Janine Gilbertson's Granite Kitchen: You're in control of the sugar and salt in your diet

By JANINE GILBERTSON January 16. 2018 6:26PM
Making potato chips at home give you the ability to control salt and seasoning. (JANINE GILBERTSON)

I came across a forgotten old friend late Saturday night — a bag of chocolate-coated peanuts.

I was watching a movie and in the mood for a snack. I had grabbed some potato chips, but they were so salty, I could only eat a few before giving up.

So it seemed like a great idea to eat the chocolate-covered peanuts. I rarely eat candy, so I figured it was no big deal when I realized I finished off the bag, which was a half-full 19-ounce size.

After the sugar high wore off, I went to bed.

The next morning, I went to the bathroom to wash my face and was horrified to see the area under my eyes swollen and puffed out and my complexion wrought with redness. It was awful.

It was so bad that I used ice packs to take down some of the swelling, and when I had to go out, I wore a baseball hat to keep overhead lights from making things look worse.

The only thing unusual about my day on Saturday was the handful of chips and the excessive amount of chocolate-coated peanuts I ate.

Now, my father had diabetes so I am aware of the toll sugar can take on your body. I did a little research online and read that sugar can cause irritation and swelling in the body and that some people with regular high-sugar diets can suffer from something called “sugar face”— a process called glycation in which excess glucose molecules cling to your collagen, distorting it and aiding in the creation of under-eye bags and wrinkles.

Whatever was going on when I got up on Sunday, there was no denying that eating all that candy was not a great idea. This strengthened my resolve to keep working to cut out sugar and processed food.

I decided to start with salad dressings, since I eat a lot of salad. If you have a food processor (a blender will work too), you can easily make your own dressings from scratch. Some fresh herbs, lemon juice, yogurt, olive oil, vinegar and some spices are a great starting point for whipping up a tasty, nutritious dressing or dip. And it’s even better if you can find fresh, local ingredients to use.

Another thing I wanted to make this week was potato chips. After the too-salty chips that turned me down the chocolate-covered path to trouble, I decided it was time to come up with my own healthier version.

What I learned was that in order to make the chips crispy, you need to slice them thin on a mandolin, then spread them in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet, then put them in a hot oven for about 7 to 10 minutes so they can dry out a bit. I skipped this step for the first batch I made and it took far longer than I expected for the potato slices to get crispy, and they soaked up a lot of oil while they were cooking.

After I dried the next batch out before frying, they crisped up quickly and had a nice crunch. Sweet-potato chips can be made the same way, and the best part is that you can season them any way you want. You can try some paprika or a pink of garlic salt or toss them with some dried herbs like rosemary or parsley.

Making your chips at home is much better for you, and you get to skip all the preservatives and sodium that comes along with some store-bought versions.
Sweet-potato chips (JANINE GILBERTSON)

Sweet-Potato Chips

3 lbs sweet potatoes, sliced thin

1 tsp kosher salt

2 to 3 cups canola oil, for frying



Heat an oven to 425 degrees. Line a couple of baking sheets with parchment paper and spread the sliced potatoes in a single layer on the baking sheets. Bake for about 10 minutes, until the edges of the potatoes look slightly browned and the slices look dry, then remove from oven. 

Heat the canola oil in a fryer (follow manufacturers guidelines for cooking amounts). When the oil is heated, carefully drop the sweet potatoes in the oil in batches and fry for 2 to 3 minutes, until the potatoes are crisp and slightly browned.

Remove from fryer and drain on paper towels, then transfer to a large bowl. Sprinkle the salt over the chips and toss to distribute before serving.

Golden Potato Salt and Pepper Chips

3 lbs potatoes, sliced

1 tsp kosher salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

2 to 3 cups canola oil, for frying

Heat an oven to 425 degrees. Line a couple of baking sheets with parchment paper and spread the sliced potatoes in a single layer on the baking sheets, then set in the oven. Bake for about 10 minutes, until the edges of the potatoes look slightly browned and the slices look dry, then remove from oven. 

Heat the canola oil in a fryer (follow manufacturers guidelines for cooking amounts). When the oil is heated, carefully drop the potatoes in the oil in batches and fry for 2 to 3 minutes, until the potatoes are crisp and slightly browned. Remove from fryer and drain on paper towels, then transfer to a large bowl. 

Sprinkle the salt and pepper over the chips and toss to distribute before serving.
Chopped kale salad with Avocado Yogurt and Cilantro Dressing (JANINE GILBERTSON)

Avocado Yogurt and Cilantro Dressing

3/4 cup plain Greek Yogurt

1 tbsp mayonnaise

2 tbsp sour cream

2 tsp olive oil

1 tsp red wine vinegar

1/2 cup cilantro, chopped

2 tbsp parsley, chopped

1 clove garlic, chopped

1 1/2 tbsp honey

1/2 avocado, chopped

1 lime, juiced

1/2 tsp kosher salt



Add all ingredients to a food processor and process until smooth. If you prefer a dressing that is slightly thinner, you can add water or additional lime juice to suit your taste and thin the dressing.

Chopped Kale Salad

1 cup baby kale, chopped

1 tbsp parsley, chopped

1 tsp olive oil

1/2 tsp lemon juice

pinch of Kosher salt

1/2 cup colored pepper, chopped

1/4 cup cherry tomatoes, chopped

1/4 cup fresh pea shoots

Avocado Yogurt and Cilantro Dressing (recipe above)



Add the kale, parsley, olive oil, lemon juice and salt to a bowl and toss to combine. Allow to sit for 5 minutes, then add the remaining vegetables. Drizzle with dressing and serve.


Food

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