Why should you care about your pots and pans? Is it really that big of a deal? My opinion and that of scientific research dating back to the 1970’s says, YES! The food you cook is just as important as the way you cook it and what you cook it in. Not to mention, if you are spending a fortune on healthy food like I am, I don’t want to be poisoning myself and my family at the same time! What sense would that make? So unless you want to serve up poison and teflon flakes for breakfast, I would take a close look inside your cabinets.
The point of this post is to demystify which pots and pan are good, which ones are not and why.
Lets begin with teflon. This stuff is BAD! Remember back in 2015 when everything was about how fat is bad and everyone went into a “non-fat” craze? Well that was about the time that teflon nonstick cookware came out. These pans are made with Perfluoroctanoic (PFOA) which has been linked to an increase in liver and pancreatic tumors in lab animals as well as testicular tumors and reduced fertility. Bottom line, stay away from this stuff!
Along the same lines as teflon are Highly Scratched Cookware. When cooking with scratched pans some of the nonstick coating can flake off and go into your food- gross! That is on top of the fact that PFOA chemicals are being released into your food. These pans should really be the first to go when your cleaning out your cabinets.
Next to go is, Aluminum Cookware, excess aluminum in the body can causes all kinds of issues. Although we encounter aluminum all the time in our daily lives (toothpaste, aspirin, plant based foods, processed foods, etc) more aluminum is leaked into food when used for cooking, especially when cooking for long amounts of time or acidic type foods like tomatoes.
Recycled Pans you have no idea what these are made from and you want to cook with them? They could be radioactive!
Now, I am not saying go through your kitchen and throw everything away. However, if you are cooking on pans that are highly scratched and/or made with teflon - throw those away first! Begin to build up your cookware in what you use most often, for me that is a skillet. Then you can slowly buy new pans as you are able, maybe one a month until you have a good and healthy repertoire in which to cook your food.
Now for the fun stuff! Which pans should you buy? Here is a list of the best cooking pans and why. You don’t need to buy all these pans, you can decide which type you prefer and buy all the same type or mix and match, but all are considered safe for cooking.
High Quality Stainless Steel. Focus on looking for the series which is stamped on the bottom of the cookware. The numbers indicate durability and resistance and how much chromium and nickel are in the pans. Good quality stainless steel often have copper and aluminum, but don’t worry about it as long as it is not the part that touches your food.
All - Clad Stainless Steel
Cast Iron has stood the test of time. Cast iron is durable and provides great conductivity and heat retention. Not too expensive but does require some maintenance, it needs to be seasoned to help food from sticking to it and to prevent rust. Great thing about a cast iron, you can use in on the stove and in the oven! Another great benefit, you can actually increase your iron uptake by cooking in an iron skillet. Iron is a vital mineral for maintaining energy levels and boosting the immune system - double health benefit! It is also easy to clean and doesn’t require soap, as long as it has been properly seasoned.
Ceramic Non-stick "Green Pans" is non-toxic cookware made with Thermolon – a ceramic nonstick layer derived from sand. These pans require low cooking temperatures between low and medium. You can use harsh scrubbing pads or even steel wool and it will not scrape the surface. They heat evenly and hold in flavors. However, they are still in the somewhat grey scale. I have some of these pans and they were great non-sticks at first, but as time went on they were like any other pan. They need to be greased before cooking.
As a recap:
STEP 1: figure out what you have. Go through your own cookware and look for the bad and the ugly: Teflon non-stick, Aluminum Cookware, scratched cookware, cookware made of recycled material. It still baffles me that although scientists have proven that cookware made of toxic materials and may cause serious health issues, these products are still being sold!
STEP 2: Here are the things to look for when buying new pans. Pans that have stood the test of time, such as Cast Iron. Ceramic “Green” Pans are little newer, but (as of now) have been proven to be completely safe and not emit toxic chemicals into your food. And lastly, durable and always reliable stainless steel. We didn’t discuss glass cookware but these are a great, safe option as well.
I have a mix of everything in my kitchen. I have a GreenLife Wok, 2 GreenPan skillets, a cast iron skillet, a Le Creuset pot, and glass pyrex for baking. I am still building up my repertoire of cookware, but I am beginning to use more cast iron than anything else. It seems if you want to cook on healthy cookware you are going to have to grease the pans, take care of them, and do a little clean up. Yes, teflon may be the easiest of all to clean, but not worth it in the long haul. If you are already investing in your health with the foods you eat, you should do the same with the pots and pans you cook in.