Air Fryers are a recent addition to the home kitchen market, and they’ve caught on fast—mostly because an air fryer can help you eat healthy. An air fryer is a variation on a convection oven. It uses a combination of a heating element, small cooking chamber, and forced air exhaust fan to cook food faster than a conventional oven can (in less than half the time, for many dishes).
The health benefits of air fryers also come from its design—its cooking technology requires a lot less oil than stove top cooking or deep frying (though French fries made in an air fryer come out nearly as crisp as from a deep fryer). A tablespoon of olive, sesame, or vegetable oil is enough to season and cook a pound of food in an air fryer, with no loss of moisture, texture, or taste. When you cook with less oil, you ingest less oil and fat; this results in a healthier heart and arteries. Your cholesterol level measures the so-called good and bad lipids (fats) in your bloodstream. Too much fat and oil in your food leads to high cholesterol levels, clogging arteries and making the heart and liver work harder. It also depletes the bodies’ energy supply by forcing the intestines to work overtime, processing out the fat and oil. After digesting a high fat meal, like a fast food burger and fries, you end up exhausted, not energized. Really high cholesterol levels with a lack of exercise leads to diabetes and heart disease. Continual weight gain is another result, and it strains the joints and can cause sleep disorders.
In an air fryer, the circulating hot air—not burning oils—crisps food. Any excess cooking oil drips into a catch tray underneath the cooking basket. You pull this tray out and empty the oil (not down the drain though, it will clog pipes), keeping it out of future meals too. Olive oil is very beneficial to the body; it contains Omega-3 fatty acids, which relieve depression and increase memory and mental clarity. When you cook olive oil on the stove, it’s easy to burn and denature the chemical compounds in the oil, which ruins their health benefits. In an air fryer, olive oil is absorbed directly into the food (most people spray the oil on with a mister), so it retains all its good qualities.
There are entire cookbooks devoted to air fryer recipes, some written by successful chefs, so you don’t sacrifice taste or creativity with air fryer meals. A quick Internet search will yield dozens of easy, healthy recipes. Besides frying, you can bake, roast, grill, or steam food in these compact ovens. Clean up is very easy, as most air fryers have dishwasher safe parts.
Here’s an easy recipe for air fried zucchini fries:
- ½ cup flour
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 1 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 large zucchini, cut into ½-inch sticks
- Olive oil in a spray bottle, can or mister
- Pre-heat air fryer to 400º F.
- Dredge the zucchini slices through three different dishes of ingredients: flour with salt and pepper; then the beaten eggs; last, toss them in a dish of breadcrumbs. Shake dish and pat the crumbs on with your hands. If you don’t eat eggs, substitute a shallow dish of applesauce for dredging.
- Mist one edge of the fries with olive oil. Place them in the air fryer basket. Cook for 12 minutes, turning the basket 180 degrees and re-spraying with oil halfway through.
- Serve the fries with low fat mayonnaise to avoid the high sodium of ketchup of mustard.