The technique: Fat-free "frying"
The trick to making traditionally high-fat appetizers healthy is to use flavorful coatings and a hot oven, says Jesse Ziff Cool, cookbook author (the latest: Your Organic Kitchen, Rodale Press, 2000) and owner of three successful organic-foods restaurants. "I rarely deep-fry -- I can get the same results in my oven," she says. Cool dips chicken, pork and vegetables in buttermilk, then in a mixture of bread crumbs, flour and spices, which adds flavor and texture.
In this recipe, we used egg whites to cut even more calories, but the result is the same -- delicious mozzarella cheese sticks with all the crunch and flavor, but not the fat.
You can use this "fat-free frying" method on any foods that are traditionally deep-fried: from chicken to potatoes to fish.
Other oven-fried wonders
* For Almond-Crusted Chicken Fingers, coat boneless, skinless chicken breast strips with honey mustard, and roll in mixture of seasoned bread crumbs and chopped almonds. Transfer to a baking sheet; spray with olive oil. Bake 20 minutes at 400 degrees F, until golden brown.
* To make "Fried" Fish Sticks, cut cod fillets into 2-inch strips. Roll in buttermilk and a mixture of seasoned bread crumbs and cornmeal. Put on a baking sheet; spray with olive oil. Bake 15 minutes at 400 degrees F, until golden and tender.
* Bake your own Cajun Oven-Fried Spuds by cutting potatoes into thick wedges and placing them in a baking sheet; spray with olive oil. Sprinkle with Creole seasoning. Bake 40 minutes at 400 degrees F, until golden brown and tender.