Skip to content

Stories & Features

10 nutritious small appliance recipes

Skinny black bean flautas on a plate
At 241 calories per serving, this frying-free version of flautas leans in on black beans, chilis, and homemade taco seasoning for a flavour punch. (Photo courtesy

Look beyond the microwave reheat to save time, reduce energy use

If you think small appliances are all about tater tots, pizza, and frozen burritos, you'd be wrong. True, the microwave and toaster oven are popular ways to reheat stuff – see this detailed online guide on how to reheat a long list of fast foods – but it's time to look beyond fast food.

Small appliances such as slow cookers, Instant Pots, toaster ovens, air fryers, and blenders are convenient, effective, and help reduce your electricity bills. There are also thousands of delicious recipes, many of them packed with nutrition, available online.

Did you know? Cooking with a small appliance uses up to 75% less energy than cooking the same meal with your oven or stovetop? It can also be a big time saver.

Here are 10 dynamite small appliance recipes along with a few tips about how to keep things nutritious.

A bowl of Instant Pot chicken quinoa
In just over an hour, including prep time, you can serve up Instant Pot chicken with quinoa, pistachios, and apricots. (Photo courtesy Food Network)

Instant Pot chicken with quinoa, pistachios, and apricots

There are many great ways to cook chicken in an Instant Pot, but this Food Network recipe gets downright creative to add a dizzying variety of flavours to the mix. In addition to quinoa, pistachios, and apricots, there's serrano chili, ginger, and rosemary, plus mint and scallions for garnish.

Toaster oven portobello pesto burgers

The mighty portobello mushroom shares some characteristics with the burger you know and love. And while it may not have the juicy mouthfeel carnivores crave, pesto and goat cheese guarantee this is no ordinary portobello burger. The recipe also includes a tangy carrot-fennel slaw as a side dish.

Portobello pesto burger recipe on

A bowl of parmesan garlic brussel sprouts made in an air fryer
Olive oil helps deliver caramelized brussels sprouts in a 12-minute cooking time. (Photo courtesy

Crispy garlic parmesan air fryer brussels sprouts

Brussels sprouts are having a moment after years, perhaps decades, of infamy as the thing you endured at holiday feasts. They're now a tasty, weeknight option that, when prepped with a little creativity, can appeal to the pickiest eaters.

While bacon is so good with brussels sprouts, the garlic and parmesan in this air fryer recipe from boasts an eye-popping 12-minute cooking time. Bonus points for not leaving that fried brussels sprouts odour lingering, and for using olive oil to caramelize this underrated veggie.

Healthy air fryer chicken and veggies

Chicken breast can be at its best when roasted. Toss in the likes of garlic, broccoli, and peppers, and you're in for a treat. Doing it all in the air fryer is quick, easy, and healthy.

See the recipe at

Instant Pot butternut squash soup

A creamy soup without the cream? This recipe from pulls it off by using two tablespoons of butter. And while prepping a squash can be daunting for some of us, there's always the option of subbing in frozen cubed squash.

Instant Pot minestrone soup

Think minestrone is a boring, old-school soup? Think again. Hearty and filling, minestrone soup can be a hit with the whole family, and it needs to only spend about 15 minutes total time in the Instant Pot (including warmup and pressure release time). Time to get chopping.

Get the recipe at

Toaster oven skinny black bean flautas

Skip the frying usually associated with flautas and reap the benefits of lower calories without sacrificing taste. Let's hope your toaster oven is big enough to make enough of these nutritious treats, filled with black beans, cheddar and green chilis. The recipe on also suggests a healthier, homemade alternative to store-bought taco seasoning.

Toaster oven portobello pesto burgers toaster oven

Portobello mushrooms on the barbecue are great, but as the weather finally turns wet and cold, take your burger-making indoors to the toaster oven to stay comfy and avoid GHG emissions from the barbeque.

This burger recipe on adds sun-dried tomato pesto and goat cheese to lift the burger beyond the ordinary. And at 345 calories, it's about half the calories of a mushroom mozza Uncle burger at A&W. Cut even more calories by trading the bun for a lettuce wrap.

5-minute miso-glazed toaster oven salmon

Take an axe to the time, cleanup effort, and the fishy-fry smell – along with energy use – with this quick and easy miso-glazed salmon recipe from

This one's all about the marinade, but the recommendation is to either cook it right away after applying the marinade or refrigerate it for up to a day.

A selection of low-sugar smoothies
Cut down on the sugar in your smoothies while doubling down on the veggies and adding protein and nutritious fibre to ensure it works as a meal replacement instead of an invitation to snack a half hour later. (Photo courtesy

Green(er) smoothies

A smoothie can be a great substitute for breakfast, or even for lunch, if you're careful to avoid the common mistake of going overboard on the sugar. The trick is to go heavy on the veggies – it may surprise you how much spinach you can add without compromising taste – and light on sugary fruits, juices and sweetening agents such as honey or maple syrup.

Another key is to ensure there's enough protein and fat (but not too much) in your smoothie to ensure it's a true meal replacement. Sugary smoothies taste great, but will have you (or your kids) hungry within the hour and potentially snacking on stuff that's not so healthy. Look to lower-fat fruits such as berries and lemons over the likes of apples, grapes, cherries, watermelon, and mangos, although it's hard to resist adding at least half a banana or dates for taste.

Some protein powders are healthier than others, so consider going with protein and fat options including nut butters, coconut milk, chia or ground flax seeds, quinoa, milk or plain yogurt. Good sources of fat include avocados (one quarter to one half an avocado) and coconut oil (one tablespoon of MCT oil).

And remember that your smoothies don't have to be green to be good for you. A blueberry smoothie with a big helping of spinach is still going to be blue enough to fool the pickiest eaters in your home. If you must sweeten it, opt for banana – frozen slices to reduce the need for ice – or a small amount of pineapple juice.

Grains such as flax and chia, or steel-cut oats, add much-needed fibre to your smoothie. If you have an Instant Pot, it's easy to cook a big batch of steel-cut oats in advance so that you have a smoothie additive for several days.

And now, for a few smoothie recipes:

  • has some excellent ideas for low-sugar smoothies, including recipes for smoothies ranging from pineapple/coconut, to cucumber/kiwi, to berry/spinach.
  • goes big on a mix of spinach and kale for a nutritious green smoothie that owes its sweetness to a bit of frozen mango.
  • adds lemon juice and cinnamon in a keto avocado green smoothie

Tip: Freeze cut-up fruits and veggies to speed your smoothie prep and eliminate the need to add ice.