Everything You Need to Know about Cancer and French Fries

Everything You Need to Know about Cancer and French Fries

By now, you’ve probably come across an article on your social feed about how French fries or fried potatoes in general are causing cancer. If not, congrats. The blissfully ignorant state of not knowing about the potential harm of over consuming fried potatoes means your life is probably less anxiety-ridden than my own (oh, and sorry for bursting that bubble of cozy comfort with this post. Feel free to stop reading right now if you’d like).

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Anyways, I’ve gotten a lot of Qs about this topic, so I thought I’d address it here. As a potato-finatic and food tox and food safety enthusiast, this issue hits close to home and is one I wanted to examine for myself. This topic actually came up in food tox before I saw it trending all over social media, so I was happy to have a solid grip on the science before all the media hype surrounding it.

So, let’s dive into the nitty starchy gritty: potatoes, French fries, and acrylamide: what you need to know about the risks, and how to minimize your own.

Ps: I had been pausing blogging, not by choice, but out of circumstance, as when I tried to transfer hosting sites, my site was kind of MIA from the internet for over a week…talk about anxiety-inducing. Oy.

Anyways, now that I’ve got my site back, I’m going to work with a different company on transferring the site (because I’ve got bigger and better things planned) and in the meantime keep chugging along here.

So what’s the risk? Are my potatoes and grains giving me cancer?

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Acrylamide does not appear to be of concern in raw foods themselves; it seems to be formed when certain starchy foods are cooked at high temps.

So the risk does not lie necessarily in the potatoes or grains per se, so don’t think you have to instantly ban potatoes from your household. The risk is actually from the acrylamide that develops upon high heat cooking of the potatoes (usually above 250°F).

What is acrylamide?

Easy Baked Cripsy Sweet Potato Wedges with Almond Butter

Acrylamide is a chemical compound found in a lot of industrial production. It’s also found in cigarette smoke. It’s also in many foods, including canned black olives, potato chips, French fries, dark browned toast, coffee, prune juice, and some breakfast cereals.

Acrylamide can also form in some foods as a result of the amino acid asparagine being heated to high temperatures in the presence of certain sugars. This is what happens when potatoes are fried in hot oil. Potatoes happen to have high levels of asparagine, hence the recent concern about french fries, acrylamide and cancer.

Baking and roasting can also lead to acrylamide formation. Generally speaking, the longer and hotter the cooking method, the more acrylamide is likely to form. Boiling and steaming do not typically lead to acrylamide formation.

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Easy Everything Bagel Fries

Easy Everything Bagel Fries

HECK YEAH it’s another potato post. Potatoes just happen to be my favorite food, and ever since it’s debut, I’ve been obsessed with Trader Joe’s Everything But the Bagel seasoning salt. Hence, today I share with you these easy oven-baked everything bagel fries.

Easy Baked Everything Bagel Fries

These came about on a Thursday evening as I was trying to use up the last 2 potatoes in a 5-pound bag I had purchased Sunday. A quick math calculation made me realize I average eating about a potato a day. I’m more than okay with this statistic.

Easy Baked Everything Bagel Fries

Anyways, I was texting with my dear friend Caty about her recent appreciation of Everything But the Bagel Seasoning Salt, and suddenly, my own craving for the stuff set in. Fresh out of avocado (my go-to for an Everything But the Bagel Seasoning Salt), I decided to wedge up my taters and make everything bagel fries in the oven.

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Sweet Potato, Parsnip & Sweet Pea Samosas

[ Disclosure: “I received free samples of Libby’s new Vegetable Pouches mentioned in this post. By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by Libby’s and am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time.” ]

I hope you’re sitting down, because these may actually might be one of my favorite creations ever. They are everything. EVERYTHING! Why, you may ask? Well, they combine several of my favorite things in a healthy, carb-covered, veggie-filled, spicy delightful way. Drooling yet? I am.

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Allow me to explain: the utter mention of the two beautiful words, “sweet potato” make me perk up in the same way my dog Millie does when I say the word “treat.” Suddenly my posture straightens, my body is alert, awake, and ready to move to wherever the sweet potatoes may be. Must eat.

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Then if you add parsnip, it’s like telling me I won the lottery. Because parsnips holds a top spot on my favorite foods list. It was love at the first bite. The nutty, woody, carroty-sweet flavor is unique and something I simply adore.

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Cook both these veggies with spices and cumin and curry and ginger and you’ve got an Indian-food inspired dish, or sorts, full of delicious root vegetables whose flavors have been lovingly coated, accented, and highlighted by the spices and seasonings that hug them.  Samosas may sound a bit intimidating (like, “too much work”) but allow me to assure you that using a pre-made pizza dough was a major shortcut I took, and it truly worked well! I was delightfully surprised at how perfectly soft yet crispy these babies baked up, and made the whole cooking process fast and easy. Screen Shot 2014-10-26 at 9.24.40 PM

What ties this filling all together, though, is what’s added at the end. Peas from Libby’s add a sweetness and a softness to the other spicy, earthy veggies, and the fresh cilantro and lemon juice add a sparkle and freshness that seals the deal. The folks at Libby’s sent me some samples of these tasty Sweet Peas, which came in a handy pouch that could fit into even the most cultured space-crunched pantry, were easy to open (no can-opener needed hooray!), easy to use, and tasted as fresh as canned or frozen.

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This is also a major win for someone who lived in Manhattan only a mini-fridge for a year, and was unable to use frozen veggies. So I really appreciate this new pouch concept. Way to go, Libby’s! These are things that New Yorkers worry about. Amongst other things like bedbugs, lice, and broker’s fees. Screen Shot 2014-10-26 at 9.22.42 PM

These samosas won’t fix bedbugs, lice or broker’s fees, but they can totally turn around hunger pangs, unhappiness, and boredom with the usual side dish or party snack. I beg you, please make these. Wrap up all these hearty and sweet, spicy vegetables, stick them in something doughy, carby, and delicious, bake them, and you have pockets of pure healthy joy, fresh from your oven. Dip in cilantro chutney if you desire, or eat plain. They make a great side dish to an Indian feast or a unique and tasty appetizer. Happy eating! 🙂

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Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Level: Easy

Makes 6-8 samosas, serving 4-6 as a side dish 

Ingredients:

  • 1 whole wheat pizza dough (you can use a st0re-bought one, which I did, or you can make your own!)
  • 2 medium sweet potatoes
  • 2 large parsnips
  • 1/2 medium onion
  • 1 cup Libby’s Green Peas
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic
  • 1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger or 1/2 teaspoon dried ginger
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon roasted red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened almond, soy or coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped

Cilantro Chutney (optional):

  • 1 cup cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger or 1/2 teaspoon dried ginger
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon hot sauce (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup, agave, or honey (if not vegan)
  • 1/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.

2. Peel sweet potatoes and parsnip and cube into bite-sized pieces (roughly 1/4th inch cubes) and microwave until just tenderized, about 1 minute. You just want to soften them a bit, but they should still be somewhat firm.

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3. Meanwhile, heat olive oil over medium heat in a medium saucepan. Mince garlic into a paste and add to warm oil. Chop onion and add to oil and garlic and allow to simmer on low heat until the onions are translucent. Add ginger, curry powder, cumin, tumeric, salt and pepper and continue to simmer. Add cubed parsnip and sweet potato cubes and continue to cook over low heat. Add lemon juice and almond milk and cook for 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until vegetable cubes are all coated in spice mixture and the liquid of the lemon juice and almond milk has reduced to a lightly coating on the vegetable. You do not want a wet mixture, just enough moisture to transfer the spices to coat the vegetables without drying.

4. Remove pan from heat and fold in Libby’s peas and chopped cilantro. This is your filling. It’s delicious, even on it’s own.

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5. On a lightly floured surface, roll out whole wheat pizza dough until very thin. Using a pizza cutter, kitchen shears, or sharp knife, cut into right triangles, roughly 4 inches x 4 inches x 5.5 inches. Place two spoonfuls of the filling on each triangle. Fold each triangle in half, covering filling, and fold over each edge gently, sealing each by pressing gently with fingers.

6. Place samosas onto baking sheet and place at the oven for 20-25 minutes, until pizza dough has browned and the samosas sound hollow if tapped lightly with finger. Enjoy with cilantro chutney, your chutney of choice, or any other delicious dips or goodies you can think of! Happy and healthy eating :).

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7. To make cilantro, combine cilantro, lemon juice, ginger, syrup, salt, pepper, and hot sauce in a food processor or blender and puree until liquified. Serve in a small bowl with samosas.

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 Click around below to see what other cool recipes you can make with Libby’s Table products from fellow members of the Recipe Redux ! Happy eating ! 🙂