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I have an odd dichotomy when it comes to french fries. On one hand the thought of them makes my stomach gurgle because of all that grease.  On the other hand, it brings a smile to my face.  I love them, but I can’t eat them because of the potential heartburn.  The thing is, it is human nature to crave salty, fatty, starchy foods though.  These types of foods were not easy for our ancestors to come across.

Ever hear the phrase, “worth your weight in salt”?  Salt was a highly prized commodity at one point, with the Romans paying their soldiers in salt.  It helped to preserve foods before the age of refrigeration, but it is also necessary for sustaining the chemical reactions inside the body.  Think electrolytes – sodium, potassium, magnesium, calcium.  They regulate blood pressure, nerves & muscles.  It’s why the first thing you’re told to lower if you have high blood pressure is salt.  Salt is also a flavor enhancer, bringing out the nuances of a dish.  Try cooking and taste an unsalted dish; it won’t taste right.  The trouble is food manufactures use too much of it, so we’re all receiving far more salt than our daily diets require.

Another excess about french fries is the saturated fat that goes into them.  They’re deep fried in either a vegetable oil or an animal fat.  McDonalds uses rendered beef fat in theirs (in India, they use vegetable oil with seasonings to make it taste like beef).  Unlike today, fatty foods were hard to come by for our ancestors.  It was a gamble to hunt for game – the only available source of fat. You’d lose energy if you don’t bring home the bacon.  But the reward was high in protein and fat, thus a high energy meal.  We all seek out fatty foods by evolutionary design, which makes readily available fast food so problematic when it comes to heart burn and weight gain.   Saturated, fatty foods lie heavy in the stomach and slow digestion, delaying food through the GI tract, which backs up food waiting to be digested.  It puts pressure on the lower esophageal sphincter, loosening it and thus initiating heartburn.

You don’t have to give up fries though.  It’s the high saturated fat and deep frying we’re trying to to avoid.  You can make baked sweet potato fries to go with your Grass Fed Beef burgers with Portobello mushrooms and blue cheese, and still be acid reflux free.

Before I detail these delicious fries, here are some interesting nutritional facts about sweet potatoes for you to digest.  Next to yams, they offer a rich dietary fiber content, are high in beta carotene, vitamin C, vitamin A, iron, and calcium.  In diabetics, it may stabilize blood sugar and lower insulin resistance.  It ranks higher in overall nutritional value than the common potato.

Now for the ingredients:

1 1/2 pounds of sweet potatoes

1 1/2 tablespoons of sunflower oil

1 teaspoon of ground cumin

1 teaspoon of turbindo or light brown sugar (palm sugar would do and is diabetic-friendly)

1/4 teaspoon of sea salt

You’ll want to preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.

While the oven is warming up, wash and peel the sweet potatoes.  Cut them lengthwise (trust me, it’s easier this way) into 1/2-inch slices.  You’ll want to use a sharp chef’s knife for this.  Lay the slices flat and cut into 1/2-inch thick strips that look like thick french fries.

Place the strips in a large mixing bowl and drizzle the oil onto them.  Mix thoroughly, being sure to coat every piece.  You’ll then want to sprinkle the slices with the cumin, sugar, and salt, again being sure to coat every strip.

Spread the fries onto a baking sheet, lined with aluminum foil if you want a no-hassle clean up.  Make sure the fries do not touch so they crisp up correctly.

Keep them in the oven for around 15-20 minutes, carefully turning the fries halfway through.  They should be slightly browned and tender.  If you light them crisper, keep them in longer, but keep an eye on them.

And there you have it, fries that are both nutritious and heartburn free!  Pair these fries in place of any meal that might call for regular fries or just make them as snack.  Your stomach will thank  you for it!