We recently caught up with Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC, to chat air frying, feeding a family, and favourite kitchen appliances. Dana is a registered dietitian and nutrition consultant, and nutrition expert for FoodNetwork.com. She’s the author of Healthy Air Fryer Cookbook.
Creating the recipes for this book was such a fun challenge. I immediately tackled fried favourites like chicken wings and onion rings but also wanted to come up with healthy recipes for vegetables, breakfasts, and baked goods. Some of the recipes I’m most excited about are Sriracha Honey Chicken Wings, Asparagus with Crispy Prosciutto, Huevos Rancheros, Pull-Apart Parmesan & Thyme Bread, and Zeppole with Cannoli Dip.
My main criteria for recipes are that they are easy, delicious, and healthy. I like to use whole food ingredients and low calorie flavour boosters like herbs, spices, and citrus. I jot down notes initially to get my thoughts on paper and then I test, test, make a big mess in the kitchen, and test some more. I take very careful measurements along the way to make sure I can calculate the nutrition facts accurately. This takes more time but is very important! Using the air fryer made it easy to test since it’s so fast, powerful, and easy to clean.
There are several recipes in the book that have only a few ingredients and simply call for tossing some fresh foods in the fryer basket. Buffalo Chicken Bites, Deep Dish Pizza, Root Veggie Chips with Herb Salt, and of course, Classic French Fries are a few that are so simple to make.
Air fryers are pretty user friendly but they are powerful. The hot circulating air can toss food around and maybe burn things if you’re not careful. I’ve included several tips and tricks in the book to help prevent these mistakes. I also highly recommend getting a baking pan that fits into the air fryer basket; it really broadens what you can do.
I know a major selling point for air fryers is food tastes the “same as fried” but I think it actually makes food taste better. It has all the craveable, crunchy texture of fried goodies but instead of tasting grease, you actually taste the food. It’s also such a versatile appliance, so there are many options beyond fried foods.
I have three young kids and work a lot, but I am proud to say we find time to cook and eat as a family almost every night. To make that happen I plan ahead. I try to do a little prep in the morning or the night before so when I get home the time commitment is lessened. For example, I’ll prep a batch of homemade chicken fingers or fish for fish tacos and leave them in the fridge. When I get home I’ll toss them the air fryer, throw a salad together, and get dinner on the table in about twenty minutes.
It’s probably a tie between my high-speed blender and my slow cooker. I blend up everything, from smoothies to pesto to almond milk. As for the slow cooker, I love throwing a bunch of fresh ingredients in on a busy morning; lately it’s been chicken thighs, onions, peppers, and some hoisin sauce. When we all get home, dinner is waiting.