Enjoy Picnic Favorites with All the Flavor and None of the Fat

Aahh, summer. It brings to mind so many pleasant thoughts for many of us: vacations and road trips; lazy days spent by the pool, beach or lake; and simple pleasures like picnics in the park.

One of my favorite childhood memories was a trip to the amusement park with my sister and cousins. Our grandmother and great-aunt were at the helm of this trip. Being accomplished chefs, they didn’t take us to a hot-dog stand for lunch. Nope – they cooked up a venerable feast and towed it to the park in the cooler. Four hungry kids got to chow down on fried chicken, watermelon and other picnic foods. We ate at a picnic table, took a break from the rides, and got to laugh and talk. Is there anything better?

As an adult, fried chicken seems like a guilty indulgence. Fried foods are cooked in oil, provide a hefty amount of fat and calories, and contribute to something my 12-year-old self didn’t have to think about: cholesterol.

Thankfully, in our ever-more-health conscious world, there are appliances on the market that allow us to indulge in fried food without ruining our healthy habits. An air fryer is one such device – allowing the flavor of fried foods to shine through, without the use of heavy oils that are on the growing list of favorite things that are now considered bad for us.

If you think this sounds too good to be true, think again: an air fryer, also known as an oil-less fryer, uses way less oil, or none at all, to cook up crispy, delicious and much healthier versions of favorites like fried chicken, French fries, and fish-N-chips. Even better, less oil means less mess and quicker clean-ups.

Today’s air fryers are simple, counter-top appliances, and many come with digital, pre-set button for one-touch cooking, as well as the ability to heat up quickly and shut-off automatically. Some even have dishwasher-safe components. To quickly prepare everything from mozzarella sticks to coconut shrimp, you only have to add your food to a basket, load it into your fryer, and select the program you desire. The best models also do more than fry: they can bake, sauté, grill and roast.

If you’re craving a good, old-fashioned family picnic, with a basket, checkered blanket, and fried chicken, don’t neglect your inner child this summer or miss an opportunity to create memories. An air fryer will save you hundreds of calories, many grams of fat, and a ton of time in the kitchen. You’ll be able to feed your craving for crispy fried foods, made with little-to-no oil and allowing all of the flavor to shine through.

Don’t worry – when fleeting summer gives way to fall, dishes like roast pork loin with red potatoes can also be made in an air fryer, making it a versatile addition to your kitchen that will be helpful all year round. But for now, we think Boardwalk-style French fries and blackened chicken on a bed of summer greens will help you save time and enjoy your summer in a delicious, yet health-conscious, way!

 

 

 

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