FRYIN’ UP HEALTH AND HOPE

It is likely not a huge stretch to say we are all a tad politically fried right now, and it might not be over yet. So let’s focus on some fryin’ fun!

Frying has historically been considered the least healthy method to cook foods. Boiling chicken, fish, potatoes in gobs of hot oil, surely provided a crispy coat. This coat not only coated your food, but your heart and stomach with the excess fat drippings as well. So, we moved on to pan frying and oven frying. Both of these methods involve using a nonstick cooking spray, or spraying olive oil from a plant spray bottle or mister bottle to coat your food and cook until crispy in the pan or oven. They both remain excellent, lean methods for cooking, giving food a crispiness without adding excess fat, yet not quite as crispy as deep frying.

Thankfully 💛, along came the air fryer…and suddenly frying is a healthy cooking method, bringing a fun, crispy, speedy, tasty crunch to your foods. Air fryers help create the crispy, crunchy on the outside, moist on the inside, without the oozing fat drippings that come from deep frying. Air fryers use hot air in combination with high-speed air circulation, cooking food from the bottom up. Just a touch of oil spray and a couple of turns while frying, yummy and done.

You can take almost any recipe and experiment with the air fryer. A few of the most important tips:

  • Single layer — though tempting, you cannot pile up your food in there, as it is mostly cooking from the bottom up — just like the grill . As you finish with batches, put them in the warmer drawer or in a warm oven, to keep them crispy and hot. Some suggest putting all back in the air fryer to crisp up in the end, but that seems like quite the additional hassle and time suck⌚︎ when part of the objective is speed and less hassle!
  • Always remember to flip your food halfway through. Same reason as stated above⬆️. It is necessary and safe to open and close the air fryer frequently while cooking.
  • You must mist all food with oil, but you do not need to saturate💦. Hence, the point of the air fryer, less oil, less fat, less calories, great taste.
  • There are many varieties of air fryers, from the small mini-oven to large toaster-oven style type. They vary greatly in prices and capacity. Do your research to see what model is best for you. If you’re looking for something fun and different than the usual oven and slow cooker, give it a try!
  • Quick nuggets — whether you choose chicken, cauliflower, or shrimp, just mix up panko breads crumbs (lower in fat, calories and sodium than regular bread crumbs) with spices of your choice, dip the chicken/shrimp/cauliflower in egg followed by your bread crumb mixture, mist with oil on all sides, air fry for 4–5 minutes, flip and fry some more…it is really that simple!

CRISPY BRUSSEL SPROUTS
When you order Brussel sprouts at a restaurant, they are extra crispy and delicious, likely because they have been pan fried in excess fat (from oils to bacons grease) to some extent. At home you can accomplish the same crispy, deliciousness by cooking them in the air fryer, hence using less fat. The key is to slide them out every 4–5 minutes for a good stir, to be sure they all reach desired crispiness.

INGREDIENTS
1 pound fresh Brussel sprouts, washed and quartered
1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil from mister/plant spray bottle
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 Tablespoon balsamic glaze
salt and pepper to taste

PREPARATION
Preheat the air fryer to 400 degrees for 5 minutes. While preheating, mix prepared Brussel sprouts with olive oil, balsamic vinegar and a dash of salt and pepper. Slide out basket and spray with olive oil. Place Brussel sprouts in basket and coat with a spray of olive oil. Push into air fryer and place timer on 12 minutes. Slide tray out every 4 minutes to stir Brussel sprouts. Make sure all are browned and cooked to desired consistency (taste one!). Place onto serving dish. Sprinkle with additional salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with balsamic glaze. Makes 4 servings.

CHICKEN CHEESESTEAK EGG ROLLS
I am a Philly girl, which sometimes shines through (especially if you are one of those people who makes fun of my accent ;). Chicken cheesesteak is how I roll, but surely these could be made with any lean meat, or a meat substitute of sort like seitan…and dairy-free cheese if you choose.

INGREDIENTS
3 cups pre-cooked shredded chicken (or protein of choice), leftovers are ideal
1 medium onion, sliced into rings (optional additions: chopped mushrooms, peppers)
1 Tablespoon margarine
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
12 egg roll wrappers
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup water
Nonstick cooking spray

PREPARATION
Preheat air fryer to 400 degrees. While preheating, place medium skillet over high heat. Melt margarine and add onions. Stir frequently while onions cook until they turn a caramel color (yes, caramelized :)), about 8 minutes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Let cool.

Place chicken in large mixing bowl. Add onions and cheese and mix well.

Place an egg roll wrapper on a plate in a diamond shape, with a small bowl of water next to the plate. Spoon 1/4 cup of chicken mixture in lower third of wrapper. Fold the bottom corner up over the mixture, condensing filling with a tighter fold (but do not rip the wrapper…). Dip finger in water bowl and spread the water on all remaining edges of wrapper. Fold in the left and right corners snugly, forming an envelope. Roll up tightly to seal. Place on separate platter. Repeat steps with remaining ingredients, placing all finished rolls on platter.

Spray the tops of the rolls with nonstick cooking spray. Place 4–5 in basket of pre-heated air fryer, sprayed side down. Spray the tops of the egg rolls in basket. Set air fryer for 6 minutes, turning rolls halfway, until crisp and browned. Remove, place in warmer and repeat with remaining egg rolls. Serve immediately with favorite cheesesteak condiments (i.e. ketchup).

TEMPURA BANANAS (or AVOCADO :)
The typical tempura recipe calls for 3 cups of oil in a regular fryer. Hence, stick with your air fryer and enjoy the bananas as a healthy dessert choice. A fun alternative — follow the same recipe with fresh avocado slices (a most delightful option my daughter made for me for quarantine Mother’s day💝). They make a delicious salad topping or on top of a fish, chicken or veggie dish.

INGREDIENTS
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
3 bananas, peeled and sliced into thirds
1/2 cup corn starch
2 eggs or egg substitute equivalents
Nonstick cooking spray or olive oil from mister/plant spray bottle

PREPARATION
Preheat air fryer to 350 degrees. While preheating, place small skillet over medium heat. Add olive oil and panko bread crumbs and cook for about 3 to 4 minutes, to slightly roast the bread crumbs. Remove from heat and place in a small bowl.

Place corn starch in a separate small bowl. Place eggs or egg substitute in a separate small bowl and beat with a fork. Place a dinner plate or sheet of parchment paper on nearby work space.

Start with one piece of the sliced banana and dip into cornstarch bowl, then egg bowl, and ending with roasted panko crumbs, turning to coat all sides of banana. Place banana on plate or parchment paper. Repeat until all banana pieces are coated.

Slide basket out of preheated air fryer and coat with spray. Place prepared bananas on tray, leaving room in between each one. Depending on the side of your air fryer, you may have to do 2–3 batches. Spray tops of bananas and push tray into air fryer. Set timer for 5 minutes. Slide out and turn bananas carefully. Spray tops and finish cooking for another 2 minutes. Remove from basket. Repeat steps for additional batches. Serve and enjoy.

Photo by AdventureOnTheSide.com on Unsplash

POLITICAL PUNCH
#1132020 #isitover? #cocktailtime #reboot #refresh #antioxidantsunite Mixing blue and red and vodka and hope.

INGREDIENTS
1/2 small watermelon, rind removed
1/2 cup fresh blueberries plus a few extra
1 1/2 ounces vodka
2 slices fresh lime
1 cup ice

PREPARATION
Slice up watermelon into chunks and place in blender. Add half cup blueberries and blend into juice.

Fill shaker with one cup ice. Add one cup liquid from blender mix, 1 1/2 ounces vodka and squeeze slices of lime. Shake it up. Pour into martini glass. Garnish with watermelon, strawberry and/or fresh blueberries. Sip. Enjoy. Breath.

Hope is that thing inside us that insists, despite all the evidence to the contrary, that something better awaits us if we have the courage to reach for it and to work for it and to fight for it.” Iowa Caucus Speech, 2008 ~Barrack Obama

For comments, thoughts, requests or anything else you feel the need to share, please do: amysmargulies@gmail.com

A nutrition expert and middle child, I am writing to promote health and wellbeing, recipes and tips in a relatable, slightly rebellious fashion.