French Fries: Teaching Your Clients Healthier Versions of Their Favorite Foods

Giovanni Roselli | 01 Aug 2016

As a personal trainer, you’re doing more than teaching your clients how to exercise; you’re teaching them healthy habits, including how they can better manage their food choices. Of course this is easier said than done, especially with clients who are motivated to exercise but use it as a way to justify eating more than they should or to stick with unhealthy eating habits. Let’s explore a common food vice sabotaging weight loss and health: French fries.

Healthy French Fries?

Also called shoestring fries or hot chips, French fries are widely considered a necessary pairing to a burger or sandwich. Many people grew up eating deep-fried, cut-up potato slices starting at a very young age. You could try to tell your clients the dangers of eating French fries—that they contain high fat, high cholesterol, and high carbohydrates—but if your clients, like many other people, associate French fries as a comfort food, breaking the habit will take time. Even if your clients go cold turkey on the French fry addiction, they could relapse and binge on this unhealthy food, and along with it, slow down their progress toward improved health.

Probably the best way to help your clients curb an unhealthy eating habit like a French fry addiction is to show healthier versions of this deep-fried favorite. Your client can have their cake—err, French fries—and eat it too with these recipes:

Zucchini Fries

Do you know a relative who goes on and on about how great their kid is and it makes you wonder, “can this child do no wrong?” Well, if your family were vegetables, then zucchini would be that child you would love to hate but you can’t. You can’t ignore that this vegetable is nearly 50 percent lower in calories compared to other low-calorie vegetables like broccoli in the same serving size. You can’t ignore how zucchinis are loaded with potassium, which is a nutrient that helps to lower the risk of stroke. You also can’t ignore how the vegetable is so versatile: it can be used as a replacement for noodles—when prepared like this, they are often called “zoodles”—used in bread, and of course, used as a healthier version of French fries.

Making zucchini fries only takes the vegetable, flour, eggs, bread crumbs and other seasonings. And for the perfect dipping sauce that doesn’t put the health of your clients off track, try one of tasty and gluten-free salad dressings made by Hampton Creek.  

Avocado Fries

This fruit is known as a “superfood” for its abundance of nutrients, healthy fats, and flavor, but what also makes this fruit super is its versatility. Of course, there are the obvious other uses for avocados like guacamole, salads, and sandwiches, and they also make a great alternative to deep-fried French fries. Avocado fries are pretty easy to make; most avocado fries recipes call for panko crumbs and a sprinkle of seasonings and then placed in the oven to bake for 20 minutes. For a new take on Avocado Fries, try this cornmeal-crusted avocado recipe.

Sweet Potato Fries

Maybe this list of healthier French fries should have started off with sweet potatoes. They offer the starchy taste that fries are known for—fries are often made from white potatoes—yet, they contain a slightly higher amount of fiber, which can help people feel full and satisfied. Sweet potatoes also have a lower glycemic index, which means blood sugar doesn’t rise as high compared to eating typical French fries. However, keep in mind that if the sweet potatoes are deep fried, people lose out on the nutritional benefits. So advise your gym clients that if they are ordering sweet potato fries from the restaurant, they need to make sure that the fries are either baked or roasted. Baking helps to maximize the nutritional benefits without adding extra calories or fat from oil.

Carrot Fries

If your clients don’t want a recipe that involves adding bread crumbs, then carrot fries are an easy recipe and a great alternative to regular fries. All carrot fries usually need is a coating of olive oil, salt, and pepper. Bake them at a high temperature and remove after 20 minutes.

Smart Choices

French fries, shoestring fries, and hot chips—no matter what you call them, it’s important to remember that this deep fried dish is loaded with extra calories, fat, carbohydrates, and cholesterol. Get your clients excited about making fit food choices by teaching them meals that offer the same addictive crunch of French fries but without taking a bite out of their health.

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Giovanni Roselli

About the author: Giovanni Roselli

Giovanni Roselli is a Nike Master Trainer, a former WWE professional wrestler, and creator of the Equinox national signature group fitness class ‘Fully Loaded.’ Additionally, he is a Master Instructor and Global Ambassador for ViPR as well as being a Master Instructor for Kettlebell Athletics and CoreTex. He holds a nutrition certification with industry leader Precision Nutrition. He writes regular articles for David Weck's WeckMethod website, Dr. Jeffrey Morrison’s Morrison Health website, and NY/CT lifestyle magazine ‘WAG.’ His television appearances include NBC's 'Today Show' and National Geographic's 'Brain Games.'

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