10 nutritious small appliance recipes
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.
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.
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 joyfulhealthyeats.com 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.
Instant Pot butternut squash soup
A creamy soup without the cream? This recipe from kristineskitchenblog.com 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.
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 skinnyms.com 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 delish.com 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 seriouseats.com.
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 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:
- Downshiftology.com has some excellent ideas for low-sugar smoothies, including recipes for smoothies ranging from pineapple/coconut, to cucumber/kiwi, to berry/spinach.
- iFoodreal.com goes big on a mix of spinach and kale for a nutritious green smoothie that owes its sweetness to a bit of frozen mango.
- Primaverakitchen.com 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.