A Whole Lot More Than Hot Air

A Whole Lot More Than Hot Air - Food & Nutrition Magazine - Stone Soup
Photo courtesy of Gourmia

Product reviewed: Gourmia GAF680 Digital Free Fry Air Fryer

Growing up in southwest Georgia, there are few things more Southern than fried food. While there are some decent oven tricks to somewhat mimic fried food, I have found that using an oven often leaves one side of the food soggy. I was excited to review the Gourmia GAF680 Digital Free Fry Air Fryer to test its ability to cook crispy food – but I wasn’t expecting it to be such a versatile kitchen appliance.

Taking up about one square foot of counter space, the Gourmia air fryer is an all-purpose appliance that allows you to roast, bake, grill, fry and broil in less time and only a fraction of added fats or oils. The stainless-steel air fryer comes with a multipurpose rack and skewers for tiered cooking along with a book of 30 unique recipes with photos, including Southwestern Stuffed Peppers and “Grilled” Beef Fajitas. The digital touchscreen is easy to program, and cooking can be paused by pulling out the basket. This appliance has a much smaller cooking capacity (6 quarts) than a traditional oven, but it uses much less electricity and does not overheat the kitchen, which is especially nice during warm months.

The Gourmia air fryer comes assembled ready to use, but you may notice a burnt plastic smell during the first few uses (this goes away by the third or fourth use). The promised crispy texture is possible because the air fryer circulates hot air rapidly in all directions so that food is cooked on all sides. Most of the recipes recommend pulling the basket out halfway through cooking to shake the food, which prevents sticking and uneven cooking. I found this technique to be necessary and, even still, some foods did stick a little bit. Gourmia claims that recipes in the air fryer take 30 percent less time and that was evident in the recipes I used when testing the machine.

The first food I made in the air fryer: curly fries. Because who doesn’t like the idea of healthier french fries? I also made zucchini fries, fish sticks, grilled cheese, roasted chickpeas and more. While the panko-breaded zucchini fries had great crunch, I did have to cook two batches, which doesn’t save as much time in the long run. The air fryer was extremely useful for reheating leftovers such as roasted veggies, almond flour-crusted fish sticks and leftover homemade pizza, each of which took only a few minutes to get crispy and get hot. The air fryer also was the best and quickest way for me to make crunchy ranch roasted chickpeas.

Frying food can be messy and, because of the amount of oil required, may drive you to buy a lesser quality oil to manage the cost. When using this air fryer, you can use little or no oil, depending on preference and the type of food being cooked. While a balanced meal includes some healthy fats, this gives you control over what type of oil or fat to use and how much.

The Gourmia air fryer is easy to clean with some warm, soapy water and a cloth. Although not annoying to me, the appliance does have a low rumble, similar to a microwave, when in use.

The Gourmia GAF680 Digital Free Fry Air Fryer would be useful for families that need to make a quick meal on busy weeknights, especially if cooking other parts of the meal on the stove top. A single or married couple also may find it useful as an all-purpose appliance instead of having a toaster oven on the countertop. However, due to its limited capacity, it may not be best for large families or moms who are used to loading up the oven for food prep each weekend.

Crunchy Ranch Roasted Chickpeas Recipe

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 teaspoon avocado oil (or extra-virgin olive oil)
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1 teaspoon dried dill
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon black pepper

Directions:

  1. Pat chickpeas dry with a towel and remove any loose skins. Place in a bowl and drizzle with avocado oil. Toss until all are coated. Add dry spices and stir until combined.
  2. Place seasoned chickpeas in the basket of the air fryer. Press “fry” setting at 400 degrees Fahrenheit and reduce time to 14 minutes. Shake the basket once or twice during cooking to ensure chickpeas cook evenly.
  3. At the end of cooking time, test a chickpea to see if it is done – it should be completely dry with no moisture in the center. Cook for an additional 1 to 2 minutes if needed.

NOTE: These roasted chickpeas are best the day they are made but can be cooled completely and stored in an airtight container.

Photo by Jennifer Hunt

 

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Jennifer Hunt
Jennifer Hunt, RDN, LD, is a nutrition communications dietitian whose joy and passion is to empower women to live healthy, vibrant lives. She loves sharing real-life strategies to choosing nourishing foods, making delicious, easy recipes and loving the woman in the mirror. Read her blog, Healthy Inspiration, and connect with her on Facebook.