There is something incredibly satisfying, beyond the obvious indulgence, about the sound and texture that come with biting into a perfectly fried food. That crisp and crunch, not to mention the flavor that comes from frying, can be tough to abandon for those of us looking to be more mindful about healthy food choices.
It’s difficult to replicate everything about fried food, but cooking in an air fryer can get you close. Contrary to what its name indicates, an air fryer doesn’t “fry” food. Instead, it functions more like a small convection oven, using a fan to push hot air through the food, creating a more even texture than you would get from baking. An air fryer, given its smaller size, will do the job faster than a typical convection oven. Its size also makes an air fryer ideal for side dishes and snacks.
The applications for an air fryer go beyond just recapturing the essence of your fried favorites. “The initial popularity of air fryers comes out of a love of fried food,” says Dana Angelo White, RD, author of the Healthy Air Fryer Cookbook. “Once you have one, you realize there are a lot of other things you can do with it. There really is more to them than just French fries and chicken wings.”
“The real payoff is you take a recipe for something that would be cooked in a lot of oil and can prepare it with very little, or even no oil. You’re saving quite a bit of fat and calories.”
As an associate professor and sports dietitian for Quinnipiac University and a mother of three, White regularly turns to her air fryer for healthy snacks you might expect to come out of an air fryer, like potato skins and tortilla chips. But she also pursues less obvious recipes like raspberry yogurt cake, French toast casserole and eggs in a hole.
We’re at the beginning of the holiday season, when snacks are as easy to find as, twinkling lights and wreaths on lampposts. Your family, holiday guests and co-workers will appreciate a few health options among the traditional chocolates, salty snacks and baked treats. The air fryer will ensure that healthy doesn’t mean unsatisfying. White shared a few of her favorites:
Air Fryer Beef Jerky: Seven ingredients and four hours in the air fryer will produce a protein-packed snack.
Air Fryer Banana Bread: This sweet treat takes just 25 minutes in the air fryer.
Raspberry Yogurt Cake: Aside from a dusting of confectioners’ sugar, the sweetness in this recipe comes from raspberries and vanilla yogurt.