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Air Frying: The Basics & Need-to-Know


Blog Image: Air Frying: The Basics & Need-to-Know

Have you been hearing the buzz about air frying? We certainly have! It seems like everywhere we turn there is information about the health benefits, their efficiency and ease of use. An air fryer has the ability to take deep fried, high-fat foods into lower fat healthier alternatives! Wait...healthy fried foods?! Count us in! With all the excitement and buzz, you could be wondering if this appliance is right for your household. We wanted to share with you what we feel are the advantages and things to take into consideration when choosing to add this awesome appliance to your kitchen! 

Now, you may have heard chatter that “air frying really isn’t that healthy”. Our stance on that? It’s equally as healthy as oven baking and significantly healthier than deep frying. So, if you compare cooking method to cooking method, air frying is a winner and top choice for “health”. What it really comes down to is the foods that you eat. “Deep fried foods” have a habit of being breaded by nature (higher carb). Air frying doesn’t magically take already “unhealthy foods” and turn them healthy. So, in essence, air frying is as healthy as the food you put into it! When all is said and done, “health factor” is inarguably a positive trait of the air frying cooking method.

SO WHAT IS AIR FRYING?

Don’t let the name fool you, Air fryers don’t actually fry food in the traditional way that deep fryers do in oil. Instead, think of them like a mini countertop convection oven. This convection oven uses a fraction of the oil that’s used in deep frying, but still creates a similar crisp and crunch that we all love with deep fried foods! So now that we know what they do, let’s talk more about the magic behind how they work. Air fryers use a fan to circulate hot air evenly, allowing the food to cook faster than many other methods such as pan frying, stir frying, or baking. Compared to a traditional oven, they take only minutes to preheat, and most of the heat stays contained inside the unit - increasing the cooking speed to 4x that of a typical stove or oven! So how does the food get crispy without the hot oil? The magic is in the combination of sustained heat and circulating air. Foods are cooked quickly and crisply on the outside while still remaining tender and juicy on the inside.

WHAT WE LOVE ABOUT AIR FRYERS

Health Factor: There’s no question that air frying is healthier than traditional deep frying. Most air fryers require little to no oil, but are still able to crisp and brown your food the same way traditional fryers do. In our opinion, the best oil for an air fryer is just a spritz of oil (think cooking spray or spray bottle filled with oil). A little bit goes a long way with an air fryer. The oil that the air fryer needs is used, and the rest just drains away from the food; making the air fryer an ideal cooking unit for foods such as French fries, fried fish, mozzarella sticks, chicken nuggets, fried pickles and countless more - same crisp, none of the added saturated fats from deep frying oil! 

Versatility: Air fryers can be used for countless cooking methods: baking, broiling, reheating, roasting, grilling, stir-frying, steaming, and of course the ever popular “fry”-ing! Think traditional Traditional fried foods are not the only thing you can enjoy in these amazing appliances! Think outside the box! Baked chicken breast in an air fryer leaves the outside crispy and the inside moist; as if it came fresh off the grill. Air fryers are vegetarian, vegan, and veggie-lover friendly, too! Just spritz with oil a serving of vegetables you would normally roast (we love asparagus and Brussels sprouts), and “fry” to crisp perfection! This makes vegetable meal prep a literal breeze! French fries aren’t the only chip you can enjoy hot out of an air fryer. We love flash “fried” kale chips or sweet potato chips! You can even cook desserts in an air fryer! We’ve got links to our favorites at the end of this blog.

Kitchen Efficiency: Cut your cooking time in the kitchen in half! Air fryers heat quickly and retain the majority of their heat throughout the cooking process; so, because the heat stays inside the appliance, foods will cook faster than in an oven or stove top (there’s no loss of heat to the surrounding air). If you’re on board with the idea of faster cook times, then you’re definitely going to love faster clean up times, too! Most air fryers have baskets that pull out and apart from the main unit that can be wiped down, washed, and cleaned in a jif!

Ease of Use: Air fryers are simple to use. There aren’t a whole lot of moving parts, and there are only as many buttons on them as you’d find on a traditional oven. For most items that you’re going to cook it’s as simple as (1) set the cooking temperature, (2) set the cooking time, and (3) put your food in the basket and let it do its thing! Just like when you roast in an oven, some recipes do require that you shake or flip your food once or twice during the cooking process. If that’s a turn off for you, then just look for an air fryer model that has a turning/flipping unit built in! While no kitchen appliance involving heat is 100% safe for kids to use and operate, air fryers rank very high on the kid-friendly scale. Only the inner basket heats up during the cooking process (and it cools down quickly), so kids have less of a chance of burning themselves than they do on the stove or oven. 

CONSIDERATIONS

Air fryers are wonderful, but they may not be right for every household. We suggest you consider the following couple of things before incorporating an air fryer into your kitchen and cooking life.

Space: It isn’t the largest appliance to exist but it does still take up space, either on your counter or stored away in a cabinet. If you use it frequently, this might not be a problem. But, if you only pull it out to make the occasional batch of fries and then put it back, the loss of space might outweigh the benefits for you. For kitchens that are tight on space, air fryers can quickly become cumbersome. Not to fear, though! A small kitchen doesn’t mean you can’t have one. Air fryers come in a variety of sizes; so, take a look at some smaller models or perhaps consider an air fryer pan that goes into the oven.

Family Size: Most air fryers are sized and suited to making food for 1-4 people. You can definitely cook for more, but you will have to cook into batches. For large families larger than 4, a true convection air frying oven would probably be better suited for your kitchen. Medium sized fryers have a capacity of 3.5 quarts. They can usually handle a main dish for two-three like a roasted tenderloin or chicken breast, or a main and side dish for one like a piece of fish with an assortment of veggies. Large Air Fryers have a capacity of 5.8 quarts and can handle a main dish like a whole chicken, or main dish and side dish for two, like a steak stir fry. 

All in all, we’re big fans of the air frying cooking method. It’s faster, it’s cleaner, it’s crispier, it’s safer for young ones in the kitchen, and it’s healthier. Air fried foods can be a great first step to a healthier lifestyle, but they are just one piece of the puzzle. Food choices are what really make the difference, and the staff at MRC are experts on healthy food and menu design to help facilitate weight loss and long term weight management. If you’re ready to take the next step with your health, then now’s the time to speak to a Weight Loss Specialist at a location near you.

Below are some tips and recipes that will have you air frying like a pro in no time!

COOKING TIME & TEMPERATURE GUIDE

The table below shows recommended cooking temperatures and times for common foods. These are strictly guidelines and can vary according to quantity, type of food being fried, your own tastes & preferences, air fryer make and model, and more. Always be nearby and within eyesight of food while the air fryer is in use and never let children use unattended.

Food 

Weight

Time (min.)

Temperature (F)

Meat & Poultry

Blog Image: Air Frying: The Basics & Need-to-KnowSteak & Sirloin

4 oz.

8-10

360

Blog Image: Air Frying: The Basics & Need-to-KnowPork

4 oz.

8-10

360

Blog Image: Air Frying: The Basics & Need-to-KnowGround Meats

4 oz.

10-15

360

Blog Image: Air Frying: The Basics & Need-to-KnowChicken Breast

4 oz.

15-17

360

Blog Image: Air Frying: The Basics & Need-to-KnowTurkey Breast

4 oz.

15-17

360

Fish & Seafood

Blog Image: Air Frying: The Basics & Need-to-KnowFish

4 oz.

18-20

360

Blog Image: Air Frying: The Basics & Need-to-KnowShrimp

4 oz.

12-15

360

Vegetables*

Blog Image: Air Frying: The Basics & Need-to-KnowPotato (chips or wedges)

2-4 oz.

8-12

400

Blog Image: Air Frying: The Basics & Need-to-KnowRoasted Veggies

4-16 oz.

10-20

370-380

*flip or shake halfway through cooking

Frozen, oven-ready foods that you would normally bake can also be prepared in an air fryer (like chicken tenders and frozen veggies; not lasagnas and prepackaged meals). Treat these foods similarly to vegetables - cook at a higher temperature and agitate halfway through cooking.

 

OUR AIR FRIED FAVORITES

Looking for some fun and delicious air fried inspiration? Below are some of our favorites! Bonus: all of these recipes are healthy and MRC-menu friendly!

Have a healthy air fried recipe of your own? We’d love to see it! Or, if you’re looking for a healthy air fried adaptation of a recipe you love, we’ll send it over to the MRC Kitchen crew and see what they can do! Just send an email to support@emetabolic.com and mention this blog!

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