Potato Chip Alternatives, You Can Eat More Than One

Potato chips
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Potato chips - do you remember the commercial betting you couldn’t eat just one? Many Americans don’t stop at one, unless it’s one entire bag, and that can be a big problem for your health and weight. But there are some delicious potato chip alternatives you can try, and even make yourself, that provide a healthier crunchy snack.

Five alternatives to potato chips

Several companies make potato chip alternatives from a variety of vegetables. However, these chips can still be relatively high in calories and fat (but low in saturated fat), so it pays to read labels carefully.

If you want to control calories and have some fun, you can make your own chips. The following potato chip alternatives can be made in an oven, although a dehydrator can produce a crunchier chip and uses less energy.

  • Tomato chips are a crunchy source of lycopene, a potent phytonutrient that has been associated with reducing the risk of some cancers and to reduce the risk of heart disease. Choose small to medium firm tomatoes and cut into ¼ inch slices. Season the slices with your favorite seasoning (e.g., garlic powder, oregano, red pepper) and place in the dehydrator for 12 to 24 hours until the slices are crunchy.
  • Green bean “chips” are actually more like green bean sticks (like potato sticks), and are easy to prepare. Use fresh green beans and snap off the ends. Rinse and dry the beans and place them on a baking sheet that you have treated with sprayed cooking oil. Spray the beans, then sprinkle them with your favorite seasoning. Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes, and stir them every 10 minutes until they are crunchy.
  • Baked lentil chips are more difficult to make, so you may want to get these off the shelf. Lentil chips are often a combination of bean flours (lentil, adzuki, garbanzo) with a blend of seasonings. They are relatively low in calories (about 110-120 per ounce) and low in fat, plus a great source of protein and fiber.
  • Zucchini chips can be a creative way to get your kids to eat squash! Take a large zucchini (yellow squash works, too) and cut into ½ inch slices. Season the slices with your favorite seasonings and place them in the dehydrator. If you are baking them, place the slices directly on the rack (or a smaller rack with small spacing) and let them dry overnight (or longer) in a low oven.
  • Carrot chips can be a fun way for your kids to get beta-carotene and fiber in a crunchy treat. Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Using a knife or mandolin, thinly slice the carrots into rounds and place them on a baking sheet lightly sprayed with spray cooking oil. Season and bake for 45 minutes.

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In a recent study from Harvard, researchers reported on results of a 20-year study of more than 120,000 adults and their diet, lifestyle and weight gain. Investigators discovered that topping the list of foods associated with weight gain was potato chips, which beat out sugary beverages, potatoes, and meat.

Fried potato chips also are not great for your heart. In a pilot study, 14 healthy volunteer adults ate 160 grams of potato chips daily for 4 weeks. Analysis of their blood showed a significant increase in reactive oxygen radical production and C-reactive protein levels, along with a decrease in glutathione concentration, a recipe for inflammation and a risk factor for atherosclerosis.

So put down that bag of fatty potato chips and try some alternatives. These and other vegetable chips can be made at home, and they are also a way to get your kids to eat their vegetables.

SOURCES:
Mozaffarian D et al. New England Journal of Medicine 2011 Jun 23; 364(25): 2392-404
Naruszewicz M et al. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2009 Mar; 89(3): 773-77

Picture credit: Wikimedia Commons

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Comments

Here also is a simple recipe for Kale Chips! http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/baked-kale-chips/detail.aspx