As summer tempts us with its delicious fried fare, it can be difficult to maintain a healthy diet — and french fries, a snacking staple, can be especially enticing. However, while fries are pretty hard to imagine replacing, we’ve collected a few delicious contenders that could scratch the itch in a more nutritious way.

Be sweeter.

While it makes for a less traditional tasting french fry, sweet potatoes offer an excellent alternative and increase a fry’s nutritional value. Check out our excellent Sweet Potato Fry recipe, using only cornstarch, ghee, minced garlic, paprika, chili powder and black pepper. Be sure to avoid overcrowding the pan with fries in order for even cooking and pull them out when they appear golden brown.

Chowhound

Embrace spices.

While french fries are often defined by the flavor they take on, consider cutting back on the salt and incorporating other, more nutritional spices. Garlic, rosemary, thyme, paprika, and onion powder are just a few flavorful alternatives to avoid heavy sodium intake. If you’re opting for sweet potatoes, think about using a sweeter spice — like cinnamon, brown sugar and nutmeg. (Go easy on the sugar though! We’re trying to be healthy here.)

Forget the fryer.

Consider this — “French Fries” are not at all french. They actually were made popular in the United States after American soldiers learned the recipe from some French-speaking Belgians. If the word “french” is a fallacy, why not nix “fry” too? Slice a few potatoes into ½” pieces, going longways. Put the potatoes in a bowl with two tablespoons of olive oil, or just enough to entirely coat each potato. Add spices of your preference – garlic and parmesan are a classic, but you could also go the direction of spicy cajun.

Instead of a fryer, pop them in the oven on a baking pan lined in foil and covered in cooking spray or oil. Bake them at 450 degrees for 10 – 15 minutes, or until brown. By avoiding the fryer, this baking method cuts out a lot of the grease — and if they’re not from france and we want a more accurate alliteration, we could dub these fries “Belgian Bakes.” Another oil-free option is the grill, just be sure to keep an eye on them — turning the french fries often to avoid sticking.

Chowhound

Nix the oil.

Combined with the baking method, this simple ingredient swap replaces the oil with another crisping agent — whisked egg whites or broth. By using these healthier alternatives, your french fry still has the crispiness you want without the weight of using heavy oils. Consider spicing the egg whites or broth before saturating the potatoes for extra flavor — or don’t, leading us to our next point.

Go potato-less.

Instead of filling up on carbs, try opting for a different veggie. Our Baked Parmesan Zucchini Fries with Marinara Dipping Sauce offer a healthy crunch, and our Veggie Chips are another great snack alternative that imitates a fried potato chip. Veggie Chips boast the perfect guiltless binge snack — and with just a little creativity, other roots like parsnips and rutabagas can replace traditional potatoes for more of a nutritional punch.

While in general, fries hold a special snack place in most of our hearts, it’s not hard or expensive to create healthier alternatives. Baking fries, minding your spices and oils, and considering nixing the potato all together are just a few options we have in the kitchen to turn our guilty pleasure into a nutritious, guilt-free satiation. So next time you need a side for your cheeseburgers or a snack between meals — consider opting for some healthier, alternative french fry varieties.

Related Video: Anchovies You Eat Like French Fries

See more articles