Science has found another reason to eat more fruits and vegetables—eating enough of them could make you a happier person, according to new Australian research.
More than 12,000 people were surveyed twice about how many fruits and vegetables they typically ate—once in 2007, and again in 2009.
During both of those surveys, the subjects also rated their overall life satisfaction on a scale of 1 to 10.
Researchers looked at how each person’s fruit and vegetable consumption and happiness changed over those two years, and found that with each extra serving of fruits and vegetables people ate, the happier they felt.
For example, if someone ate two more daily servings of fruit in 2009 than they did in 2007, their happiness increased by about .07 on a 10-point scale.
Based on the strength of that link, the researchers calculated that if someone went from eating no produce to eating eight servings a day, they’d experience a .24 increase in their happiness score.
While that may not sound like much, it’s as large as the boost you’d get from going from unemployed to employed, says study co-author Andrew Oswald, Ph.D., a professor of behavioral science at the University of Warwick in England.
That’s because the researchers also calculated how much happiness was linked to other major factors, like working status. On average, unemployment was associated with a .21 decrease in happiness.
While scientists aren’t certain how fruit and vegetables make you happier, it could have to do with the nutrients they contain.
Past research suggests there is a link between B vitamins—found in spinach, Brussels sprouts, and oranges—and serotonin production, one of the chemicals in your brain that helps produce your happy mood.
One recent study also found a connection between higher concentrations of carotenoids, an antioxidant that gives foods like carrots or tomatoes their rich color, and optimism.
Even if you already eat fruits and vegetables, increasing your intake even more may produce a bump in happiness, says Oswald.
Shoot for eight servings a day—one serving would equal half a cup of fresh, frozen, or canned fruits and vegetables, according to the American Heart Association.
Get at least two of your daily servings in one of these 20 Healthy, Protein-Packed Smoothie Recipes—you’ll reap all the health benefits, like reducing your risk for chronic diseases, and feel better about life, too.
There’s a reason the fittest guys at the gym love their protein shakes: When you pump iron, protein repairs the tiny tears that strength training creates in your muscles, which helps them grow bigger, faster.
You have to take in protein all day long—not just at dinner—if you want to maximize your gains. In a University of Texas study, researchers found that muscle protein synthesis—the driving force behind your muscle growth—was 25 percent greater when people ate protein throughout the day (30 grams of protein per meal) compared to those who ate a bulk of their protein at dinner (10 grams for breakfast, 15 grams for lunch, and 65 grams for dinner).
Unfortunately, most Americans’ diets match that latter group. On average, we eat almost three times as much protein during dinner (38 grams) as we do during breakfast (13 grams), according to the National Center for Health Statistics.
If you want to maximize your gains and keep your hunger in check, get your fix by sneaking more protein in throughout the day. Refer to these 15 tips when you need a fast and convenient way to bump your intake.
Power Up Your Peanut Butter
Your average spoonful of peanut butter is a great way to get some protein on its own—but if you want to go all out, Power Butter can double your intake, says Jim White, R.D.N., spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Two tablespoons of the stuff will get you 16 grams of protein compared to the 7 grams you’d find in a typical serving of peanut butter.
Prep Hard-Boiled Eggs
Don’t underestimate the convenience of hard-boiled eggs. Boil a bunch in advance and keep them in your fridge so you have a quick add-on option to low protein meals, says Aragon. Adding just a couple of hard-boiled eggs into your salad or as a side to your sandwich can increase your protein intake by 12 to 14 grams.
Powders are a great way to pack in protein without dedicating a ton of time to meal prep. Plus, if you choose a high-quality powder, there’s no difference in how it impacts your muscle growth or retention compared to other high-quality protein sources, like eggs, meat, and fish, says Men’s Health nutrition advisor Alan Aragon, M.S.
“There’s really nothing easier than this to bump up your protein intake,” he says. “One scoop has 20 to 25 grams of protein, about the same amount as 3 to 4 ounces of meat.”
He recommends Gold Standard whey protein. If you’re vegetarian or vegan, Raw Fusion, a mix of plant-based protein, is a great option. Plus, it’s a simple way to switch things up if you get tired of whey, Aragon says. Once you’ve found a powder that works for you, throw a scoop into one of these smoothie recipes for a quick meal on the go.
Load Up On Quinoa
If you’re into stir-fry or burrito bowls, swap out your rice or noodles for quinoa, says Keri Gans, R.D.N., author of The Small Change Diet. Half of a cup of these grain-like seeds will get you 4 grams of protein and nearly 3 grams of fiber—that’s compared to only 2 grams of protein and less than 1 gram of fiber you’d get from regular white rice.
Go Nuts With Granola
Granola is a great way to add crunch to your oatmeal or yogurt, but most store-bought versions are heavy on carbs and light on protein. Enhance your favorite mix by adding a handful (or about 1/4 cup) of nuts like peanuts or almonds to your serving, suggests White. This boosts your favorite granola (White recommends the Bear Naked Granola, which already contains 4 grams of protein per serving) by 7 grams of protein.
Want to go all out and make your own? Check out this easy homemade granola recipe and add an extra half-cup of nuts to increase the whole mix by 15 to 18 grams of protein.
Try the Best Bar Ever
Keep a stash of protein bars handy if you tend to get hungry in the afternoon. Be cautious here: Many protein bars are just candy bars in disguise and come loaded with sugar and empty calories. Aragon recommends The Best Bar Ever. It’s created with a blend of whey, casein, and whole-food ingredients like nuts. It packs in 20 grams of protein.
Sub the Sour Cream
A baked potato isn’t the same without sour cream, but you can barely notice the difference when you use plain Greek yogurt instead, says Chris Mohr, Ph.D., R.D. You’ll get 3 to 4 extra grams of protein in a couple of tablespoons, a punch of probiotics for your gut health, and save yourself unnecessary calories, too.
Dip With the Right Chips
Substitute your greasy potato chips for a handful of alternative chips made completely from beans, suggests Marie Spano, R.D., a sports nutritionist for the Atlanta Hawks. Just a couple of ounces of these chips yield 10 grams of protein. That’s compared to the measly 4 grams regular potato chips would offer. Plus, they’re also full of fiber, which helps keep you feeling full so you don’t over do it, she says.
Treat Your Sweet Tooth
While yogurt will never replace ice cream, it can still satisfy your cravings for dessert. This sweet treat will serve you about 35 grams of protein: Mix half a cup of part-skim ricotta and half a cup of Greek yogurt with a tablespoon of honey. Topp it off with 1/4 cup of walnuts. You can also go with one half or 2/3 cup of berries instead of the honey for added nutrients, suggests Aragon.
Perfect Your Pasta
If you’re really craving pasta, opt for one made from black beans and other legumes, Spano says. Your average serving of white spaghetti serves up about 7 grams of protein, but a couple of ounces of black bean spaghetti will bump you up to 25 grams.
There are some benefits to eating full-fat cheese, so sprinkle some shredded Parmesan onto salad, pasta, or any other of your favorite dishes to punch up the protein, flavor, and calcium, Aragon says. Three tablespoons of shredded parmesan will add nearly 6 grams of protein to your meal.
Top Your Salads With Edamame
Gans recommends adding these green soybeans to any salad to make it more filling: Just one cup of edamame will add a whopping 18 grams of protein and 8 grams of fiber to your meal.
It tastes great as an appetizer, too. Try this recipe to give it punch of flavor.
Sprinkle In Some Seeds
If you like to keep things simple with cereal in the morning, adding in hempseeds is a mindless way to up your protein intake, says Mohr. Three tablespoons will get you 10 grams of protein—combine that with the 8 grams of protein you’re already getting from your milk and 5 to 9 grams in a healthy cerealand you may actually stay full ‘til lunch.
Granola might conjure thoughts of too-thick hipster beards and bougie suburban moms, but we love it as a high-fiber, low-cholesterol breakfast or snack. With this homemade recipe, you’ll never go rummaging for that sugar-packed box from the supermarket again.
The key players in this granola are flaxseeds, which promote heart health, and wheat germ, which doubles down on the heart-healthy nutrients and supports your prostate to boot. It’s addictive enough to munch on as a late-night snack, but substantial enough to eat with some milk or yogurt in the morning.
What you’ll need:
3 cups oats
1/2 cup unsalted roasted almonds
3 tablespoons whole flaxseeds
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup toasted wheat germ
3 tablespoons honey
1 cup water
3 tablespoons dried cranberries
3 tablespoons chopped dates
2 tablespoons raisins
How to make it:
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
In a large bowl, mix together all the ingredients except the cranberries, dates, and raisins.
Coat a large baking pan with cooking spray. Add the mixture and spread from edge to edge to create an even layer.
Bake for 90 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes, until all the granola is browned and crunchy. If it’s not crunchy after 90 minutes, bake for 15 minutes longer while watching to see that it doesn’t get too dark.
Remove from the oven and allow it to cool completely.
Add the cranberries, dates, and raisins. Stir to mix.
If you’re going to eat cheese, it should be the fat-free or low-fat kind. Trouble is, that usually limits your choices to mass-produced, vacuum-sealed cheeses that have had much of their flavor sucked out along with the fat. So it’s hardly an appetizing proposition. And for what real benefit? Fewer calories and a lower risk of heart disease? Not so fast.
“The combination of protein and fat in regular, full-fat cheese is very satiating,” says Alan Aragon, a nutritionist in Westlake Village, California, and the Men’s Health Weight-Loss Coach. “As a result, eating full-fat cheese holds your appetite at bay for hours, and I’ve found that it cuts down my clients’ food intake at subsequent meals.” Aragon’s advice: Enjoy snacks of full-fat cheese especially if you’re on a diet. “Just don’t eat it mindlessly,” he says.
And if you’re worried about your cholesterol, chew on this: Danish scientists found that when men ate a whopping 10 daily 1-ounce servings of full-fat cheese for 3 weeks, their LDL (bad) cholesterol didn’t budge. Which isn’t to say you should live on the stuff—just that you don’t need to fear it. Full-fat cheese can be a healthy snack and a great way to make a bland meal taste better. “Cheese is the new wine,” says Terrance Brennan, chef and owner of Artisanal Fromagerie, Bistro & Wine Bar and Picholine restaurant, both in New York City. “There are thousands of different aromas, textures, and flavor profiles.”
So look beyond the singles and strings and into the gourmet cheese section of your supermarket (or shop online at artisanalcheese.com), and use our guide to discover the best cheeses you aren’t eating.
Step away from the Cheez Whiz: Robiola is the best way to top a Triscuit. This Italian cheese is soft, like Brie, and it tastes as rich as butter. Spread it on a whole-grain cracker or baguette slice, and round out the snack with grapes or cantaloupe. For another great spread, try Brillat-Savarin, which is so creamy it’s been called the cheese equivalent of ice cream.
Roncal: Anytime Snack
A firm sheep’s-milk cheese, Roncal’s nutty flavor and chewy texture make it a fine stand-alone snack. Or, to add a touch of sweetness, you can give it a light glaze of cherry or raspberry preserves. A delicious alternative is Comté, one of the most popular cheeses in France. Besides being a great snack, Comté can also be a tasty filling for a grilled-cheese sandwich.
Sainte-Maure: Salad Enhancer
This French goat cheese makes any salad taste better. But don’t try to crumble Sainte-Maure like you would other kinds of goat cheese—it’s too soft. Instead, serve it on the side of a mixed-green salad. For the dressing, combine 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar, ⅓ cup walnut oil, 1 tablespoon finely diced shallots, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, and some black pepper. Nab a bit of cheese with your fork, stab some lettuce, and bite down. The lemon and black-pepper flavors of the cheese blend perfectly with the earthy walnut oil.
Aged Gouda: Flavor King
Most cheeses can be aged for weeks to months, but a well-produced Gouda has spent 3 to 5 years in a cave. “Cheese is aged to develop its flavors,” says Scott A. Rankin, Ph.D., an associate professor of food science at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. The result is like a good Parmigiano Reggiano, but with rich caramel flavors. Eat thin slices with a green apple or pear.
Montgomery’s Cheddar: Beer Buddy
When you chomp into this cheese, don’t expect it to taste like the factory-formed orange bricks you find in your supermarket’s dairy section. This is authentic cheddar, from Manor Farm in Somerset, the county in England where the cheese originated. Its lingering flavors of buttermilk and horseradish balance well with any kind of beer and make American cheddar seem bland. “English farmhouse cheddars from Somerset are the cheddars of choice,” says Steven Jenkins, the author of Cheese Primer.
Hoja Santa: Wine Companion
This creamy goat cheese from Texas is wrapped in leaves of hoja santa, an herb that imparts licorice and mint flavors. Serve it with a glass of Riesling or sauvignon blanc. White wine is usually a better complement to a cheese plate than red is, because its acidity balances the fat in most cheeses, says Brennan. Another great cheese to eat with vino is Cypress Grove Chevre Purple Haze, a goat cheese from northern California.
Bayley Hazen Blue: Dessert Cheese
After biting into this Vermont-made blue cheese, many of our tasters exclaimed, “It tastes like chocolate.” The fudgelike flavor even has a hint of apricot—quite a feat considering this is just moldy milk. Eat it alone, or drizzle a drop or two of honey on it for an even sweeter (but still healthy) treat.
Some foods have mind–control powers. They commandeer your gray matter and your willpower falls subservient to their demands. Edamame, those habit-forming poppable pods from whole soybeans, are one of these mystic meals.
If you haven’t had edamame, you’ve yet to learn of its salty powers. If you have been possessed by an edamame attack, be forewarned: the recipe that follows makes the snack even more addictive.
All you do is take a little stir-fry sauce, a few sesame seeds, and something called furikake, a Japanese seasoning that tastes like, well, furikake. Most furikake contains nori flakes, sesame seeds, dried fish flakes (tastier than they sound), and powdered soy sauce or miso. (Variations, like the wasabi-tinged furikake suggested in this recipe, abound.) One taste and you’ll go under.
Go on, give it a try. If you think you’re ready.
Wasabi Edamame Recipe by Todd Lean, executive chef of Pod in Philadelphia, PA
What you’ll need:
1 bag (12 to 14 oz.) shell-on edamame
1 Tbsp vegetarian stir-fry sauce
½ tsp sesame seeds
2 Tbsp wasabi furikake (found in Asian markets and some grocery stores)
Sea salt, to taste
How to make it:
Boil a large pot of water. Add the edamame and boil until the pods are hot, about 2 minutes. Strain and transfer to a large metal bowl. Add the stir-fry sauce, sesame seeds, and furikake. Toss to coat, transfer to a serving bowl, and finish with sea salt to taste. To enjoy, eat the beans from their shells and discard the shells. Serves 4 as an appetizer.
Note: Before you start flipping on your bullhorn to warn us all about the cataclysmic dangers of soy, relax. Eating the occasional edamame snack isn’t going to give you man boobs.
James Price’s breasts had been painful and swollen. It looked as if gum balls were implanted underneath each nipple. The slightest touch triggered throbs.
For Price, a retired U.S. Army intelligence officer who once flew attack helicopters in Vietnam, these changes were more than just physically uncomfortable.
“Men aren’t supposed to have breasts,” he says today in a quiet Texas drawl. “It was like my body was feminizing.”
A lean and wiry man, the breast development stood in stark contrast to the rest of his body. But it was not Price’s only symptom.
His beard growth had slowed, he’d lost hair from his arms, chest, and legs, and he’d stopped waking up with morning erections.
“My sexual desire disappeared,” he says. “My penis—I won’t say it atrophied, but it was so flaccid that it looked very small in comparison with the way it used to be. Even my emotions changed.”
The first three doctors Price consulted diagnosed him with gynecomastia, or the abnormal enlargement of the mammary glands in men.
Tests further revealed that estrogen levels in his bloodstream were eight times higher than the normal limits for men, higher even than the levels typically seen in healthy women. Price’s estrogen was so high, in fact, that the doctors were at a loss to explain it. One physician became so frustrated he eventually accused Price of secretly taking estrogen.
“He thought I was a mental case,” says Price, still angry as he recalls the experience.
Dispirited and in pain, he decided to try one more doctor, this time a fellow military man.
I grew up on cereal. And not just the occasional bowl for breakfast. I mean eating the stuff morning, noon, and night when my brother and I would line up the boxes on the table, mix and match pounds of the various flavors, and down these overly refined carbs by the spoonful. And raise your hand if you’ve ever purposefully poured extra milk into the first bowl with the sole intention of knowing you’d need extra cereal so you wouldn’t “waste the milk.” (Every true cereal eater does this.)
Now if you take a stroll down the cereal aisle, there are so many options you don’t know where to turn. Grabbing for the boxes with cartoon characters is fine when you’re still living with your parents, but you can get your cereal fix without reverting to childhood indulgences and nutritional train wrecks to start your day. The first rule of thumb is to look at the fiber, sugar, and protein content. The benefit is that fiber and protein help fill you up, curbing your appetite later in the day so you eat less overall. Avoiding heavy sugar will keep you from crashing and craving more. Let’s take a look at some of the worst choices, and offer a better alternative. If you have your spoon ready, let’s go!
1. Golden Crisp
This cereal—marketed to kids with the friendly “Sugar Bear”—has just six ingredients on its food label. Sounds good so far, right? Well, until you find out the first of those six is sugar and the others are wheat, corn syrup, honey, caramel color, and salt. All this adds up to 14 grams of sugar and just 1 gram of fiber.
Try this: Kashi Honey Sunshine Squares
Still looking for that honey sweetness? Try Kashi Honey Sunshine Squares, which pack in 5 grams of fiber, just 6 grams of sugar, and 20 grams of whole grains.
2. Honey Bunches of Oats Granola—Raspberry
Though it starts strong with oats as the first ingredient, the next few include brown sugar, oil, corn syrup, and sugar. (Among a few others.) Unfortunately the oats don’t pack much of a wallop, with a 2/3-cup serving packing just 3 grams of fiber out of a total 40 grams of carbs. It also has a decent amount of sugar, coming in at 14 grams per serving.
Try this: KIND Cinnamon Oat Clusters with Flax Seeds
For nearly the same serving size, KIND Cinnamon Oat Clusters will soon pack more than double the amount of fiber—7 grams—and a nice whole grain combo of oats, brown rice, buckwheat, amaranth, millet, and quinoa. Add in the 5 grams of protein and this is great as cereal or as a topper for high protein cottage cheese or Greek yogurt.
3. Froot Loops
When I was traveling to Iceland to speak a few years ago, I had an odd request from our host. “Can you bring some boxes of Froot Loops in your suitcase? It’s not allowed to be sold here because of the food colorings.” So not only is the first ingredient on the nutrition panel sugar, the cereal also includes partially hydrogenated oil (trans fat). The ingredients also list and a whole slew of food colorings like red 40, blue 2, yellow 6 and blue 1, which may increase risk for hyperactivity in children, affect allergies, and possibly increase cancer risk, according to some animal studies.
Try this: Cascadian Farm Organic Fruitful O’s
With 3 grams of fiber per serving and zero food colorings, this cereal offers the same “fun” colors without any artificial colors.
Don’t fall for the “whole-grain guarantee.” Three out of 10 of the ingredients are food colors, it’s lacking in fiber, and sugar rears its ugly head several times throughout the ingredient list.
Try this: Kashi Strawberry Fields
With 5 grams of protein, 3 grams of fiber, and real fruit in the form of freeze dried strawberries and raspberries, this one will also leave you with some vibrant milk at the end from the colors in actual fruit.
5. Honey Smacks
The ingredients of this sugar bomb lists some form of sugar in three of the first four ingredients, followed by partially hydrogenated oil (trans fat), salt, and caramel color. This results in 15 grams of sugar and just 1 gram of fiber in each 3/4-cup serving.
Try this: Kashi GOLEAN Crunch! Honey Almond Flax Cereal
The fiber and protein in this cereal—at 8 and 9 grams, respectively—are impressive. With the hint of sweetness from honey and 500mg of omega-3 fatty acids, it’s a solid alternative to another bowl of Honey Smacks.
6. Good Morenings Waffle Crunch
Reading through the ingredient list, the second ingredient is sugar, and just a few below that is partially hydrogenated soybean oil (e.g., trans fat). Cereal can be good for one thing and that’s fiber—but with just 1 gram per serving, this isn’t one of the cereals that can make that claim.
Try this: Grape Nuts Vintage
This is old school, and I love it. You can’t get more basic than this ingredient list—just five easy-to-pronounce ingredients like “whole grain wheat flour” and “yeast”—a bowl of this has 7 grams of fiber, just 5 grams of sugar, and 6 grams of protein in just 1/2-cup. That 1/2-cup adds up quickly, so I always like this as a way to add a nice crunch to my Greek yogurt.
Don’t let the “strong heart antioxidant” name trick you—even though it’s fortified with 100 percent of the RDA for many vitamins and minerals, including vitamin E, which is known for its antioxidant “power,” it’s also one of the highest sugar cereals on the market with a hefty 14 grams per serving and just 3 grams of fiber. There are certainly better options.
Try this: Frosted Mini Wheats Original
There are very few ingredients in this product, starting with whole-grain wheat. And these few ingredients provide 6 grams of fiber and 5 grams of protein. So though the sugar is close to the other option, the amped up fiber and protein put this one out on top.
Take control of your midday meal. It’s easy: Just set aside 15 minutes on a work night to fix one of these make-ahead meat-and-noodle bowls.
They taste far better than anything from a styrofoam container and are way better for you.
And if you’re chowing down after a noontime workout, know that each recipe delivers more than enough protein for muscle recovery and growth.
Plus, these lunches taste just as good chilled as they do reheated. So nuke your noodle bowl if you’re craving something hot, but when the microwave queue at the office looks like the TSA line at O’Hare, you’ll enjoy slurping the noodles cold too.
1. Creamy Peanut Noodles With Shredded Chicken
What You’ll Need
3 Tbsp creamy peanut butter
2 Tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
1 Tbsp lime juice
1 tsp sriracha
1 tsp dark brown sugar
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
4 oz whole wheat spaghetti, cooked (reserve ¼ cup cooking water)
2 cups shredded rotisserie chicken
4 scallions, thinly sliced
Red-pepper flakes (optional)
How to Make It
In a large bowl, whisk together the peanut butter, soy sauce, lime juice, sriracha, sugar, sesame oil, and at least 2 Tbsp cooking water.
Add the noodles and toss until well coated.
Toss in the chicken and half the scallions. Divide between 2 bowls and top with the remaining scallions and some red-pepper flakes if you want. Makes 2 servings.
3. Sun-Dried Tomato Cavatappi With Grilled Flank Steak
What You’ll Need
½ cup sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil
1 garlic clove
¼ cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped
2 Tbsp basil leaves, chopped
2 tsp red wine vinegar
4 oz cavatappi pasta, cooked (reserve ½ cup cooking water)
8 oz flank steak
Parmesan for garnish
How to Make It
In a food processor or blender, pulse the tomatoes and garlic.
Add the herbs and vinegar. Pulse till combined.
Toss the warm pasta with 3/4 of the sauce, adding cooking water to thin if needed.
Heat a grill or grill pan on medium. Season the steak with salt and pepper. Grill to medium, about 4 minutes a side.
Transfer to a cutting board and top with remaining sauce; let rest 5 minutes. Slice; serve on the pasta, with parm.
Microwaves get a bad rap for making everything taste like cardboard, zapping all nutrition from your food, and emitting dangerous energy waves, but let’s be fair. “Any preparation or cooking of food can decrease the level of nutrients, whether it be microwaving, steaming, boiling, frying, or roasting,” says Michelle Dudash, R.D.N., chef, and author of Clean Eating for Busy Families.
In some cases, nuking your food can even be healthier: Studies have shown that microwaving vegetables preserves certain nutrients better than boiling, since fewer vitamins get lost in the water, Dudash adds. And no one can argue that it’s a hell of a lot easier to heat something for 2 minutes than bake it for 2 hours.
The catch? Most of the time reheating in an oven or cooking on the stove tastes better. But that’s about to change: Use these nine tricks to keep your microwaved food healthy and tastier than ever before.
1. Choose your dish wisely.
The “do-not-microwave” bowls are obviously out. But you also shouldn’t zap Styrofoam, aluminum foil, or cold-storage containers like those for margarine or Greek yogurt, because they either get hot too quickly or can leach chemicals into your food, says Dudash. Your best bet: glass or microwave-safe ceramic dishes. And if you don’t have a glass lid, opt for a wet paper towel, which will help keep moisture locked in, advises Eric Stein, R.D., a Chicago-based wellness chef.
2. Opt for shallow over tall.
Microwave heat only penetrates, at most, 1.5 inches into food, says Dudash. Leftovers in a shallow dish will reheat more evenly than food packed into a tall and narrow container. And stir it halfway through—this brings the cold, bottom grains up to the top, she adds.
3. Steam your vegetables.
Instead of submerging your greens in water like when you boil, add only a couple of tablespoons of H2O to a vegetable-filled glass dish, says Dudash. The higher the water content—like in zucchini, cauliflower, eggplant, or peppers—the less you need. Covering the dish with a lid will help keep the vegetables moist and cook evenly as well. And for green vegetables, which are more acidic, leave the lid slightly ajar so the compounds can escape, keeping your vegetables bright rather than overcooked army green.
4. Zap meats on a low level.
Lower power levels allow heat to reach the center of the food without overcooking the outside, explains Dudash. This is good for reheating eggs, cheese, and solid meat since they can toughen on high heat. With most microwaves, you can enter the time and then instead of hitting start, press the button that says “power level.” Most run levels 1-10, so choose around 4-5 for a good setting.
5. Keep flipping.
The best tip for reheating yesterday’s dinner is to do it in short increments, says Stein. Open the microwave every 15 seconds and flip the food over so it can heat evenly, he adds.
6. Avoid rubbery pizza.
Sorry, but pizza is almost always better baked in the oven, where it can get crispy instead of rubbery. But since you don’t always have that option, Dudash offers the best plan for a microwave: Place a paper towel or parchment paper under the slice so it can absorb excess moisture. Some high-end microwaves actually have “crisp” settings, which is perfect to keep your crust delicious.
7. Add sauce to spaghetti.
Unlike pizza, pasta is much easier to reheat successfully, but you have to add moisture back in, says Stein. Add two tablespoons of water to spaghetti sauce, then mix with cold noodles. The extra liquid evaporates in the microwave and helps to steam the pasta, he says.
8. Add marinades to dry food.
Marinating your meat before it hits the grill can deliver a delicious fresh dish, and help the future leftovers taste better, Stein says. But if you’re reheating anything dry, like meats or grains, add a splash of chicken broth, citrus juice, or wine—whichever would pair best with the dish—to keep it moist while getting zapped, he advises.
9. Defrost as a last resort.
It’s preferable to defrost meats in the fridge over time, but in a pinch you can pop frozen chicken or steak in the microwave and use the defrost button, says Stein. Flip it over every minute, so it doesn’t overcook or undercook in certain areas. And wait to defrost until you’re ready to cook the whole meal: Limiting the time between raw, room-temperature meat and cooking will also limit any health risks.