Let’s face it, at every gathering or celebration, we look forward to having some indulgent deep-fried foods! Nowadays, it seems like almost every snack delicious on our minds comes deep-fried: Mala / Truffle potato chips, Irvin’s salted-egg fish skins, Mcdonald’s golden nuggets and Old Chang Kee’s famous curry puffs.
But why is it that we all love fried food so much even though we know they are unhealthy?
Scientists have found that fried foods are so addictive to us because:
- Deep fried foods are energy and calorie dense, so they naturally give our brains that euphoric “high” that like a drugs.
- Fried foods are always crispy so they sound really great when we bite into them. That sound sticks in our heads!
- They are usually flavoured with rich amounts of oil, salt, MSG and other junks that stimulate our brain’s reward system.
Snacking is just so unstoppable…
Selecting healthy meals? Sure! However, I'm sure many of you feel the impulse to choose whatever we want for our snacks. It is just nice to have a snack whenever we are. That’s why it is important that we consciously stock our homes with healthier snacks in the first place!
What is Vacuum-Frying?
"Vacuum-frying is a much better and healthier alternative to conventional-frying and it is the closest way to get the same great addictive taste and texture we crave for with unhealthy snacks."
As there is a lot of moisture in fruits and vegetables, we need to boil the water in the ingredients and drive it all out in order to make them crispy. Most dehydration techniques like deep-frying, air-frying and baking would require the ingredients to undergo high heat of 180 to 300ºC to drive the moisture out, but not for vacuum-frying.
The process starts with boiling the moisture in the fruits and vegetables away in a low pressure chamber to make them crispy. Just like cooking at high altitudes where the air is thin, the moisture boils away at a much lower temperature between 60-80ºC. By doing so, most of the original nutrients are retained , improving the health benefits of the snack tremendously!
Deep-fried snacks, despite being extremely tasty, have one huge complaints, and that is the high amount of oil absorption. Since the water boils much more readily in the vacuum-like environment, the food is actually not cooked. Retaining the flavour, the nutrients and the natural composition of the foods, the vacuum-fried foods look visibly brighter and more natural because the ingredients are not browned (oxidised).
Look at the drastic difference!
“Conventionally-fried foods are known to be the culprit to a number of health issues such as obesity, cholesterol and heart problems. Vacuum-fried foods, on the contrary, can be good for our health as the oil is not oxidised and destroyed at high temperatures.”
Oil: Good or Bad?
There’s an ongoing debate on fat vs sugar. In the past twenty years or so, dieticians and food scientists (many represented our soft drinks companies) have waged a war against fats, leading all of us to believe that eating less fat = becoming less fat. The supermarkets started to be filled with products promoting the fact that they have low / no fats.
We get a gross feeling when we think about oil, as we often associate that to fat and obesity. Oil gets a bad reputation for making us unattractive and causing diseases. However, the full story is not simple.
The new science in the last decade have almost unanimously come to agreement that sugar is way worse than fat and fat possibly does not deserve such a bad reputation at all. Sugar definitely accounts for higher risk of obesity and a number of adverse effects on health. It is also highly addictive to us as it triggers the rewards system in our brains.
Oil vs sugar. Image credits: runtastic
On the other hand, oil can be separated into healthy and unhealthy oil. Choosing the right oils with the good (unsaturated) fatty acids, high smoke points, can actually aid in weight loss and boost our overall health.
Another area to note is how we consume these oils. No matter how healthy the oils are, cooking food at high temperature (200+ºC): fried, grilled or baked is never healthy. This means that the oil breaks down into unstable chemicals, such as acrylamide, a harmful thermal reaction product, that would give us health problems such as heart disease and cancer.
In actual fact, healthy oil is usually not bad for us if they are used naturally (i.e. no high heat) so that their structures are not broken. Plant-based oils like almond, coconut, rice-bran, and olive oils are by far some of the healthiest oils we should be using in our daily cooking.
Vacuum-Fried Snacks – The Ultimate Guilt-Free Indulgence
We know that we all want to be healthy, but we also crave for great tasting foods all the time. If we look at how healthy foods work, it is often impossible to get the best of both worlds. Compared to fresh produce, vacuum-fried snacks are undeniably less healthy but if we compare with the majority of the snacks in the supermarket, vacuum-fried snacks might be the best thing there is.
Having the irresistible crunch, the fragrance of healthy oil, and the sweet taste of good quality fruits and vegetables, vacuum-fried snacks taste just as great as traditionally-fried snacks, but with the original health benefits and not the bad carcinogenic stuff. If you have ever opened a pack to try, you will realise that it is very hard to stop. Do not deny yourself of life’s greatest enjoyment!
Remember: BEFORE your next urge to snack kicks in, as you are walking down the supermarket aisles, choose your snacks wisely and stock up with only healthy yummy snacks!