There’s nothing more frustrating than buying a new kitchen gadget, tool or appliance to only find that you never use it. Thankfully, that won’t be the case for your air fryer, especially once you try some of these highly rated — and creative — recipes.
Fried chicken is a picnic staple, so will Un-Fried Chicken be the next big thing? If you use Trisha Yearwood’s recipe, it just might be. One five-star reviewer proclaimed: “One of the best chicken recipes I have ever had.”
Not only is this a gluten-free recipe, but it also has plenty of enthusiastic tips on preparation, nutrition, and pleasing fussy kids: “I feel like we should drop everything, whip up a batch or two of these juicy burgers and tuck right in. Who’s with me?” Um, we are. (Take your burgers a step further with 30 Wild and Wonderful Burger Toppings.)
Halloween is one of my favorite holidays aside from Thanksgiving and New Year’s. Every year I pick out my costume and get ready for pumpkin carving. I’ve also been known to have some fun pumpkin carving parties where I serve my famous apple cider bourbon punch and we all go to town making creative pumpkin sculptures.
This year, I saved the seeds from my pumpkin and needed a simple, easy way to bake them so I could still be with my guests. It’s so fun to make a recipe like this the night-of so people can enjoy the snack. If you want to take it to the next level, have containers ready to go so you can send salt and pepper pumpkin seeds home with folks. The best thing about this recipe is that it’s a simple base for you to build on. Add in other fun ingredients that make the flavor pop!
Getting the Seeds
The hard part here is carving the pumpkin. First grab a big bowl. Cut a circle around the top of the stem and carefully remove it and slice off any seeds on that part and put it in your bowl. After that, take a large metal spoon and start scraping the inside of the pumpkin, loosening the insides where the seeds are. Once the insides have fallen to the bottom of the pumpkin, scoop it out with the spoon (or even your hands) and place it in the bowl. Do that until all the insides are completely scrapped out and the pumpkin is hollow.
Then hand-pick your seeds from the bowl and place them into a smaller bowl. Your fingers are the very best way to loosen the slippery seeds from the fruit strands. Pluck them out and run your hands down the strings to loosen the seeds. Once you’ve got most of them, put them in a strainer and use your hands to wash off all the pumpkin gunk. They may still be a little sticky but that’s ok if they’re relatively clean.
Salt and Pepper Pumpkin Seeds
1 to 2 cups fresh pumpkin seeds (rinsed)
1 to 2 teaspoons dairy or vegan butter (melted)
⅛ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
¼ teaspoon chili powder
Preheat oven to 300°F. In a medium mixing bowl, combine seeds, melted butter or butter substitute, salt and pepper and chili powder. Spread seed mixture on a parchment lined baking pan and cook for 20 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally until toasty brown but not burned! Remove from oven and serve warm.
Depending on how you like your coffee, your regular Starbucks run could be doing a number on your waistline; giving up those cups of joe could save you money as well as calories. A study published in 2017 in Public Health found that roughly two-thirds of coffee drinkers load their cup of joe with sugar, cream, flavorings, or other calorie-rich additives. Not surprisingly, the researchers discovered that those who drink their coffee black consume about 69 fewer total calories per day, on average, than those who add sweeteners, cream or other additives to their coffee.
You could gain weight
Have you ever experienced strange cravings if you happen to forgo your caffeine dose one morning? Since coffee can temporarily suppress your appetite, you might find yourself reaching for fat- or sugar-loaded replacements more often than usual once you stop drinking your daily cup of joe. This is especially true when your caffeine withdrawal kicks in and your body starts searching for a quick sugar fix, boosting your blood sugar and daily caloric consumption.
You could sleep better
Even though you’ll feel tired as your body adjusts to the lack of stimulants it’s become used to, in the long run, you could get a better night’s sleep once you start living caffeine-free, especially if you were an afternoon or evening coffee drinker. A study published in 2013 in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine found that caffeine intake even six hours before bedtime can disrupt a person’s sleep cycle that night.
You could have more frequent headaches
Every coffee lover recognizes the telltale signs of the dreaded caffeine headache that hits when your body doesn’t get its morning jolt. When you stop drinking coffee, you deprive your body of adrenaline and dopamine, hormones that act as natural stimulants and keep you awake. Instead, a flood of adenosine—a hormone responsible for rest and tiredness—rushes to your head, causing a change to your brain chemistry that results in a headache. To minimize the pain, don’t quit cold turkey. Instead, cut your intake just a little bit every two or three days. Eliminating a half cup of coffee, replacing coffee with tea, or even mixing normal coffee with decaf can help to avoid withdrawal symptoms, and you’ll be well on your way to weaning off your caffeine dependency.
You could feel sick (but not for long)
Headaches aren’t the only painful symptom of quitting coffee. Those who stop consuming coffee have reported side effects like depression, anxiety, dizziness, flu-like symptoms, insomnia, irritability, mood swings, and sluggishness. Here’s the good news: you won’t feel this way forever. Experts say that most of the physical symptoms of caffeine withdrawal will pass after the first two days, while the rest of the side effects won’t last beyond a week or two.
You could have a healthier smile
Coffee is highly acidic, which means it erodes your tooth enamel and stains your teeth with every sip. Cut the caffeine and you’ll protect your teeth from a lifetime of erosion, leading to pearlier whites. Your teeth won’t get stained as much, which people often don’t think about.
You could miss out on antioxidants
Plenty of research, including a study published in 2015 in PLoS One, found that coffee can act as an antioxidant. And other studies point to the potential for a reduced risk of certain diseases seen in coffee drinkers. One published in 2018 in the journal Frontiers in Neuroscience, for instance, suggests that coffee drinkers have a lower risk for Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s than non-coffee drinkers. So, unfortunately, if you’re cutting back on coffee, you’ll be losing the health benefits, too. Thankfully, it’s not hard to make up for your regular coffee intake by replacing it with antioxidant-rich tea, fruits, and veggies.
You could have difficulty concentrating
Quitting coffee can make you feel fatigued and irritable, which can contribute to a lack of concentration, thanks to caffeine withdrawal. Blame it on the lack of stimulants you get from a dose of coffee, as well as the increase in adenosine, that pesky hormone that makes you feel tired. To counteract the loss of concentration, try chewing minty gum to keep your brain alert and on task. When participants did so in a study published in 2014 in the British Journal of Psychology, they had quicker reaction times and more accurate results on their tasks, especially toward the end of the session. Plus, after just a week without caffeine, you’ll find that your productivity has increased because you no longer experience the inevitable afternoon crash after a morning cup of coffee.
You could become constipated
Caffeine keeps things moving through your intestines, which is why you may feel backed up when you stop drinking your usual cup of java. But never fear, there are plenty of other ways to help prevent constipation: eat lots of fiber (found in whole grains, vegetables, and beans), drink plenty of water, and exercise regularly. Your digestive system will thank you.
You could feel calmer
If too much caffeine has ever left you squirming in your chair or jiggling your leg, it’s time to say goodbye to your double espresso shots. Since caffeine is a stimulant, it naturally raises levels of adrenaline and stress hormones in your body. No wonder drinking too much joe can make you jittery and irritable, especially if you’re sensitive to caffeine, says Sonya Angelone, RDN, a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, in San Francisco.
Even if you love fall, you have to admit that it’s a strange sort of in-between season. It’s not the carefree days of summer spent in shorts and flip-flops, and it’s also not quite the cozy months of winter that call for wrapping up in scarves and sweaters.
Likewise, when it comes to weight loss, you may expect the challenges of summer — barbecues, ice cream and alcohol, oh my! — and the holiday season, while autumn’s pitfalls might not be so obvious. But the season comes with a few unique barriers that can trip you up.
Here are some common habits we adopt or activities we choose to do (or not) that could make the number on the scale grow.
1. Increased Stress
With long sunny weekends and vacations behind us, it can feel good to get back into a regular routine — aka that “back-to-school” feeling. But this time of year also typically comes with more deadlines, appointments and (if you have kids) shuttling to school, activities, etc. Put another way, stress ticks up when the dog days of summer are behind us.
And here’s the thing about stress: We’re more likely to overeat and choose less-healthy foods when we’re feeling overextended, per a study in the Journal of Molecular Biochemistry published October 2018.
How to Dial Down Your Stress
Double down on your stress management. When obese adults participated in a stress management program (think: learning progressive muscle relaxation, diaphragmatic breathing and guided visualization), they lost more weight over an eight-week period than their counterparts who didn’t take stress-reduction classes, according to that same Journal of Molecular Biochemistry study.
Sure, those colder temps help you get a better night’s rest, but they also may make you less likely to want to be active or exercise outdoors. Unfortunately, dialing back on your activity level means you’ll burn fewer calories.
How to Stay Active During Colder Months
Planning ahead is key.
“If you’re an outdoor exercise fiend, consider the right clothing so you can continue your journey,” Chris Mohr, PhD, RD, of MohrResults.com, tells LIVESTRONG.com. “There’s a saying I learned when I was in Norway and it’s stuck with me since — there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing.”
If that doesn’t appeal to you, what are your indoor options?
“Many gyms offer virtual classes, and there is certainly no shortage of apps that offer a great variety of workouts,” Mohr says.
It’s fall, y’all — and that means pumpkin spice lattes, cider donuts, game-day snacks and warm casseroles that might be slightly less than healthy. Add in the fact that you’ve probably put away your swimsuit for the season and have dug out your cozy oversized sweaters, and it can be tough to resist these cool-weather treats.
How to Still Enjoy Your Favorite Fall Eats
The age-old advice of “everything in moderation” absolutely still applies. You don’t have to skip that PSL altogether, but maybe order a tall instead of a venti. And try pairing that ooey-gooey mac and cheese with a big leafy green salad.
And here’s another trick: Dial back the portion sizes at your other meals. When a small group of adults cut down their main meal portions to “smaller than normal,” they didn’t end up eating more (and making up for those calories lost) at other meals or snacks, found a study published February 2020 in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity. Point being: You can enjoy your comfort food faves in all their glory and compensate for your indulgence at another meal, if you so desire.
Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. In a large bowl, combine chicken, paprika, garlic powder and 1 teaspoon salt. Place the chicken in the skillet and cook for 4 minutes, or until nicely golden brown. Flip and cook for 2 minutes longer. Transfer to a plate.
Add the carrots, celery and shallot to the pan and cook for 5 minutes, or until lightly softened. Add thyme, oregano, lemon zest/juice, the remaining ½ teaspoon salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Stir in rice and cook for 1 minute. Add broth and the chicken and bring to a boil; cover the pan and reduce heat to low. Cook for 20 minutes, or until the rice is cooked through and most of the liquid is absorbed.
Remove pan from heat and allow to rest for 5 minutes. Garnish with green onion and serve.
Jen Plaggemars is a registered dietitian and private chef based in Holland, MI, and owner of Chef Jen LLC. She blogs at chefjen.com.
By Michele Promaulayko and Kaitlyn Pirie for Good Housekeeping
Why do we crave sugar?
The first step in regaining your power over sugar is understanding why cravings happen in the first place — and there are a number of factors at play. “We crave sugar for a variety of reasons, from hormones to habits to the psychological impact of simply seeing a decadent donut or a drizzle of caramel,” says Marisa Moore, M.B.A., R.D.N., L.D., a culinary and integrative dietitian. “The preference for sweet-tasting foods is innate.” That means sugar cravings are drilled into our bodies at an early age. “The presumption among scientists seems to be that sweet tastes exists as a way to identify sources of digestible carbohydrates and importantly, glucose-based energy,” adds Moore. That evolutionary drive to nourish your body is strong and hard to overcome so don’t beat yourself up if you’re struggling to cut back on your sugar intake — and know that completely eliminating sugar from your diet isn’t worth it.
How to stop sugar cravings
1. Listen to your body.
Webster’s Dictionary defines a craving as “an intense, urgent, or abnormal desire or longing.” Synonyms include yearning, hankering, wish, want, and lust. However, just because you’re having a craving or want something sweet doesn’t mean you have to eat sugar — or even pop a sugar replacement, such as a piece of fruit — on impulse. Take a minute to understand what’s really going on in your body. Do you have a headache? Are you stressed out? Do you feel physical hunger? Are you bored? Do you need an energy boost? Or do you really want a sweet treat?
2. Buy yourself some time.
Drink a glass of water, take five deep breaths, or go for a short walk. If you are truly hungry, it’s okay to reach for a snack. Your best bet for stamping out a craving may be to have a snack that includes protein or a healthy fat. Prepping your own at the beginning of the week will enable you to be proactive and prevent trips to the vending machine for sugar-filled packaged foods.
3. Pay attention to patterns.
If you notice that a sugar craving hits you at 3 p.m. daily without fail, that’s a good sign you should add a protein-filled snack at this time to power through the day. Not only will this make you feel better instantly, it also sets you up for a better evening with fewer cravings around bedtime.
4. Balance your meals.
Make sure every meal you eat (including breakfast and lunch!) contains protein, veggies, or other healthy carbs and healthy fats. This will keep you fuller for longer and stabilize your blood sugar.
5. Spice things up.
We sometimes get stuck in an eating rut, sticking to the same simple meals every day because we know they’re “safe.” But as they say, variety is the spice of life — and spice is a savior when you’re swapping out sugar. Some of the most unique flavors are derived from easily accessible spices that don’t contain any added sugar, such as red pepper and cinnamon.
6. Identify your faves.
Figure out what you love to eat so that you feel satisfied — not deprived — at the end of a meal. It might help to keep it simple and pick two go-to breakfasts, two go-to lunches, and two go-to dinners and have those ingredients on hand so you can stay consistent.
7. Be adventurous.
While it helps to have enjoyable staples to turn to, getting curious in the kitchen can provide a fun outlet and instill healthy eating habits. Explore recipes, eat some new fruits and vegetables you’ve never tried before or combine different ingredients to create new dishes. By switching up what you’re eating from day to day, you might find a new delicious dish that gets you excited about dinner.
8. Dodge sugar pushers.
While most people will support your get-healthy mission, there will be a few who try to derail your efforts. At a birthday or holiday dinner, you might notice your mom trying to persuade you to eat dessert or your friends eye-rolling because you turned down a cocktail. Even your spouse can morph into a sugar pusher when he or she wants to hit that all-you-can-eat pasta joint. While you should definitely tell your friends, family, coworkers and significant other what you’re trying to accomplish, you need to go the extra step and actively ask them for their encouragement and cooperation. If they still try to lure you to eat sugary foods, stay strong and know this: It’s not about you, it’s about them not feeling fantastic about their own choices and not wanting to be left behind. Stick to the plan, and they will likely stop trying to lead you astray. Better yet, your compliance could inspire them to make some positive changes of their own.
While avocados may have gotten a bad reputation for being high in calories and fat—half contains 113 calories and 10 grams of fat—they mostly give you monounsaturated fat, which is healthy in moderation. The good fat boosts your levels of good HDL cholesterol while lowering the bad LDL cholesterol.
You have better digestion
Half of an avocado contains just under 5 grams of dietary fiber (depending on the size). Nutritionist Megan Ware, RDN, reports that adding avocado to your daily dietary regimen can help prevent constipation and maintain healthy digestion. Another benefit of this high fiber fruit is that you will feel full longer. By adding avocado slices to your toast, sandwich, or salad, you can stay satiated for up to three hours.
You get protection from disease and infection
Avocados are a great source of B vitamins, which help prevent disease and infection, reports WebMD. They are also loaded with vitamins C and E, plus natural plant chemicals that may help prevent cancer. Because they’re high in antioxidant phytochemicals (such as lutein and zeaxanthin), avocados may help prevent cataracts and macular degeneration, reports Ware.
You’ll sleep better
Not only do avocadoes taste great, but they’re also loaded with magnesium (19.5 milligrams for half of an avocado), which experts consider an anti-stress nutrient, says nutrition expert Elise Museles. Just make sure to wash your avocado before eating it.
You’ll have a natural glow
Glowing skin, bright eyes, and shiny hair are added perks from eating this amazing super food. This is because of its fat-soluble vitamins and monounsaturated fats. While these benefits come from eating avocados, there are also advantages from using them topically, reports Medical News Today.
6 new potatoes (cut into 1-inch pieces, if desired)olive oil salt freshly ground pepper
1 boneless pork loin (2-2 1/2 pounds)
1 Honeycrisp apple (finely diced)
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary (chopped)
1 teaspoon fennel seed (crushed)
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/3 cup bourbon
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon dijon (or to taste)
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Place the apple pieces in an oven-proof casserole dish. Add the carrots and new potatoes (if using), toss with a bit of oil and season generously with salt and freshly ground pepper. Set aside.
Butterfly the tenderloin. Lay the tenderloin down on the cutting board and make a cut down the length of the tenderloin with your knife parallel to the cutting board; do not cut all the way through. Open the loin like a book (or think of it like unrolling a carpet). Continue to cut through the thicker part of the roast, keeping 1/2 an inch from the bottom of the meat, cutting and unrolling to lay flat. If uneven, use a meat pounder to pound to an even thickness.
Sprinkle the loin with the rosemary, fennel and apple. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Tightly roll and tie with twine at 1-2-inch intervals until the entire tenderloin is tied up.
Season the outside of the loin with salt and freshly ground pepper. Rub with brown sugar. Place in the roasting pan on top of the vegetables (if using).
Roast the loin for 45-60 minutes, or until the internal temperature is 135°F.
While the loin is roasting, make the glaze by combining the bourbon, soy sauce, honey, brown sugar and dijon in a small pot. Mix well and bring to a simmer, stirring, over medium heat until thick and syrupy, set aside.
When the internal temperature of the loin reaches 135°F, brush with the glaze and let roast for 5 more minutes. Remove from the oven, tent with foil and let the pork rest for 10-15 minutes before slicing. The internal temperature should reach 140°F after resting.
Remove the twine, slice the pork into 1/2 inch rounds and serve with the remaining glaze and vegetables.
Smoothies are more popular than ever right now, especially since you can make them from the comfort of your own home with little more than a blender and an array of fruits and vegetables. But why settle for making any old smoothie when you can make the best smoothie?
1. Order Matters!
Though it might not seem like it since everything is getting thrown in the blender, the order that you blend your ingredients actually matters, at least as far as the texture of your smoothie is concerned. Bansari Acharya, RDN, a registered dietitian and nutritionist with a master’s degree in nutrition and food science, explains: “The best way to get the best texture for your smoothie is to first blend in your leafy greens with your liquid base and then top it off with your other ingredients.”
2. Get a Good Blender
Before you even consider what goes into your smoothie, make sure your blender can get the job done. “Have the right kitchen equipment. Certain smoothie recipes really require the use of a high-powered blender, particularly those containing tough greens such as spinach or kale,” notes Summer Yule, MS, RDN. “Make sure that you have the right tools for the job before beginning a recipe.”
3. Sneak Those Veggies In
Tiffany Ma, RD, a registered dietitian from New York City, notes that tossing some greens into your morning smoothie is a great way to seamlessly work some veggies into your breakfast. “Add some veggies for some extra micronutrients,” she says. “Including some type of leafy green, such as spinach or kale, really boosts the overall nutritional properties of your smoothie! This is also an extremely easy way to achieve the daily recommendation of 4-5 servings of vegetables a day.”
4. Opt for Frozen Fruit Instead of Fresh
When it comes to putting fruit in your smoothies, many of the experts we spoke with suggested using frozen fruit (as opposed to fresh fruit and ice) for optimal results. “For the best texture, I highly recommend using at least one frozen ingredient,” says Kathryn Schwab, a certified health coach and writer at tonsofgoodness.com. “Bananas, berries, avocado, and even frozen pumpkin puree work well. Frozen fruit gives your smoothie a nice icy, thick texture.”
Why frozen fruit instead of fresh fruit and ice? “Frozen fruit is a great way to enhance flavor and give it a frosty texture. Ice will dilute the flavor of the smoothie, which is why I opt for frozen fruit,” explains Marina Chaparro RD, CDE.
5. Balance It Out
While it can be tempting to toss any array of flavorful fruits into your blender to whip up a sweet smoothie, it’s important to remember that the best (and often healthiest) smoothies are well-balanced drinks with a variety of ingredients, each with their own flavor and nutrition profile. “Some smoothies can end up being a sugar bomb depending on which ingredients are included. While fruit is a great source of many vitamins, minerals, and fiber, it can also be high in sugar and carbs, especially if you’re using large quantities,” explains Lauren Manaker MS, RDN, LD. “Balance the carbs out with ingredients that contain protein and healthy fats—think nut butters and chia seeds—to help make the smoothie keep you feeling fuller longer and to possibly avoid a blood sugar crash shortly after enjoying your concoction.”
6. Pile on the Protein
In addition to excellent protein sources like the aforementioned nut butters and chia seeds, there are other protein-packed ingredients that can take a smoothie from good to great. “Add a protein source in your smoothies such as yogurt, kefir or protein powder,” says Monica Nedeff, RD, registered dietitian, nutritionist and founder of The Traveling Dietitian. “Yogurt and kefir have probiotics, which support our gut health and add a creamy, rich layer to smoothies. If you’re vegan, try a vegan protein powder such as pea protein powder, which is also a great source of iron.”
7. Add Avocado
“As a dietitian, I’ve found that sometimes smoothies can miss the mark, whether in flavor, texture or nutritional balance,” notes Erin Palinski-Wade, RD, CDE, LDN, CPT. “My solution: freezing fresh avocado. From a nutrition perspective, avocados are a good source of fiber, and unlike most fruits, they have zero grams of naturally occurring sugar per serving, which helps maintain healthy blood sugar levels. No mid-afternoon crash! Also, as essentially the only fruit with heart-healthy unsaturated fats, they’re a rich and creamy swap for typical smoothie ingredients containing saturated fats. To prepare for the freezer, simply wash, halve, peel and quarter fresh avocados, then toss them in a resealable freezer bag for smoothie perfection!”
8. Get Creative With Your Ingredients
Avocado, spinach and frozen fruit are pretty standard smoothie ingredients, but they’re far from the only ones you can and should be using when you’re whipping up a healthy drink. “Adding a few scoops of baked sweet potato is the perfect addition to the average peanut butter banana smoothie, as it will make the consistency even creamier while boosting vitamin A, promoting gut health and an antioxidant boost,” says David Young, American Dining Creations’ corporate executive chef.
9. Don’t Forget the Flavor
While most of the pros we talked to strongly advised against adding more sugary substances (such as honey, artificial sweeteners or fruit juices) to often already sweet smoothies, a handful recommended flavorful additions that won’t make the drinks sweeter or more caloric. Miller, for example, is a fan of tossing in some unsweetened cocoa powder. “Not only will unsweetened cocoa powder add flavor and more depth to your smoothie, it can also offer some nutritional benefits,” she explains. “Unsweetened cocoa powder has some antioxidant power and all you have to do is put a spoonful in your smoothie to get it.”
10. Use Lecithin-Rich Foods
Falbo recommends finding lecithin-rich foods. In addition to giving your smoothie a nutritional boost, lecithin can help the drink keep its consistency over time. “Lecithin is naturally found in egg yolks, sunflower seeds, soy, and meats. It is primarily composed of choline, fatty acids, and phospholipids. It has been shown to support brain health, healthy cholesterol metabolism, nerve health and liver health,” she notes. “Added to a smoothie, lecithin has very little flavor and acts as an emulsifier, helping the water and fat stay combined, making the smoothie hold its consistency longer.”
11. Follow a Recipe Matrix
Karen Falbo, the director of nutrition education at Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage and a certified natural foods chef, recommends putting together a smoothie using a specific ingredient metric. You have many options to choose from, but your basic recipe should be a liquid base, fruit, healthy fats, superfood powders, and protein powder.
“To get started, choose a liquid base,” she says. “Next, add natural sweetness with fresh or frozen fruit. Fruit also provides vitamins, minerals, and fiber too. Healthy fats can be added to help support blood sugar balance. Fats provide fatty acids for energy and are a source of vitamins too. Coconut oil, full-fat yogurt from grass-fed cows, nut or seed butter, and/or MCT oil are popular choices. Superfoods add extra nutrition, and popular choices are powdered greens or turmeric. Finally, add protein powder for the added amino acids (the building blocks of the body) and to make the smoothie into a meal.”
It’s no secret that deep-fried foods are super delicious, but it’s also nothing new that they aren’t healthy for you, either.
Good news: The handy air fryer makes all the crispy, battered and crunchy recipes we love sans the added oil and fat. In short, an air fryer is basically a convection oven, but it’s the airflow that makes your favorite dishes crispy just like they would be if you dropped them in a vat of oil.
But before you shrug off investing in another kitchen gadget, hear us out: You can truly make anything in this convenient tool — from fried chicken to perfectly cooked fish, the air fryer deserves a space on your kitchen counter.
To help persuade you even more, we rounded up high-protein air fryer dinner recipes that you can make in 30 minutes or less.
1. Air Fryer Coconut Shrimp
These crispy, coconut-crusted shrimp taste just as decadent as the restaurant version. Image Credit: Feel Good Foodie
This tropical-flavored seafood dish is a popular pick at just about any menu it appears on, but you can count on this rendition serving up less fat than the restaurant stuff.
“Shrimp is naturally high in protein and a low-fat option in terms of protein choices,” May Zhu, RD, LDN of Nutrition Happens, says. We love how low-calorie it is and easy to whip up on evenings when you’re running short on time.
To make this a complete meal, Zhu recommends adding a variety of vegetables like roasted broccoli or a green salad to provide fiber, vitamins and minerals.
The entire family will love this 15-minute salmon dinner full of garlic and lemon flavor. Image Credit: Sweet C’s Designs
Salmon is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins and minerals. “Regular consumption of salmon is linked to a reduced risk for heart-related diseases such as stroke, high blood pressure and high triglycerides,” Zhu says.
Cooking your salmon in the air fryer not only helps avoid overcooking, but it makes the buttery fish crispy on the outside and soft and tender on the inside. Since salmon is a good source of both protein and healthy fats, try pairing it with a fiber-rich carbohydrate or whole grain like quinoa or brown rice.
Get the Air Fryer Lemon Garlic Salmon recipe and nutrition info at Sweet C’s Designs.
3. Air Fryer Buffalo Wings
Give this game-day favorite a healthy twist without sacrificing on flavor. Image Credit: JZ Eats
The biggest culprit for this not-so-healthy American favorite is how it’s prepared. Traditionally, they are deep-fried in oil and then tossed in your sauce of choice. This air fryer recipe produces the same crispy, saucy wings we all know and love using only a fraction of the oil.
Chicken wings contain protein, about 20 grams per 3 ounces, but Zhu warns that they’re not the best choice amongst other cuts of chicken like boneless, skinless breast. But the key to this dinner choice is enjoying it in moderation. Zhu’s choice of side dish for these buffalo wings is carrots and celery with a side salad.
Get the Air Fryer Chicken Wings recipe and nutrition info at JZ Eats.
4. Air Fryer Orange Tofu
A vegan-friendly copycat recipe of the fan-favorite Chinese takeout. Image Credit: Veggie Society
Love it or hate it, tofu is versatile and good for you. “This recipe provides 23 grams of soy-based protein and all nine essential amino acids,” Zhu says. A 4-ounce serving provides 60 percent of the daily recommended calcium, which supports heart health, nerve function and helps maintain healthy bones and muscles, Zhu says.
The best part about this air fryer tofu is it pretty much takes on whatever flavor you want. In this case, it’s tossed in the cult-favorite sweet and tangy sauce. Just like Orange Chicken you’d get at your favorite restaurant, you can serve this tofu over brown rice or quinoa for a source of fiber-rich carbs.
Get the Air Fryer Orange Tofu recipe and nutrition info at Veggie Society.
5. Air Fryer Turkey Breast
You’ll fall in love with how tender and juicy this air fried turkey breast tastes. Image Credit: Skinnytaste
Sadly, we often keep turkey in a “Thanksgiving only” box, but the truth is, it’s a great source of protein and a delicious one, too. In just 4 ounces of this air-fried turkey breast, you’ll get a whopping 32 grams of protein.
“Poultry such as turkey contains fewer calories per serving in comparison to many red meats,” Zhu says. It provides mineral selenium, which functions as an antioxidant in the body to protect it from free radicals and to reduce oxidative stress, she adds.
To make this a balanced meal, try pairing with starchy vegetables, whole-grains or legumes for a carbohydrate and a green leafy vegetable.
Get the Air Fryer Turkey Breast recipe and nutrition info at Skinnytaste.
6. Ultra Crispy Air Fryer Chickpeas
These protein-packed chickpeas can be eaten alone or as a garnish atop your favorite dish. Image Credit: Sweet Peas and Saffron
Whether you’re fully vegan or you’re looking to limit your meat intake, chickpeas are a great way to increase protein in a dish without reaching for any animal products.
If you’re eating this as your main protein source for dinner, Zhu suggests adding the air-fried chickpeas to a veggie-packed salad. This plant-based protein also makes for a great snack when you’re craving something salty or crunchy — it’s a much healthier option than a bag of chips.