Cleaning up my diet was a big step. I needed to do it, for my health.
That’s partly because I had excruciating nerve pain. It wasn’t getting better.
I reached the point where I couldn’t put off diet changes any longer. I had to get serious about eating healthy.
First, I got rid of junk food. This included anything with refined sugar and chemicals. Then, I stopped buying genetically modified food.
This meant cooking meals from scratch. With non-toxic pots and pans that don’t contain toxic chemicals or heavy metals.
We’d been lazy. Some of the beautiful pots and pans we received as a Christmas present (years ago) needed to be replaced. That’s because the coating had come off. Inside was a layer of aluminum. This came into contact with our food.
So we needed new cookware.
There’s a lot of debate over what type of cookware is safest. After reading a lot of pros and cons, I had to make a decision. So I’ll tell you what I’ve learned and what I’m using in my non-toxic kitchen.
Upgrading my diet also meant upgrading my cookware.
Where To Find Healthy Non Toxic Cookware
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Cookware choices can be confusing. Partly because there’s conflicting information. This can vary depending upon the source.
But here’s the bottom line.
You definitely want to avoid aluminum coming into contact with food. This heavy metal is linked to Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis and even cancer. It doesn’t belong in our body, period.
Some pots and pans have aluminum interiors. That’s because aluminum is an excellent heat conductor. But they have an outer layer, where the food meets that pan, which is non toxic. This is okay, as long as the non-toxic coating doesn’t erode.
I realized I needed to pay attention to what I was cooking with. It seemed silly to put so much effort into eating real healthy food, only to have it turn into a toxic mess while it cooks.
Two of the most troublesome cooking surfaces are aluminum and “non-stick” coatings. Aluminum is highly toxic. Non-stick pans may release harmful chemicals when heated, according to various well-known holistic health experts. Unfortunately, if I remember correctly, we had a non-stick pan in the house. It found a new home in the trash.
But, as I said earlier, choosing cookware can be confusing. There are pros and cons with each option.
Because I couldn’t decide what type of cookware was best, I bought three types of cookware without aluminum cooking surfaces. Here’s how each one performed.
Where To Find Healthy Non Toxic Cookware
We already owned a smallish cast-iron skilled. It once belonged to my grandmother. It remains one of my most treasured possessions. I think of her every time I use it. I remember her standing in front of the stove, cooking with this same pan.
This heirloom cast iron skillet is indestructible. It’s survived being left too long on a burner. It’s also gone through many cycles in the dishwasher. Food doesn’t tend to stick. It’s really easy to clean. How I wish I had more of these skillets, in various sizes.
I picked up another large, 13-inch heavy cast-iron skillet made in America by Lodge company. It is very durable. But it’s also heavy. (This may be a drawback for older people or for those with chronic upper body pain.) But this skillet cooks so well. The size allows for generous one-skillet meals.
This skillet is what I use for anything that requires browning. Cast iron works best for a Thai chicken with basil dish that tastes a lot better if the meat is carmelized. Because my stainless steel fry pan just doesn’t do the job. I often use this cast iron skillet in place of a stainless steel wok. The skillet is much less cumbersome than a wok.
The skillet can go from the stove to the oven. It can also be used on an outdoor grill, which is great for camping or for emergency situations if power is out.
Disadvantages of Cast Iron Cooking
One downside is that food sticks to my large cast iron skillet. No matter how much cooking oil I use. The pan is tough to clean. I typically soak it for a few hours before attempting to scrub it with the rough side of a kitchen sponge. You can also buy special metal cast iron cleaning rings. But I haven’t done this.
You’re not supposed to put the large cast iron skillet in the dishwasher. So I haven’t. The upside of my cast iron skillet. This pan is definitely large enough for is that this pan is big enough for one-skillet meals. It’s a great replacement for our aluminum wok, which I got rid of. Also, we’re going to be using this pan for many years to come because it’s so sturdy.
Cast iron cooking is a great alternative to anything with aluminum or a polymer-based non-stick cooking surface. But I still don’t use cast iron exclusively. That’s because it does leach iron. Our bodies need iron. But too much of a good thing can be a bad thing.
Iron builds up in the body. Many people suffer from iron deficiency. But others may store too much iron, which may be caused by taking supplements or consuming food cooked in cast iron. High levels of iron in the body have been linked to cancer, and other health problems.
My motto for natural living is most things in moderation. That’s why I don’t use cast iron cookware exclusively.
Marble Stone Cookware Review
I also purchased two marble stone coated pans. One was a small fry pan. The other was a medium sized saucer pan. Both earn a thumbs down for lack of durability.
The inside of the pan is aluminum. It’s coated with non-toxic marble. Presumably, the marble is all that comes in contact with your food. So far so good.
Except the marble chips really easily. This, then, exposes the aluminum base. I was really disappointed because I paid a lot for these pans, around $!00. It wasn’t money well spent.
After only a year of very careful use, the sauce pan had several chips in the cooking area. So if I continued using it we’d all be eating aluminum.
Marble Coated Cookware Safety
Whether or not marble is any safer than ceramic, cast iron or stainless steel cookware is a moot point. Because the marble wore off, even though I was extremely careful. It even wore off along the rim, even though that part of the pan got virtually no use. So aluminum soon became an issue.
Just so you know, I was fanatic about taking good care of these pans. A friend who had bought them earlier, and liked them until they started to fall apart, had warned me how fragile they were. She’s the one who recommended them in the first place, but quickly changed her mind. Because they don’t hold up. When she initially told me about them she didn’t realize they didn’t last. So we both sort of learned that together.
Is Granite Cookware Safe?
The small fry pan was used primarily just to boil water for tea. (Because I was afraid to use it for much else. I knew I needed to baby it.) I used the sauce pan for rice, potatoes and vegetables. A couple of times I had put a used and dirty sauce pan in the sin. Someone else put something on top of it. I think once or twice it was a cast iron skillet. This may have contributed to the marble coating coming off.
But the fry pan wasn’t subjected to that kind of “abuse.” Yet the coating came off anyway.
My best advice is to save your money and avoid marble cookware. Because better options exist.
Is Stainless Steel Cookware Safe?
Is stainless steel cookware safe? Yes, no, maybe and it depends upon how you use it.
I use stainless steel pots and pans most of the time. Now that I know they can also contain nickel, chromium, molybdenum and other heavy metals, I need to be careful not to let food sit too long in my cookware.
I’m also rethinking whether or not I want to make spaghetti sauce in a stainless steel pain. That’s because tomato sauce is highly acidic and has the potential to pull heavy metals into the food. I’ll still use them to cook the actual pasta. But I’ll make the sauce in my non-toxic electric clay cooker instead.
We have Cuisinart stainless steel pans in our house. If you can’t find them locally, they’re available online.
Some natural health authorities, such as Dr. Josh Axe, DC, a chiropractor are fans of stainless steel cookware. He highly recommends using non-toxic cookware to protect your health, as well as the health of your loved ones.
Is Non Stick Cookware Harmful To Your Health?
Dr. Axe also sounds the alarm on coated non-stick cookware. “Nonstick cookware is by far one of the most concerning forms of cookware,” he warns us. (See below for a link to his post.)
Non-stick cookware has become synonymous with the word “Teflon.” But that’s just a brand name. Teflon cookware came onto the market in the 1940’s and it’s still being sold today. Meanwhile, many other companies have jumped in the game. Now, you’ll find a lot of non-stick cookware on the market, not all made by Teflon.
Typically, non-stick cookware is coated with a plastic or a silicone. These cookware brands may use different chemicals and manufacturing processes. It would be impossible to list a chemical breakdown of each.
One compound that may be found in non-stick cookware is PTFE, chemically known as polytetrafluoroethylene. (Actually, this chemical is also known as the trademarked “Teflon.)
Non Stick Cookware Dangers
Heating PTFE at high temperatures may cause it to release toxic fumes, according to industry experts. The common wisdom is that you would need to seriously overhead a piece of cookware before toxic fumes are released. Theoretically, this wouldn’t happen with normal use.
However, the Environmental Working Group has published the results of different studies. These include a 1998 study of bird morality, following exposure to heat lamps coated with PTFE. After three days of exposure, 52 percent of the chicks died. The heat on the lamps was recorded at 396 degrees F. Lesions were found in the lungs of the birds. (You can see a link to this report below.)
Another chemical used in the manufacturing process of PTFE is PFOA or perfluorooctanoic acid. There’s concern that PFOA is a possible carcinogen. It’s believed that PFOA is not present in the finished product. Some manufacturers have phased this chemical out of the production process. (PFOA builds up in the body and is notoriously different to get rid of. There’s evidence that everyone alive today has detectable levels of PFOA in their bloodstream.)
Non-stick cookware is a hotly charged topic. Industry experts assure us it’s safe. However, various natural health experts tell us it’s dangerous. I think the best thing suggestion is to do your own research. Then you’ll be informed, in order to make the best decisions for your family. Bear in mind that industry experts tend to say it’s safe. Holistic health experts see it differently.
I personally don’t use non-stick cookware. Because other less controversial options exist.
Is Ceramic Cookware Safe?
Another option is non-toxic ceramic cookware. These pots and pans are marketed as a healthy alternative to aluminum and Teflon. I do hope this is the case. I see “green” ceramic cookware in discount overstock stores and also online. If they truly contain no hazardous chemicals or heavy metals, they have the potential to be the safest cookware on the market.
But I don’t know. I decided not to buy them because I worry the glaze could contain lead. I haven’t used them myself. So I can recommend them personally, one way or another. I am hearing good things about Xtrema brand ceramic pots and pans, as far as being non toxic.
Maybe I will try Xtrema when I’m ready to buy new cookware. Because so many home products are made in China, which has lax safety standards, I’d only be comfortable using a trusted name brand ceramic pot.
I imagine a ceramic pot could break or crack if it was dropped. For that reason alone, ceramic will not as durable as stainless steel or cast iron.
I’ve come to realize there’s no perfect solution when it comes to cookware. We just have to do our best. Avoiding aluminum and cookware that can give off toxic fumes when overheated seems prudent.
VitaClay Non Toxic Clay Slow Cooker
Probably the least toxic piece of cookware I own is a VitaClay Chef slow cooker. It has a non-glazed clay pot, unlike many other slow cookers that may have a glazed ceramic pot. (I worry about lead in the glaze.) It is totally non toxic and functions as slow cooker/rice cooker.
Because I already own a VitaClay cooker, I decided to skip the Instant Pot craze and just enjoy cooking with clay. One thing to remember is that Instant Pots contain silicone rings. These come into contact with the food. Whether or not heated silicone is safe is still an open question.
These statements have not been approved by the FDA. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
For More Reading
Where To Find A Non Toxic Coffee Maker
Ask A Toxicologist Is It Safe To Use Teflon Pans
Canaries in the Kitchen Teflon Off Gas Studies
Iron Overload in Human Disease
PTFE Coated Non-Stick Cookware and Toxicity Concerns
Dr. Josh Axe Best Types of Cookware