We all need some comfort food once in a while. I was thinking of a friend when I prepared this recipe. She guiltily treats herself to cheesy fries every year at our local fair. Fat content aside, her food allergies make this an increasingly risky endeavor.
These cheesy fries are made with simple whole food ingredients. The fries are baked instead of, well, fried. And the “cheese” sauce is plant-based. The combination offers a healthier crispy, gooey, satisfying treat without the guilt!
Plant-based “Cheese” Sauce
When I decided to make cheesy fries I figured I didn’t have to reinvent the wheel by developing a cheese sauce. Why expend that kind of time and energy when there are already so many great recipes out there? A quick Google search brought me to Kathy Hester’s site Healthy Slow Cooking. Kathy shares my fondness for slow cooking. I have her cookbook The Vegan Slow Cooker.
However her site also offers recipes not made in a slow cooker. Her Creamy Vegetable-based Vegan Cheese Sauce appeared to be exactly what I was looking for. The main ingredients were a pleasant surprise:
The sauce was quick and easy to make. As per Kathy’s suggestion, I kicked it up a notch by adding a teaspoon of the same taco seasoning I use in my lentil taco salad. (Update: I have since shared my spicy version of this cheese sauce in my Plant-Based Nacho Cheese Sauce recipe post.)
The results? Yum! I have to confess I licked the spatula way more times than I really needed to. (Of course I rinsed it off between licks so as to not gross out my family.)
Baked Cheesy Fries
Plant-based “cheese” sauce is a much healthier alternative to the regular fat-laden variety. Baking the fries offers additional “fat-savings.”
The trick is to not use too much oil. Shaking the potato slices in a bag with just a bit of oil (1 tsp) allows you to lightly coat them with oil for added crispiness without using too much.
The light coating of oil also helps the spices stick to the potatoes, while lining the baking sheet with parchment paper resolves any concerns about things sticking where they shouldn’t.
Baked fries are crispy and delicious!
No Guilt Cheesy Fries - Vegan and Gluten Free
- Preheat convection toaster oven on bake setting to 400 degrees.**
- Scrub and slice potatoes into long strips. (Leave skin on.)
- Place olive oil in a 1 gallon plastic bag and add potato slices.
- Shake potatoes in bag until they are evenly coated with oil.
- Add taco seasoning to bag and shake again until potatoes are evenly coated with spices.
- Place a sheet of parchment paper on a baking sheet.
- Pour potatoes onto baking sheet and arrange in a single layer.
- Bake potatoes for 15 minutes, turn with a spatula and continue baking for another 15 minutes or until potatoes are cooked through and crispy on the outside.
- Divide baked potato fries between two plates and spoon cheese sauce over them.
Note: I do not include nutrition information with my recipes because I subscribe to the theories presented in the book Whole and believe we should focus on eating a variety of whole foods instead of counting calories or keeping track of individual nutrients.
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I'm so glad you like the cheeze sauce and this is a great way to modify and use it!!
Thanks Kathy - the sauce is a genius recipe - I love how it includes so many veggies!
I'm always happy to stumble across others that have been converted by Colin Campbell's Whole and other research in the same vein! I was surprised to see that you use oil in your recipes. From what I've gathered, the whole-foods plant-based community stays away from added fats like oils. Of course that doesn't mean I've /completely/ cut them from my diet cause that's tough!! Have you read anything about that?
Hi Anthony - thank you for asking this question! I try to limit processed oil for the reasons espoused by the plant-based community. However, since there are other health professionals who tout the benefits of some plant oils I let a little slip in when I feel it's necessary. I followed a strict low-fat diet when I first adopted the plant-based lifestyle. But I discovered I felt better when I included more healthy fats from whole foods like avocado, nuts and seeds. (As suggested by Dr. Fuhrman.) So I've relaxed my standards a bit over the years - but I still go oil free most of the time. Make sense?
P.S. You'll note the 1 tsp. of olive oil used in this recipe is considerably less than what would typically be used for french fries. But it's just enough to add a bit of flavor and crispiness to keep the dining experience enjoyable. 🙂