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Tortilla chips are easy, delicious to make at home

By: J.M. HIRSCH The Associated Press
July 24, 2013
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photo - In this image taken on June 10, 2013, from left, fried tortilla chips with cinnamon sugar, baked whole wheat tortilla chips, and baked whole wheat pita chips are shown in Concord, N.H. (AP Photo/Matthew Mead)
In this image taken on June 10, 2013, from left, fried tortilla chips with cinnamon sugar, baked whole wheat tortilla chips, and baked whole wheat pita chips are shown in Concord, N.H. (AP Photo/Matthew Mead) 

Most of the time, we live in a chip-free home. No potato chips. No tortilla chips. Not even any vegetable chips.

It's not that we don't enjoy them. Just the opposite, really. And that's why we don't buy them. If we have chips in the house, we will eat them. I'm also not thrilled with the ingredients used in many chips, mostly highly refined stuff paired with gobs of fat and salt. It becomes easier to simply not have them around.

Which doesn't mean we never eat chips. It simply means that when we want them, we make them from scratch.

Don't roll your eyes. Do-it-yourself chips are simple to make. They also put you in control of the ingredients, happen to be insanely delicious and can be seasoned however you like. And depending on the method used, they can be on the table in about 10 minutes. That's fast enough that I sometimes make them as an after-school snack for my son.

There are, of course, many ways to make chips, from the currently hip baked kale chips to slowly roasted beet chips to old-school fried potato chips. But over the years I have found three varieties that lend themselves particularly well to healthy eating and simple, speedy snacking - fried corn tortilla chips, baked whole-wheat tortilla chips and baked whole-wheat pita chips.

Let's start with the fried. Yes, they still are deep-fried, so there is some fat involved. But we do it at a very high temperature. The higher the temperature, the faster the chips fry. The faster the chips fry, the less oil they absorb. Plus, you get to control how much salt is added. And you will find that warm, freshly fried tortilla chips are so delicious, you don't need much salt. You also can use the same frying method with flour tortillas.

Baked whole-wheat tortilla chips are even easier. A little cooking spray, some seasonings and about 10 minutes in a 400 F oven and you have some amazing chips. Just be sure to read labels when selecting your tortillas. You want a quality brand with no trans fats and that uses 100 percent whole-grain flour.

Finally, for a more substantial chip, you can make baked pita chips. The technique is the same as baked flour tortilla chips, but because of the thickness of the pita they take a bit longer in the oven. You also can experiment with the various mixed-grain and low-carb pita pockets available.

Pair any of these with guacamole or salsa and you have a healthy, after-school snack packed with whole grains.

And be sure to make extra; they pack well for school lunches, too. Just be sure to let them cool completely before bagging them up (otherwise they will steam in the bag or container and get soft).

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