A deep fryer makes for 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 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 can enjoy?

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

But a few months ago I bought an air fryer.

These devices are essentially convection ovens with a countertop that can give your food the crispness and softness you get from baking or deep 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 amazing little device opened the door to making an endless variety of fun, delicious, and nutritious meals. And I can make dinner in 20 minutes or less, with no expensive ingredients or extra cleanup.

With my deep fryer, I made roasted brussels sprouts, potatoes, broccoli, carrots, and fries to the perfect texture and they were ready in 10 minutes. I made chicken nuggets at home that my 3-year-old son ate, and organic teriyaki-flavored tofu cubes that are a great side dish for quick stir-fries or vegetable curry.

One of our favorite recipes is Salmon with Broccoli, Soba Noodles and Sesame Ginger Sauce. We start by steaming broccoli and 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 deep fryer and let it cook for 12 minutes. When the salmon is ready, combine it with the broccoli and noodles and pour over the sauce. This dish requires very little time and effort, and is delicious. Even my 1 year old daughter wears it.

Why air fryers are different

I am by no means the first person to discover the joys of deep fryer cooking. The modern air fryer was introduced to the public in 2010 by Philips, the consumer electronics manufacturer. It was developed by Dutch inventor Fred van der Weij, who was looking for a way to make perfectly crispy French fries without a lot of oil or hassle. Sales soared during the pandemic as people stayed 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 Chefman air fryer for about $70 which takes up about as much counter space as a large coffee maker. Contains a basket with a perforated tray where the food is placed. A powerful fan above the food circulates the hot air throughout the chamber.

Preheating takes only a few minutes. While you don’t need to use oil in a deep fryer, using a spray bottle to spray a little olive or avocado oil on foods like fresh vegetables, fries, chicken, and salmon helps keep them moist while turning them golden -Brown color.

“The perforated pan helps the air to circulate around the food, and that’s what makes it crisp and crunchy on the outside and juicy on the inside,” said Mona Dolgov, a nutritionist and cookbook author. “Your food cooks in less time than in an oven, and you get great results.”

Videos of mouth-watering food being cooked in deep fryers have gone viral on social media. But Dolgov noticed that many of the popular products made in deep fryers, such as grilled cheese, French toast and pasta chips, did not appeal to the health-conscious. So she wrote SatisFry: The Air Fryer Cookbook, which shows people how to use air fryers to make easy and nutritious meals and snacks.

It includes dishes like spinach, avocado and mushroom frittata, which takes about 15 minutes, and hummus chicken made with artichoke hearts, olive oil and lemon sauce.

Stir-fried vegetables can win over picky eaters

Deep fryers can turn carrot sticks, parsnips, and other root vegetables into better-for-you fries (you just need a little olive oil and cornstarch). You can mix Brussels sprouts with a little olive oil, garlic powder and Parmesan cheese to make crispy Brussels sprouts in the deep fryer.

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

Deep fryers can be “a huge game changer and a super helpful tool for anyone looking to jumpstart a healthier routine,” said Jacqueline London, registered dietitian and author of Dressing the Side (and Other Diet Myths Debunked) .

Many of her clients, for example, enjoy eating delicacies like sliced ​​turkey and chicken, but are often shocked when they find out how much sodium these foods contain. “About 80 percent of the sodium we consume in our daily lives comes from meals we don’t prepare at home,” she said.

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

“Being able to grill something at home is amazing because you get the flavors you’re looking for without all the salt,” she added.

There is now a thriving world of cookbooks dedicated to the art of using air fryers. Katie Hale, a food blogger and cookbook author who grew up in Arkansas, said buying a deep fryer was life-changing for her and her family.

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

Hale, who has two teenage children, has written two deep fryer cookbooks, including The Mediterranean Deep Fryer and The Clean Eating Deep Fryer Cookbook.

“We lead hectic lifestyles where more and more people are working two jobs or both parents are working outside the home,” she said. “Anything that makes it easy for you to feed your family healthy meals and save time is at the top of my list.”

Do you have a question about healthy eating? Email [email protected] and we may answer your question in a future column.

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