Meet Air Fryer Tuck

I am not an impulsive person, especially when it comes to household items. I shopped for a TV stand for three years before I found one I really liked. It took me roughly 2 years to choose my couch and bedroom set/mattress.What can I say? Furniture and appliances probably last longer than the average marriage. It’s a big commitment, so you need to choose wisely.

Air fried tofu and brussels sprouts
Julie and Kittee’s Air-Fried Tofu and improvised air-fried Brussels sprouts and shiitakes

Since I abhor clutter, I am also super picky about which small appliances merit a place in my kitchen. I love to cook but only want items that I will actually use and that will enhance my life –  eg, make cooking easier, more fun or both. The appliances I actually own and use include:

  • A cheerful, fire-engine red toaster
  • A fire-engine red Vitamix blender (one of the best purchases I ever made)
  • A fire-engine red KitchenAid mixer (I like red!)
  • A Breville juicer
  • A La Machine food processor which I’ve had for over 30 years now (they don’t make them like this anymore)
  • A hot-air popcorn maker
  • A Nespresso mini espresso machine – My guilty pleasure. I do not use it daily but love it.
  • An ice cream maker and a waffle maker, which I use about 4 times a year, But when you crave ice cream or waffles – usually together — nothing else will do.

Only the Vitamix blender and KitchenAid mixer earned coveted space on my counter. I store everything else in either cupboards or my appliance garage.

While this may seem like a lot of appliances, if you love to cook, you will attest that this is actually an edited collection. There are appliances to suit every lifestyle, budget and predilection – from the ridiculous to the sublime. Noticeably absent in my kitchen are the panini press (I substitute a small cast iron skillet), electric can opener (I use a manual), bread machine (oven), tortilla maker (rolling pin/skillet), quesadilla maker (skillet), pie maker (oven), muffin maker (oven), soda machine (water),  George Foreman grill (grill pan), crepe or pancake maker (skillet), rice cooker (pot/lid), Yonana (Vitamix), Twinkie maker (Yes, this really exists!) and lastly, and the point of this post, a deep fryer.

Gardien Chicken Patty
Air-fried store-bought Gardien Chicken Patty – so crispy

I’ve thought about getting an air fryer for over a year but took a wait-and-see approach. I wanted to first determine if this appliance was just another trend or if it was truly cupboard-space worthy.

I love crispy food and after seeing so many mouth-watering air frying recipes, so I finally decided I wanted one. Lucky me, my sweet, thoughtful boyfriend gave me the Power Air Fryer XL 5.3 Quart for Christmas, and I absolutely love it.  Since December 26, 2017, I have been air-frying just about everything. And guess what? It’s almost as easy as microwaving.

What is an air fryer?

Falafel
Falafel can get this crispy yet light when you air-fry them.

An air-fryer is basically a mini-convection oven. It superheats food and achieves the crispy mouth-feel of deep frying but with far less oil.  In fact, for most air-fried foods, all you need is a spritz of cooking spray.

Fair balance: air-fried foods do not taste greasy, just in case grease is your thing. For me, this is a plus. I don’t enjoy greasy foods; they give me a stomachache. But I do like crispy foods.  I also love that air-frying gives you the crunch of fried foods without the nasty clean up.

 

Air-fried breaded eggplant
Air-fried breaded eggplant with Dan-Dan sauce

Perhaps best of all, air frying foods is fairly healthy, at least compared to deep frying or even pan frying. Fried foods are generally unhealthy, especially if you order them in restaurants where it is possible your food is fried in rancid or otherwise unhealthy oils. Honestly, I cannot remember the last time I deep fried anything.

10 tips from my first month of air-frying

  1. When in doubt, I’ve found that 10 minutes at 400 works for most things. Heating veggie burgers, sweet potato chunks, dry-frying tofu cubes, etc.

2. Don’t overcrowd the basket. The food you are air-frying needs space around it to crisp evenly. Obviously, don’t stack food items.

AIr-fried plantains
Puerto-Rican-style air-fried plantains, called Tostones. I eat mine with a dollop of hot sauce.

3. Turn and/or shake. You want your food to crisp evenly so be sure to turn and flip your foods. Check early and often. If you are cooking tofu, for example, you may just want to flip it halfway through. But if you are air-frying French fries or smaller items, shaking the basket every few minutes is more efficient.

4. Sign up to get Julie and Kittee’s free e-book on air-frying tofu. It’s a fantastic resource with tips and recipes. Their method is rock solid. I have made just about every recipe in the book and all are delicious.

5. Experiment and get support. Susan Voison of FatFree Vegan features has some tasty recipes on her blog. She also runs a vegan air-frying group on Facebook. Glitter and Glue also compiled an amazing list of 30 vegan air-frying recipes.

Noochy Tofu
Noochy Tofu from Julie and Kittee’s e book, the star of this bowl. This version is my favorite.

 

Air-fried roasted peppers
Air-fried roasted peppers, so much quicker and easier than oven-roasting or holding them over a gas flame. This is the before, incidentally- they get just as soft as the other versions.

6. Get the largest air fryer you can afford/store. Since foods need some space around them to cook properly you will often need to air fry in batches. Therefore, a larger air fryer is more convenient, even if you are just cooking for one or two. The downside is, larger air fryers also take up more counter or cupboard space.

7. Look for a BPA-free air fryer. BPA  is a harmful plastic. I’m still trying to find answers regarding BPA in my air fryer. Since the information is hard to find, I am skeptical and believe mine may contain BPA 🙁 I will keep you posted.

8. Consider a tray to help avoid Teflon. Teflon is another health concern, and it likely coats the baskets of almost all brands. I am ordering this stainless steel tray to raise foods up and away from the Teflon. I also like the fact that the tray provides another level of cooking space, akin to another oven rack, which will speed up having to batch cook items.

9. Preheat the air fryer. This is a simple but important step that I did not realize until a few weeks into my air frying adventures. You want the fryer nice and hot when you insert the food in the basket.

10. Give it a rest. For the first 2 weeks after Christmas, I literally made something air-fried at every meal. But in terms of balance or nutrition, I knew this was not ideal. Diversity is good in all things. My cravings for raw and steamed veggies, soups and salads eventually returned. But I did have to remind myself.

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