The Best Alternatives to That Greasy Pile of French Fries

iStock.com/kana
iStock.com/kana

If you get takeout food on a regular basis, chances are you’re eating a lot of French fries. The popular side order is on the menu of dozens of national chains, with American consuming an average 29 pounds of French fries at home and at restaurants every year. They’re delicious, sure, but also full of saturated fats, salt, starch, and other things that we tend to eat to the detriment of our overall health.

If you crave crispy spuds but don’t want the consequences of French fry calories, abstinence isn’t your only option. Christopher Mele of The New York Times recently examined a number of healthy alternatives for your French fry fix.

Option one: Cut your portion sizes down. A large order of fries at McDonald’s clocks in at 510 calories and 24 grams of fat. A small size is less than half that, at 230 calories. At a restaurant, you can ask for half or even a quarter of their standard serving. (Try to avoid getting a large order and then thinking you’ll split it with a friend. If fries remain on the plate, they’re going to be tough to resist.)

Option Two: Pass on fries that come with toppings. Chili, cheese, or gravy can add hundreds of calories, while condiments like mayo or aioli can add 100 calories or more to the serving.

Option 3: If you really want to cut down while still enjoying that salty, starchy combo, there are healthier alternatives. Baking French fries at home lets you drizzle on olive oil or peanut oil. If you’re going out, home fries—which often have the nutritionally dense skin still on the potato and are usually prepared in a skillet—are a step up from their cut and deep-fried counterparts. You can also opt for sweet potato fries, but be cautioned that their increased Vitamin A and fiber doesn’t diminish their calorie- and fat-dense profile if they’re layered in grease.

Sadly, the worst offenders in this category might be the tastiest. Curly fries and waffle fries are typically higher in calories and fat because they have a great surface area to absorb oil. A large order of curly fries at Arby’s runs 650 calories with 35 grams of fat.

If you enjoy French fries but want to stay health-conscious, there’s no need to cut them out of your life entirely. Just make sure they’re taking up only a portion of your plate and not the entire surface area.

[h/t New York Times]

Looking to Downsize? You Can Buy a 5-Room DIY Cabin on Amazon for Less Than $33,000

Five rooms of one's own.
Five rooms of one's own.
Allwood/Amazon

If you’ve already mastered DIY houses for birds and dogs, maybe it’s time you built one for yourself.

As Simplemost reports, there are a number of house kits that you can order on Amazon, and the Allwood Avalon Cabin Kit is one of the quaintest—and, at $32,990, most affordable—options. The 540-square-foot structure has enough space for a kitchen, a bathroom, a bedroom, and a sitting room—and there’s an additional 218-square-foot loft with the potential to be the coziest reading nook of all time.

You can opt for three larger rooms if you're willing to skip the kitchen and bathroom.Allwood/Amazon

The construction process might not be a great idea for someone who’s never picked up a hammer, but you don’t need an architectural degree to tackle it. Step-by-step instructions and all materials are included, so it’s a little like a high-level IKEA project. According to the Amazon listing, it takes two adults about a week to complete. Since the Nordic wood walls are reinforced with steel rods, the house can withstand winds up to 120 mph, and you can pay an extra $1000 to upgrade from double-glass windows and doors to triple-glass for added fortification.

Sadly, the cool ceiling lamp is not included.Allwood/Amazon

Though everything you need for the shell of the house comes in the kit, you will need to purchase whatever goes inside it: toilet, shower, sink, stove, insulation, and all other furnishings. You can also customize the blueprint to fit your own plans for the space; maybe, for example, you’re going to use the house as a small event venue, and you’d rather have two or three large, airy rooms and no kitchen or bedroom.

Intrigued? Find out more here.

[h/t Simplemost]

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More Than 38,000 Pounds of Ground Beef Has Been Recalled

Beef-ware.
Beef-ware.
Angele J, Pexels

Your lettuce-based summer salads are safe for the moment, but there are other products you should be careful about using these days: Certain brands of hand sanitizer, for example, have been recalled for containing methanol. And as Real Simple reports, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) recently recalled 38,406 pounds of ground beef.

When JBS Food Canada ULC shipped the beef over the border from its plant in Alberta, Canada, it somehow skirted the import reinspection process, so FSIS never verified that it met U.S. food safety standards. In other words, we don’t know if there’s anything wrong with it—and no reports of illness have been tied to it so far—but eating unapproved beef is simply not worth the risk.

The beef entered the country on July 13 as raw, frozen, boneless head meat products, and Balter Meat Company processed it into 80-pound boxes of ground beef. It was sent to holding locations in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina before heading to retailers that may not be specific to those four states. According to a press release, FSIS will post the list of retailers on its website after it confirms them.

In the meantime, it’s up to consumers to toss any ground beef with labels that match those here [PDF]. Keep an eye out for lot codes 2020A and 2030A, establishment number 11126, and use-or-freeze-by dates August 9 and August 10.

[h/t Real Simple]