Thursday, February 19, 2009

"Fast Food" that's good for you...well at least it's not that bad

There’s a place in Berkeley called Amanda’s that works the “healthy” fast food angle. They have a simple clean space, with large open tables, and they sell (mostly organic) burgers, fries, salads, and house made sodas. I love the idea of a healthier version of some of my favorite, fat-laden take-out indulgences, because really, who doesn’t love a double cheeseburger and fries from the dollar menu at you-know-where. My only complaint is that I think Amanda’s could take their idea farther—once you get past a few items on the menu, really, it gets a little boring. My favorite was the cheeseburger, topped with a sauce not unlike what you might find on a Big Mac; but those fries…such a disappointment.

So, of course, the new challenge was to make healthy “fast food” at home—something so good that I would crave it for days. My particular weakness for hotdogs made the base of the meal an easy choice, but the main attraction would be the fries. I cooked up a batch of sweet potato fries that were both spicy and sweet, and them finished off with a tangy sour cream dipping sauce. Oh, and they’re good for you too. Get ready for 500% of your daily vitamin A intake.

Spicy Sweet Potato Fries

3 large sweet potatoes (I used two different types, for more texture and flavor)
1 Tbsp sugar
2-3 tsp kosher salt
2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp cayenne pepper
¼ tsp black pepper
Canola or vegetable oil spray

1. Preheat oven to 500°. Make dipping sauce (recipe below.)
2. Peel sweet potatoes, and cut into thick slices or wedges.
3. Place potatoes in a large bowl with plenty of extra room, then spray with canola oil with the intention of coating all the little wedges.
4. Mix sugar through black pepper in a small bowl.
5. Toss mixture with potatoes until well coated.
6. Spray a baking pan with the cooking oil and place the fries in a single layer on the pan. Bake for about 10-12 minutes, then flip the fries, and bake for 10 more.

Sour Cream Dipping Sauce

5 oz sour cream
1 Tbsp lime juice
1 tsp lime zest
¼ cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped
pinch of salt

1. Combine first 3 ingredients and mix until smooth.
2. Add chopped cilantro and salt, then chill for about 30 minutes.

The Dog

I used Hebrew National hotdogs because they have the best flavor and they’re not a totally sketchy meat product. Of course that’s coming from someone who occasionally enjoys a piece spam or some canned corned beef hash, so really, who am I to have processed meat standards. Anyway, in addition to their regular tasty franks, Hebrew now makes a reduced fat and 97% fat free version. Now, typically I would say, a fat free hot dog, WTF? But Beta Wife demanded that we at least give the reduced fat dogs a try, and as is sometimes the case, she happened to be right. I can’t tell the difference between the regular and reduced fat version. (I can’t speak for the 97% hotdog, and I hope it stays that way.)

I topped the hotdogs with leftover veggie chili and served them up with the sweet potato fries. Leftover coleslaw makes a darn good topping for them as well. I only wish I had them both leftover at the same time. And for extra calorie savings, don’t get those thick, heavy hotdog buns. They have almost twice the calories of a normal bun—remember the bread is just a vehicle for the hotdog.

1 comment:

  1. Beta Wife's co-worker Chris here... So we tried this recipe last night, and despite my general culinary deficiencies, it was a huge success. The chili recipe, in particular, is amazing. I used these giant house-made hot dogs from Whole Foods, which are pretty tasty and almost certainly not reduced-anything. Our sweet potato fries didn't look as good as the ones in your picture (I should have taken more careful note of your slicing strategy), but they were delicious nonetheless.

    You know food is good when posting a comment about it makes you salivate. Our grateful compliments to the chef/blogger.