Wednesday, October 16, 2013

EASY Allergy Friendly BAKED French Fries - Vegan + Gluten, Soy, Sugar, Dairy, Corn, Nut, & Egg Free

Who out there loves French fries??  While exploring what we could & could not eat once going gluten free, French fries was one of them. 

While we didn't eat them very often at all at that stage of our lives, we did enjoy them if we did happen to go out for dinner or if we hit a $1 menu drive-thru (I know, GASP!! But sometimes that was better than starving), which even then we usually only ate them maybe 1-2 times per YEAR.

During my research I found that potatoes themselves are not gluten containing, but when they are prepared in a fryer with oil, the oil itself  is also usually used to deep fry things that are breaded, like chicken fingers/nuggets, fish, etc. and that made French fries (or anything else deep fried, even if that food itself didn't contain gluten) off limits.  At first it was no big deal since we rarely ate fries as it was.  Oddly enough, after a while it became something we actually missed though since we had to give up so many other foods.... all at once too!

For anybody who has ever cooked for allergies, you know already that it is usually not fast to prepare a meal that avoids allergies.  This is simply because of the fact that usually most allergy friendly foods one can purchase at a store that would help to speed up meal preparation are outrageously priced.  An example is a gluten free cake mix.  Those can easily run $4.50 - $5 for ONE cake mix... and the finished cakes are usually 1/2 the size at that price too.  Compare that to a cake mix that runs $1- $1.50... YIKES!!  It is not only far cheaper to eat gluten, but you usually get far more too!!

Anyway, with that said I prepare near everything myself at home from scratch, almost always without pre-made store bought gluten free mixes.  I do make my own mixes at home, but I don't buy mixes at the store.  I also make things like salad dressings, bread (which we don't eat every often), cookies, cakes, pasta dishes, cake from the homemade mixes, hot cocoa mix, cream soups, broth, etc.

There is something being made in our kitchen at least every day, if not many things being made all day long.  It is the nature of cooking for food allergies/sensitivities, & especially for a large family.  Oh, & all of our cooking is done with a toaster oven, stove top, or in a standard oven... we do NOT use a microwave & have been microwave free for 7-8 years.

The house we are in now actually came with a microwave, but we have never used it to cook.  I do love using the microwave fan, light, & timer though which is why we kept it.  In fact I love those features so much that we had to replace some of the kitchen appliances so we bought a new to us (thank you to Craig's List) over the stove microwave because the previous one was almond & everything else was black & stainless.

Now I am not one to need matchy-matchy everything but we were able to find the used one for not much more than what we were able to sell the old one for so we figured, why not swap it out too.  Originally we priced just an over the stove fan/blower with a light and then the same thing but with a timer too, & the range hoods with just the light & blower started at about $125.  The hoods with a timer started at $300.  It was CRAZY!!  I believe we paid $60 for the microwave (& sold the other one for $50), so that was a no brainer.

Anyway, after going GF & having to basically give up bread (we had to give up bread for a long time because at first we couldn't afford the GF bread mixes that run $4-5 per mix & at that they only make a SMALL loaf that is maybe about 8" long, 6" wide, & 5" high, nor could we afford to BUY the GF bread because that also runs $4-7 per loaf, and we didn't yet have all of the different ingredients to make bread from scratch), we had to start eating other things that would fill us up at mealtime.  So one of the things we started eating was potatoes.  We baked them, boiled them, & mashed them.  We REALLY started enjoying a food we hadn't been eating much of at that time. 

We kept eating our potatoes in those traditional ways for about 2 years.  Then we went to a restaurant that offered truly gluten free French fries fried in a dedicated fryer ONLY for gluten free fries!  It was the 1st time we had eaten fries in over 2 1/2 years at that point, and man, were they ever good great!!

Note, I didn't claim they were healthy because they were deep fried, but I can tell you that our bellies really loved them & they really restored a sense of comfort for us while we ate them.  It reminded us of the good ol' days when we could eat whatever we wanted off of a menu (as long as it was priced in our budget, of course!) without having to worry about paying the consequences not long after eating.  Would you know that we STILL talk about those fries, 2 YEARS later... it was just so nice to enjoy food without worry & to actually be able to eat our entire meal without having to pay for a burger and fries, but only being able to eat the meat patty.

Well, that one meal that included fries spurred Mr. Lee on to make something similar at home for our family.... YES, you guessed it, he made French fries!  Being a guy though, he took it even a step further... he eliminated the deep frying with baking the them (partly because of the mess & y'all know how much I do NOT love to clean my stove, and partly because of the health factor or so he said) & added some seasonings that were simply spices with no worries of hidden gluten (like MSG, extracts, etc.).  WOW, did he ever become the popular guy around here... & he started to get regular requests for his fries... so naturally I had to start making them too!!

We learned which is the best fry cutter gadget by trial & error... we 1st tried a knife, & while it works well, it does take a while.  If making fries for a few people, it isn't a bad way to go, but if cooking for more I would look for one of these fry slicers.

Our second gadget was one of those awesome looking fry cutters where you slice the end off of a potato, put the tater in the cutter, pull the handle down kind of like a slot machine & out come the potatoes cut into fries (now, now don't judge me... yes, I have pulled a slot machine handle or two in my day, but no worries it has been at least 15 years as I am WAY too cheap to throw my money into a slot machine now... if I am going to gamble my money I'd much rather put it into a vending machine & hope what I selected will come out...LOL), but Mr. was convinced the handle was going to snap right off of that gadget so it went right back to the store after which he came home with the one pictured.  It is very much like the press-down apple slicer and corer gadgets that slice & core apples at the same time (we have one of those too & LOVE it!).

Anyway, enough blabbing... here it goes...

The EASIEST French fries ever (aside from the ones you take out of the freezer & throw in your oven, smarty pants!! LOL)....

See our handy dandy fry cutter?!
INGREDIENTS
  1. potatoes
  2. oil
  3. salt
  4. spices/herbs (cilantro, parsley, garlic powder, etc.)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven from *350 to 400 degrees
  2. Spray baking dish with spray or *oil to prevent sticking
  3. Slice potatoes into wedges, fries, etc. (we have a handy dandy fry cutter, but if you don't have one a sharp knife will do)
  4. Add sliced, diced, etc. potatoes to baking dish, drizzle with *oil, sprinkle with salt (I use kosher or unrefined sea salt as we prefer the larger granules), & herbs (we love cilantro & parsley, but will use just parsley if we're out of cilantro)
  5. bake for *30-50 minutes
  6. Enjoy!

**NOTES**

  • The baking temperature varies based upon your preference as far as how fast you want them done.
  •  We have a Misto sprayer that we refill with high heat safflower oil instead of using a cooking spray that contains propellants & other chemicals (the link does NOT contain an affiliate link for me to earn money if you purchase the item.  I use my Misto sprayer daily & sometimes multiple times a day & want to show you what I am talking about when I mention a refillable sprayer). 
  • It is preferable to use an oil with a high smoke point like coconut oil, high heat safflower oil, grapeseed oil, etc.  Do keep in mind that if you use coconut oil they will no longer be nut free.
  • Baking time varies based upon how thick the layer/s of potatoes are, how thick the cut of the potatoes is, etc.
  •  You can also add fun extras like cheese, sour cream, chives, chili, etc. if you'd like to dress them up a bit, but then they wouldn't be vegan, dairy, etc. free if that is a concern.  We like to use beans, chili, and or cheese from time to time as an extra treat.

What is your favorite way to make potatoes... mashed, baked, fried??  Do you have a fry recipe you like to use or do you prefer frozen fries??  Will you try these as fries or wedges??  Do you have a fry slicing gadget too??  How do you usually cut fries when you make them??  Or are your favorite fries from a drive-thru??

<3 Mama Lee <3