Microwave: A Healthy Choice for Cooking?

You never imagined what your microwave could cook for you in a jiffy, with hardly any staining in the kitchen and conserving a maximum of nutrients.

In most homes, this appliance is used for little more than heating up coffee milk, leftover food from the day before or a bottle, and some have discovered that it is also an effective food thawing device. 

But there are more and more kitchens where the microwave has already taken its deserved place almost on an equal footing with its companions, the oven and the glass-ceramic hob because there is a great deal we can take advantage of it to prepare - and not just to heat - a wide variety of dishes, and also with a healthier, faster and cleaner result than with other more traditional techniques. Do like the best chefs and start taking advantage of the great benefits of your microwave. Take a look at 10 best over the range microwave

How does it work?

The microwave emits a type of electromagnetic waves (precisely called "microwaves"), which rapidly vibrate the water molecules contained in the food. This vibration produces heat. Knowing this, it is easy to guess why foods with a high water content are usually better heated and cooked in the microwave than drier foods.

Among its advantages, it is worth mentioning its speed of heating, which allows for the preparation of very diverse foods in a few minutes. However, unlike the heat emitted by the conventional oven, the heating is not homogeneous and only penetrates two or three centimeters into the food, so it is usually necessary to stir the food several times or cut it into pieces to make it cook or heat it up completely.

Is it safe to use?

The safety of microwaves has been widely studied by regulatory bodies, who conclude that the food use of this appliance does not have any harmful effects on health.

Already in 1992, the World Health Organization stated that "no information is available to support the discussion that microwave cooking induces any toxic substances or harmful effects unique to this process. There is no scientific evidence that microwave food products present any danger to the health of consumers, as long as the manufacturer's instructions are followed".

More specifically, in recent years there have been rivers of ink on the possible carcinogenic effect of microwaves in contact with food.  There is much to be studied in this respect yet, but it has not been scientifically proven that it has such an effect.

With many people doubting whether microwaves are capable of killing off microorganisms in food in the same way as traditional cooking processes that use high temperatures for longer cooking times, it must be said that if we can get the food to a uniform temperature (without cold or raw areas), we will kill off these dangerous microorganisms. 

Special containers and utensils

It is very common to heat the food directly in the containers in which we keep them.

Please note that only those with the words "suitable for microwave" or a symbol can be put in the microwave. If we use unsuitable containers and other materials, we run the risk of toxic substances harmful to health being transferred to the food.

As a general rule, glass, porcelain, earthenware or ceramic containers, as well as absorbent or baking paper, paper molds, clingfilm or baking bags can be placed in the microwave.

Special care must be taken with metals: never put aluminum foil, cutlery or dishes with metal elements in them, as these reflect the microwaves against the walls of the oven and can break down and cause a fire.

If you have to buy a new microwave and you want to cook with it, take into account the capacity (in litres) and power.

Don't lose nutrients!

Whenever we cook food there is a loss of vitamins and minerals. Only if the cooking method is fast, without excess temperature and using a minimum amount of liquid is it possible to retain the maximum amount of nutrients. This is what is achieved by cooking with the microwave.

If you use your microwave with a small amount of water to steam your food, cover it well with a lid specifically for that use. You will retain more vitamins and minerals than with almost any other cooking method. By cooking the food in its own juice, you will also appreciate the real flavor of the food more.

What's yours like? 

Microwave without grill: They are the simplest models.

  • They heat and defrost food in an acceptable manner.
  • They can be used to cook some simple dishes, but it is not worth trying more elaborate recipes.

Microwave with grill: They have more features:

  • They heat, cook, brown, grill and roast the food.
  • They even allow you to combine defrosting and cooking of a dish, which is just what precooked preparations require.

The grill is the electrical resistance located in the interior ceiling of the microwave, which emits dry heat and makes the surface of the food brown.

Steaming with a microwave is a good option, especially for vegetables, because they have less contact with water.

Tricks for achieving the perfect spot 

  1. Pasta and rice: Raw, they are cooked in the microwave in a similar way to the traditional way (three parts of water for each part of food). To heat them once cooked, it is convenient to stir them so that the heat is distributed evenly.
  2. Soups and dishes with a lot of liquid: It is best to serve it in individual portions so that it heats up faster. Put the lid on the dish to avoid splashing.
  3. Vegetables and potatoes: Put them in a container, just wet or with a splash of water, and cover them with the lid. Heat them up for a few minutes, stir them and heat again until they are as desired. They are cooked before cut into small pieces, but some can be cooked whole and with the skin (zucchini, potato, aubergine, tomato...), making them some small cuts before. Don't overdo it with time and power, because they dehydrate easily.
  4. Meats: If you reduce the power to half, they cook better inside without drying out the surface.
  5. Cheese and eggs: They harden easily. It is preferable to cook them at medium power and heat them for a short time. Eggs should never be cooked in the shell, because they explode.
  6. Fish: They are very juicy when cooked with just a splash of oil, a little water, salt and lemon. You can accompany them with chopped vegetables so that they are made in the same container.

Other surprising uses for your microwave

  • Don't cry with the onions anymore. Cut off the ends and microwave on full power for 30 seconds. When you chop it up, you won't shed a tear.
  • Oranges with more juice. Put any citrus fruit in the microwave for 15 to 20 seconds on full power. It will soften your skin and you will get more juice.
  • Wet salt? You will dry it easily if you pour it on a plate and heat it up for about 15 or 20 seconds in the microwave.
  • Crystallized honey. Don't throw it away, because it can be recovered. Just put it in the microwave, uncovered, for at least 20 to 30 seconds. You'll probably have to stir it a bit and heat it up for another half minute to make it completely liquid again.
  • Herbs. If you have any edible herbs and you want to keep their aroma and taste longer, put them on a plate and heat them up for a minute in the microwave on full power.
  • Instant flavoured oil. No need to leave it to macerate for weeks. You can make it whenever you need it. Just pour the desired amount of oil into a glass and add chilli or rosemary. Heat it for 30 to 40 seconds and it is ready.
  • Revive your mascara. When it dries it can no longer be used, but there is a solution thanks to the microwave. Heat it in the microwave for 30 or 40 seconds next to a glass of water.
  • Sponges and dishcloths are as good as new. If you want to disinfect them, heat them in the microwave for three or four minutes at maximum power. You will eliminate almost all the bacteria, without using any chemical product.
  • Popcorn, a source of natural antioxidants, looks great in the microwave 

Baby food Try it first!

The bottle or jar you have warmed up for your child may look cold to the touch on the outside, but the liquid or food inside can be very hot, and if you give it to your child right away it can burn. The opposite can also happen: the container may be hot to the touch, but the food is totally cold or barely warm. That's why we recommend that you always try any food or drink before offering it to your baby.

It is also a good idea to heat jars and bottles without lids, as the increase in volume of the food or liquid when they are heated and the steam that condenses inside can cause the container to explode.

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