When pursuing a healthier diet, its important to take note of what you are cooking your food in. It matters! Both high temperatures and acid can cause metals to release their properties. Teflon is commonly used to coat frying and baking pans, pots, griddles and most of our bake ware because it offers a non-sticking surface. Though widely used, Teflon may intensify health issues. Exposure to high heat causes it to release gasses and particles that are harmful to the human body. To magnify the issue, metal spatulas or flippers cannot be used on Teflon coating because it releases the coating into your food. Plastic spatulas are the common choice. But there again we hit a problem: what is being leached out of the plastic when applied to heat?
There are other great options available, options that won’t leach nasty metals into your food, that last longer and are of higher quality. Let’s look at some of the replacement options readily available to most folks:
Instead of using Teflon-lined cookie sheets, muffin tins, bread and cake pans, consider changing over to glass, clay or stoneware. There are several companies on the market that offer safe, well made options.
Clear glass bread pans, pie plates, baking and casserole dishes are readily available at most grocery stores. I enjoy using glass plates for pie and heavy-duty glass bread pans for making bread. Know what else? I grease my pans with cold coconut oil or tallow, pop the goods into the oven and bake. I rarely wash my bread pans, allowing the good oils to build up. It works well and the loaves just keep slipping out better n’ better! As oils build up, they may take on a dark color. This just means your glassware is well loved and used. Its nothing to fret about and will actually help release goods!
Clay is another wonderful option, but expensive unless you find this coveted bake ware second hand (which I’ve done). Most commonly used is the Romertopf. Baking with these vessels requires a pre-soak of 15 minutes. During that time, the porous clay absorbs water and upon being popped into a oven, gently steams the food. It doesn’t get more natural than this! Looking for oil-free cooking options? Looking for a dish that you can pop food into and don’t have to add juices to? Check out the German made Romertopf (not affiliated but I wish I was!). Some claim that these clay dishes give incomparable results for both bread and oven-roasted meat!
These are simple to find. Pampered Chef (USA & CA) along with Lehmans (USA) offer a wide range of stone baking supplies. These require no pre-soaking but are ready to go, with the exception that they ought to be put into a cold oven to avoid cracking. Collection includes stoneware muffin pans, flat pans, pie plates, bread pans, pizza stones, roasting bowls and casserole dishes. Almost any bake ware you’ve seen in Teflon form can be found in Pampered Chef’s stoneware selection!
As with any raw or glazed stoneware, I recommend purchasing goods made in CA or the USA due to monitored crafting and assurance of food-safe dishes. No one wants metals and extra “ick” going into their body! With anything that isn’t Teflon, be sure to follow the instructions in regard to building up a non-stick surface.These gems do cost, but they most likely will be around to pass on to your children’s children!
Stove Top Cookware
When it comes to stove-top pots or pans, to the best of my knowledge there are two basic, healthy options that won’t leach anything harmful into your food.
The best option for frying food on the stove top is cast iron, recognized by its black color and heavy weight. These hefty kitchen utensils come in the form of frying pans, griddles and dutch oven types. Cast iron tea pots are also in production, though some claim water boiled in ’em either taste like rust or the pot’s seasoning. Cast iron cookware must be seasoned to make certain the non-stick oil coating does not wear down. They require re-seasoning in order to keep up the non-stick surface. Pre-heating these old fashioned pans to temperature before adding food is the #1 way to prevent sticking.
Avoid copper and aluminum and go for stainless steel, a shiny silver. This goes for tea pots as well. Aluminum can be recognized by its dull, silver white color and light weight. Copper is recognized by its color: think pennies! Often when making stir fry, I saute vegetables and meat in my stainless steel pots and so long as I keep food moving until juices are release, it works well!
Finding the Ultimate Buy
Let’s not dance around the issue that’s running through our heads at this point: healthy cookware costs! And we don’t all have the money available to make the change. I hear you. I really do.
Know what else? I haven’t completely changed over either. I still have a few teflon-coated pans in my kitchen. Next on the list is a stoneware muffin pan. Change comes one step at a time. Don’t sweat about it! Purchase goods as deals come up, as the old pans need replacing. Because glass is cheaper, if possible, I choose it over stoneware. But when I have no other choice (baking sheets and muffin tins), stoneware it is!
Check on sales and deals. If you wander through a local thrift store or garage sales, keep your eyes open. If you have a local online Buy and Sell group, advertise that you are looking for used stoneware, cast iron or whatever the item is. Cookware always sells for cheaper because of stains and usage.
Without Teflon coated bakeware in your kitchen, you don’t have to worry about scraping the bottom of your pots, pans and dishes! Throw out the plastic and go for stainless steel or wooden cooking utensils.