A cooking game changer: try an air fryer for healthy fast food

A cooking game changer: try an air fryer for healthy fast food


As a health columnist, I spend a lot of time writing about the benefits of healthy eating. But many nights, I end up asking myself the same question: What can I make for dinner tonight that’s quick, nutritious, and the whole family will enjoy?

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

But a few months ago, I bought an air fryer.

These appliances are essentially countertop convection ovens that can give your food the crunch and tenderness you get from roasting or frying, but in a fraction of the time and without all the oil.

My expectations were low. But to my surprise, I discovered that this incredible little device opened the door to preparing an endless variety of fun, delicious, and nutritious meals. And I can make dinner in 20 minutes or less, without expensive ingredients or extra cleanup.

Using my air fryer, I made roasted Brussels sprouts, potatoes, broccoli, carrots, and sweet potato fries that have the perfect texture and are ready in 10 minutes. I made chicken nuggets at home which my 3 year old devoured, and teriyaki flavored organic tofu cubes which make a great topping 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 broccoli and boiling soba noodles. Then we combine soy sauce, sesame oil, ginger, and fresh lime juice to make the sauce.

I put a pound of fresh salmon in our air fryer and let it cook for 12 minutes. When the salmon is cooked, we combine it with the broccoli and noodles, and drizzle with sauce. This meal takes very little time and effort, and is delicious. Even my one year old doesn’t care.

Why Air Fryers Are Different

I am by no means the first person to discover the joys of deep frying. The modern air fryer was introduced to the public in 2010 by Philips, the consumer electronics manufacturer. It was developed by a Dutch inventor, Fred van der Weij, who was looking for a way to make perfectly crispy fries without too much oil or hassle. Sales jumped during the pandemic as people were stuck at home with more time to cook. According to the NPD Group, more than 25 million air fryers were sold between January 2020 and December 2021, a 76% increase over the previous two-year period.

I bought my air fryer, made by Chefman, for about $70, which takes up about as much counter space as a large coffee maker. It contains a basket with a perforated tray where the food is placed. A powerful fan above the food circulates warm air throughout the chamber.

Preheating only takes a few minutes. Although it is not necessary to use oil in an air fryer, using a spray bottle to spray a little olive or avocado oil on foods such as fresh vegetables , sweet potato fries, chicken tenders and salmon helps keep them moist while giving them a golden color. -Brown.

“The perforated tray promotes air circulation around the food and this is what causes the crisp and crunchy on the outside and the juiciness on the inside,” said Mona Dolgov, nutritionist and book author of kitchen. “Your food cooks for less time than in an oven and you get excellent results.”

Videos of appetizing food being cooked in air fryers have gone viral on social media. But Dolgov has noticed that many popular items made in air fryers, such as grilled cheese, French toast and potato chips, aren’t appealing to health-conscious people. So she wrote “SatisFry: The Air Fryer Cookbook,” which shows people how to use air fryers to make easy, nutritious meals and snacks.

It includes meals such as a spinach, avocado, and mushroom frittata that takes about 15 minutes, and a hummus-crusted chicken made with artichoke hearts, olive oil, and lemon sauce. .

Air-fried vegetables may appeal to picky eaters

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

There are recipes for Avocado Fries, Buffalo Cauliflower Bites, and Zucchini Chips with Lemon Herb Dip. “My husband never used to eat a lot of vegetables and now he eats them all the time because I put them in the air fryer and they come out great,” Dolgov said.

Air fryers can be “a huge game changer and super useful tool for anyone looking to kick-start a healthier routine,” said Jaclyn London, registered dietitian and author of “Dressing on the Side (and Other Myths dietetics demystified)”.

Many of his customers, for example, love to eat deli meats like smoothed turkey and chicken, but are often shocked when they find out how much sodium these foods contain. “About 80% of the sodium we eat every day comes from meals we don’t prepare at home,” she said.

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

“Having the ability to make something at home on a rotisserie is amazing because you get the flavors you’re looking for but without all the salt,” she added.

There is now a burgeoning world of cookbooks devoted to the art of using air fryers. Katie Hale, a food blogger and cookbook author who grew up in Arkansas, said buying an air fryer changed her and her family’s life.

“I grew up in the South where fried food was everything,” she said. “Right away, I loved being able to get the crispy things I wanted from the air fryer without all the oil.”

Hale, who has two teenagers, has written two air fryer cookbooks, including “Mediterranean Air Fryer” and “Clean Eating Air Fryer Cookbook.”

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

Do you have a question about healthy eating? E-mail EatingLab@washpost.com and we may answer your question in a future column.

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