Recipes with Julie Van Rosendaal: Reducing energy use in the kitchen

Recipes with Julie Van Rosendaal: Reducing energy use in the kitchen

With utility prices skyrocketing, we all seem to be paying closer attention to our energy consumption. 

For years, I’ve taken advantage of the heat of the oven while it’s on — tucking potatoes, squash, beets and other vegetables in the empty space around my banana bread or lasagna — giving me a head start on dinner another day. 

To roast a whole winter squash, stab it a few times with a knife to allow steam to escape, and roast it directly on the oven rack for about an hour. You can then easily cut it, scoop out the seeds and scoop out the flesh to use in soups, curries, a mash and the like.

If you’re roasting a squash, make sure to fill up the oven with other goodies to ensure you’re making the most of your cooking time. (Julie Van Rosendaal)

You can even bake grains like rice, farro and quinoa in the oven; combine grains and water in the same ratio you’d use on the stovetop in a baking dish, cover with foil and bake while the oven is on. 

And of course, if you’re roasting something like a chicken, it takes the same amount of time and energy to roast two, and roasted chicken is a perfect starting point for all kinds of meals, including many that start with chopping and sautéing chicken breasts or thighs. 

We talked about how to maximize the energy you’re already paying for on this Tuesday’s Calgary Eyeopener — you can listen here. 

According to Direct Energy, most electric ovens draw between 2,000 and 5,000 watts, with the average coming in at around 3,000 watts. 

Electric burners range from about 1,200 watts for the smallest to 3,000 watts for the largest. Induction burners are about 12 per cent more efficient.

As for smaller appliances, a toaster oven uses about half the energy of a conventional electric oven, and slow cookers consume far less energy — around 150 watts per hour. Of course, they tend to be on for much longer, but typically a slow-cooked meal needs only four to five hours versus the eight hours that became standard in recipes, which assumed you were turning it on and going to work for the day. 

For air fryers, the average energy consumption is similar to a toaster oven — around 1,500 watts per hour, but it ranges, depending on the size and model. You don’t need to use them for as long, or preheat them before using. 

Before cooking your next meal, think about how you could decrease your energy consumption while preparing it. (Julie Van Rosendaal)

A few more energy-saving kitchen tips: If you have a lot of appliances on your countertops, they could be drawing energy even while off, especially if they have clocks or lights on them. You could always unplug them while not in use, or put them on a power bar you can switch off. 

Make sure your fridge isn’t too cold. If it’s colder than it needs to be, you could get away with reducing its power usage.

And make sure you keep an inventory of your fridge and eat those leftovers rather than tossing them in the compost bin and starting something new.

If you’re baking potatoes, why not throw in some grains like rice, farro or quinoa to make the most of your cooking session. (Julie Van Rosendaal)

If you’re looking for the recipe for those curried potatoes David Gray was enjoying on the show, here it is!

Curried Potatoes with Tomatoes

This is a great way to use leftover potatoes, boiled or baked. I often toss a few directly on the oven rack while something else is baking so I have baked potatoes to kick-start meals in the coming days. 

Measurements are pretty flexible here, but I provided some to use as a starting point. Feel free to add a handful of frozen peas and/or diced paneer or tofu at the end.

If you’re hoping to keep the oven off at dinner time, try this receipe for stovetop curried potatoes. It uses your leftover potatoes from another day. (Julie Van Rosendaal)


  • vegetable oil or ghee, for cooking
  • 2 tsp mustard seed
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 jalapeño, seeded and finely chopped
  • ¼ – ½ cup chopped cilantro stems (save some leaves for on top)
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 cup (approximately) tomatoes, in any form — chopped fresh, frozen, canned, pureed or even a couple big spoonfuls of tomato paste plus some water
  • 2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • salt, to taste
  • a few baked or boiled potatoes, cut into large chunks

Set a large skillet over medium-high heat. 

Add a drizzle of oil or spoonful of ghee. When it melts, add the mustard and cumin seeds and cook for a minute, until they start to pop and turn fragrant. 

Add the jalapeño, cilantro and garlic. Season with salt and cook, stirring, for a minute or two. 

Add the chili powder, turmeric and cumin and cook for a minute, then add the tomatoes and cook until the tomatoes get darker and more concentrated and the oil kind of separates (I sometimes add a bit more oil or ghee at this point).

Add the potatoes, stir to coat and cook for a few minutes, to heat the potatoes through. 

If you like, stir in some frozen peas and/or diced paneer or firm tofu, and cook to heat through (or cook the peas). 

Serve topped with extra cilantro, if you like. 

Serves 2-4.