For a long time, I thought I would never see certain words go together. Like, “good microwave meals.” Or “fast low-sodium food.” That’s because most prepared foods (ramen!) or frozen meals (macaroni!) come with a high sodium price tags. And thus, I always thought that good low-sodium food required stoves and ovens and longer preparation times. Not just a press of a button.
But as with all things low-sodium, nothing is impossible. And overtime, I discovered simple ways to make great meals in a microwave. Just using some raw ingredients, some low-so spices, and that magical heating device.
Why is that important? Because if you work, then you most likely face the daunting challenge of eating low-sodium in an office. One that probably doesn’t come with a chef or a full working kitchen.
And I get it. Before starting this site, I worked for years in a non-fancy, non-profit cubicle. While most of my friends’ jobs included multiple cafeterias and chefs and snack bins, my professional kitchen had a sink, a refrigerator, a toaster oven, and a microwave. Oh, and running water. That was it.
As I had just started my low-sodium diet, I majorly struggled with my mid-day meals. Often bringing in random leftovers. Settling for a boring salad. Or when I didn’t have time to make something the evening before, scavenging for chocolate for lunch. Neither option proving to be filling or fueling.
And while these days, my work revolves around my own kitchen and I pretty much make anything I want, those days of limited cooking tools and food options and sad desk-lunches are not lost on me. They’ve stayed fresh on my mind. And even though my stove is now my office, I still find myself in situations (especially while traveling), where I have to make due with very little.
Which is why I bring you some low-so good recipes, specifically for that office microwave. It requires just a little prep before you let that box of heat and light do the rest of the work.
To start your day, try a Microwave To-Go Tostada. A minute in the microwave and you get a crispy corn tortilla shell which you can top with whatever you have around — fresh tomatoes, canned no-salt-added beans, yogurt, avocado, shaved raw zucchini. You get it.
Then for a pre-lunch snack, go ahead make yourself a bowl of low-so good potato and yam chips. Or sweet potato chips. Or beet chips! Just pre-slice your chosen root vegetable the night before. Put it in a air-tight plastic bag or container with some oil and spices. And when hunger strikes, grab some paper towels and a plate and let the chips rip. (Recipe below).
And finally, for lunch, remember to pack yourself a Just-Add-Water Microwave Soup.
The key being to pack the right, uncooked ingredients, like:
- microwave rice
- uncooked tofu or yuba strips
- thinly sliced raw zucchini or box choy
- frozen peas and edamame and corn
- and sliced green onions
With the right strong, salt-free spices, like:
- salt-free curry powder
- salt-free garlic powder
And super umami flavor boosters, like:
- dried or fresh shiitake mushrooms
- green tea bag
Put it all together in a spill-free container or mason jar. Then, add hot water. Let it sit. Reheat before lunch. Take out the dried mushrooms and tea bag (if using). And enjoy. Bonus tip: if you keep a little coconut milk in the office fridge, even better. Bonus bonus tip: Using up hard boiled eggs, leftover cooked noodles or cooked chicken or cooked vegetables is great too.
So in sum, don’t let limited cooking tools keep you from really tasty office meals. Bring the same creativity you have in your own kitchen at home to the tiny kitchenette you have at the office. Then, heat and eat.
MICROWAVE YAM OR POTATO CHIPS
makes 2 servings
- 1 medium Yukon Gold potato, rinsed or 1 medium yam or sweet potato
- 1 to 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon salt-free garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon dried dill
- Pinch freshly ground black pepper
The night before work or in the morning before you catch the bus, carefully use a mandolin or a knife to cut your potato or yam into 1/8 to 1/4-inch-thick rounds. It should yield about 1 1/2 cups of sliced potatoes or yams.
Place your potato or yam rounds into an air-tight plastic bag or container. Add 1 Tablespoon of oil and spices. Then close the bag or container and shake to distribute the oils and spices. Add extra oil if needed.
Then, when at work, cover a large, microwave-safe plate with two paper towels. Lay out half of the chips on the plate in a single layer, making sure none of them overlap. Heat at full power for 3 minutes. Then, flip the chips (carefully, they are hot). And heat again for 30 seconds. Check on the chips and repeat 2 or 3 more times, until the chips turn golden and crispy. Tip: yams (or thicker slices) will take a longer than potatoes (or thinner slices).
Take out the chips and set them aside in a bowl or plate. Repeat with the rest of the raw potato or yam slices. Then enjoy at your desk and make everyone else jealous.