In the 1970s, a newfangled appliance started making its appearance in kitchens around the United States. By 1986, about a quarter of all U.S. households had one. Today, about 95 percent of kitchens have at least one, and possibly two.
The microwave oven has undoubtedly added a huge measure of convenience to our lives. You can reheat food in minutes and defrost and cook foods in a fraction of the time it would take in a conventional oven.
Before I tell you about some ways your microwave can make the upcoming holiday season easier and more delicious, let’s make sure you understand how your microwave works and dispel a common myth.
Is microwaving food healthy?
When people hear the word “radiation,” the words radioactive and cancer often come to mind. In fact, there is no definitive research connecting microwaves with cancer.
In the case of your microwave oven, the word “radiation” refers to “energy that radiates from a source,” and not to the type of radiation exposure that could be emitted from an X-ray, for example.
Microwaves produce non-ionizing radiation to cook food. The non-ionizing radiation produced by the microwave is absorbed by water molecules in the food, causing them to vibrate. The heat generated through this friction is what cooks your food.
And it may be the healthiest way to cook. Mounting evidence shows that microwaving may help foods and beverages retain nutrients and beneficial compounds better than other heating methods.
But on the other hand, you could sabotage this healthy cooking method if you’re not using microwave-safe cookware. The wrong plastics can seep toxins into your food.
So now that you know how safe and healthy your microwave be, you’ll also be thrilled to learn how helpful it can be.
Here are several easy ways to use your microwave you may have never thought of…
7 uses for your microwave you may be missing
Drying herbs. Instead of buying them, why not make your own dried seasonings? This method works best on parsley, basil and celery leaves. Just place the leaves in a single layer between two paper towels and heat on high for one minute per cup.
Toasting nuts. Spread a single layer of nuts on a microwave-safe dish then add about half a teaspoon of oil or butter for every cup of nuts. (This works with seeds, too!). Heat on high for about a minute. Then add time in small bursts until your nuts are lightly brown and have that heavenly, nutty aroma.
Baking apples. Nothing says autumn like the smell and taste of a baked apple! Peel and core your apple, then fill the center with a tablespoon of butter and any of your favorite fall seasonings (cinnamon, cloves and ginger are favorites). Cover with wax paper and heat on high for 2 ½ to 3 minutes. Let it cool a bit and enjoy!
Scrambling eggs. If you’re running late but want a hot breakfast, microwave your eggs! Crack an egg into a microwave-safe bowl or mug that’s been coated with non-stick spray. Mix in a tablespoon of milk or water and cook on high for 30-45 seconds. Stir and let sit for 2-3 minutes, and breakfast is served!
Homemade chicken soup. I was delighted to find that I could have real chicken soup in half an hour! Just combine some diced vegetables of your choice, canned beans, chunks of chicken (I use a cut-up rotisserie chicken) and chicken broth in a microwave-safe bowl. Cook for at least 15 minutes. Depending on the strength of your microwave, it may take as long as 30 minutes to make sure everything is heated through (stir a few times during heating).
Recrystallizing honey. If your honey solidifies inside the jar, microwave the uncovered jar for about a minute. This will liquefy the honey and return it to a good consistency.
Cutting onions tear-free. This is so useful! Microwave your onion for 30 seconds before you start chopping. It will take the sting out of the onion juice, and your eyes won’t sting and tear, even if the juice gets in your eyes!
Is Microwave Radiation Harmful? — The Health Sciences Academy
Radiofrequency (RF) Radiation — American Cancer Society
Surprising uses for your microwave — Web MD
Do Microwaves Cause Cancer? (And 3 Other Microwave Myths) — Quick and Dirty Tips