Non Toxic Cookware

Using non toxic cookware is an essential part of preparing healthy meals. You don’t want to undermine your healthy diet by using non stick cookware coated with perfluorinated compounds (PFCs). There are many ways you are exposed to PFCs, some of which you have no control over. You can, however, reduce your exposure by replacing your non stick cookware with non toxic alternatives.

Non Stick Cookware Dangers

These non stick pots and pans release chemicals into the air and your food that cause bladder and prostate cancer, hypothyroidism, and reproductive, developmental and immune system damage? Although I’ve seen many claims that PFCs are only released if non stick cookware is overheated, I’ve read studies that found significant amounts of PFOA and FTOH (which breaks down into PFOA) are released under normal cooking temperatures. Plus, once it enters your body, you release PFOA from your body very slowly, at a rate of 10% per year for men, 17% for women and 20% for children. During its unwelcome and very long stay in your body, it clings to proteins in the liver and blood.

I can’t think of one good reason to use non-stick cookware. You have to clean it a certain way, use certain utensils with it and it constantly needs replaced as the non-stick coating wears off. It was marketed as a way to reduce fat in our diets. Frankly I would rather have a little extra fat than PFOA circulating in my blood. Here are some non toxic solutions to toxic pots and pans.

Stainless Steel

Stainless steel cookware is a great alternative to non-stick. It browns food better, heats evenly and lasts a lifetime. I’ve had the same set of stainless steel, copper-bottomed pots and pans my entire adult life (and that’s a long time). You do have to use a little bit of oil and clean-up is not always a breeze. Try an oil spray bottle to coat your pan and simmer a little water in your pans after using them to loosen food stuck to the pans.

I don’t enjoy cleaning baked-on food off my bakeware. My trick to making any bakeware non stick is to line it with unbleached parchment paper.

Glass and Ceramic

Glass and ceramic stoneware (Corning) are good non toxic baking options. Pyrex is a versatile choice because you can bake, store and freeze in the same container. I’ve used Pyrex for years with no problems, but I have heard reports that it can explode after it is removed from the oven. This can be avoided by placing the hot Pyrex on a potholder. You can also use glass cookware made from borosilicate glass, which will not shatter.

I don’t like the plastic lids that come with Pyrex and Corning though. I only use them for storing and never. I NEVER use them in the microwave.

Non Toxic - Non Stick Options

There are a couple of non stick options that are PFC free. Cast iron cookware is a tried and true solution with a long history. It is very durable and can be used in the oven. On the downside, cast iron is a bit heavy and you do have to season the pans. But once they are well-seasoned, cleaning them is very easy. I have several cast iron pans, including an omelet pan that I couldn’t do without. Be aware that there is some concern about iron leaching from cast iron that isn’t well-seasoned.

There are two newer types of non stick cookware available that impressed me. Stoneware, made by Stoneline Stone Cookware are made of metal and coated with stone. Xtrema, by Creamcor, are 100% ceramic pots and pans. They are not ceramic coated cookware, which breaks down quickly. I like their website, because it provides information on how they are made and the results of safety testing.

I haven’t tried either type but I’ve done considerable research on both and have not found any red flags yet. They are more expensive than the other options but if they protect your health, the investment is worthwhile. However, as with any new products I am skeptical. But let’s face it, a healthy dose of skepticism would have been useful when nonstick pans first arrived on the scene.

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