Quick and Healthy Microwave-less Recipes, Nutrients Included!

So you’ve been dared to rid your kitchen of your microwave. Now what? We’re here to help you through this difficult transition from appliance-dependent to good old-fashioned cooking. It might take more than 60 seconds, but we promise these substitutes for your favorite microwave treats are so easy and so much better for you; you’ll forget all about old hums-a-lot. Trust us, you won’t miss the sound or the rubbery texture, and you definitely won’t miss the dreaded splatter situation. Start thinking of what you’ll do with all that extra counter space!

Popcorn

One of our favorite couch snacks, microwave popcorn, contains chemicals that are probably scarier than that horror movie you’re watching. With only a large pot with a lid, oil (grapeseed oil works great) and popcorn kernels – you’ll be popping in no time.  Try seasoning with salt and pepper, chopped fresh herbs, grated Parmesan, and smoked Spanish paprika instead of butter for healthy snack with all the pop! Bon Appetit has a complete tutorial.

Heating up leftovers

Many of us do cook. We cook so much we even have leftovers. Or we bring home leftovers after dining out. Either way, food from every night of the week can start to pile up, but there’s no need to waste. You can quickly heat up food by using the steam from a saucepan with a lid and a little water.  Someone’s late to dinner?  Put a saucepan lid over the food and place the plate on a simmering saucepan of water. It will stay warm without drying up, although the tardy diner may get a cold shoulder.

Melted Cheese

Everything‘s better with cheddar! But what if you could make your cheese taste even better? Nachos, quesadillas, and other melted, savory delights may be something you rely on the microwave for. If you slow down a second and cook these creamy snacks on the stove, we guarantee you will never nuke your cheese again. Pair piping hot, never rubbery cheese paired with crisp tortillas or chips make the perfect vehicle for all that oozing goodness. Try these healthy nacho and quesadilla recipes!

Frozen Veggies

Frozen veggies are a convenient way to avoid prep work and still get the same nutrients, that is, until you zap ‘em. So while it’s OK to skip the fresh veggies, to get all the vitamins and minerals, don’t skimp on the cooking. Here are over 1280 frozen veggie recipes that can all be prepared on your stove top.

Mac and Cheese

Instant mac and cheese is a comfort food at our finger tips. But there are tons of ways to whip up your own batch without much work, or a microwave. Try Rachael Ray’s healthy recipe for mac and cheese. It’s YUM-O, takes under 15 and its better for you than the microwave version, so it won’t leave with you the mac and cheese blues.

Hot Pockets

A guilty pleasure in a flaky, crusty sleeve. When microwaved, these little treats turn into fire pockets and often destroy your mouth (and aren’t any nicer on your waistline). Why not make yourself something more satisfying and less processed? To fulfill your hot pocket craving, make own homemade calzone. Use refrigerated crescent-shaped dinner rolls and roll out the dough into rectangle. Cut into squares, fill with the pickings of your liking,  lightly moisten the edges with water, fold dough over, seal and press with a fork. Place on a greased baking sheet and bake at 375 for 20 minutes or until golden. Serve hot (not hot pocket hot) and enjoy.

Hot Chocolate

On a cold day or a chocolate-craving day, you may go to your microwave to make a little cup of love. You can still use an instant hot chocolate mix, but try warming milk in a double-boiler instead. To really tickle your taste buds, you can get an inexpensive frother and froth the milk. Now that’s a real cup of love. Plus, frothing is fun!

5 Reasons To Throw Away Your Microwave (Dare You!)

By Wrightmt (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

By Wrightmt (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Since November I’ve been doing the modern day unthinkable: I’ve been living life without a microwave. See, there wasn’t one built into our kitchen when I moved in, and after a couple weeks of figuring out which one to buy, my two roommates and I jointly decided to forget it altogether, and live sans that trusty kitchen convenience staple. And I LOVE IT. I’ve never cooked more than I do now, and I feel healthier than ever for it.

DARE YOU: Tape up your microwave and don’t use it for an entire month. See if you prefer life without it, and if so, donate it to charity! Who wants to give it a try?

Here are five reasons I plead my case:

1. Food simply tastes better.

Let’s start with the basics. Microwaves make things rubbery, dry, they heat unevenly and they suck flavor out of your food. One of the primary functions of microwaves past has been to reheat leftovers. Now, I’ve learned that a little olive oil and a pan go a long way when it comes to creating a more flavorful dish the second time around. It’s great when pasta gets a little crispy on the outside and soup feels more pure. I’ve found the extra time you end up spending in the kitchen is really marginal.

2. Microwaving zaps nutrients out of your food.

You go out of your way to choose nutritious foods (right?), but microwaves have been shown over and over again to reduce the nutritional value of your food. The waves used to heat food so quickly and conveniently actually change the chemical structure in the process. Don’t surrender vitamins and proteins to your microwave oven. Here are just 3 of the MANY interesting scientific food-zapping findings I found:

  • Broccoli “zapped” in the microwave with a little water lost up to 97 percent of its beneficial antioxidants. By comparison, steamed broccoli lost 11 percent or fewer of its antioxidants.
  • In a study of garlic, as little as 60 seconds of microwave heating was enough to inactivate its allinase, garlic’s principle active ingredient against cancer.
  • Microwaving asparagus spears is shown to reduce its vitamin C content.

3. Spend quality time with your food.

I’ve taken great pleasure in getting to know my food better over the past few months. When you microwave something, you set it and forget it. When you’re forced to do it the old-fashioned way, you think about the ingredients, the preparation, and ultimately, the quality of what you’re eating. You develop a relationship with what goes into your body before ingesting it, which helps regulate portion control and makes a big difference in how you perceive food in general.

4. Goodbye frozen dinners.

Microwave dinners are cop out meals. Sure, they’re convenient, but they usually fall into one of two categories: 1, they are packed with sodium and high in fat, or 2, they are lean and low-cal and don’t come close to filling you up. I used to be a once-a-week frozen dinner kinda gal, but now I’ll make ground turkey tacos or a simple whole wheat pasta dish instead. This goes back to spending quality time with your food. Plus, cooking is a moderate form of exercise! Chop chop.

5. Heating plastics in a microwave can be dangerous.

We’ve all heard about radiation and the possible dangers of microwaves. While the American Cancer Society confirms that the radiation doesn’t actually leak out, that’s not the only problem. When you heat something in plastic, there may be stuff leaking into your food that was not invited. Even plastics labeled microwave-safe have been found to release “toxic doses” of Bisphenol A, and there has been concerns about exposing this to infants, young children and fetuses especially.

So…

Do you think you could do it? I’m not going to tell you it isn’t extra dishes to wash, and I’ll be honest in saying that it DOES require more time in the kitchen. However, I find it extremely liberating and eye-opening about foods and about myself. Comment below and let me know if you’ll give microwave-less life a whirl!

Hair2Help Kid’s Cut-A-Thon in NYC

Is getting your child’s hair cut a chore? Most squirm around in those big salon chairs and claim how it is so unnecessary. That will all change once they start going gray and they’ll be happy to sit in those comfy chairs for hours on end. But I digress… Let the professionals help and your child’s haircut could go towards a great cause. We’ve told you about Hair2Help’s mission and their great spa day event but now they are offering free hair cuts for kids when you make a donation to their charity, which supports cancer patients and their caretakers.

Bring your children, ages 4-10, to the James Corbett Studio in Union Square, NYC for a Holiday Haircut and Priti Princess non-toxic manicure in exchange for a 100% tax-deductible donation.

The goal of the day is to help raise money for those who are battling cancer. Your child will have the opportunity to make get well cards for patients at the American Cancer Society’s Hope Lodge.

For more information visit the Hair2Help website, or to get involved, please contact James@Hair2Help.org or call 212.388.1296.

If you’re in New York visit Sunday November 13, 2011 from 12:00 PM to 3:00 PM at the James Corbett Studio. The address is:

32 Union Square East #311
New York, NY 10003

Here’s the invite:

Hair2Help Gives Cancer Patients A Spa Day

One out of three people will be diagnosed with cancer and it is highly likely that you already know someone with the disease. There is nothing fun or glamorous about the big C, but everyone deserves to look and feel fabulous. That is the philosophy of non-profit organization Hair2Help, and  Spa Week definitely follows the same ideals as our #50dollartreatments. It was founded by celebrity hair stylist James Corbett in October 2010 when he realized that there was a real need to help women affected by cancer.

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Spa Glossary: Oncology Massage – Pink Ribbon Pride at the Spa

By Shelby Jones, ISPA

With Breast Cancer Awareness Month right around the corner in October, many spas are helping to raise awareness and funds that benefit breast cancer research. (Read last night’s post on actionable ways YOU can help for BCA Month.) Known for their focus on healing and wellness, it’s no surprise that spas and spa product companies are offering special treatments, raising money and volunteering time for the cause.  Many spas around the country have therapists trained in oncology massage which adapts traditional massage techniques to safely provide relaxation and pain relief for cancer patients.

This type of massage focuses on helping the body heal. It can aid in reducing the symptoms of nausea, diarrhea, constipation, lack of appetite, insomnia and pain. The American Cancer Society estimates that more than 230,000 new cases of breast cancer will be diagnosed in 2011 alone. According to ISPA’s research, seventy percent of spa-goers are women, and almost everyone knows someone who has been affected by the disease.

The No. 1 reason people worldwide go to the spa is to reduce stress. Coping with cancer can put a tremendous amount of stress on patients and their loved ones. The spa industry provides a nurturing and relaxing environment for healing the mind, body and spirit.

Call your local spa and inquire about therapists who are trained in oncology massage. You can help the cause by visiting a spa that donates a portion of their proceeds to breast cancer research. Many spas will have special products in their retail areas from companies who donate proceeds to breast cancer awareness organizations in October.

If you want to learn more about different spa treatments visit ISPA’s spa glossary at experienceispa.com.

Shelby Jones is based in Lexington, KY at the ISPA  headquarters, Spa Week’s exclusive trade partner. She has worked as ISPA’s Public Relations Manager for five years where she connects with top media outlets to promote ISPA members and the spa lifestyle. To get in touch with Shelby please email her or follow @ISPADoYou on Twitter. If you’re in the spa industry, we encourage you to become a member of ISPA; weekly e-mails with pointers like these are just one small part of the package to help you succeed!