So you’ve mastered the pursuit of eating healthy by embracing plants and making conscious choices about the ingredients you consume. With all this positive progress, have you stopped to think about what might be lurking in that shiny new non-stick pan you use to cook all those recipes? Your pots and pans of choice can have a definite impact on your health in a negative way. But not to worry, there are certain hazards to look out for as well as some safer options to consider if you’re feeling the need to make a switch. Put on your oven mitts because this new cookware is coming in HOT.
What to Steer Clear of
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PTFE & PFOA (Polytetrafluoroethylene & Perfluorooctanoic Acid): Traditional surfaces such as Teflon have been discovered to perform even less safely than expected. Sure, their shiny coating and promise of stick-free smoothness is appealing, but what is being used to make it this way? Turns out that the materials used in these surfaces are associated with dangerous risks such as reproductive issues, cancer, ADHD, and birth defects, to name a few. These fumes escape when the pan is heated, aka each time it’s in use. Although these concerns are known, approximately three quarters of cooking tools still have PFOA in them. Other common toxins lurking in common pans are lead, BPA, cadmium, and PFAS (Perfluorooctanesulfonic Acid) which are important to avoid for your wellbeing. Luckily, you can prevent direct exposure to these toxins by carefully checking the labeling details of your cookware and consciously choosing alternative materials which are much safer.
What to Choose Instead
There are many benefits of switching to ceramic, as it is much healthier and free of the risky chemicals in mainstream cookware. It’s also non stick and can withstand much higher temperatures than its metal counterpart. When searching for the right one for you, try to be sure that you’re choosing one that’s full ceramic and not just ceramic coating over top a metal base. Once you get your hands on the right one, the health and flavors of your dishes will reach a whole new level.
This is a great option to consider if you like making dishes that require slow cooking. Use ceramic for a delicious BBQ Slow Cooker Lentil Chili and you’ll be shocked by how incredibly it transforms the flavors.
2. Cast Iron
You may have already heard about cast iron, as it has a variety of great attributes worth considering. A huge plus of this option is that it infuses natural iron content into food. Studies have found cast iron to fortify your dishes with a 17 percent increase in iron levels. This is especially helpful if you happen to struggle with getting your daily value as a vegan. Cast iron also improves with age and can last forever if properly taken care of. Just keep in mind that it’s quite heavy!
Among its other wonders, cast iron is king when you’re looking to achieve a perfect sear. Due to the way it holds heat, this is best used for recipes that require crispiness, such as this Teriyaki Cauliflower and Kale Stir Fry or a Jamaican Tofu Scramble.
As an often forgotten cookware piece, clay has a wonderful set of unique advantages. This earthy material has been used for thousands of years and is free of toxic anti-stick additives. Some benefits include its porosity as well as alkaline nature which helps to neutralize the pH balance of foods cooked in it.
Similarly to ceramic, clay is also ideal for your slow-cooking needs. Use this for recipes such as a Slow Cooker Tempeh Braised With Figs and Port Wine, or get creative with some Slow Cooker Enchiladas which will shock you with the intensity of flavor.
Pizza stones are onto something– another lesser known cooking option is stoneware. Its nontoxic composition is perfect for even heating to give your dishes a crispy exterior and moist inside, and it’s also microwave safe.
Stoneware functions similarly to cast iron in terms of your cooking needs. It’s a great vessel for recipes like Rosemary Polenta Fries or even Twice-Baked Potatoes With Hemp Sour Cream and Maple Coconut Bacon for the perfect texture inside and out.
Glass deserves a mention as it is great for storing your food as an alternative to plastics. It’s also the perfect receptacle for reheating those tasty leftovers without any concerning chemicals entering. Although low cost and widely available, glass is quite breakable and may not be ideal for all your cooking needs but is certainly worth having on hand.
With this new knowledge, you can feel empowered to reduce toxic exposure by simply switching up your cooking tools. Not only will you feel peace of mind knowing that you are free of unnecessary harm from your pots and pans, but these solutions can also inspire you to get creative with your meals based on the type of materials used. Prepare yourself for a cookware overhaul and get cooking!
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