You may be surprised to know that despite the fact that microwaves have been around for decades, debates still crop up from time to time on the subject of how healthy microwave cooking is compared to other forms of cooking. Take vegetables for example. Most food scientists agree that raw vegetables retain more nutrients and goodness than cooked vegetables. Now while I love raw carrots, and having celery and even cauliflower florets (with dips), no way am I going to eat raw potatoes, turnips or asparagus tips! Steaming of vegetables retains a lot more nutritional value (and flavour) than boiling veg in a saucepan. Using a microwave-proof steamer is the best way of all because it takes less power.
Some people still refer to microwaving as “nuking” food. Wrong. A microwave oven functions by emitting energy that causes molecules in your food to vibrate. This is similar to the way that a conventional oven heats your food, but the waves are actually even lower in energy in the case of a microwave. These vibrating molecules rub against each other, producing heat. A way of imagining this is to rub your hands together vigorously. The friction creates heat doesn’t it? The heat from the molecules’ friction literally spreads through the food and cooks it. It’s more energy efficient that other forms of heating.
What about the “goodness” in the food? How is that affected by microwaves? Your microwave oven has no negative effect whatsoever on the nutrients, proteins, carbohydrates, and fats in your food. Myth exploded.
The vitamins in your food are affected somewhat by cooking, but they will be affected whether you cook food conventionally or in a microwave. This is because the vitamins are heat-sensitive, so you’ll always have reduced vitamins in a cooked food. However because microwaves cook food faster, they retain more vitamins in foods than conventional cooking methods.
So how about a healthy meal recipe to polish off this article? Here you go with a delicious meal for lunch:
CHICKEN AND MUSHROOM IN A SPICY TOMATO SAUCE
500 grams boneless chicken, cut into 2cm pieces
A dozen mushrooms, quartered.
1 large tomato or 2 small tomatoes
3 to 4 spring onions
5 cloves garlic
2 tbsp butter or appropriate substitute
4 tbsp tomato puree
1 tbsp crushed red chilies
A little Worcestershire sauce (or Levi Roots’ Reggae Reggae sauce if you prefer)
1 tbsp crushed black peppercorns
2 tsp natural unsweetened honey
1/4 tsp dried oregano
Wash and blanch the tomato in a quarter cup of water in a bowl, covered, in your microwave on high for 2 minutes. Remove, put in cold water, peel, cut into half, de-seed and further cut into quarter inch cubes.
Mix the butter, spring onions, garlic, and chicken pieces in a deep microwave-proof bowl. Cover and cook in the microwave on high for about 4 minutes.
Add the diced tomato, tomato puree, crushed red chillies, Worcestershire/Reggae Reggae sauce, black pepper and mushrooms. Cover and cook in the microwave on high for 3-4 minutes.
Finally add the honey and dried oregano, cover and cook in the microwave on high for a further 2 minutes. urther 2 minutes.