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M.I.S.S. Healthy Bites: Cooking with the Sun is So(lar) Fun!

Use the Sun to Cook Your Lunch!

Use the Sun to Cook Your Lunch!

Sometimes it feels so hot outside that you can just cook an egg on the concrete.  Although that could be true, it’s also pretty gross.  Just think of all those people walking around with their dirty kicks, hawking loogies all over the place.  Don’t try that at home kids.  Instead, take the sanitary route and use the powers of the sun to do some cooking by using a solar oven.

The week before Earth Day is also known as National Environmental Education Week, a time when you can focus on learning about ways to help the environment so that when Earth Day does come around, you’re already living the green life…even if it’s just for one day.  Since Earth Day is next week after all, it’s the perfect time to try out some eco-friendly cooking techniques so you’ll be able to show off your solar chef skills!  No need to increase your carbon footprint even more by using your kitchen oven to bake your famous mac and cheese because you can use the energy from the sun.  It’s free and readily available…on a nice sunny day of course!

Try these tips to have some solar fun with the sun:

  • Invest in a solar oven.  If you’re amazed that cooking does not always require a microwave, or even a stove, then it might be a good idea to invest in a solar oven.  Perhaps you enjoy the outdoor life, or your home gets plenty of sunlight and you’d like to use it to your advantage.  Then you can prep your meal, put it outside, and come back to some delicious home cooking.  They should really make infomercials for these.
  • Make your own oven.  If this seems too good to be true, you can make your own solar oven using recycled materials.  It doesn’t get more earth-friendly than that.  Old pizza boxes, or any type of clean box works fine. My daughter, that 9-year-old  little eco-scientist, made her own solar oven complete with a plastic wrap window to see what’s cooking.  Keep in mind that you’d want your contraption to trap in the most heat, so line it with black paper or paint it black with non-toxic paints and use aluminum foil to reflect the sunlight into the boxed compartment where the cooking goes on.
  • Try out a simple recipe.  You wouldn’t want to start by baking a complicated bread that requires high heat.  Try out recipes that require mainly melting and heating at first, so you can get an idea of how the heat works.  You can cook pasta noodles first, then add your pre-cooked sauce and cheeses to make a sun-cooked casserole!  Or why not bake some pizza using whole wheat pita bread and fresh peppers?
  • Check the temp.  If you’re up for something more challenging, make sure that your solar oven is retaining a consistent temperature.  Use an oven thermometer and point your oven in the direction of the sun’s rays.  The best time to cook is around high noon, so make sure you have enough time before for pre-heating.  Then when the oven hits that right temperature, you can throw in some bread dough to make some fresh solar bread, with whole wheat of course!
  • Use dark bakeware.  Cast iron and dark baking equipment is best for your food because it will absorb and retain heat better than glass.  Remember, the solar oven can do most of what your household oven can do, it just depends on the the duration and the intensity of the solar rays.
  • Take the oven elsewhere.  Solar ovens are a great item to bring on a camping trip.  No need to wait for S’mores ’till the campfire is burning, because you can make your own in broad daylight in your oven.  Just make sure to use dark chocolate for more antioxidants.

Hopefully you’re getting enough sun to try some solar cuisine that’s tasty and nutritious, and not to forget, good for the environment!

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