Still keeping your better-eating resolutions for 2023? If a couple of popular appliances landed in your holiday gifts – or if you already have them – they can both make a task a little easier. Air fryers and Instant Pots can both earn their keep in your healthy kitchen.
Air fryers sounded like gimmicks when they turned up about five years ago. But using very hot, circulating air instead of pots of bubbling oil produces crispy “fried” foods while cutting calories by as much as 70% to 80%.
A couple of great air-fryer ideas can make your snacking life better, from TheKitchn.com:
Tortilla chips. Skip the Doritos. Spray six corn or flour tortillas (we prefer corn) lightly on both sides with cooking spray and sprinkle lightly with salt. Stack them and cut them in half, then in six to eight triangles. Arrange half the triangles in the air fryer basket (a little overlap is OK), then cook at 375-degrees for six minutes, shaking the basket or tossing with tongs once or twice. Let cool while you cook the other half of the triangles. Serve with salsa or pico de gallo.
Carrot sticks. These make a good side dish, or more interesting dippers for healthful things like hummus: Peel and cut carrots into sticks, then toss lightly with about 1 teaspoon olive oil and any seasoning mix you like. Spread them in the air fryer basket and cook at 350 degrees for 8 to 12 minutes (shorter if you’re using them to dip, longer if you’re using them as a side dish), tossing once or twice.
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The Instant Pot is really just a jazzed-up pressure cooker. Pressure cookers have been popular in other countries for decades, because they cook more efficiently with less fuel. Americans scared off by tales of exploding pressure cookers in the 1950s can relax: The easy directions for Instant Pots make mishaps almost impossible.
Cooking under pressure isn’t just faster. It’s also tastier. Using pressure pulls more flavor out of a lot of ingredients, and yields more tender results. Try an Instant Pot pot roast sometime and you might be surprised at how much better it is than the same dish cooked for hours in an oven or slow cooker.
Soups and stews are great, but what we really love about an Instant Pot is the way it can create things that make healthful meals easier:
Dried beans are made for Instant Pots. Skip overnight soaks and hours of cooking on the stove. Most beans, from Great Northern beans to black beans, cook beautifully in 30 to 35 minutes on high pressure. (Don’t forget to add in 10 to 15 minutes to reach full pressure.) Skip the salt until after they’re cooked, but add any other seasonings you like. Dole out the cooked beans as sides, salad ingredients or soups all week, or freeze them in smaller containers.
Steel-cut oatmeal. Steel-cut oats have more texture, flavor and fiber than rolled oats, but they also take longer to cook. With an Instant Pot, you can combine 2 cups of steel-cut oats with 4 cups of liquid (try a mix of milk and water) and about 1/2 teaspoon salt in the Instant Pot, bring it up to high pressure, cook four minutes, and let it stand for 10 minutes before releasing the pressure. It takes about 25 minutes, and you’ll have enough to refrigerator or freeze for a week’s worth of breakfasts.
Eggs. Hard-cooked eggs are handy for adding protein to a salad or using as a hand-held snack, and the Instant Pot makes eggs that are easier to peel, with tender whites. Use the trivet that came with the pot, add 1 cup water and up to 9 or 10 large eggs. Seal, bring to high pressure and cook five minutes. Wait five minutes, release the steam, and then drop the eggs in ice water for five minutes.
Recipe: lemon pepper air fry chicken wings
It’s true that chicken wings are a high-fat food. But they’re hard to resist at football parties. A single serving of fried Buffalo wings can have as many as 900 calories and 97 grams of fat – and that’s before the blue cheese dip. With an air fryer and a little baking soda, you can make remarkably crispy wings that are much lower in calories for an occasional indulgence.
- 2 pounds chicken wings
- 1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
- 2 teaspoons lemon pepper
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- Cooking spray
Cut the wings into sections, discarding the wing tips (or freeze for your next batch of chicken stock). Place the baking powder in a large mixing bowl with the lemon pepper, garlic powder and salt. Add the wings, tossing well to coat. Place a rack over a sheet pan and preheat the oven to 300.
Preheat the air fryer to 350 degrees for about five minutes. Spray the air-fryer basket lightly with cooking spray. Place about half the wings in the basket in a single layer and cook about 15 minutes. Use tongs to turn each wing, then increase the heat to 400 degrees and cook 15 minutes longer.
Place the cooked wings on the rack in the oven to keep warm and repeat with the remaining wings. Serve hot.
Note: For Buffalo wings, skip the seasonings and toss with the baking powder and salt, then cook as directed. Mix the cooked wings with sauce. To save calories and fat, try mixing bottled hot sauce with a little unsweetened Greek yogurt instead of melted butter.
Makes 2 servings. Per serving (6 wings): 549 calories; 35.5 grams fat (10.5g saturated fat); 296mg cholesterol; 1m924mg sodium; 5.3g carbohydrates (0.4g dietary fiber, 0.2g sugar); 50.3g protein.