• Why I’ll Never Own a Microwave Again

    Why I'll Never Own a Microwave Again | stupideasypaleo.com

    It’s true…I’ll never own a microwave again.

    Recently, I spent four months living abroad, and the flat I was sharing didn’t have a microwave. (The horror!) Combine that with a teeny-tiny fridge and an oven the size of an Easy Bake, and I was beginning to feel pretty out of sorts since microwaves are standard issue in American kitchens.

    At first, it was weird. Heat up leftovers…in a pan?! Melt coconut oil or ghee…on the stovetop? What if I didn’t have an extra 85 seconds to wait for my food to get warm?! As someone who grew up in the 1980s, microwaves have just been a part of daily life. But faced without one for four months, I had one choice: adapt or never heat up anything cold again. (Of course, I chose the former).

    So why will I never own a microwave again? I didn’t need it, and now I don’t miss it.

    Going without one simplifies my kitchen space and my life. I’m sort of on a mission to reduce my dependence on gadgetry and de-clutter ever since I read The Clutter Trap by Thank Your Body. (Just don’t take my computer, okay?) You’d think that as a food blogger, I have all the latest and greatest kitchen goodies, but the truth is that I’ve minimized what I use down to a skeleton crew of only the things I use on a regular basis. I’m going without a microwave as one way to live more simply.

    How am I managing?

    • To heat up large portions, I use a cast iron or stainless steel skillet. The bonus is that I can get a nice browned or caramelized outside on certain foods that a microwave could never do. (Concerned about food sticking to stainless steel? Check out this tutorial on seasoning it just like cast iron.)
    • To melt small amounts of coconut oil or other solid fats, I use a tiny sauce pot like this one.
    • To safely defrost meats, I put them in the refrigerator the night before I want to use them or run them under water. For frozen veggies or stock, I thaw it in the fridge.

    That’s it! I haven’t found anything I was unable to do, and I’m loving the extra room on my countertop. Of course, if you’re somewhere like work or the gym, and there’s not a stovetop in sight, a microwave may be necessary unless you want to eat salads every day.

    What about radiation? Isn’t that a good enough reason to skip the microwave?

    When it comes to radiation exposure from microwaves—a type of electromagnetic radiation that causes the water molecules in food to vibrate, thus creating heat—it’s unknown whether the small amount these ovens give off is truly harmful or not. The FDA’s created a standard for microwave radiation as such:

    “A Federal standard limits the amount of microwaves that can leak from an oven throughout its lifetime to 5 milliwatts (mW) of microwave radiation per square centimeter at approximately 2 inches from the oven surface. This limit is far below the level known to harm people. Microwave energy also decreases dramatically as you move away from the source of radiation. A measurement made 20 inches from an oven would be approximately one one-hundredth of the value measured at 2 inches.”

    That problem is that much is still not understood about how very low levels of microwave radiation exposure could be harmful over time. If you don’t trust the FDA and you don’t want to take the chance, simplify like me and go without.

    When it comes to the nutrients in food, it’s been demonstrated that microwaving food results in insignificant differences in nutrient value compared with other cooking methods. In fact, it may actually help retain more nutrients than boiling or high-temperature / long-duration methods.

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    Have you given up your microwave? Would you ever consider it? Leave a comment below.

    Steph Gaudreau is a certified holistic nutrition practitioner, weightlifting and mindset coach, and the author of the best-selling Performance Paleo Cookbook. Her recipes and expert advice have been featured in SELF, Outside Magazine, Elle, and Greatist. Steph loves barbells, cats, and anything Lord of the Rings. She lives in San Diego, CA.

    23 thoughts on “Why I’ll Never Own a Microwave Again

    1. Mine is built-in above my range, and while I do use it occasionally, I almost always use a pan to re-heat food, because I like it so much better! I would trade it in for a 2nd oven in a second, though!

    2. We have one but the only thing it ever gets used for is heating up cold coffee.

      When I stopped eating processed food, I stopped using the microwave. It wasn’t a conscious choice, though! And I love me a good cold leftover dish – I’m odd like that 😉

      I never bother melting coconut oil – I just chunk it out of the jar with a knife #foodbloggershame

    3. My husband is removing my over the stove microwave today and replacing it with a hood. In addition to removing the microwaves from the kitchen I will have a space where I can put in a shelf or two for spices or a magnet strip for my knives. My microwave has a feature that turns on the exhaust fan when the area gets to a certain heat and it CANNOT be turned off! Makes me crazy to have the noise.

    4. I haven’t owned a microwave for over 17 years and don’t miss it at all. I never was really enamored with a microwave and had no problem living without it. I don’t even own a toaster–gasp! I toast my bread using the oven broiler, and I actually prefer bread toasted under the broiler versus a toaster. Like you, I only store what I actually need and use.

    5. I haven’t owned one in over 13 years and don’t miss it at all. In my new house I had the builder put a hood above my stove instead of a microwave. I guess I am just an old fashioned girl!

    6. I haven’t had a microwave in over 2 years at least. Ours bit the dust and I told my husband I didnt want to replace it for many of your reasons — little room in the kitchen and the radiation being my biggest concerns. Plus I just plain don’t care for the taste of food “cooked” in a microwave.

    7. When we moved 2.5 years ago we got rid of our microwave and didn’t look back. We bought a house 1.5 years ago and the house came with a microwave and we moved it out of the kitchen into storage. It is plugged in and we use it once every 4 months or so. We would never buy one again or put one in our kitchen. They are a big waste of space and I was not happy about the nutrient loss when I learned about that a few years ago.

    8. I went without a microwave for 6months when our went out and I told my hubby we werent buying another one. It wasn’t so bad, I got use to boiling lots of water and heating things up on the stove and in the oven. I really enjoyed the extra counter space and getting my crockpot off the floor. the only downside is our electric bill almost doubled. My parents bought us a new one that I use occasionally.

    9. I have not owned a microwave since 2004. My mother in law, who is now 67, asked me how I heat things up!! I found this so amusing considering she was not accustomed to microwaves for much of her life 😉 My 21 year old daughter is away at college and still has not incorporated a microwave into her living space. I’m grateful

    10. I have gained contrasting info in the past – during my BSc in Food and Nutrition, I was told that microwaves may be the best way to steam/heat veg because your nutrients don’t leach out as much, but in my holistic nutrition program I am taking now, the use of microwaves is not recommended (for the radiation reason)

      I used to use my microwave allllllll the time, but since my holistic nutrition program, I’ve been using stove top and the microwave much less (almost not at all)

      1. The point about steaming and losing fewer nutrients into the water compared with boiling is totally valid so it’s a matter of which one poses the most problem 🙂

    11. Once I began to make bone broth, and one time tried to reheat it in the microwave. The fat in the bone broth became searing hot, to the point that I thought it might have burned. Then I had the question, if the fat can so easily be ruined, what other nutrients are dying in there as well? So when our microwave died shortly after, I never replaced it and I too love the countertop space I regained. My husband wasn’t so happy about that, but a friend had a small microwave she wasn’t using and he keeps it in our home office. Works for me!

    12. The only thing that our microwave gets used for is the vent fan over our stove and for a timer. I don’t remember the last food item that went in there! I hate the way food tastes re-heated in the microwave. It’s SO much better on the stovetop or in the oven.

    13. Thank you for this post! I got rid of my microwave last summer. It was inconvenient at first to warm up food the longer way, but I prefer the taste as well as extra counter space. My decision was influenced by GAPS author Natasha Campbell-McBride as well as Primal Body Primal Mind author Nora Gedgaudas. In Nora’s book she references this study: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/jsfa.1585/abstract They compare the loss of nutrients from cooking broccoli several ways. More nutrients were lost by microwaving than any other method: high losses of flavonoids (97%), sinapic acid derivatives (74%) and caffeoyl-quinic acid derivatives (87%). Steaming retained the most nutrients.

    14. I have a special needs family member who has many medical appointments that keep me running. Personally, I couldn’t imagine giving up the microwave which I use religiously. I’m thawing chicken in it now. I had a special shelf included in my kitchen cabinets, so it doesn’t take up any counter space. I live in FL, and the microwave saves significantly on energy costs. When you heat the stove or oven, that heat works against the air conditioning that runs about 9 months of the year. A microwave doesn’t compete with the a.c. Sometimes broccoli is cooked in it, sometimes not. I do prefer my steamer. I think there is so much conflicting information that you have to pick your battles and see what fits into your lifestyle. More power to you if you want to go without a microwave, though. It’s an interesting discussion.

    15. The main issue with a microwave oven is not the leakage of 2 Ghz radio frequencies. Your cell phone and certainly your smart meter, if you have one, exposes you too far far more of the 2 Ghz electromagnetic spectrum.

      The real issue with microwave ovens is that they destroy the nutritional value of food. Many think also that carcenegous compounds are being created.

    16. I hate to say it, but I use mine more than I should. I use it to reheat my coffee, to nuke popcorn that’s in a brown paper bag and frozen bagged veggies. My kids like their muffins or sweet bread warmed up and use it for that too.
      Would like to get a toaster oven, but don’t want to take up more counter space. thankfully my microwave is above the stove and doesn’t take up counter space.
      Amazing how we become dependent on certain things.

    17. I gave up our microwave less than a month ago and don’t miss it a bit! The extra counter space was sorely needed. It can be challenging heating up leftovers. I like to use a skillet with a lid, that seems to work well. It’s also very easy to heat up water or reheat coffee in a small saucepan.

    18. I didn’t have one for years until my husband moved in. I don’t like them. We bought one that needs to be installed (my husband likes the darn thing) so I threw out our small one. The one needing installation has been sitting in the basement for months and I’m hoping it’s forgotten 🙂

    19. I haven’t owned a microwave in over 10 years. Everything can be done in toaster oven, oven, or stovetop. And it tastes better that way in my opinion.

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