Here’s a look at a trio of household stress relievers for frantic cooks in the family.
Air Fryer XL Deluxe (Uber Appliance, $139.99) — Everyone loves the theory of the air fryer, making food preparation not only faster but also healthier as the device offers oil-free cooking of favorite foods. Actually, air fryers can reduce up to 80% of fat from those fried heart-attack meals.
Unfortunately, finding one that can consistently cook and create browned crispy treats without a traditional oil fryer has been difficult. Luckily, Uber Appliance has a winner.
At under a foot in height, the round-cornered, 10-inch by 10-inch gem features a black design with a silver handle and tucks neatly into a corner, creating a shiny addition to the countertop.
It offers a 5-quart basket (8 inches square) and can brown a small chicken or roast as it cooks at temperatures up to 400 degrees with a powerful 1400-watt heating element. The high temperatures work to also seal-in moisture and flavor while crisping the outside to perfection.
The basket has an interior rack that allows the hot air to circulate around the food for consistent cooking. In addition, any grease or crumbs drop below. The rack allows bacon grease to drip through, creating perfect bacon slices without having to use a burner on the stove.
It’s also easy to pull out the basket to check progress, picking up the cooking when it’s slid back in.
A nonstick coating wipes clean with a paper towel, but it is also dishwasher safe. The unit is extremely lightweight, so it can be moved from the counter to a prep area. Even at 360-degree use, the air venting from the back is warm, but not burn hot, so safe to use in a busy kitchen. Uber also eliminated that annoying “melting plastic” smell familiar with other air fryers.
The benefit for the holiday chef is that the Uber Air Fryer XL Deluxe quickly heats up frozen hors d’oeuvres without the need to find space in the oven, with every bite coming out cooked to perfection. The unit features a timer and eight cooking presets in an easy-to-read, flat LED touch screen.
An included recipe book offers plenty of ideas, but the fun will be in discovering new favorite recipes such as slices of pita bread, lightly sprayed with olive oil and salted, then crisped for a healthy, freshly made chip.
In addition to air frying, the Uber Air Fryer XL Deluxe can be used to bake, broil, roast or dehydrate food. It can also reheat foods. Wrap a leftover sandwich in a slightly moist paper towel, place it in the unit until warm, and it will taste like when first served.
Chillest (GoSun, $499.99) — This full-size, portable cooler eliminates the stress of keeping drinks and frozen foods chilled, freeing up limited space in the home fridge, yet it’s portable to take in cars, on boats and at campgrounds.
The chargeable Chillest keeps food and drinks cool from -4 to 68 degrees when placed in its 45-liter, dual-zone interior compartments — one that can be chilled for cold foods, the other for frozen items.
The cold side includes a 12-inch by 12-inch and 15-inch-high, removable basket; and the frozen side, an 8-inch by 12-inch-wide, 8-inch-tall basket.
The cooler is powered using a built-in 87Wh battery, external power bank, DC car outlet, wall adapter or solar panels (sold separately starting at $149).
At home, the cooler is easily plugged into a wall socket. On the road, a built-in, lithium-ion battery provides power (roughly 40 hours on a full charge). The solar panel easily attaches to the unit, powering it on the road, boat or beach.
The Chillest features an easy-to-use touch screen to set temperatures. A Bluetooth feature and app allow owners to monitor temperatures and change them from a smartphone.
Handy features on the Chillest include an extendable handle, bottle opener, baskets, cutting board and power cord pouch. While the Chillest is a heavy cooler (42 pounds), it is easy to move with a telescoping handle and sturdy wheels.
Unlike standard coolers, the Chillest also does not need ice for cooling, allowing more room for storing items. However, the frozen compartment can be used to make ice, for on-the-go cocktails.
One real-world example of the unit in action during the holiday food gantlet would be the initial preparation of a turkey.
For the home chef, brining a fresh turkey, a key process to keep the meat moist as it cooks, can be filled with challenges. Finding a large-enough container to fit the turkey and brine, a large-enough space in the refrigerator and keeping the turkey safely chilled to inhabit bacteria, is not always easy.
Instead, fill the cooler with brine water and spices before adding a turkey to leave on a back porch or in the corner. The water must be kept below 40 degrees, but not allowed to freeze for up to one hour per pound.
When ready to prepare the turkey, lift the basket and while the bird is draining, loosen the bottom plug to easily remove the brine water. Wipe the container clean with a paper cloth and bleach cleaner to kill any foodborne bacteria, and it becomes a secondary fridge for prepared foods or beverages.
Meditation Pod (Sensate, $299.99) — Stress is a given during the holidays. No matter how much one enjoys family and friends, being part of those perfect holiday memories can be a chore.
The Sensate anti-anxiety and stress relief device will help. It takes owners to a place of calm and a relaxed state with just one 10-minute daily session.
The palm-sized teardrop pod used while reclining, preferably in a darkened room, delivers a holistic approach to meditation, perfect for those with busy lives, and targets the vagus nerve.
The vagus nerve, part of the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS), manages how the body reacts to stress, playing a vital role in digestion, heart health and breathing rate.
The Sensate helps to regulate the autonomic nervous system and the branches that control the feelings of worry or anxiety tied to a fight-or-flight response to stress.
Sensate uses a holistic approach, versus medications, to tone the vagus nerve by guiding the user through a period of relaxation and meditation while the unit, resting upon the chest vibrates at different frequencies and times.
Those vibrations, or humming, tap into instincts of safety and relations. Think of how a premature baby is often given a heartbeat sound to mimic the mother’s beating heart – one of the first soothing sounds and vibrations we learn.
The vibrations are resonated through your bones while a variety of soundscapes, used with an app, add a soothing sound backdrop to a session.
Sounds are labeled Nature, Space and Time, Sacred Spaces and Breathe. Each soundscape is designed to quiet the mind and focus the meditation as a resonant sound that works with the vibrations.
The sound volume and vibration intensity of the Sensate are adjustable via the app. The app will also keep track of your meditation progress.
The Sensate does come with a ribbon lanyard. However, take caution with wearing the ribbon around the neck if planning to immediately sleep during the session.
The effects of the pod are cumulative, and results will vary, but this reviewer’s initial testing over a week found regular use of the Sensate did improve sleep patterns and reduce levels of anxiety with daily sessions.
A 30-day, money-back guarantee makes the Sensate worth a try to help manage those angst-loaded holidays.