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What is an Air Fryer?
If you have been looking for a new cooking appliance to help prepare healthy meals, start cooking with an air fryer.
This is a cooking appliance that uses air to ‘deep fry’ your food instead of oil.
It not only makes dishes healthier and less fattening, but it cooks them in record time.
How the Air Fryer Works
Before you get started with your air fryer and learning the benefits, it helps to know exactly how this cooking appliance works.
The reason the air fryer allows you to have crispy, fried foods without oil is because the air is circulating at a rapid pace while also heating up to high frying degrees.
It goes up to around 200 degrees Celsius, which helps give that crispness you are used to with your fried foods.
It also does it in record time, similar to how quickly a pressure cooker can make different foods.
The Process is Similar to a Deep Fryer
First, let’s talk the basics of an air fryer.
- It is a similar size to the pressure cooker
- has a basket for keeping your foods in when they go in
- a timer and thermometer for desired temperature to fry foods
Major Benefits of Cooking With Air Fryer
While there are many reasons to use an air fryer, the fact that it makes healthier food is a major bonus.
You are getting crispy, fried-like foods without using any oil, aside from what you marinate your meat and veggies with.
It uses about 80 percent less oil to make things like deep fried vegetables, fried chicken, and various other dishes and appetizers.
You can give your family their favorite foods without going through a fast food restaurant or having to use an unhealthy deep fryer.
Your Food Cooks Quickly
Another major benefit of the air fryer is that your food is cooked quickly.
As opposed to baking vegetables, you can get a crispy edge and roasted vegetable taste in as little as 10-15 minutes in the air fryer.
Many things will take less time, which means less time you are spending in the kitchen.
Plus, just like a pressure cooker and slow cooker, this handy appliance means you are not heating up your entire kitchen just for these delicious meals.
This is a great option in the hot summer.
It Doesn’t Require a Lot of Space
Another issue keeps people from eating healthier is lack of proper kitchen space.
You might live in an apartment or have a tiny kitchen without a lot of room for cooking appliances.
However, this should not mean you are going out to eat or ordering pizza every night.
Air fryers are small appliances, no larger than the standard slow cooker.
It should fit just fine on your counter top and is usually small enough to fit in cabinets with just a little organization.
Even with a small kitchen, you can use the air fryer for fast, healthier meals.
How Air Fryers Help With Healthy Cooking
Now that you know what an air fryer is and how it works, you may be curious about how to use the air fryer for healthier foods.
The main way an air fryer is healthier is by not using an excessive amount of oil to coat your food and deep fry it.
Instead, you get that fast cooking time and crispy texture, but air is frying your food instead of fattening oil.
Fried Food Without the Calories
Naturally, one of the top reasons an air fryer helps with healthier dishes is that you are cutting down on the fat and calories substantially.
Just a tablespoon of oil has over 100 calories alone, and you are using a lot more than that to fry up your food.
With an air fryer, no oil is being used as you are relying on the circulating air to cook the food and give it a crispness.
This allows you to have your fries, fried chicken, or mozzarella sticks where the oil isn’t being added to the overall calorie count.
You Eat Less Processed Foods
This is a really important benefit to your health that you should keep in mind.
If time or difficulty of cooking at home is what is keeping you from eating whole, fresh foods, then the air fryer can be perfect for you.
Not only can you make all your own favorite foods right in your kitchen to help save money, but it is so easy and fast, that you are encouraged to cook at home a little more often.
This decreases how often you are driving through a fast food restaurant to get the same fried foods you can make at home, plus you are going to be eating more whole foods in the process.
Essential Tips For Using an Air Fryer
If you decide to purchase an air fryer to make healthier foods, it helps to know a little more about how it works and ways to use it.
The following helpful tips will guide you through some basics and will help you avoid common mistakes people make with this appliance.
Get the Prep Work Right
The first tip that can really help you use the air fryer to its maximum potential is to be patient and thorough with your prep work.
If you don’t do the ‘breading’ right or you fail to preheat the air cooker, your food might not come out exactly right.
Make sure the air fryer is a good size where there are several inches between the back of it where the vent is and the wall of your kitchen behind the countertop.
If you have shallow countertops, get a smaller air fryer.
You also want to make sure that when you are coating your food to be fried, you start with the flour, then egg, then bread or bread substitute.
For low-carb foods, this might be almond flour, egg, and crushed pork rinds or even cheese as the breading.
Also ensure the air fryer is preheating until the timer goes off before the food goes in.
Know How to Load Food Into the Air Fryer
When it comes time to air fry your food, you should know the basic techniques for loading it inside.
Just like a deep fryer, the air fryer comes with a basket to hold the food in place.
You want to make sure there is enough space in the basket so that each food item can be cooked thoroughly.
Try not to overcrowd it, or your foods might not be as crispy as you want.
Foods should preferably be flipped halfway through cooking as well.
Also shake the baskets when you flip the food to distribute seasonings a little better for the remainder of the cooking.
Clean the Air Fryer After Each Use
You want to keep your air fryer in good use, which requires regular cleaning.
After each use, clean the air fryer and the basket thoroughly.
This will help to keep it sanitary and prolong its lifespan.
This should not be any more complicated than other cooking appliances, just be careful to wait to clean it until the fryer has cooled off completely.
Easy Air Fryer Recipes to Start With
When you first get your air fryer, you might be a little overwhelmed with everything you can and want to do with it.
Here are some super simple recipes to start with, all of which are healthy and contain lots of nutrients.
This is a recipe that might have a lot of ingredients, but is really easy to put together.
Plus, you can have stuffed peppers in a matter of minutes.
It is also a healthy option since the majority of the dish is a vegetable, with some lean protein on the inside.
- Cook your bell peppers in boiling water for a couple minute to soften them after you have removed the seeds and stems.
- Preheat the air fryer, and while you do that, sautee your onions and garlic in oil.
- You can then cook the beef and other ingredients like Worcestershire sauce, salt, pepper, and tomato sauce.
- Fill the peppers with the mixture, and pop them in the air fryer. This is super simple!
If you have been looking for a healthy snack that is easy to prepare ahead of time, why not make some banana chips?
You can buy these in bags at the store, but they often contain preservatives in order to keep them fresh.
You can reduce the additives and save money by making them yourself.
The important thing to keep in mind is that you need to use raw or barely ripe bananas so they aren’t too mushy.
- Slice the bananas into thin slices and coat them with salt and any seasonings you want to use.
- Add some olive oil to the chips and place them in the air fryer basket for about 15 minutes.
‘Fried’ Green Beans
A good way to get the kids to eat more vegetables is to make them appear fried.
This is much healthier to do when you have an air fryer, plus it makes it super simple.
You will prepare the green beans just like most of the fried food for the air fryer.
You want to season the green beans first, then create a coating with egg, flour, and breading of your choice.
If you want them to be lower carbs, use grated cheese instead of regular breading, or you can use pork rinds.
There are many things you can do with an air fryer, these are just some easy recipes to help get you started.
Use the Air Fryer For Low-Carb Recipes
One of the top benefits to an air fryer is that you can make food that resembles fried food, but doesn’t contain the breading on the outside.
This is great not only for general health, but especially for people who are on a low carb diet.
If you are on a low-carb diet like Atkins or Keto, you might be missing that fried chicken or fish sticks; but you can still make them with the air fryer.
A great low-carb recipe to try with your air fryer is to make mozzarella sticks, something you probably thought would never be an option while following this lifestyle.
To prepare mozzarella sticks, you are not going to use any breading for the outside, but grated parmesan.
This is hard to do in a deep fryer because the cheese melts quickly off the mozzarella sticks, then drops in the fryer.
However, with an air fryer, it gives you more freedom to make these.
All you do is cut mozzarella cheese sticks in half, dip them in egg, then roll them around in grated parmesan.
You can repeat this twice for a thicker breading, then put them in the air fryer.
Crispy Fried Broccoli
If you are looking for ways to get your kids to eat their broccoli, why not make a healthier version of deep fried broccoli?
This gives it a nice crispy edge on the outside, making it yummy whether eating it on the side of chicken or having the crispy broccoli with some light ranch dip.
- As always, preheat your air fryer while preparing the ingredients.
- You want to have small florets that are soaked in a bowl of water or washed, then drained and dried.
- Season the broccoli how you want, then while it is still wet, roll it in flour of your choice and drop it in the air fryer basket.
It should cook in about 10 minutes. For a low-carb diet, use almond flour.
Healthier Fish Sticks
You may be missing your favorite deep fried fish sticks, but now you can make a much healthier version of them that are also low-carb.
You need cod or tilapia filets, along with some pork rinds, seasoning of choice, and mayonnaise.
- Put some pork rinds in a bag and crush them until they look like bread crumbs.
- Combine the bread crumbs and seasoning in a bowl, then add mayonnaise to each side of your filet. This allows the pork rinds to stick to them.
- Place each filets in the bag of crushed pork rinds to coat them, then drop in the basket of the air fryer until cooked through and crispy on the outside.