Why Avoid The Microwave?A few years ago I did some research on the effects of microwaves on our food and in our bodies. I read some research that claimed broccoli (our house’s first place prize for “most appearances as a side vegetable”) lost something like 85% of its nutrients when cooked in the microwave vs. steaming. What?!? You mean I’ve been eating 15% healthy broccoli, boringly cooked and eaten out of nutritive obligation, for years???? No way dude. I was not a happy camper. Even if the research is flawed or has other sources that totally discredit it…or just disagree with it…I know that steaming broccoli is the healthiest way to eat it. Almost every source I can find agrees on that. So if there’s a chance the microwave oven is destroying even 25% of the healthy vitamins in there, I’m going to go with the stovetop. Why risk it? That’s what I’m inviting you to do. Learn to cook veggies properly, especially broccoli and our other cruciferous friends.
How to Cook Vegetables WITHOUT a MicrowaveI cooked my veggies, like my mother before, in the microwave for my entire adult life until I realized it wasn’t the most healthy way to do so. Here’s how to get the most nutrition out of your veggies and avoid the microwave for preparing them
Buy good vegetablesFrozen are fine, although I can’t stand the taste of frozen broccoli anymore. Frozen peas are a staple in our house, especially with little ones – finger foods! Fresh is good. Canned are no-nos!
To steam or to boil?Boiling vegetables results in water full of nutrients and veggies limp and less healthy. Unless you’re going to drink the cooking water – gross – don’t boil your vegetables, please.Steaming retains almost all nutrients for almost all vegetables, AND it’s quicker than boiling because you don’t have to wait for so much water to heat.
Get a steamer basketI’ve seen them at dollar stores and there are many styles on Amazon. They kind of look like something from a spaceship, but are made to fit most pots. If you don’t have one yet, don’t despair. I’m thinking that you can just put a cm. of water in the bottom of your narrowest pot and still end up steaming most of your vegetables since they’ll be stacked on top of the few that are sitting in the water. (Don’t tell, but that’s what I always do with frozen peas because I’m too lazy to get out my steamer basket and big pot.) Worth a shot!
You don’t need a lot of waterTonight I put an inch or less in my pot, and before I could get my already-cut broccoli out of the bag in the fridge and into the steamer basket, the water was ready. See? No more time than the microwave, I promise.
Add the veggies after the water is boilingYou can turn your heat down to medium or less, just enough to keep the water steaming but not wasting energy.
Set the timer for 5 minutes.Or less. Check them — they should be “crisp-tender“, which means their color is enhanced (green veggies get gorgeous when steamed!), they are slightly tender when you stick a fork in them, but not limp. Green veggies will tell you when they’re overcooked – they start to look more like fall colors than vibrant springtime.
Either serve immediately or use one of the following methods to stop the steaming process:
- Run cold water over the steamer basket (or in a colander) quickly and keep vegetables warm in a separate dish.
- Plunge veggies quickly into a bowl of cold water and return to hot pot to keep warm.This is important because even after you turn off the stove, the vegetables will continue to cook in the pot of hot water. If you’re like me and can’t perfectly time all the parts of dinner and the diners themselves to be ready at exactly the same time, your green beans will be limp before you know it if you just leave them in the pot. This happens with microwave steamed vegetables, too, so no complaining about extra steps!
- For the Love of Broccoli
- Try this Cauliflower Trick instead of Mashed Potatoes
- Green Smoothies with Kale
Need More Baby Steps?
Here at Kitchen Stewardship, we’ve always been all about the baby steps. But if you’re just starting your real food and natural living journey, sifting through all that we’ve shared here over the years can be totally overwhelming.
That’s why we took the best 10 rookie “Monday Missions” that used to post once a week and got them all spruced up to send to your inbox – once a week on Mondays, so you can learn to be a kitchen steward one baby step at a time, in a doable sequence.
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