If you are tired of the mess involved in deep frying foods, hot grease splatters on your hands, arms, stovetop, and counters, the unpleasant clean-up afterwards, and the potential fire hazard of cooking with oil over an open flame, an air fryer may be just the appliance you need.
Air fryers “fry” food without tons of oil, and often no oil at all. Not only does this prevent the mess, it could well preserve your health. Simply because vegetable oils are associated with increased risk of heart disease and inflammation.
With air fryers the food comes out browned and crispy are far lower in calories, fat content, and harmful compounds called acrylamides. These compounds are formed when carbohydrate-rich foods are exposed to the high heat of deep frying and they have been associated with kidney, endometrial and ovarian cancers. Another bonus offered by air fryers is that they may help with weight loss due to the decreased calories and fat content of air-fried foods. Gram for gram, fats like oils contain more than twice the amount of calories than either carbohydrates or proteins.
No oil needed!
Instead of using up to 3 cups of oil to fry foods in a conventional deep fryer, air fryers usually use at most 2-3 teaspoons of the stuff. If you are serious about eliminating oils from your diet, you can usually get away with just a quick spray of oil on the air fryer basket to prevent the food from sticking. Or better yet, a parchment paper liner at the bottom of the basket! We actually don’t use any oil or parchment at all when we use our air fryer!
Some describe air-fryers as compact convection ovens. But important differences include the purchase price, the force of the circulating hot air, and the speed at which the unit heats up. While convection ovens can run into the thousands of dollars, air fryers usually come in anywhere between $90-$600. And the hot air blast circulating inside air fryers exceeds that found in convection ovens, which means faster cooking and pre-heating times. Generally, an air-fryer can pre-heat to 400ºF within 3 minutes. That saves time in the kitchen that busy people will appreciate, because it means you can spend more time with your family instead. And it saves energy too!
Is it worth the investment?
So now that you’ve decided it may be worth investing in an air fryer, what do you need to know to get the best performance out of your machine? First, get the right size fryer for your needs. An air fryer with a 3-quart capacity will suit up to 2 people; 4-6-quart capacities are better for 3-4 people. Put your air fryer in a location that gives it a 5” clearance from other objects, and make sure it sits on a heat-tolerant surface.
When you determine what temperature your recipe requires (usually 30ºF lower than what conventional ovens use), always pre-heat your unit before loading it with food. This will make sure that heat is properly distributed and the food gets cooked and browned evenly. Don’t overload the fryer basket and stop the fryer once or twice during the cooking time (usually 20% less than the same recipe requires in a conventional oven), to shake the contents of the basket; this will ensure even cooking. That’s all there is to it!
Make sure you clean the fryer and basket after every use. Most baskets are not dishwasher safe, so a quick wash-up in warm sudsy water is advised. And never submerse the unit itself in water.
The only difficult part in all this is trying to decide what foods to experiment with first! One of our favorites, of course, is seasoned air-fried potato fingers. You can use sweet or white potatoes for this recipe. Roasted brussel sprouts dipped in BBQ sauce is another.
You could make air-fried tofu cubes or slices, avocado fries, and vegetable tempura (using mushrooms, zucchini, eggplant, asparagus, or broccoli pieces dipped in flax meal “egg” mixture and breaded with a coating of bread crumbs, onion and garlic powder and nutritional yeast). You can also make stuffed bell peppers, sweet potato hash, and the list goes on and on. Some people even bake in their air fryer to save time and for convenience.
However you decide use your air fryer, you’re sure to reap plenty of benefits of a healthier, more economical and faster approach to making meals and snacks for you and your family!
Happy Air Frying!
~ Plant Trainers
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