When you think about which kitchen appliances are best for healthy eating, you might think of blenders for smoothies, slow cookers for delicious soups and stews, and Instant Pots for just about everything. Either way, your trusty microwave probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind, but it’s a powerhouse beyond reheating leftovers and popping popcorn. The truth is, you can use the microwave to make convenient, nutritious meals.
Here, nine healthy meals courtesy of your microwave:
Scrambling eggs in a pan is quick and simple, but some mornings you just don’t feel like firing up the stove and washing pots and pans before work. Try scrambling eggs in the microwave instead.
Microwave hack: Coat a mug with cooking spray. Add 2 eggs, 2 tablespoons milk, a pinch of salt and a pinch of pepper, then beat with a fork. Microwave on medium-high for 90 seconds, taking the mug out to stir every 30 seconds.
It’s possible you’ve made instant oatmeal packets with water in the microwave before, but you can make your breakfast oats even healthier. Use old-fashioned oats (which have a heartier texture and more protein than instant oats), your favorite milk, and flavorings like cinnamon and vanilla. They’ll be chewier, creamier and more filling, especially when paired with nutritious toppings like nuts and fruit.
Microwave hack: In a large mug, combine 1/2 cup (45g) old-fashioned oats, 1/2 cup (125 ml) milk, a pinch of cinnamon and a few drops of vanilla, and gently mix. Microwave on high for 90 seconds, taking the mug out to stir every 30 seconds.
If you’re looking for oatmeal that’s more like cake and less like porridge, baked oatmeal fits the bill. Adding an egg and some flaxseed to your microwaved oatmeal solidifies the texture and adds more protein.
Microwave hack: In a large mug, combine 1/2 cup (45g) oats, 1 egg, 1 tablespoon flaxseed, 1/3 cup (78ml) milk such as unsweetened almond milk and gently mix. Microwave on high for 3 minutes, checking every 30 seconds to ensure it doesn’t bubble over.
SWEET POTATO “OATS”
If you love oatmeal for the convenience, but not so much the taste, give this grain-free alternative a try. It’s rich in vitamin A, C and fiber thanks to the sweet potato, while banana adds natural sweetness and potassium.
Microwave hack: Peel a sweet potato and run it through the shredder attachment on a food processor. Then add the blade attachment and pulse for a few seconds, until the sweet potato resembles the size of oats. In a small bowl, add 1 cup (150g) of sweet potatoes, 1 medium crushed banana, 1/4 cup almond milk, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and a pinch of salt. Microwave for about 3 minutes or until cooked.
If you’re looking for a sweet breakfast like a muffin, but want to cut down on the extra sugar and calories that come with store-bought options, you can easily make a mug cake in the microwave.
Microwave hack: Try this blueberry breakfast mug cake recipe by combining all the ingredients and spooning the batter into mugs and putting it in the microwave for 1 1/2–2 minutes. You can also substitute your favorite berries or nuts or add more veggies such as grated zucchini or carrots.
As long as you’re not overdoing it with oversized portions of toppings like sour cream, cheese and bacon, baked potatoes make a great base for a healthy meal. They provide nutritious carbs and are low on the glycemic index, meaning the body takes longer to digest them so you feel full longer. Throw in some cooked veggies and guacamole, or top them with leftover chili or braised meat. And yes, this works for sweet potatoes as well.
Microwave hack: Poke a medium potato all over with a fork 5–10 times. Put it on a plate, then microwave on high for 5–6 minutes; increase to 10–11 minutes for a large potato, until it’s soft throughout. Let cool for at least a minute before splitting open.
Instead of stopping at a bodega or driving through a fast-food spot for your morning egg sandwich, make it at home in the microwave. The recipe below shows you how to make a perfectly round egg ‘patty” to fit on a whole-wheat English muffin. You can top it with the recommended cheese and mashed avocado, or go rogue and use whatever toppings you want.
Microwave hack: Make these quick microwave poached eggs on avocado toast by pouring 1/2 cup (118ml) water into a microwave-safe coffee mug. Crack 1 egg into the mug, cover with a small plate, and microwave on high for 30 seconds. Lift the plate carefully (to let steam escape) and check the egg and then cook more at 10-second intervals, if needed.
Homemade granola can be lower in sugar (and cheaper to make) compared to traditional store-bought varieties. It’s not the easiest microwave hack, but it sure beats waiting for granola from the oven.
Microwave hack: To make microwave granola, instead of cooking your ingredients on low in an oven, which can take an hour or more, you can microwave it in just 12 minutes total, adding certain things as you go. Then, you lay the ingredients on a cookie sheet and let them harden into the perfect yogurt or smoothie bowl topper.
If you’ve never tried cooking fish in the microwave, these two recipes are a great place to start. The first is lemon-horseradish sole, a delicate, low-calorie white fish. The second is spicy salmon, a heartier fish rich in heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. It’s coated in a mayo-and-Sriracha sauce to add tons of flavor and some extra fat for tenderness.
Microwave hack: Place the fish and sauce in a microwave-safe dish, cover tightly, and microwave for roughly 3 1/2 minutes.
Discover hundreds of healthy recipes — from high protein to low carb — via “Recipe Discovery” in the MyFitnessPal app.