Cooking with Hot Air

Healthier recipes without sacrificing the crunch.

article image
by Adobestock/Francisco Zeledon
Air fryers can be used to roast, toast, grill, steam, and prepare frozen foods meant to be fried or cooked in ovens.

As the head of a family with fast-growing children, teaching them about proper nutritious consumption has been a top priority since the days I spent purifying organic vegetables for my first toddler to consume. Throughout the years, I’ve adjusted my family’s diet as needed, thoughtfully crafting dietary specifics as I became more educated on nutrition. Every helpful article or documentary gradually modified the list of things I’d no longer bring into my kitchen or prepare for my kids. One of the first and most obvious dietary evils to go was fried foods. Cleaning up our nutritional intake meant a lot of the comfort foods I grew up eating were no longer on the table. I’d like to say I didn’t miss them occasionally — but that would be a lie.

Imagine my pure delight when I discovered there was a way to enjoy the recipes that are traditionally fried without soaking them in oil, increasing the fat and caloric content, and robbing them of moisture. It’s possible with an air fryer. That delicious, deep-fried taste and texture can be achieved without all the grease and negative impact on your health. The end result is so similar to traditional frying without submerging the nutrients in oil. The fryer uses little to no oil, and many recipes call for olive oil, a much healthier alternative to the hydrogenated oils generally used for frying foods. Fried foods negatively impact our health in many ways, so switching to a healthier option reduces trans-fat and caloric intake, and results in recipes that are crispy on the outside and yet retain more moisture than when fried traditionally.

Another plus is how time-efficient using an air fryer is. It’s quick and convenient with delicious results. There’s no constant monitoring. I don’t have to supervise it like I would when deep-frying something. However, I can pause it to check the progress and avoid overcooking a new recipe. I simply prepare the ingredients, set the user-friendly controls, and forget about it until the alarm notifies me it’s complete. This appliance cuts down the time required to prepare a warm and wholesome home-cooked meal using healthy ingredients that are thoughtfully purchased to fit my family’s nutritional preferences. Unlike dining out or takeout, we know if the ingredients contain GMOs or gluten, are made from whole grains, are locally sourced, are sustainably produced, or are organic.

Air fryers are extremely versatile and can be used to roast, toast, grill, steam, and bake or prepare frozen foods meant to be fried or cooked in the conventional oven in a fraction of the time. Results are much preferred to the microwaves for refreshing and reheating leftovers, especially pizza, the food comes out crisp and hot — not soggy. It can be used to prepare all types of foods including meats, vegetables, fruits, and even baked goods. It can even cook whole eggs, instead of boiling them, which is a total time saver. I also discovered I can easily make croutons and have control over the seasoning as well as the quality of bread used to make them. If you are on a gluten-free diet like me, you understand croutons are a rare treat.

The absence of hot oil popping means no more ruined clothing or splattered mess left behind on the stovetop and counters. The air fryer not only saves time on cooking, but the cleanup is a breeze. Only a few parts need to be cleaned and the interior is coated with an excellent non-stick surface that wipes clean with a damp rag or soap and water. In addition, there isn’t any used grease to dispose of. The air fryer has become my go-to kitchen gadget.

To explore the versatility of my air fryer after unboxing it, I dug into The Air Fryer Bible: More than 200 Healthier Recipes for Your Favorite Foods by Susan LaBorde and Elizabeth Hickman. I started out simple and took a quick inventory of my kitchen for anything that needed consuming and began prepping. Using the index in the back that is organized by ingredient, I found recipes featuring sweet potatoes, chickpeas, apples, tofu, and to my surprise — pickles. When the timer alerted me that it was done cooking, I had the next recipe chopped, seasoned, and ready to go into the air fryer basket. Soon I had many healthy and flavorful new options for adding some crunch and variety back to our menu. I graduated to creating more complex recipes and quickly threw together veggie burgers, jalapeño poppers, and granola with mouth-watering, crunchy results.

The Air Fryer Bible has over 200 recipes from easy to complex. The book is divided into categories to include Breakfast and Brunch; Appetizers and Snacks; Breads; my personal favorite, Meatless Main Dishes; as well as many others. The recipes are easy to follow, with preparation and cooking time broken down, and include labels to quickly spot which recipes are vegetarian, kid-friendly, a taster favorite, gluten-free, and more.

The recipe book provides tips for beginners to include safety precautions, how to adjust cooking time to get the perfect crisp, and definitions and explanations of ingredients to use for recipe success. It also details how to cook in batches, because you may need to adjust the amount cooked to serve a larger group. If you’re looking for portion control in your serving sizes, this appliance is excellent for preventing preparing too much. There’s even a section that clarifies the terms and techniques used throughout The Air Fryer Bible.

The Air Fryer Bible is so thorough, and the appliance turns out bite after consistently toasted bite, I’m left with only one question: Where has this gadget been all my life?

Christine Stoner is the editor of Gas Engine Magazine and works on various other titles within Ogden Publications. She has a passion for fitness, healthy living, and sustainability.

  • Updated on May 4, 2022
  • Originally Published on May 3, 2022
Tagged with: air frying