set the thermostat to operating temperature 170-190C.
5.When the temperature is reached, place the well-drained and dried food in a frying basket and immerse the basket gently. If the oil foams up, lift the basket for a moment and then immerse it again. Sometimes the food is placed directly in the oil, as in the case of food coated with batter. Lay the food onto the oil, passing your hand away from you so that any spatter will be toward the back of the fryer.
6.Turn the food with a spider, or shake the basket to aid even cooking.
7.When the food is golden brown, lift it, drain it over the fryer, and serve as soon as possible.
8.Don not allow the basket to drip oil on the floor.
9.Using a fat skimmer, at regular intervals skim off food particles left behind.

Next time I will run through some tips on how to take care of your frying medium, some essential safety, and the best way to prepare food for deep-frying.

Vegan Air-Fryer Recipes

See our full roundup of vegan air-fryer recipes, from chips, to falafel, pizza, and more.

FOK may collect a small share of sales from the links on this page, though it doesn’t influence our product picks.

How to cook perfect steak


  1. Spray a heavy non-stick pan or griddle with a little oil.
  2. Heat pan over a high heat until very hot.
  3. Sprinkle steaks with black pepper.
  4. Add steaks to the pan, press down lightly and then brown each side for 1-1 1/2 minutes. Turn using tongs.
  5. Cook for the required time to get your desired result: rare &ndash 3 minutes (the meat feels spongy when pressed medium &ndash 4 1/2 minutes (the meat resists when pressed) well-done &ndash 5-7 minutes (the meat feels firm when pressed). Turn steaks halfway through.


  1. Preheat the grill for 10 minutes until it is very hot.
  2. Season the steaks with black pepper.
  3. Place on a grill rack and cook under grill: rare 3 1/2 minutes medium 5 1/2 minutes well-done 6-8 minutes.


To create cross-hatched lines on your steak, you wll need a grill pan or griddle with a ribbed base. Choose one with handles, which is easier to use, and choose a size that is as close as possible to the heat source to prevent heat-loss and overheating the handle.

Oprah's Healthy Frying Secret

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

TV chef celebrates big milestone by preparing fan-favorite recipes on "GMA."

Oprah's fitness guru talks about his book "The Best Life Diet Cookbook."

Oprah's cookbook attempts to bring back the traditional family dinner.

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How to Season & Tenderize Proteins with a Fork

Maximize flavor and tenderize proteins with this little trick.

Cooking Tip: Chop the ingredients in small or thin pieces. This helps them cook quickly, especially ingredients that take a longer time to cook, like carrots.

Sauces add flavor to any dish, so it’s important to not leave this step out! [Learn more about sauces here.] Just like your ingredients, make your sauce before you start cooking to make sure that it gets added in at the right time without your veggies and meat getting overcooked.

A stir-fry sauce is made with basic ingredients that you most likely have in your pantry – soy sauce, rice vinegar, brown sugar, and cornstarch. We’ve added our favorite stir-fry sauce variations to the infographic below, so that you don’t have to be stuck with the same basic flavor profile for all of your stir-fries.

To make the sauce, you can either mix all the sauce ingredients together in a bowl, or shake it up in a jar. Just remember to give the sauce another stir or shake before adding it to the wok, so that the cornstarch does not settle to the bottom.

Cooking Tip:

Cornstarch helps thicken the sauce of a stir-fry, which will then coat each piece of veggie and protein. For the cornstarch to dissolve properly, it must be mixed with lukewarm or cold liquids.

Now you’re ready to make your stir-fry!

  1. Cook your proteins and vegetables separately, since they have different cooking times. Start off with your wok on medium-high heat and cook your protein until golden. It doesn’t have to be cooked all the way, since you’ll be adding it back into the wok in the end for a final toss. Remove from the wok.
  2. If you plan on using aromatics, add them next until fragrant. Then add your veggies until tender but still crunchy.
  3. Once your veggies are near done, add the protein back in, toss together, and then make a donut by pushing all the ingredients to the sides of the wok, leaving an empty hole in the middle.
  4. Give your stir-fry sauce a stir or a shake and then pour the sauce into the hole. The heat will activate the cornstarch, which acts as a thickener, and the sauce will start to darken and bubble. That’s when you know your stir-fry is about done. Toss everything together until every piece is coated with the now-thick sauce, and you’ve got your stir-fry!

Cooking Tip:

Take your wok off the heat before the veggies are fully done cooking. They’ll continue to cook in the wok as you finish the dish.

This step might seem unnecessary, but it makes a huge difference. We like to finish a dish with a squeeze of lemon or lime juice to really bring out all the flavors.

And as always, taste your food to see if it needs more lemon or lime juice, or even just a bit of salt.

Garnishes can add a new flavor component to a dish, so don’t write them off as just something to make the dish look pretty! Add a bit of sharpness with freshly chopped green onions, some freshness with minced cilantro, or some crunch with toasted peanuts or cashews. Or for those of you who like a little kick, top with your favorite hot sauce.

Now that you know the basics to stir-frying, and you can start getting creative by coming up with your own stir-fry combos! As a helpful reminder, we created the infographic below to help you with your stir-frying skills. And if you want to easily reference this guide anytime or print it out to add to your kitchen space, get the eBook here. The stir-fry possibilities are endless, so let us know in the comments below what stir-fry combos you have created!

And as always, we work incredibly hard to create these cooking resources to make life in the kitchen smarter, healthier, and happier, so we’d appreciate it if you shared this post with others!

Grilling is a great way to cook without a lot of added oil or fat. You can grill meat, chicken, pork, fish, vegetables, and fruit. There are different kinds of grills. Some grills use gas, and some use charcoal. Follow the instructions that came with your grill. Make sure your grill is in a safe place before you get started.

Easy Grilling Recipes

How to Make Fried Chicken Healthier

Make a healthier version of a crispy "Bucket o&apos Chicken" at home.

If you love fried chicken, you&aposre not alone. (You can buy fried chicken by the bucket at several popular fast-food chains.) The beauty of fried chicken is that it&aposs cheap and delicious. The not so beautiful side is that just two pieces of extra-crispy Kentucky Fried Chicken comes in at around 490 calories. And that doesn&apost include those irresistible mashed potatoes and gravy either, which will add another 120 calories. Is it possible to make fried chicken healthier at home?

- Hilary Meyer, Associate Food Editor

How to Make Fried Chicken Healthier

Can you do a better job of making your own version of a crispy "Bucket o&apos Chicken" without leaving the house, without using a deep-fryer and without blowing your calorie allotment for half the day on only one meal? Yes! In fact, you can do it for only half the calories and just one-fifth the fat and sodium of the fast-food classic. Here&aposs how EatingWell&aposs healthier fried chicken compares against the Colonel&aposs:

Kentucky Fried Chicken "Extra-Crispy" (2 pieces)

EatingWell Oven-Fried Chicken (2 pieces)

Here are 5 tips to help you make healthier "fried" chicken at home:

But wait! Isn&apost it the skin that makes chicken crispy?! The answer: Not if you&aposre frying it. What makes classic fried chicken crispy is the coating, which is usually made of flour and spices. So you can lose the skin without compromising flavor. And you&aposll save big time. Your meal at KFC would have 7 grams of saturated fat. Our recipe has only 2 grams of saturated fat.

Marinating your chicken in buttermilk is the right way to start any fried-chicken recipe. Why? The buttermilk begins to break down the protein in the meat, making it more tender when it&aposs cooked. It also opens up a great opportunity to infuse some flavor-like garlic or even a little hot sauce-into your chicken. You can marinate it for just a short time (around 30 minutes or so) or up to 8 hours. In general, the longer the better-just don&apost let it go too long or your meat will end up with a mushy texture.

3. Get Out the Cooking Spray

Instead of letting your chicken pieces swim in a pool of hot oil, you&aposre going to give the coated chicken pieces a light coating of cooking spray before oven-frying (see next tip). Cooking spray is great because it gives your food a nice even coating of oil without tacking on too many calories. (Spraying oil for 1 second adds about 9 calories.) And using spray helps keep the coating on the chicken by eliminating the need to brush oil onto it or flip it in a pan. It also helps keep it from sticking to a wire rack.

4. Don&apost Fry Your "Fried" Chicken

Make fried chicken without deep-frying? Yes. For a healthier result, you want to oven-fry. Put down your frying pan and preheat your oven to 425ଏ. A hot oven is a great way to get a crispy crust and cook food quickly. If you use your frying pan, you&aposll have to use lots of oil to achieve the same crispy result-not to mention the few extra hundred calories it will add to your final dish. Another advantage of the oven? You can make a "bucket" full of chicken in just one batch if you were using even your largest skillet, you would have to cook the chicken in batches.

So now that you&aposre cooking your chicken in the oven, you&aposll need to invest in a wire rack about the size of your baking sheet. Is it critical to use one? Yes. (Don&apost worry, they&aposre cheap.) It raises the chicken off the baking sheet so heat can reach underneath the food as well as on top. (If it&aposs sitting right on the baking sheet, you get a nice crispy top but a soggy bottom.)

Great news-crunchy, flavorful fried chicken can be healthy with this oven-fried chicken recipe. We marinate skinless chicken in buttermilk to keep it juicy. A light coating of flour, sesame seeds and spices, misted with olive oil, forms an appealing crust during baking. And with only 7 grams of fat per serving in this oven-fried chicken recipe, that is good news.