Pots & Pans
We spend so much time and effort researching, shopping for, and eating organics, and avoiding chemical additives in our foods, but often we don't think twice about the pots and pans we use to cook them in. A friend recently bought a whole set of pots and pans on sale, at first glance I thought they were all Teflon non-stick. My heart fell, knowing the recent brush with cancer they recently faced. I went home and researched the brand, (Rachel Ray) and was very pleased to find out they were made of enamel, not Teflon.
But that got me thinking about all the people who eat the best organic foods so they are the healthiest they can be, but are cooking with toxic cookware that leaches chemicals into their healthy foods. I even still make my popcorn in an aluminum pan! I know, I really have to trash that little saucepan!
So, I went about gathering some information about non-toxic cookware, and here is what I found out:
WHAT TO AVOID:
Aluminum is a heat conductor, so it heats up quickly. The problem is it also leaches into your food easily when it heats up. Avoid cheap aluminum cookware.
The heavier expensive aluminum cookware is more controversial. Some say it's ok, because it only has an aluminum core with a safer material as a outer coating, but if your are cooking acidic foods, like tomato sauce, it can start to erode the safer coating, leaving you with problematic leaching of aluminum. I had a whole expensive set of these that I ditched one by one. My philosophy is to keep aluminum away from your foods.
Teflon or Non-Stick
Not only does the chemicals added to make these types of pots and pans non-stick release toxic fumes when they are heated, and especially when they are overheates, they can also scratch and damage easily, and allow chemical particulates to get into your foods! If damaged, they also expose the aluminum under the non-stick coating. So, it's best to just back away from any non-stick type of pans.
WHAT TO USE:
My personal favorite is cast iron. I have several different sizes and use them for pretty much everything I cook. I hunt garage sales and thrift stores for sizes I don't have. If you find a rusty one, you can bring it back to life with some elbow grease and love. A cool benefit of cooking with cast iron is that it leaches iron into your foods! Last time I had blood work done my iron levels were excellent! With cast iron you do have to season, and take care of them differently than most cookware, you can't put them in the dishwasher, or use dishsoap on them, but caring for them becomes part of your cooking ritual, and isn't as difficult as you may think.
Ceramic cookware and bake ware is another great option. X-Trema passed the safety test. They heat evenly, don't scratch, are easy to clean, you can even use steel wool or scrubbing g pads, and they can go right into the dishwasher, which is a big bonus. They also don't leach anything into your foods, another big plus.
There are problems with ceramic though. They are very pricey. They can break. If they are made in foreign countries, or are hand-made, they can be coated with lead.
Enamel Cast Iron
I have one little Le Crueset saucepan that I just love. It's an older piece that I found in a thrift shop years ago, but it still cooks evenly, and in fact, it's probably my favorite pot. They are probably considered the gold standard of cookware. For good reason though, they are terribly expensive! Rachel Ray has a whole set that is a lot less expensive, but doesn't seem as solid, and has plastic handles and grips, so they cant be put into the oven.
Good stainless steel is another good option. I would only get solid stainess, not stainless coated. It is great for high temperatures, and doesn't leach into foods. Large roasting sheets, or large pots for boiling water for pasta are good uses for stainless.
My first stoneware was from Pampered Chef and now I use stoneware for all my baking needs. Like cast iron, stoneware needs to be seasoned, and does not go into the dishwasher and dont use any dishsoap, but there is something wonderful about the old-world feel when using it. The bonus with stoneware is, it just keeps getting better with age.
Another good option for bakeware. It doesn't leach chemicals into your foods, which is great, but it does break easily, which is a definite problem.
I recently tossed all my plastic food storage containers and have been replacing them with glass and pyrex. Plastic is known to leach toxins into foods. Don't ever microwave plastics. They are exceptionally prone to leaching chemmys when heated!
There are some brands of cookware that I had difficulty researching. I would love to know more about the GreenPan or other diamond cookware. If you have info on these, I'm curious to know what you think! What is your favorite cookware? I'd love to hear!