Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Quiche Bowls and Microwaves

By Ari

My purpose here is two-fold: to briefly discuss the alleged harms of microwave cooking, and to mention oven-baked quiche bowls.

After writing about microwave egg bowls, several people claimed that cooking by microwave is unhealthy because of the way it modifies foods. While I remain open to evidence demonstrating some harm of microwave cooking, to date I have seen not a shred of evidence to suggest that microwaves are in any way unhealthy.

Note that evidence does NOT consist of parroting some other web page on the matter which itself relies on overblown and unsubstantiated claims.

Also recall that Franz Mesmer made some superficially plausible-sounding claims regarding magnetic health treatments -- claims that turned out to be complete crap. (That hasn't stopped various companies from continuing to sell magnetic underwear and such, which is comparable to snake oil.)

I have also read that cooking itself harms food and is therefore unhealthy; see the "raw food" movement. I do not doubt that microwaves alter foods, as does any sort of cooking; what I doubt is that microwave cooking alters foods in ways significantly differently than the ways that regular cooking does, and that cooking itself is harmful. (Obviously certain types of cooking, such as charring meat over an open, smokey fire can introduce carcinogens.) Rather, I am persuaded that cooking actually makes many foods more healthy for human consumption, and that humans evolved while cooking with fire.

Readers are welcome to point to actual evidence testing claims about microwave healthiness. However, I will not publish comments that merely cite other unsubstantiated claims.

Nevertheless, obviously there are many ways to cook foods other than by microwave, and different techniques provide better results for different dishes.

This morning, I cooked quiche bowls for my wife and me in the oven:


My bowl consisted of two eggs, some milk, a quarter of a diced red pepper, some sausage (which my wife skipped), and a slice of swiss cheese. The bowls cooked to perfection in 30 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. We used our regular, oven-safe ceramic bowls.

There are several advantages to cooking a bowl of eggs in the oven rather than in the microwave. I like the texture better. One can cook several bowls at the same time. There is no need to stir the contents during cooking, as is necessary with a microwave. I like bowls rather than one large quiche because they cook faster, and different eaters can add different ingredients. And the clean-up is trivial. We ate our breakfast straight from the bowls resting on coasters; the bowls would be too hot for children.

I will probably start cooking eggs more often this way, because they are healthy, good, and easy. So there are definitely reasons to choose some cooking methods over others for different dishes. Overblown, unscientific fear mongering is not among those reasons.

See Ari Armstrong's blog.

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