Creating a Healthy Kitchen: Guide to Natural Cookware

01.25.12 Creating a Healthy Kitchen: Guide to Natural Cookware

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By now, it's likely you've heard of the harmful effects of PTFE or PFOA (chemicals used for making Teflon). We've talked about it a lot here at MightyNest. In case you're new to this discussion, PTFE is used to coat non-stick surfaces (metal pans, which are often aluminum) During manufacturing, PFOA (perflourooctanoic acid) is used to bond PTFE to the pan making it non-stick. The EPA has designated PFOA as a "likely carcinogen" and has even asked cookware manufacturers to phase out PFOA by 2015

According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), "The chemical PFOA pollutes over 95% of Americans' blood, including all 10 newborns surveyed in a study EWG commissioned in 2007. PFOA never breaks down in the environment, so every molecule of it produced since the 1950s or earlier will forever be in our air, water and bodies. In animals, PFOA causes cancer, birth defects and other health problems".

This is a topic we find ourselves often discussing with friends and family because it is both a common change that people are looking to make and a highly important one for better health. We cook everyday, so cooking with an unsafe material can take its collective toll.

So you're ready to replace your non-stick pans with a healthy and safe alternative, but you wonder which material is right for your needs? We've broken down the 3 safe choices: ceramic, cast iron and stainless steel to better help you decide which one(s) will benefit you. To note, all of the cookware at MightyNest is designed for healthy cooking, but the different features of each material are what stand them apart. 

Ceramic, cast iron and stainless steel are all cooking surfaces that contain no harmful coating and produce no harmful PFOA gas. So, you're covered there.


CERAMIC: 

PROS:

  • No trace metals or chemicals leach from the cooking surface of our healthy cookware. If you like to cook without oil or butter, this is a good choice.
  • Far-infrared cooking technology: cooks foods from both the inside and outside at the same time.
  • Does not retain odors, bacteria or tastes.
  • High Temperature cooking: can withstand extreme temperature differences without cracking.
  • Versatile: Use on stove-top, in the oven and broiler, even on the barbeque.
  • Easy to clean: non-scratch, non-toxic ceramic glaze surface. Because Xtrema is non-porous, you don’t have to worry about scratching or pitting.

Bottom line: We love cooking with xtrema cookware. The lightweight skillet is an easy go-to pan for everyday cooking. Cons: Ceramic cookware can break. Even though it's very durable, it's still fired clay--not the paper-thin-porcelain-vase type, but yes, it can break. And it is more of an investment--a good one though. 

 

CAST IRON: 



PROS:
  • Cast iron is well known for its even heating, heat retention, durability and value. 
  • Finished with a layer of soy-based vegetable oil has been evenly applied to all surfaces of cast iron cookware, then baked-on at extremely high temperatures to deeply penetrate the surface.  
  • Every time you cook in your pan, it continues to become seasoned more and more, while helping to prevent rust and creating a permanent, natural nonstick surface.
  • Cast iron is durable enough to be passed on for generations.
  • Lodge Logic cast iron cookware in made in America.
Bottom line: Cooking with cast iron is versatile, timeless, modern and simple. Taking your skillet from stove-top to broiler oven is what cast iron is made to do. Cons: There's no getting around this: cast iron is heavy and may not be the best choice if lifting weight with your wrist is an issue. It's also a must to handwash cast iron and for some that's a deal-breaker, but for others it's part of the process.

STAINLESS STEEL:

PROS:
  • Tri-ply construction of high grade 18/10 stainless steel sandwiched around an aluminum core.
  • Helps cook foods faster and retains heat better
  • Even cooking with few hot spots
  • Heats up foods faster and uses less energy
  • Doesn't react with acidic foods
  • Durable and long lasting: expect 25 years of use
  • Dishwasher safe
  • Foods don't stick with use of oil
Bottom line: 18/10 stainless steel is a choice material for it's non-reactive quality, so you can be sure that the foods you cook will not take on another flavor. Cons: For some people who have a nickel allergy, the small percentage of nickel may pose an issue. Finally, unless your boiling water, the use of an oil is also a must. Stick with olive oil and you're in good shape.

 

WHAT PIECE OF HEALTHY COOKWARE IS MISSING FROM YOUR KITCHEN?


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