Air fryers look amazing: you fill a basket with food, put it in the appliance, and after pressing a few buttons, you get food that's crispy on the outside, but still tender on the inside, requiring almost no oil.
But despite their name, air fryers don't "fry" food by themselves. Unlike fryers that rely on dipping food in sizzling oil, air fryers work by circulating hot air quickly and evenly around your delicious food. The airflow combined with high temperatures of about 350 to 400 degrees Fahrenheit crisps the outer layer without drying out the center.
However, while almost anything can be fried, this is not the case with the air fryer. For example, the air fryer is not suitable for foods with high moisture content like cheese. They also can't get along with battered foods, as bland, loose ingredients can get stirred up in the device. Therefore, you may not be able to use the machine as a substitute for absolute frying. Instead, stick to air-frying ingredients like tofu, pumpkin seeds, chicken, or vegetables that are higher in starch.
Using the Air Fryer Tips
An air fryer can be a great addition to your kitchen, and not just because it's a healthier alternative to an air fryer. It also saves time spent on cooking and cleaning. However, here are some health-focused tips I keep in mind when using my air fryer:
Read the instructions: Most air fryers require you to leave at least 5 inches of space above the exhaust vent—otherwise, they can start a fire.
Use minimal oil: I recommend stirring or brushing food with about one to two teaspoons of oil per serving. Too much oil not only increases calorie and fat content, but can also lead to smoking, which can spoil your food and affect your health by producing free radicals that damage cells.
Avoid aerosol sprays: Aerosol cooking oils can damage the air fryer's nonstick basket, releasing toxic fumes.
Pair it with other cooking methods: While the air fryer is great, change up your cooking method by sautéing, simmering, and steaming throughout the week. This will further reduce your exposure to chemicals like acrylamide. It also ensures you enjoy a wider variety of foods, not just those that are compatible with the air fryer, and increases your nutrient intake.
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