Medically Reviewed by Christine Mikstas, RD, LD on December 13, 2021

Dry Herbs

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You can turn fresh herbs into dried seasonings for food. Place leaves in a single layer between two paper towels, and heat on high for 1 minute per cup. This method works best on parsley, basil, and celery leaves.

Toast Nuts

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Spread them in a single layer on a microwave-safe dish, then add oil or butter -- about half a teaspoon for every cup of nuts or seeds -- and heat them on high in your microwave for about a minute. Check to make sure they’re done, adding time in small amounts as needed until they’re lightly brown and have that nice smell.

Bake Apples

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For a speedier soft apple, peel and core it, and either leave it whole or cut it into pieces. Fill or cover with a tablespoon of butter and any spices or seasonings you prefer, like cinnamon. Cover it with wax paper and heat on high for 2½ to 3 minutes. Make sure to let it sit for a bit before eating.

Bake Potatoes

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Microwaves can give you fluffy baked potatoes in a fraction of the time your oven can. First, scrub your potatoes and prick several holes in them with a fork. That’ll give steam a way to escape. Cook one potato for 7 to 8 minutes, two for 10 to 12, and four for 14 to 18, or until soft. Don’t forget to flip your potatoes halfway through.

Scramble Eggs

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Want a hot breakfast, but short on time? Microwave your eggs. Crack one egg into a microwave-safe bowl or mug you’ve coated with nonstick spray. Mix in a tablespoon of milk or water, and cook on high for 30-45 seconds. Stir, then let it sit for 2-3 minutes.

Steam Veggies

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Arrange fresh vegetables in a microwave-safe dish. Add 2 or 3 tablespoons of water and cover with a lid or plastic wrap. (Make sure to leave space for the steam to escape.) Microwave your vegetables on high for 3 to 7 minutes (depending on the vegetable) or until soft.

Cook Homemade Chicken Soup

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Combine diced vegetables, canned beans, canned chunked chicken, and broth in a microwave-safe bowl. Cover it with plastic wrap. Cook times will vary but are usually between 15 and 30 minutes. Make sure to stir your soup several times during the heating process to make sure every bite is heated through.

Sanitize Sponges

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All it takes is 1 minute on high in the microwave to kill bacteria on your kitchen sponges. Wet them first so they don’t catch fire, and also check to it doesn't have a metallic scrub pad. If yours does, put it in the dishwasher instead.

Microwave Tips

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Check for the “microwave safe” label on containers before heating food in them. Avoid foam containers, and never heat metal. Chemicals in plastic wraps may seep into your food if you cook in them. For even cooking, pick a round container over square, and cut food into equal-sized pieces when possible.

Cancer Risk?

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There’s no proof microwaves cause cancer. They cook your food by making the water molecules inside vibrate and give off heat. Your food isn’t radioactive after you microwave it, and properly working microwaves don’t give off enough radiation to put you at risk of cancer, either.

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SOURCES:

Penn State Extension: “Let’s Preserve: Drying Herbs,” “Making Healthy Meals: Give Your Microwave a Second Look.”

University of Nebraska-Lincoln Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources: “Toasting Nuts and Seeds Using Microwave, Oven or Stove-Top.”

USDA ChooseMyPlate: “Festive Microwaved Baked Apples,” “Microwave Baked Potato.”

Purdue University: “Cooking Fresh Vegetables.”

Michigan State University Extension: “Sanitizing Kitchen Sponges.”

American Cancer Society: “Microwaves, Radio Waves, and Other Types of Radiofrequency Radiation.”