Microwaving for Fast, Wholesome Meals

Oct 20, 2011

Family sitting down to eat microwave meals together

Quick, healthy, and delicious: now you can have all three at mealtime, thanks to a new generation of microwave ovens. It can be harder than ever to find time to cook a nutritious meal, but this handy kitchen helper makes it easier than ever to prepare a tasty meal for family and friends.

Defrosting the Right Way

Frozen fish and poultry are staples of many homes, but if they aren’t defrosted carefully they can lose their natural flavour, texture and nutritional values as they thaw. When defrosting, remember these tips:

  • • Different foods need to defrost at different rates. Better microwaves offer specific settings for defrosting different foods: meat, poultry, fish or bread. After selecting the food type, estimate the weight you are defrosting and press start: The oven will do the rest of the work for you, brining the food to a suitable cooking temperature without degrading its taste, texture or vitamin content.

  • • Don’t know the weight of the food you’re defrosting? Some microwaves, like the OmniPro , come with a built-in scale, so you don’t have to guess how heavy the item is. With this feature, you will get it right every time.

Steaming Made Easy

Steaming is the healthiest and lowest-calorie way to cook vegetables—but you have to do it right, or you will end up with mushy broccoli or dry Brussels sprouts. The key is to separate the water from the food, as in a traditional steamer. This keeps vegetables from getting waterlogged, preserving flavour and texture while preventing messy overflows. Microwaves can also include a steaming bowl specially designed for this function— big enough to hold enough food for your family’s needs.

Better yet, using a microwave with a built-in steaming bowl is the simplest way to make one of the most nutritious and minimally processed staples: brown rice. Simply combine grain and water for perfect rice in minutes. Be sure to cover the top with a steam plate to prevent the water from overflowing while cooking.

Warmth When You Need It

A microwave’s main job is cooking and reheating, but it also comes in handy when you simply need to keep food warm and fresh—say, when dinner guests are delayed, or you want to prepare a course or two in advance and take your time over appetizers. Check out your microwave’s Keep Warm mode. This feature keeps meals at the right serving temperature for up to 30 minutes. It’s also great for warming up bread, and even serving plates: A hot meal on a cold plate loses much of its appeal.

Easy Steam Cleanup

Cooking a healthy meal inevitably creates a little cleanup work. But a good microwave can even take care of that. Some microwaves are designed with an internal steam clean tank that makes cleanup quick and easy. Just fill it with water, run the oven for a few minutes, and let the water steam-clean the microwave’s interior. When it’s finished, just wipe the surfaces clean with a cloth. The microwave’s antibacterial coating helps keep everything germ-free.