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Food Fabulous

Notes from midlife

"Do I really need an air fryer?" Yes

Unless you’ve been living under a stone, you will know that air fryers have become a BIG DEAL, now burgeoning in popularity since their launch in 2010. If you don’t already own one, now might just be the greatest excuse you’ll ever have to splash out. Black Friday and all the shopping frenzy ahead of that will be on you before you know it, and I’m going to be giving your some pretty darn good reasons to get one. As a piece of kit, they are so versatile – not just for people who want to make healthier chips – that most families I know say theirs is in use every day. That includes me and other nutritionists I know!

To give you the highlights, air dryers are compact and fit onto your work surface quite easily. Their diminutive size also means an air fryer heats up more quickly than your regular oven so you use (a lot) less energy and can eat sooner. I’ve seen it quoted just this week that cooking a jacket potato in an air fryer costs 26p in energy compared to £1.02 when cooked in an oven. (It’s even less in a microwave, but we’re not going there!)

To be clear, an air fryer - despite its name - is not an actual fryer; more a small convection oven but you can cook many of the foods you would in a deep fat fryer* with none - or else significantly less - oil and the food comes up just as crispy.

You can also expect your machine to use a fraction of the energy and save a lot of when you use one. They heat up very quickly and the circulating air means than your food will get evenly browned.


Is an air fryer healthier?

It depends, of course, what you are cooking. If you cook pizza, chips, chicken nuggets and other breaded or battered foods, health-wise you’re not better off than using the oven. If you were planning on frying them, then yes they would contain less oil but still wouldn’t find their way onto the healthy food menu.

Here are my top 5 reasons you should invest:


1 You’ll save money using an air fryer compared a regular oven.

If you use the air fryer for 30 minutes a day, it will cost £1.86 a week compared to £2.06 for your oven (source: Citizens Advice Bureau). But don’t forget, you’ll speed up cooking times so the real cost of cooking (as an example) chicken nuggets will be less since it takes half the time. So your chicken nuggets will cost you 9p to cook in the air fryer compared to 20p in the oven. In fact, one of the big names in the air fryer biz Instant Brands says traditional oven cooking will cost you five times as much.


2 Less mess.

If you’re a fan of bacon and often grill it, you’ll know what a mess it makes on the inside window of your oven. By popping the rashers in the air fryer (no extra oil needed), the splatter from the fat is contained and is easily wiped away.


3 Cleaning your air fryer is significantly easier than the grill pan.

It will only take you a few minutes, and some machines contain parts that are dishwasher safe.


4 Air fryers are a healthier way to cook.

If you’re cooking with oil, you’ll need less of it. And, when you place things in the air fryer basket, this allows any excess fat to drain into the tray below.


5 Stuff cooks better and more evenly.

If you are eating chips or wedges, air fryers make them so much crispier than your regular oven since they circulate the air around the food so that everything cooks more evenly. Especially sweet potato fries, which can turn out a bit limp (or else burnt) in a regular oven. Or is that just me?





What can you cook in an air fryer?

In short, pretty much anything if you’ve the space to fit it in!

I’ve been known to cook:

Granola

Toasted nuts and seeds

Stuffed chicken

Streaky bacon

Crispy cauliflower

Stuffed mushrooms/ peppers

Tofu

Roast chicken [in a study at Brunel University, researchers used 80% less energy cooking a whole chicken compared to oven cooking]

Meatballs

Chicken drumsticks

Whole roasted garlic bulb

Baked apples

Crumbles

Heating up leftovers!

NOTE: you can’t cook cheesy foods (apart from coated mozzarella sticks) or anything with a wet batter. Cue giant mess. Yes, it has been tried in my house. Not by me, that would be ridiculous.


When is the best time to buy an air fryer?

Any time is a great time to buy but you’re likely to find some really fantastic deals around Black Friday (26thNovember and the run up to it), so, if you’ve been thinking of taking the plunge, now might be your best excuse yet. Here are my top picks:





I have this one (pictured above) - Instant Brands Vortex 6-in-1 Air Fryer https://amzn.to/3Vzfb4n

Philips Airfryer Essential XL Connected – this even connects to your Alexa - https://amzn.to/3yJvTnI

If you fancy splashing out on a multi-function product, I recommend Instant Brands Duo Crisp, which combines an air fryer with an Instant Pot, in which you can roast, grill, slow cook, pressure cook, and make yoghurt (among other things). https://amzn.to/3CJm3Ue

Ninja AF150AMZ Air Fryer XL (with dishwasher-safe parts, if a little pricey) - https://amzn.to/3D19jJE





And once you have your product, there are a tonne of air fryer books but I like this one from fellow nutritionist Jenny Tschiesche - https://amzn.to/3eDE0LS

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