Before we talk about what cookware to bring into the kitchen, let's first talk about some everyday kitchen staples you might need to replace or choose not to buy.
These pans are not our friends in the kitchen. We need to set some boundaries. Non-stick pans may pretend to be our best friends by being very helpful (easy to find in stores, easy to clean), but they are also incredibly toxic. We need to break up with them for good!!
The non-stick coating can contain perfluorinated and poly-fluoroalkyl substances, abbreviated as PFAS. Teflon is the most common name for these types of coatings, which may include PFAS chemicals such as PTFE.
'What To Avoid When Purchasing Cookware:
These chemicals can cause cancer and also disrupt hormones. They also hang out in the body for a long time. Why? It's because our bodies do not effectively eliminate them, and they accumulate in our tissues.
Unfortunately, these chemicals are also frequently found in drinking water and foods. Getting rid of OR not purchasing non-stick pans is a great way to control some of your exposure to these chemicals and create a healthier kitchen.
Aluminum is another cookware material that you should avoid using in the kitchen. Aluminum is a soft and reactive metal, which means that it can leach into your food.
Where to find aluminum in your kitchen:
· Pots and pans
· Cookie sheets
· Muffin tins
What can you use instead:
· glass loaf pan
· Stoneware baking trays (unglazed)
· Use non-bleached parchment paper or silicone baking mats
For your safety: When purchasing silicone, make sure it is food or medical grade or 100% silicone and does not include any plastic.
Tip: You can pinch and twist a flat section of a silicone product. If you see any color change when you do this, it is an indicator it has a filler in it.
If you have a cancer diagnosis, you should avoid copper cookware. As a cancer patient, it is important that you are aware that copper can promote angiogenesis, which can contribute to cancer growth.
Healthy Alternatives to Cookware for safety, durability, and functionality
It is always an adjustment when you transition your kitchen tools to healthier options. Please remember it is a process and takes time. Considering the health risk associated with non-stick cookware, it is worthwhile to make the change!
Options For Non-Stick Pans Without the Chemicals
Carbon Steel and Cast Iron
Carbon Steel is a thinner, lighter version of the cast iron pan. Both need to be seasoned to be non-stick. It is a slight adjustment to your routine to season, but it is worth it for the health benefit. There is a misconception on how shopping, prepping, and cooking healthier takes a lot more time. Any healthy transition takes practice, but soon you'll be moving quickly through your new routine.
In general, cast iron cookware is safe and effective in the kitchen. Cast iron is relatively heavy and takes a while to heat up; it holds heat very well and is oven-safe. Plus, a well-seasoned pan is non-stick.
Easy Tips to Clean Your Pan
1. After each use, clean with a pinch or two, of course salt
2. Use a small rag to scour any food bits gently and doubt the debris in compost or trash.
3. Add a small amount of oil to the pan and rub it all over the inside with a towel or paper towel. I like to heat it on low for a few minutes after I rub it down.
4. Your pan is ready for the next use.
Tip: Never soak or use soapy water on your pan as it will remove the non-stick benefit of your pan
Enameled Cast Iron Pans
These pans are also healthy options in the kitchen. They are usually in the form of a dutch oven and can easily transition from stovetop to oven. I love using this when I prepare my Healthy Fried Chicken. Unlike regular cast iron, these enameled pans can be washed with warm soapy water because they are non-stick.
Ceramic Pans do not need to be seasoned. When you are looking to purchase one of these pans, make sure it is 100% ceramic and not ceramic coated. Coated ceramic will eventually lose the coating and potentially leach metals and other toxins into your food. Ceramic pans are pricey, so if you find one that seems a tad too cheap, then chances are it is coated. Ceramic pans should not be used for high heat cooking. Typically, use low to medium heat. Note that ceramic pans are great conductors of heat. Leaving them on high heat for prolonged periods can cause significant damage to the ceramic pans itself.
Stainless steel is another safe cooking option. It is easy to use and clean if you invest in good quality products. Along with being non-toxic, stainless steel cookware is durable, heats quickly, and has been found to brown food better than non-stick alternatives. Stainless steel is an excellent option for stockpots and saucepans. I love to make my bone broth in these pots.
Tips for cooking and cleaning:
To minimize sticking (like when making eggs), use a generous amount of oil/fat to coat the bottom of the pan and give it time to heat up. The hot oil will create a layer that prevents sticking.
An easy way to clean these pans starts as soon as you remove the cooked food. While the pan is still hot, add a little white vinegar. This tip will help you scrape off those stubborn bits of food debris.
Glass is an easy choice for loaf pans or casserole dishes. It is inexpensive. It is mainly used for baking, but there are a few options for stovetop. It is entirely non-toxic but not as durable as some other cookware and doesn't hold as much heat as, say, cast iron.
It is possible to create a healthier kitchen. A good starting point is ensuring that you are using safe, toxin-free cookware. Trust me; your body will thank you.
If you want to learn more about creating a Healthy Kitchen, join my Kitchen Therapy Membership Trial Here.
Changing can be challenging but sometimes an essential part of our health journey. Remember, this is a process. You don't have to get rid of and purchase all of the stuff at once. Make a plan or reach out to me for support by scheduling your Free Discovery Session.
Healing Through Community and Support
Brandy Lane Hickman, NBHWC
2B Well Integrative Health Collaborative, Owner Inspired Nutrition, National Board Certified Health Coach, Kitchen Therapy
Board President, Missouri Nutrition Alliance Non-Profit