Over the years, I have begun to realize how truly integrated and intertwined our overall health and wellness actually is. What we eat, how we sleep, our movement, our life’s balance are all incredibly important to a holistic and healthy life. I have learned that little changes can lead to big impacts (good and bad!) and so I diligently try to be conscious of everything that goes into fueling my body. This mindset, over time, has seeped into many other areas of my life. As a mother of four, I began to think more and more about the toxins that can sneak into my home – despite my best efforts to avoid them. Since my career as a recipe developer, holistic nutritionist (and mom!) has me spending a lot of time in the kitchen, I carefully select the things I use everyday.
Today more than ever, people are focusing on making healthy choices and selecting fresh, organic ingredients. However, we can often overlook an important aspect of healthy cooking: what we are using to actually cook our food. Traditional and popular cookware may contain harmful chemicals that can leach into our food, posing risks to our health. I have found some favorite non-toxic alternatives that protect my food and my family and I’m excited to share them with you!
Cast iron cookware has stood the test of time and remains a top choice for many health-conscious cooks. These durable and versatile pots and pans have been used for generations, and for good reason. Cast iron is known for its excellent heat retention and even distribution, making it ideal for cooking a wide range of dishes. Additionally, it adds a small amount of iron to your food, which can be beneficial for those with iron deficiencies. To maintain its non-toxic properties, it’s important to season cast iron regularly to prevent rusting and ensure its longevity.
Stainless steel cookware is another popular choice among health-conscious people. Look for stainless steel cookware that is made with 18/10 or 18/8 stainless steel, indicating high-quality materials with low nickel content. Stainless steel is an alloy composed primarily of iron, chromium, and nickel. It’s known for its resistance to rust, corrosion, and staining. Stainless steel is not as good a conductor of heat as carbon steel. It tends to have hot spots and may require preheating to ensure even cooking. Stainless steel cookware does not require seasoning. It is naturally non-reactive, which means it won’t react with acidic or alkaline foods, preserving the flavor of your dishes. Stainless steel is highly durable and resistant to staining, rust, and corrosion.
Carbon steel cookware is made primarily from iron and carbon, with a small amount of other elements like manganese and silicon. It doesn’t contain the same level of chromium or nickel as stainless steel, which makes it more susceptible to rusting if not properly seasoned and cared for.
Carbon steel is an excellent heat conductor. It heats up quickly and distributes heat evenly across the cooking surface, making it a preferred choice for tasks that require precise temperature control.
Carbon steel cookware needs to be seasoned, similar to cast iron, to develop a natural, non-stick surface. Seasoning involves coating the pan with oil and heating it to create a polymerized layer. Once properly seasoned, it becomes nearly as non-stick as some non-stick coatings. While carbon steel is also quite durable, it requires more maintenance to prevent rusting. Proper seasoning and regular oiling are essential to maintain its longevity. Carbon steel, when properly seasoned and maintained, is also considered safe for cooking.
Ceramic cookware, made from natural materials like clay and minerals, is free from chemicals such as PFOA and PTFE. It provides excellent heat retention and distributes heat evenly, allowing for easy and precise cooking. Look for ceramic cookware that is lead-free and labeled as food-safe. I own a couple Greenpan skillets and while they don’t seem to retain their non-stick qualities for long, they are great in the beginning and will last longer if you do not use them at high heat. Convincing my husband and kids not to use high heat has been a struggle!
Glass cookware is an excellent non-toxic option for oven baking, roasting, and food storage. Glass is “non-reactive,” meaning it won’t leach any chemicals into your food. Some of my favorite go to’s for glass bakeware are my Pyrex baking dishes (which I also love for the ease of clean-up) and these glass containers with lids (convenient for food storage, too!)
Enamel-Coated Cast Iron
Enamel-coated cast iron cookware combines the benefits of cast iron with a non-reactive enamel coating. The enamel prevents the iron from leaching into the food while providing a smooth, easy-to-clean surface. It’s ideal for slow cooking, braising, and simmering, as it retains heat exceptionally well. Look for enamel coatings that are free from lead and cadmium like my favorite Staub cookware. I use my Staub 12” skillet and Dutch Oven almost daily!
Shop the whole non-toxic cookware roundup HERE!
Not only are the pots and pans we cook in important but the vessels we use to store our food are also important. You’ll want to choose safe, non toxic containers that won’t allow chemicals to leach into your food. Here are a few of my favorite options:
I prefer to use glass containers as they do not leach chemicals into your food. Many glass containers come with plastic lids but that’s okay as long as the lid does not touch your food or even better, is made with BPA free plastic, like these. Even better, a glass container with a bamboo lid! I also recycle glass jars and have quite a collection of mason jars that work beautifully for storing leftovers. Glass containers can be frozen, kept in the fridge and you can even use them to reheat your food in the microwave or toaster oven.
Silicone Bags and Containers
Silicone bags and containers are more recent options for safe food storage. They can also be placed in the fridge, freezer or in the microwave. Look for good quality food grade silicone.
BPA Free Plastic Containers
These containers are easier to find nowadays and will be labelled as BPA-free. BPA is short for bisphenol which is a chemical that may get into our food. Research shows BPA can be harmful to our health.
When it comes to choosing cookware and food storage, prioritizing non-toxic options is essential for maintaining a healthy lifestyle. If you’re like me, and want to work on eliminating those sneaky toxins found in normalized, everyday household products, I hope this can be a good place for you to start. I am grateful for the peace of mind I get to enjoy, knowing I am preparing healthy and safe meals for my loved ones!
Happy and Healthy Cooking!
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