How To Not Use Your Microwave, Part 1

No, this is not another story of near disaster caused by misusing a microwave. That would be “How NOT to use your microwave”. I leave Olivia to tell you those stories. ๐Ÿ™‚

It is my humble desire with this blog post to encourage you to use your microwave less. There ARE other options.

First, let us talk about WHY we shouldn’t cook our food in a microwave.

“Unfortunately, the microwave achieved instant popularity without much prior research to study the effects of eating microwaved food. In consequence, one large experiment involving an unwitting populace is now in progress. The small amount of research done on the effects of eating microwaved food has shown that the microwave may have unfavorable effects on fats and proteins, making them more difficult to assimilate. More recent studies carried out in Switzerland revealed that the microwave caused changes in vitamin content and availability. Eating microwaved food results in abnormal blood profiles, similar to those that occur in the early stages of cancer.”
Nourishing Traditions, Sally Fallon

I don’t know about you, but I’d rather err on the side of caution and avoid microwaves until researchers solidly confirm or denounce its dangers.

My family lived without a microwave for years on the homestead, so I never got used to using one to cook or reheat foods. When I got married, my husband came with a microwave (what a deal!) which I used reluctantly and rarely at first, but gradually it became a habit because it was just so convenient. Then, a few months ago, we had a power surge that effectively murdered the microwave. You may think I’m strange, but I was glad. Now I would HAVE to do without it, and I knew that I could. Here’s how you can, too…
Re-heating. Many times the microwave is used because it’s faster. C’mon, people – don’t get stuck in that rut! Patience is a virtue! There are many other ways to re-heat lunches and leftovers – it just takes a little longer, or a little more for-thought. We all know pizza is better reheated in the oven – a lot of things reheated in the microwave come out soft where they should be crispy, and vice-versa. Treat the food you want to reheat like you did when you cooked it. Put the pizza in the oven at 350 for 10 min. – it’s usually just hot enough without being burnt. Meatloaf? Pop it in the oven and set a timer for 15 min. Mashed potatoes? If you stored them in the pot you cooked them in (as I usually do) just put it back on the stove, add a little water and beat them with a hand mixer with the temp on high for a few minutes. They will be as fluffy and yummy as when they were fresh made.

The most convenient way to reheat food at our house is the toaster oven – just 10-15 min. before you want to eat something, scoop it on a plate or into a bowl and put it in at 350. This works for lots of stuff – even the aforementioned meatloaf and potatoes. The potatoes won’t be quite the same, but a 2 year old doesn’t care, and if you’re hungry enough, you won’t, either!

On the homestead my family didn’t have anything electrical in the kitchen, and getting the oven up to temperature took more effort, so we did a lot on the stove top. A big cast iron fry pan is a cooks best friend! I use mine daily, and it works really well for reheating leftover casserole. Just melt a little butter, olive oil, or bacon grease in the pan (yum! remember, natural fats are important in the diet – don’t try to avoid them!) and throw in that leftover chicken divan with rice, or lasagna, or mac and cheese, and stir every now and then while your setting the table. Yes, the presentation isn’t quite the same, but you have retained the original chemical make up of the proteins and fats, and that is much more important than how it looks.

My new favorite thing in my kitchen is the two sets of Pyrex dishes my husband got me for Christmas. Bake, Serve, Store, and Re-heat – I can do it all in one dish, thanks to the handy-dandy lids they come with, and the fact that they are oven-proof. It’s worth the investment for something that saves time and energy with so many meals.

Heating and Melting
One of the most frequent things you see getting zapped is a stick of butter. Now, butter being the important aspect of my diet that it is, I would be cautious about messing with it. If fat molecules get reshaped when microwaved, making them harder to digest, butter is one thing I want to keep far away from the microwave! Do you need butter soft for your toast? Think ahead and set it out 20 min. before your meal. Or get a little french butter dish so you always have fresh butter at room temp. Melting butter for a recipe? You can do that just as easily on the stove top in a saucepan. This can even save you dishes, ’cause you can add other ingredients right into the saucepan once you’ve turned off the heat (I do this all the time – having your ‘mixing bowl’ warm helps incorporate the honey I use in lots of recipes).

To be continued!

(For more information about healthy cooking methods and why we need fat in our diet, go check out the Weston Price Foundation – great stuff!)

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7 responses to “How To Not Use Your Microwave, Part 1”

  1. Anna Avatar

    Yea for butter!

    I’ve learned more about grains from Sallon Fallon than anywhere else.

    WPFoundation also turned us on to coconut oil. Love it!

  2. Marilyn Avatar

    What a great discussion topic! I have some knowledge of this topic as it pertains to breastmilk. (I am a nurse and have been a lactation consultant). This has been researched recently in the field of lactation, and the microwave does change the immune globulins, present in breastmilk. Breastmilk is different from other foods and fluids, because it a living fluid, with live immune properties. The research does not show that the microwave changes the protein molecules, or other components of breastmilk. The microwave is also not recommended due to the potential for burning the baby’s mouth. The reheating in the microwave came up due to feeding premature infants breastmilk or others who need to pump. I also think that if you use the mircrowave (which I do), you should use only glass, not plastics. Take care,Aunt Marilyn

  3. Traci Avatar

    Wish I could say that I don’t use mine often. Unfortunately it gets used more than I’d like. Mostly baking too, oddly enough. Seems like I always end up softening butter, softening cream cheese, etc. in it. On the days that I work I just can’t wait for cream cheese to soften or I’ll be baking something at bedtime again, lol. But that goes back to the whole issue of working out which is an issue in itself.And like the previous poster said, the chemicals in the plastics can be just plain scary.

  4. Amy Avatar

    We haven’t used our microwave for over 7 years!!! Funny thing is, I don’t even miss it any more!

  5. Laura K Avatar
    Laura K

    Excellent post on the benefits of NOT microwaving…love how you incorporated Nourishing Traditions into the topic.

  6. CVO Avatar

    I notice Fallon’s book is from 1999 – do you know what year(s) of research she is referencing? [Back when I was doing research my profs would recommend not using any data older than five years ago in our reports (so, say c.2004 for us today), since discoveries in science progress so fast – anything much older than that can pretty much be considered data way past its expiration date…and just like food: pitch it.]I think your topic on microwave awareness is great though. And you’re right! If I stop to think how often I use that thing, it’s easily once a day. Even though (alas) I find it terribly difficult to part with my micro, I have made one change this past year re: that tool – NEVER to microwave plastics again…strictly glass.Bisphenol-A (BPA) is an estrogen-like compound that can ‘leach’ from some plastics…for the worse. Especially when paired with food in the microwave (plastic lids, plastic saran wrap, plastic containers, etc.). In addition to never using plastics in the microwave, I’ve also tossed my old plastic Nalgene and opted for a stainless steel water jug instead. (I know Nalgene has put out a new BPA-free plastic model in the past year though…slowly changing out their entire line of water bottles, I believe.)This is a pretty new hooplah (according to Wiki – 2008), so it will be interesting to hear what scientists continue to have to say about it.

  7. Rachel Avatar

    Hooray! I like the fact that you said something about cast iron frying pans….they are definitely my best friend! I seriously don’t know what I’d do without them!

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