Once you start eating better, moving more, and making a conscious effort to live a healthier lifestyle, it’s important to think of all aspects of our lives that we need to clean out toxins and harmful chemicals from. One example of this is in our kitchen. And no, I don’t mean the food that we put into our body, although that is extremely important. I’m talking about the things we cook our food in. No matter how clean we are eating, we may ingesting toxins that disrupt our hormones and health if we use cookware and bakeware that are made or coated with harmful substances.
There are so many products out there when it comes to cookware, and it can be confusing to figure out what the safest and most toxin-free options are. Here’s a helpful guide to figure out which pans and pots you can keep, and which ones you can toss.
STAINLESS STEEL. Stainless steel cookware is one of the most cost-effective solutions if you want to replace some of your cookware right way. They are also quite durable and last a long time (I’ve had one of my pots for over 5 years now). The only negative about stainless steel is that they are not non-stick, so they are not ideal if you want to fry up some over easy eggs.
CERAMIC. Another thing our ancestors got right. Ceramic cookware (and I’m talking about 100% ceramic, not ceramic coated – which I will talk about later) is not only safe but enhances the flavor of the food by cooking it slowly and gently. Because of this, it’s not ideal for flash cooking or stir-fry. However, ceramic cookware is an excellent addition to the kitchen and they are nonreactive, without containing any metals that can leech into our food.
CAST IRON. This is one of my favorites and another old-fashioned cookware that’s probably the safest option. Many people are intimidated by cast iron because it needs to be seasoned routinely, but it’s really not difficult to do at all. Once you learn how to clean and season it properly, it’s awesome for non-stick cooking, both on the stove top and in the oven. Plus, if you take care of it properly, cast iron cookware can last a lifetime!
ENAMELED CAST IRON. I think I would own way more enameled cast iron cookware if they weren’t so ridiculously expensive. LeCreuset ones are also so pretty to look at. I have one which is a hand-me-down from my mom and I absolutely love it. Unlike a standard cast iron, it’s easy to clean and doesn’t need to be seasoned. It also cooks food evenly and is safe for both the stove top and the oven.
GLASS. Excellent for all your baking needs, oven safe glassware like Pyrex comes in various sizes. They also don’t break easily which is great for someone clumsy like me. I use it not only for baking, but also as food storage ever since I got rid of all plastic anything from our kitchen. Just remember that it IS glass, so you should avoid sudden extreme temperature changes and never put it in the broiler.
ANODIZED ALUMINUM (MAYBE). The process of anodization seals the aluminum so it doesn’t leech into the food. Anodized aluminum cookware is nonstick, scratch-resistant, and easy to clean. However, they do not last a long time. After about a year of use, the surface may wear down and the aluminum may start entering into the food that you cook in it. Just to be safe, I don’t use anodized aluminum cookware. However, it may be an okay option to use once in a while if you need an easy, non-stick surface to cook on.
TEFLON or NON-STICK. As convenient as Teflon cookware are, the part that makes them non-stick is what makes them leech synthetic chemicals that are harmful to our health. The coating on the pan breaks down especially at high temperature, and creates toxic and carcinogenic fumes that are released into the air and in our food. These fumes are even known to kill birds. To make matters worse, these pans scratch easily and the particles that are scratched off can enter into our food as well.
ALUMINUM. Another huge no-no when it comes to cookware is aluminum. There’s a connection between aluminum ingestion and Alzheimer’s disease, and it’s also known to cause bone and and kidney issues by depleting necessary minerals in our body. Aluminum leeches extremely easily, especially at high temperature or in contact with acidic foods like lemon and tomatoes. I advise you stop using aluminum foil in cooking as well. You may find some stainless cookware with an aluminum base. This is an acceptable choice as long the food doesn’t touch is the aluminum, and the surface isn’t damaged.
CERAMIC COATED PANS (MAYBE). Ceramic coatings have been pretty popular in the recent years and there are even knives that come with the trendy ceramic coating. Despite the name, the surfaces of these cookware are actually not ceramic in the traditional sense of the word. They are dipped or sprayed with synthetic polymer solution that dries into these non-stick plastic coatings. Ceramic coated pans, usually aluminum inside, do not last a long time. With heat and use, the coating wears down and you start ingesting the coating AND the reactive metals underneath. My recommendation is to not use it, but they may be okay once in a while if you take great care not to scratch the surface. Overall, it’s really not worth it to me.
Don’t be overwhelmed if you own Teflon or aluminum cookware at home. It’s never too late to make these changes. You can gradually start switching out pans and pots one by one, and within a few months, your kitchen will be toxin free and you won’t have to worry about the metals you may be ingesting in your food. If you have a tight budget, I suggest going with stainless steel cookware because they are safe and relatively cheap. Either way, aluminum and heavy metal toxicity is so common and serious in today’s world, and I think reducing these exposures in your kitchen is a great starting point and investment you can make toward your health.
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