Chips ahoy!

Thursday 24th January 2013
Celebrate National Chip Week on the week of 18–24 February.

Chips ahoy!

We may be hoping for a posh meal out this Valentine's Day, but the humble chip is also firmly in focus this month with National Chip Week being celebrated on 18–24 February.
More than 1.6 million tonnes of potatoes are made into chips every year in the UK – the same weight as over 14,000 blue whales, to provide some context – and we eat nearly 3 billion meals containing chips annually.
Celebrity chip fans are reported to include Rihanna, Kate Moss and David Walliams, while Michelle Obama cites French fries as her biggest food weakness.
For the rest of us a survey reveals that 'chip shop chips' are our favourite, with nearly half of all respondents putting them way above other types, including oven chips and potato wedges.
Where we live also appears to affect our chip-eating habits – people in the Midlands are the biggest fans of curry sauce and cheese with their portion for one thing, while in the south they tend to stick with salt and vinegar.
Although chips are a high-fat food, our nutritionist Sue Baic explains below that there are some ways to help reduce the fat and calorie content – she also advises going easy on the salt!

  • Oven cooking is the best method. Either use shop-bought oven chips or make your own by using thickly sliced potatoes. You can leave the peel on if you wish for a bit of extra fibre. Blanch first in boiling water, then sprinkle lightly with a vegetable or olive oil and mix well to coat – ½ tablespoon oil per portion will be plenty. Spread evenly on a baking tray and cook in a hot oven for 15–20 minutes, turning at least once.
  • If you decide to fry, then choose thick, straight-cut chips. Crinkle-cut and thin-cut chips can have as much as 100 kcals more per 100g than straight or thick-cut chips – so it does make a difference!
  • Make sure your oil is hot before you start frying. Overloading your fryer, or adding too much food when you're frying, causes the temperature of the oil to drop. This makes the chips greasier and uses more oil.
  • Use unsaturated liquid oil such as sunflower and rapeseed. Don't worry about losing taste – the national winner of the 2010 Perfect Portion Award for chips used rapeseed oil!
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