Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Just Nuke It!

A recent poll of UHealthy readers found out the following about how UH likes their pizza…

From these findings, one can infer that students may (or may not) use a microwave to aide in the preparation of this stereotypical late night snack. A microwave can be a student’s best friend and certainly a good place to start when navigating the uncharted waters of a kitchen. It might be the only cooking tool you have in your dorm room or it may be a part of your fully stocked kitchen. Microwaves can help prepare a balanced breakfast (i.e. oatmeal), a satisfying snack (i.e. low fat popcorn), or add nutritional value to a bowl of noodles (i.e. vegetable noodle “stir-fry”).

Assuming you have a refrigerator and a microwave, you can create a balanced and nutritious meal plan with only these two appliances. Get cooking by following the recipes below, remembering that cooking time varies based on how antiquity of your microwave.

  • Steamed fruit compote with 0% fat yogurt: Place frozen or fresh fruit in a microwave safe bowl. Cover with a paper towel and cook for 2-4 minutes. Let stand for a minute and then pour over yogurt. Sprinkle with low fat granola.
  • Banana Oatmeal: Place ½ cup old fashioned oats, 1 cup of water, 1 mashed banana, and a sprinkle of raisings in a microwave safe bowl. Cook for about 2 minutes. Top with a bit of cinnamon and skim milk for flavor. Tip: use a large bowl to avoid oat-overflow.
  • Egg Muffin: Spray a small microwave safe bowl with cooking spray. Crack 1 egg into the bowl, break the yolk with a fork, add a spoonful of water, and give it a little stir. Cook for 1 minute and check doneness. Place the egg on a whole wheat English muffin. Pair with an apple and you can eat as you walk to class!

  • Veggie Pasta: Spice up a microwave pasta dinner (i.e. Barilla Whole Grain Microwave Meals) with fresh vegetables. Place a large handful of frozen mixed vegetables in a microwave safe bowl and cover with a paper towel. Microwave for 2-4 minutes, stirring once in the middle of cooking. Follow the package directions to cook the pasta. Combine the pasta and vegetables for a balanced meal. 
  • Loaded Potato: Pierce a small baking potato with a fork and wrap in a paper towel. Microwave on high for about 10 minutes or until done, flipping the potato once during cooking. Steam the frozen vegetables as in the previous recipe. Cut the potato in half and top with vegetables. Sprinkle with cheese and salsa for a delicious vegetarian meal. Add leftover chicken or canned chicken for a non-vegetarian entrĂ©e.
  • Mediterranean Couscous with Chicken: Heat 1 ¼ cup low sodium chicken broth in the microwave for 3-5 minutes (or until boiling). Pour over 1 package of whole wheat couscous mix (look for the 5.6 oz box). Cover with a paper towel and set aside for 5 minutes. While the couscous is “cooking”, open a can of olives and a can of corn. Drain and rinse to reduce the sodium. Drain a can of no sodium added diced tomatoes. Pour the olives, corn, and tomatoes into the couscous. Add leftover chicken (rotisserie chicken works great) and stir. This recipe makes enough for several meals. Eat alone with a sprinkle of feta cheese or eat the couscous on top of greens.

When using a microwave for cooking, remember these tips to keep your food safe:

Do not use foam trays or plastic wrap.
Cover foods with a lid or paper towels to provide even heating.
Make sure your containers are labeled “Safe for Microwave Ovens.”
Do not use plastic storage containers such as margarine tubs, take-out containers, and other one-time use containers.

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