I’ll admit- I was late to the air fryer party. I don’t know why. We eat a fair amount of baked fries here and make fried chicken “fingers” at least once a month from scratch. We’d finally gotten used to our Instant Pot, so the thought of another large appliance in our kitchen wasn’t enticing.
This past weekend, my husband and I found ourselves in a Home Buys store. If you’ve never been in one, it’s a combo platter of Big Lots and Home Goods. You’ll find anything from appliances to wine there and the prices tend to be pretty good.
We found a section of appliances including instant pots, coffee makers and air fryers. The idea of lower fat frying in less ‘thyme’ got to me. What’s one more appliance?
There were a few brands and sizes of air fryers and we opted for the 7-quart by Power XL. According to their web site, it’s the “best selling” air fryer in the US. The model we bought retails for $130 and we got ours for $69.99.
The first thing we made was dehydrated apple chips. Don’t ask me why this was our first try, but I did the same thing with the Instant Pot. Somehow apples have become my maiden appliance voyage. The apple chips came out just like apple chips you’d find in the store- sweet and chewy!
We also tried French fries over the weekend. I was surprised how good they were! Granted, they weren’t greasy- but the taste and texture were excellent. After the French fry experiment, I wanted to try a “meal”. For some reason, chicken parmesan came to mind.
I found a recipe online that had a handful of spices to be added to breadcrumbs. I had seasoned breadcrumbs in my pantry and opted to use these. This was one of the easiest, most delicious dishes I’ve ever made. If you don’t have an air fryer but love fried food- consider adding this to your appliance arsenal.
1 1/2 pounds skinless chicken breasts- split into cutlets
2 eggs, whisked
1 cup shredded parmesan cheese
1/2 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
1 (8 oz.) can tomato sauce
1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning
1/4 tsp. garlic salt
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese
- Preheat the air fryer to 375 degrees for 3 minutes.
- Combine the breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese in a bowl and set aside.
- Spray the air fryer basket with non-stick spray.
- Dredge the chicken pieces in the eggs, then coat each piece with breadcrumbs.
- Place the chicken in the air fryer and “fry” for 6 minutes. The chicken pieces should not be touching each other.
- While the chicken cooks, prepare the tomato sauce in a small sauce pan by combining the tomato sauce with Italian seasoning and garlic salt. Simmer the sauce for 3 to 4 minutes on medium heat.
- After the chicken has been cooked, add 2 Tbsp. of tomato sauce to each piece of chicken and sprinkle them with mozzarella cheese.
- Cook in the airy fryer another 5 minutes on 375 degrees.
- Serve hot with your favorite vegetables or side of pasta.
Makes 6 servings.
Garden Center Demos
Every third Wednesday of the month, I trek down to the http://civicgardencenter.org to do a 1 hour cooking demo from 6 to 7 PM. Normally, pre-Covid, we held classes in 3 different HUB gardens around the city. One garden was in OTR, one in the West end and one in Amberly Village. Anyone could attend the classes and we did a taste test at the end.
The classes are now virtual and anyone can sign up around the country. It’s not quite the same without an audience and I miss the interaction of participants and taste test at the end. But, it’s still a way for me to share my nutrition knowledge and participants can ask questions online during the class. A gardening tip class is also available on the first Wednesday of the month from 6 to 7 PM. Sign up here: https://www.civicgardencenter.org/classes-events/#cookingfromyourgarden2
The purpose of the garden demos is to highlight the seasonal produce that’s growing and provide nutritional benefits. It’s also a way to show how to use the produce, reduce food waste and taste something new. This month, we shared the recipes early so participants could cook along with me.
What’s challenging for me is to find a new and different recipe each month since some of the produce gets “repeated”. Kale, for example, is available for several months in the summer through fall. You can only make so many kale salads and soups! But, there’s so many different ways to enjoy this hearty vegetable, I can always find new ways to enjoy it.
This month, I opted to use cabbage and peppers in an Asian stir fry. I make this at home periodically, but have a picky daughter that’s not fond of ginger or soy sauce. But, if I’m doing the demo for another crowd, well- the skies the limit.
What I discovered with this recipe is that corn starch should be added with the vegetables and oil before cooking. What a difference this made! The sauce was consistent and not clumpy. Try it yourself with any garden (or store bought) vegetables you have on hand.
From a nutritional standpoint, this recipe is loaded with vitamin C, beta-carotene, fiber, folate and other cancer-fighting nutrients. It can be served as a side dish or add chicken, pork, tofu or other protein and serve over rice, noodles or other grain for a full meal.
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp. ginger paste or chopped ginger root
¼ cup canola oil, divided
1 small head of broccoli, cut into florets
¼ head of cabbage (green or red)
1 red bell pepper, sliced
1 carrot, julienned
2 Tbsp. low sodium soy sauce
2-3 Tbsp. water
½ red, white or yellow onion, thinly sliced
Crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
½ cup chopped cilantro
- Place cornstarch, garlic, ginger paste and 2 Tbsp. canola oil in a bowl. Add broccoli, cabbage, bell pepper and carrots and toss to coat.
- Heat the remaining canola oil in a large skillet or wok.
- Cook vegetables in skillet for 2 to 3 minutes, then add the soy sauce, water and onions.
- Continue to cook vegetables until onions are translucent.
- Drizzle sesame oil over the vegetables and serve with chopped cilantro.
Makes 6 servings.
With the passing of Alex Trebek of Jeopardy fame, it may have you scratching your head about this fatal disease that often goes undetected until it’s too late. Ironically, I wrote this post for Dietitian Pros about the very topic and it was published today. Below is a link to my article.
#pancreaticcancer #prevention #obesity #pancreatic #cancer #awareness #weightloss #softdrinks #riskfactors #diabetes #pancreas
Got a bumper crop of zucchini this fall? Other than tossing it into pasta, ratatouille or quick bread, why not try it at breakfast? Zucchini is the tofu of vegetables. They’re somewhat bland, so pair nicely with onions to give them a bit more flavor. My mother used to make this delicious simple dish using garden zucchini, onions, eggs, and a few other ingredients.
Most people in the US don’t eat enough vegetables. This is true across the lifespan from infants to the elderly. Studies show that vegetable consumption is linked with lower rates of obesity, heart disease and cancer. Sadly, many of us only go for vegetables at dinner or occasionally at lunch if we’ve got a salad on board. Put your plants on and add them to more meals.
Break tradition- eat them at breakfast! Veggies are high in water, fiber, vitamins and minerals but low in calories. They’re versatile enough to use in a variety of dishes and eggs make the perfect vehicle for vegetables. Having a savory breakfast (VS sweet) improves satiety- meaning you’ll stay fuller, longer. Eggs are an ‘eggcellent’ source of protein, vitamins A & D, B vitamins and iron.
I used diced white onions in this recipes as that’s what I had on hand, but by all means- try yellow onions, scallions or red onions if you have them. Those onions will add more color to your dish. I sprinkled a bit of dried oregano on mine, but Italian seasoning, crushed red pepper or other spices would go well, too.
Don’t skip the toast! Use a hearty whole grain bread or rye bread with this omelet. Your brain wants glucose in the morning, so give it some grains. I like to say, “grains for brains”! The fiber and carbs will keep you satisfied til lunch.
If you’ve got a family to feed, go ahead and double or triple the recipe and use a larger pan. Use more vegetables if you have them. Peppers or mushrooms would go well in this dish, too.
2 whole eggs
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 small zucchini, sliced and quartered into 1″ chunks
1/4 onion, diced
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. shredded Parmesan cheese
- Break eggs and add to a small bowl. Add 2 tsp. water and whisk.
- Heat a medium-sixed sautee pan and add olive oil.
- Cook the onions and zucchini in the pan with olive oil until soft.
- Spray the pan with no-stick spray and add the eggs over the sauteed vegetables.
- Cook the eggs on low-medium heat until edges start to cook, and continue to cook until the egg is no longer runny.
- Sprinkle oregano and Parmesan cheese over the eggs before serving.
Makes 1 serving.
Need one more reason to enjoy a cup of joe every day? Sip on this! Researchers from the University of Nottingham have found that “brown fat”, our body’s fat-fighting defense may be stimulated by drinking a cup of coffee. Brown fat may be key to fighting obesity and diabetes. 1
The study published in the journal Scientific Reports, is one of the newest to be done on humans to find ways that could have a direct impact on how brown fat functions, a vital part of our bodies that plays an important role in how fast we burn calories into energy. 1
Brown fat, technically brown adipose tissue (BAT), is one of the two types of fat found in humans and other mammals. It was first only associated with babies and hibernating mammals, but was discovered in recent years that adults possess brown fat, too. The main function of brown fat is to create body heat by burning calories compared to white fat, which stores excess calories. Those with a lower BMI (body mass index) tend to have higher amounts of brown fat. 1
According to Professor Michael Symonds from the University of Nottingham who co-directed the research, brown fat interacts differently than other fat in our bodies and makes heat by burning fat and sugar, often as a response to cold. Blood sugar control and improved lipid levels are observed through its activity. Additional calories burned aid with weight reduction. Until now, no one has discovered an acceptable method to stimulate BAT activity in humans. 1
Symond’s study is the first in humans to find that a simple cup of coffee can have a direct impact on how brown fat functions. As obesity is a major health concern in society and diabetes is a growing epidemic, brown fat could be a potential ally in fighting both. 1
The study initiated in a series of stem cells to evaluate if caffeine would stimulate brown fat. Once the correct dose was found, they continued on to human subjects to see if the results were the same. 1
A thermal imaging technique was used by the team to follow the body’s reserves of brown fat. The technique is non-invasive and helps the team find brown fat and evaluate its ability to produce heat. 1
Based on previous research, Symonds notes that brown fat is primarily located in the neck region, so they were able to image a person right after drinking coffee to check if brown fat got hotter. Given the positive results, the team now needs to evaluate if caffeine or another active ingredient in coffee is impacting the activation of brown fat. Caffeine supplements are being tested to see if the effect is the same. 1
Once they have pinpointed the responsible component, it could likely be utilized as part of a weight management or blood sugar control program to help reduce the risk of diabetes. 1
Some takeaway messages for dietitians: coffee is not a magic bullet. While the study is promising, calorie control and regular exercise still remain the gold standards for weight management and diabetes prevention. While black coffee is calorie-free, coffee with cream, sugar or other add-ins (syrup, whipped cream, chocolate shavings, liquor), may contain quite a few calories and could pack on pounds. Coffee with skim milk or plant-based milks will provide calcium in addition to caffeine. Remember that caffeine is a drug and it affects people differently. When abused, it may increase anxiety, heart rate, nervousness and risk for insomnia. According to the FDA, four to five cups of coffee per day (roughly 400 mg caffeine per day) is deemed safe for most. 2
If you’re looking for that adorable mug, you can pick one up here: https://soundbitesnutrition.com/product/deja-brew-11-oz-mug/
- Ksenija Velickovic, Declan Wayne, Hilda Anaid Lugo Leija, Ian Bloor, David E. Morris, James Law, Helen Budge, Harold Sacks, Michael E. Symonds, Virginie Sottile. Caffeine exposure induces browning features in adipose tissue in vitro and in vivo. Scientific Reports, 2019; 9 (1) DOI: 1038/s41598-019-45540-1
Contrary to the name of this side dish, there’s really just 2 ingredients. My daughter recently asked me to purchase “everything bagel spice” so she could make an appetizer she saw on Pinterest. I’m always trying to encourage her to try new food, so of course I obliged. Not to mention, it used a bell pepper, so even better.
If you’re a tater hater, don’t be. Potatoes may be high in carbohydrates, but so is a chocolate chip cookie, yet people justify eating that while forgoing unprocessed, real food. A medium baked potato has about 100 calories and a decent amount of vitamin C. It’s a ridiculously versatile food and can be topped with veggies (like broccoli or spinach), salsa, chili or some simple shredded cheese.
This recipe uses russet potatoes, but red or Golden Yukon potatoes could be used, too. I used non-stick spray to coat the fries before baking, but a brush of canola, corn or olive oil works, too. If you’re in need of a simple side for your burger, sandwich or other meal, give this a try! The fries are a wee spicy from the black pepper with a hint of garlic. The spice could be used in rice dishes, too.
4 medium russet potatoes, peeled and cut into French fry strips
Everything bagel spice
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Place the cut potatoes on the baking sheet and spread them out. Spray the fries again with non-stick spray.
- Sprinkle the fries with everything bagel spice then bake for 10 minutes. Toss the fries and bake another 10 to 15 minutes until they’re golden brown
Makes 6-8 servings.