An air fryer makes healthier fast food

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As a health columnist, I spend a lot of time writing about the benefits of healthy eating. But most evenings I ask myself the same question: What can I make for dinner tonight that’s quick, nutritious, and that the whole family enjoys?

Like many people dealing with work, childcare, and other responsibilities, finding time to cook healthy meals at the end of a long day can be difficult for my wife and I.

But a few months ago I bought an air fryer.

These appliances are basically countertop convection ovens that can give your food the crispiness and softness you get from frying or deep-frying, but in a very short time and without all the oil.

My expectations were low. But surprisingly, I realized that this wonderful little device opens the door to making an endless variety of fun, delicious and nutritious meals. And I can cook dinner in 20 minutes or less without expensive ingredients or extra cleaning.

Using my air fryer, I made roasted Brussels sprouts, potatoes, broccoli, carrots and sweet potato fries that had the perfect texture and were ready in 10 minutes. I’ve made chicken nuggets at home that my 3-year-old son eats, and organic teriyaki-flavored tofu cubes that make a great sauce for a quick vegetable stir-fry or vegetable curry.

One of our favorite recipes is salmon with broccoli, soba noodles and sesame ginger sauce. We start by steaming the broccoli and boiling the soba noodles. Then we combine soy sauce, sesame oil, ginger and fresh lemon juice to make the sauce.

I put half a kilo of fresh salmon in our air fryer and let it cook for 12 minutes. When the salmon is cooked, we combine it with broccoli and noodles and pour the sauce over it. This dish takes very little time and effort and tastes delicious. Even my 1 year old daughter knits.

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Why are fryers different?

I am certainly not the first to discover the joys of deep fryer cooking. The modern air fryer was introduced to the public in 2010 by consumer electronics manufacturer Philips. It was developed by a Dutch inventor, Fred van der Weij, who was looking for a way to make perfectly crispy french fries without too much oil or hassle. Sales have soared during the pandemic as people spend more time cooking at home. More than 25 million fryers were sold between January 2020 and December 2021, up 76 percent from the previous two-year period, according to the NPD Group.

I bought my air fryer made by Chefman for about $70. It takes up as much space on the counter as a large coffee machine. It includes a basket with a perforated tray in which food is placed. A powerful fan above the food circulates hot air through the chamber.

Preheating takes only a few minutes. While it’s not necessary to use oil in an air fryer, using a spray bottle to spray some olive oil or avocado oil on foods like fresh vegetables, sweet potato fries, chicken tenderloin, and salmon will help keep these foods moist while also giving them a golden hue. -brown color.

“The perforated tray promotes air circulation around the food, which causes it to be crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside,” said Mona Dolgov, a nutritionist and cookbook author. “Your food cooks in less time than in the oven and you get great results.”

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Videos of mouthwatering food being cooked in deep fryers went viral on social media. But Dolgov realized that many of the popular items made in air fryers, such as grilled cheese, French toast, and pieces of pasta, don’t appeal to people with health-conscious meals. That’s why he wrote “SatisFry: The Air Fryer Cookbook,” which shows people how to use air fryers to make easy and nutritious meals and snacks.

Dishes like spinach, avocado, and mushroom frittata, which takes about 15 minutes, and chicken with hummus made with artichoke hearts, olive oil, and lemon dressing.

Air-fried vegetables may win over picky eaters

Air fryers can turn carrots, parsnips, and other root vegetables into better-for-you fries (you just need some olive oil and cornstarch). You can make crispy Brussels sprouts by mixing Brussels sprouts with a little olive oil, garlic powder and Parmesan cheese.

There are recipes for avocado fries, buffalo cauliflower bites, and zucchini chips with lemon and herb dressing. “My husband would never eat a lot of vegetables. and now he eats them all the time because I put them in the fryer and they come out great,” Dolgov said.

Jaclyn London, a registered dietitian and author of “Dressing on the Side (and Other Diet Myths Debunked)”, says air fryers can be “a game-changing and super helpful tool for anyone looking to start a healthier routine.”

Many of their customers love to eat deli products, such as scalded turkey and chicken, but are often shocked to learn how much sodium these foods contain. “About 80 percent of the sodium we consume in our daily lives comes from meals we don’t make at home,” he said.

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When purchasing an air fryer, you may want to look for a fryer with a flip function. London pointed out that a rotisserie chicken can feed a large family and provide leftovers that you can use for other meals.

“It’s great to be able to do something at a steakhouse at home because you get the flavors you’re looking for without using any salt,” he added.

There is now a thriving world of cookbooks devoted to the art of using a deep fryer. Katie Hale, a food blogger and cookbook author who grew up in Arkansas, said that buying a deep fryer changed her life for her and her family.

“I grew up in the South where deep-fried food is everything,” she said. “I immediately loved the fact that I could get the crispy stuff I wanted from the fryer without all the oil.”

With two young children, Hale has written two air fryer cookbooks, including “Mediterranean Air Fryer” and “Clean Food Air Fryer Cookbook.”

“We live a fast-paced lifestyle, with more and more people working two jobs or both parents working outside the home,” he said. “Anything that makes it easier to feed your family healthier meals and save time is at the top of my list.”

Have a question about healthy eating? Email [email protected] and we can answer your question in a future column.

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