A microwave oven is the answer to many kitchen conundrums. It helps college students survive dorm-room living, allows latchkey kids to warm up leftovers, and lets busy parents put dinner on the table in a pinch. Microwaves can do so much more than heat up your cup of coffee after it has gone cold. In fact, you can use your microwave to prepare healthy from-scratch meals in no time at all.
With a microwave, you don’t have to wait for the oven to heat up or a pot of water to boil on the stove. All it takes is a few simple ingredients and the press of a button to get dinner ready fast.
Microwave Use 101
Before sharing some recipes, let’s get a few things straight about using a microwave:
- Radiation: Microwaves do leak some electromagnetic radiation, but no more than your cellphone or laptop does. It’s perfectly safe to stand near your microwave while it’s cooking. You can learn more about microwave-safety standards and requirements on the FDA’s website.
- Nutrients: A microwave oven does not chemically change or damage your food. The nutrients in some foods do break down as they cook, but that’s true whether they’re in a microwave or a pot on the stove. In fact, according to a Harvard Medical School article, a microwave can help preserve nutrients thanks to its fast cooking time.
- Safety: Be sure to wear oven mitts when you remove plates or bowls from the microwave. Always use glass, ceramic, or microwave-safe plastic dishes to prepare or reheat foods.
- Features: Today’s microwaves offer a host of convenient features. Quick keys take the guesswork out of heating up popcorn, pizza, soups, and leftovers. “Automatic defrost” buttons help you cut down on meal prep time. Some models double up on cooking duties with built-in elements like rotisseries and convection ovens.
Easy Microwave Recipes
With just a few simple ingredients, you can whip up quick and easy meals for your family using your microwave oven. Here are three of my family favorites. (Note that cooking times vary among microwaves, and you may have to adjust the time based on your individual model.)
Quick, easy, and healthy.
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tsp. milk
- Your choice of fillings: bacon, sausage crumbles, diced tomatoes, diced avocados, spinach, shredded cheese, and more
- Lightly spray a microwave-safe coffee mug or small bowl with nonstick cooking spray.
- Crack the eggs into the mug or bowl.
- Whisk the eggs with a fork, adding the milk as you whisk.
- Stir in any fillings.
- Microwave for about two minutes. You can use the sensor cooking feature, which measures the amount of steam that food emits. The microwave will stop automatically when it senses that the eggs are cooked through and fluffy.
- Add in your choice of seasonings or sauces and enjoy!
Heavenly Sweet Potatoes
Great for a last-minute side dish.
- 2 or 3 medium-sized sweet potatoes
- 1 tsp. maple syrup
- ¼ cup raisins
- ¼ cup pecans
- 1 tsp. honey
- Spice to taste with cinnamon, nutmeg or similar
- Wash the sweet potatoes well; then brush them with maple syrup.
- Place the potatoes in a microwave-safe dish, and use a fork or knife to poke a few holes in them.
- Cook the potatoes on high for about 5 minutes. Most microwaves have a one-step “potato” button meant to cook potatoes perfectly. This button will automatically adjust your microwave’s heat and time settings. If the potatoes are not soft when the time is up, continue to cook them in 1-minute increments until your fork slides through them easily.
- Top them with raisins, pecans, and a drizzle of honey.
Easy-Peasy Pizza Pasta
A kid-friendly favorite.
- 1/3 cup pasta
- ¾ cup water
- ¼ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- 4 Tbsp. spaghetti sauce
- ¼ cup peas, broccoli, shredded carrots or other similar vegetable
- ¼ cup cooked lean ground turkey sausage, or crumbled bacon
- Add the water and pasta to a microwave-safe mug or dish. Cook for four to five minutes, using the “pasta” button on your microwave for the best result.
- Mix in the cheese and sauce, then cook for an additional minute.
- Mix in the other ingredients.
- Stir, let cool slightly, and enjoy!
Sommer Poquette is a mom of two, and she’s always trying to figure out ways to be healthier and greener. Sommer draws on these experiences to write for The Home Depot. As with most moms, her schedule is busy, so she tries to find new ways to use the microwave to make healthy meals faster. Visit The Home Depot to see a selection of microwave options.
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