There are certain things that one goes through life, never to be without. For most people nowadays, that includes a smart phone and an ATM card. And in your home, there are many things you never seem to be without either. Like a microwave. I can’t remember ever living without a microwave (aside from a very brief stint when we first moved to Germany, and it was more painful living without a dishwasher at that point) …until we moved to Berlin.
When we moved to Germany 12 years ago, we bought a great built in microwave that fully served it’s purpose until we sold the far. It was really practical albeit small, but for cooking sweet potatoes or warming up dinner for Mack, it was definitely sufficient. And I never gave much thought to taking cooking to the next level with a versatile convection microwave. But maybe I should have.
When we moved to Berlin, there was not even a question about getting a new microwave because it simply wouldn’t fit anywhere. I guess if it had been a priority for us, we would have made it happen. But instead we accepted the “loss” as a new challenge to help us acquire new cooking skills that would let us warm things up without a microwave, something we’d never even thought about in the past. Necessity really is the mother of invention… 😉
How To Warm Food Up Without a Microwave
Now it may sound at this point like we were using our microwave a LOT…but IMO, we were really only using it a few times a day and not actually cooking in it all that often (aside from potatoes which take forever in the oven). But there are often times when you have leftovers that just don’t taste right cold and you wonder what to do. So here’s a quick list of things you can easily warm up without a microwave:
- Pasta or rice — This is super simple. Just put a small am0unt of water into a pan (depends on how much you are warming up but usually a spoonful or two works great) and add your rice or pasta on top.
- Casseroles — Pop them in the oven at the same temperature you originally baked it at. Keep an eye on the top to make sure it doesn’t burn (foil works great for that) and I like to take the dish out of the fridge while I warm up the oven so there’s no danger of cracked glass dishes.
- Vegetables — These you can generally toss in a pan with a bit of water or broth to warm up quickly.
- Meats — Meats are a bit tricky and it depends on what you are warming up; but the best bet is usually in the oven. Chicken does well this way, especially with sauce over it.
- Bread — This can be done well in the toaster if it’s sliced or in your oven at around 200°F. If they’re a bit tough, you can also put a few drops of water on the outside and it will soften a tad.
- Wide range of leftovers — If you are warming up something like Thanksgiving dinner, you can just put a bit of everything on the plate and warm it up all at once. But do make sure you don’t grab the plate when you take it out because it will be HOT!
Health Risks of Microwaves
Now I’m sure you’ve heard that microwaves are really toxic and standing near one infuses you with radiation. I’ve certainly heard it myself. Whether or not all that is true will vary based on the website you visit (and probably which lobbyists are behind the website). But in general, from what I have heard you will rarely be at risk of radiation poisoning unless your microwave malfunctions, is really old or otherwise starts leaking.
There are lots of claims that microwaving foods destroys the nutrients — and that can be true, but it’s also true when you overcook food on a stove. Anything which is cooked longer than necessary will look nutrients. That’s why raw diets are popular because people insist that all the nutrients are still in the food.
There are also talks about carcinogens being produced or that eating microwaved food can increase your risk of cancerous growths in the stomach and intestines. There is little or no evidence to support those claims; in fact, there are lots of websites like skepticink.com that totally refute it.
One thing you should be worried about
I think everyone needs to make their own decision about what health risks they want to expose themselves too. And we should all think twice about how often we use our microwaves and for what purpose.
Also, do not use unmarked or low quality plastic containers to warm things up in your microwave! In fact, prefer to use only glass or ceramic. Many of the plastics we use today are not safe for heating food in and will quickly leach chemicals — plus some of them are prone to sparking which you never want in your microwave!
Do you have a microwave? How often do you use yours and are you concerned about health risks from it?