Fed & Fit

Ep. 65: Healthier Cookware Options

A guide to 5 healthy, Paleo-friendly cookware options that will help you avoid unnecessary toxins.

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We're back with our 65th episode of the Fed+Fit Podcast! Remember to check back every Monday for a new episode and be sure to subscribe on iTunes!

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Episode 65 Links:

Here are the 5 types of cookware I recommended on the show. The links under each category are the pieces that I personally own with an ** by the ones I consider “must haves,” – meaning, I use them 2x or more each week in my own kitchen. I hope you find this list helpful!

  1. Ceramic-Coated Pans (healthier non-stick option)
  2. Stainless Steel
  3. Enameled Cast-Iron
  4. Cast-Iron
  5. Silicone

I would LOVE some feedback, so feel free to leave a review in iTunes, comment below, or even give us a shout on social media!

Episode 65 Transcription:

Today we’re going to talk about why toxins in our cookware matter; the three types I recommend avoiding; and 5 safer, high performing alternatives.

Cassy Joy: Welcome back everybody! I’m so excited to have a new episode for you guys. Today, we are going to talk about something that I can’t believe I haven’t already done an episode about this already. But today we’re going to talk about healthier cookware options. So I’m going to talk about really why does it matter what we’re cooking our food on; what are some of the sources food cookware options we’ve got out there that maybe are worth avoiding, and the good ones that are available to us. I’m going to give you a really wide range so you can pick and choose what works best for you and your lifestyle. As a food blogger, and someone that just likes to cook, I am gifted a lot of different kind of cookware options. So I’ve tried them all, and I can speak from every angle.

So I’m excited to be back to give you guys some behind the scenes updates before we really jump into the content of today’s show. Things are going really well; our book tour and all of those dates are going to be shifted a little bit to make room for some other exciting things. So nothing major, but stay tuned, I’ll have some updates for you there. And the Fed and Fit Project online, which will work in tandem with the project that’s outlined in the book, will be up later this summer. I also have; I mean, it’s just a whole bag of fun stuff coming at you {laughs}. So that will be exciting.

I’ve got some really great interviews coming up for y’all on the podcast. Next week I’m interviewing a couple of folks from the Siete foods group. They make those awesome paleo friendly tortillas; you’re really going to love them, they’re wonderful people. In addition to some other fun interviews we’ve got coming out. So stay tuned, keep your eyes peeled on the website.

I’ve got some recipes that are going to be new in the blogosphere, including my egg-free breakfast bowls if you are someone who lies to really mix up the breakfast routine. Maybe you don’t tolerate eggs well, or maybe you’re just trying to meal prep breakfast. It’s hard to reheat eggs and have the texture be really great, so I decided to come up with three different options for you guys. And I really like these egg-free breakfast bowls, because each one calls for a protein, a healthy starch, and a vegetable and a sauce. So it’s four components for each of these bowls, and they’re all really different. And the idea is that you can make them in bulk in advance, and maybe you make 5 of them for each morning of the work week, so it’s an easy grab and go for breakfast once you get to work and it’s a cooked meal. I think that’s usually a better option. If you have time to make it and you have the option, it’s a better one than necessarily a shake or a bar. So trying to make that as easy as possible for you.

And if you’re not just making it for leftovers for the week, you could be making it to package and freeze, and then you’ve got healthy frozen meals ready to go. I’m pretty excited about this theme we’ve got going on the blog. Podcast episodes are going out; I’m also getting into even more of the beauty stuff, if you follow me on Snapchat and Instagram, you’re seeing all of my fun new beauty finds. It’s a whole new world to me, and I’m just so darn excited about it. So that’s really exciting.

And then the YouTube channel is coming along swimmingly! I am going to be producing those episodes myself, so we’re going to go ugly early. That was my very first blog post I ever published; you guys have probably heard me say that a bunch before, but my first blog post was go ugly early, and that’s kind of what I’m going with with this podcast episode. Liz Wolfe encouraged me to just go for it. She said don’t let good be the enemy of great, so I’m going to go for it. I’m going to give you guys my work, and I’m going to learn as I get those episodes up, but it’s going to be great. So if I learned how to produce these podcast episodes, by golly I think I can learn how to produce YouTube videos as well. So that’s what’s going on in my world!

And while I’ve got a little time this summer, I’m getting back into my normal routine of working out. My nice mixed fitness program, which I love. I go to Crossfit, I go to yoga, and then I do some home workouts in between. I try to make sure I get at least 2 days of rest in between, and with these warm summer months I’m trying to make sure that I also am drinking extra during the day, an extra amount of water. So if you find yourself feeling kind of sluggish and sleepy during these summer months, these warmer months, it could be that you’re dehydrated. And I’ve got a lot of research in a previous episode about, I think it’s caffeine 102 is the name of the episode where we talk about why you might be feeling extra sleepy during the summer months, and a good way to combat that is to drink more water and make sure you’re sleeping enough at night. So don’t just power through. We feel certain ways for certain reasons, so it’s good to dig into that so we can go on feeling our best and doing our best. So that’s what’s going on!

Ok, so today’s episode; healthier cookware options. First, let’s touch on why it matters. So, why does it matter what we’re cooking our food on? We’re not eating our pans {laughs}. So why does it really matter? And the truth of the matter is; we’re kind of splitting hairs. So before, let me preface this entire conversation by saying: You do you.

If the thought of having to replace your cookware in your kitchen makes you not want to cook at all; not want to cook healthy food at all, then maybe tune out. This is not the episode to listen in. This is really meant for somebody who is looking to further optimize their health. I think that healthy cookware is a great way to fine tune, but it is not priority number one. Priority number one is cooking healthy, nourishing foods from home. Ok?

So if hearing this conversation we’re about to have about healthy cookware is going to keep you from cooking healthy foods at home, then don’t even worry about it. Keep working with what you’ve got, and when you’re ready to cross the bridge of fine-tuning your healthy lifestyle, then tune back in. Ok; so, I had to get that out.

Ok, so I’m going to give you guys some straight answers. I’m not out to scare anybody, I’m here to tell you what the research really says and my personal take on some good options. So why does it matter? So it matters because when food is cooked on a surface that is heated up; we all, just go back on basic chemistry, basic science, right? When something is hot, the molecules speed up, right? They move faster and they expand. So when we’re cooking on something, we’re heating up that pan. Let’s say we’re talking about a nonstick frying pan. We’re heating up that pan, and we’re heating up the food; the molecules are moving faster, and when we get abrasive with it, we’re stirring, we’re scratching or we’re whisking, or something on that pan, we can tend to; it’s more easy to lift off some of those molecules, those pieces of the cookware, and then they find their way into our food. So that’s what we’re talking about; anything that can come off of the pan and into our food.

So, there are certain types of cookware that release more easily into our food, and certain types that don’t. And we’re going to talk about kind of the lay of the land; which ones are possibly more harmful to health and which ones are more benign. Alright, so that’s the kind of fine tuning we’re talking about.

Now, the one that everyone is probably thinking of is Teflon, right? Teflon gets a bad rap for being a really unhealthy surface to cook on. And if you’ve never heard that before, let me be the first to tell you that that is mostly true. Maybe not entirely true. So there are not 100% conclusive results that says Teflon is carcinogenic. And carcinogenic means that it causes cancer; that’s what that fancy word means. However, there are numerous reports that say it’s possibly carcinogenic. Ok, so it’s a little gray. Science hasn’t necessarily caught up, testing isn’t 100% conclusive.

So background information on Teflon before I get too much further into talking about the main properties of it; Teflon is actually just a brand name, ok just like Xerox or Kleenex. It’s a brand name that has become synonymous with the properties itself. So Teflon pans are those nice, usually dark colored, nonstick pans. They work beautifully. Zenbelly’s Simone Miller is one I think of; she is a chef, and if she ever does; I remember her saying when she does line cook for omelettes or something like that she’ll use her little Teflon pans, because nothing works better than a nice Teflon pan. But she also noted that she tries to keep hers really, really new.

So Teflon is the brand name for a manmade chemical; this is a mouthful {laughs} brace yourself, I hope I get it. It’s a manmade chemical known as polytetrafluoroethylene. That’s one word; did you get that? Polytetrafluoroethylene. Also known as PTFE. So that’s the actual generic name for what Teflon is. And it’s this manmade chemical that helps food slide right off it. And it’s wonderful, and it’s what I used for the majority of my adult life to this point.

Now, the reason why Teflon isn’t great is because that PTFE can flake off into our food, and then as science has shown us, it’s possibly carcinogenic. So even though it’s a little gray, I like to avoid it. So when it came time that I knew I needed new pans, I decided to not replace them with Teflon, and replace them with a different option that I’ll cover what those are in a little bit.

So my personal take on Teflon is; if it’s a brand new pan, odds are you’re fine. You’re fine to cook on it. However, as soon as you see it start to flake, or even dull. Once it starts to dull; because when you first get those Teflon pans, you know how they’re kind of nice and shiny? As soon as it starts to dull a little bit, you’re probably already seeing microscopic flakes off into your food. And that’s just; that’s really not great. And then when you really do see deep scratches or actual flakes, that’s when you know really it’s time to pitch it and replace it with a new one.

So if you know that’s what you’ve got hiding in your cabinet, this might be a good opportunity to replace them with something healthier. If you replace them with Teflon, then I recommend replacing them often. So as soon as they start to dull, and especially if they start to flake, it’s a good thing to replace.

Now, other options, cookware options that I do not recommend; the next one is raw aluminum. And I think about raw aluminum; my husband, Austin, that’s what he had for many years. It’s light weight, it’s relatively inexpensive, and it’s a great heat conductor. Aluminum is a great heat conductor. However, and it’s also what I used to take camping. I used to go camping a lot and raw aluminum, because it’s so light weight, was really easy to pack. It’s great; however, even though it’s a great heat conductor, and even though it’s lightweight, and even though it’s inexpensive, and it looks natural because it’s just a plain old metal looking pan, the aluminum is pretty soft, and it’s easily absorbed into food while you're cooking it.

Aluminum is just something that we really want to try to avoid in our diet; or exposure to it whenever possible. And just to kind of touch base on a totally different subject; that’s really the reason why so many folks now avoid antiperspirants. Because part of what makes an antiperspirant work keep you from sweating is the aluminum content. So, that’s why many people get into the nontoxic or totally natural deodorant options. Because there’s a difference between deodorant and antiperspirant. But the aluminum is what we’re worried about there. And aluminum is actually associated in several studies with an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease. So that touches especially close to home; my grandmother on my father’s side had Alzheimer’s disease. And it just, it’s horrific. That could be a whole episode in and of itself. So I try to avoid it whenever possible.

And then the third type of cookware that I want to touch on today that’s maybe worth avoiding is anodized aluminum. And anodized aluminum is essentially aluminum that has been coated. So, you might think on the surface it’s one step better than raw aluminum, because it’s coated. But what it’s usually coated with is that polytetrafluoroethylene, that PTFE also known as brand name Teflon. Ok, so you kind of, you might be coating the core of aluminum, which therefore aluminum is going to have a hard time finding its way into your food; but you're coating it with something that’s also possibly going to cause cancer. So I like to pitch that from the get go.

So those are the three that I recommend avoiding. If you’re shopping for new ones, avoid those. And if you have some under your sink and you’ve been thinking about replacing them, then I encourage you to replace them.

Now, what are some of the good options? Let’s talk about these. And I actually own all of these, and I use them for various reasons. I’m going to give you; let’s see, I’ve got 5 of them listed here. First and foremost, and I get the most questions about these, which is really one of the reasons why I was also inspired to do this podcast episode, because on my Snapchat you guys see me cook a lot, and you see what I’m cooking on; whereas on Instagram I’m usually just taking pictures of finished products. On Snapchat you guys see me working in the kitchen, so I’ve gotten a lot of questions about what I’m cooking on, because maybe some of them look a little different.

So the first one are my ceramic coated pans, and these are my replacement, my personal replacement to Teflon. So when Austin and I got married last October, I used it as an opportunity to replace my cookware. I had Teflon frying pans and pots and pans, and I wanted to start over. I wanted to start anew. So I did a lot of research you guys; a lot of research {laughs}. Kind of on the obsessive amount. And I came across some ceramic pans that I absolutely love. And I’m not affiliated with this company, so don’t think that I’m just telling you about them so I can sell them.

My favorite brand for ceramic cookware; these nonstick frying pans are made by a company called Burndes. I honestly don’t know if I’m saying that name correct. But Burndes is the pan I like; the large one is an 11 inch frying pan, and I also have a small one which I think is maybe 9 inches. It might be 6 inches. It’s the smallest one that they make. I use the small one for frying eggs, and the large one for doing things like pancakes; also if I’m doing a big egg scramble, things like that.

I really don’t like cooking eggs on a surface that’s not nonstick. So that’s why I really wanted a nonstick option, but I didn’t want Teflon, and ceramic is a less toxic alternative to Teflon. It is a really stable over high heat, and is resistant, although not immune to chipping. So when you look up “ceramic coated pans” it’s essentially a ceramic coating on top of a metal core. So the metal conducts the heat very evenly, and the ceramic protects your food from any toxins, and also helps make it nonstick.

Now when you look them up, you’re going to see a bunch of different color options. I personally opted for the white pans, because I like being able to see; for example, if I’m ever browning butter. This is so silly, but its’ really, it comes down to butter. If you’re browning butter, it’s so much easier to see when butter is browned if you’ve got a light colored pan that you’re cooking it in. and that goes to say with if I’m heating up any oil in a pan to make eggs or something like that, I want to be able to see the oil really well.

So I like the white pans. They do discolor over time; I’ve been using mine with heavy use since October, especially my large one. And it’s not as shiny bright white as it used to be, but it’s also not ugly. You guys can see it on my Snapchat. I love them, I think that they’re great. So that’s a really great option. And all of these healthy cookware options I’m going to link up to on the show notes on my blog. So http://FedandFit.com and pull up the show notes for episode number; what are we on, are we on number 65 I think. Let’s see; yep, episode number 65, healthier cookware options. And you’ll be able to see direct links to all of these pieces that I personally own.

So that’s one of them. The next one on the list, number two is stainless steel. Stainless steel can be a little scary to folks, because you might thing that your food is going to stick to it. And there are some tricks to the trade that make stainless steel really easy to use, it just takes a little; you just have to recalibrate some of your kitchen prowess, cooking skills. The combination of metals that are used to make stainless steel cookware actually help make that cookware more stable and prevent those heavy metals from leeching into your food, like they would in an aluminum pan. So I really love my stainless steel. While I do have two of those ceramic frying pans from Berndes, I also have a large sauté pan and a large frying pan that are stainless steel and then my pots I’ve replaced to make all stainless steel. So I’ve got a really, really large stock pot, which I’ll use to make, maybe if I’m doing a really slow cook broth, I’ll use for that. And then I also have three smaller pots that I use, sauce pots I think is what they’re called more specifically.

And I love them; I think they’re great. Stainless steel is really easy to use if it’s liquid based; if you’re making anything that’s like a chili or a soup or it’s a protein with some sort of a sauce. I will always use my stainless steel. If I’m making something; let’s say if I’m browning meat in a pan and I’m going to make a gravy or some sort of a sauce with those browned bits after I pull the meat out and I want to scratch it up; if I know I’m going to want to pick off the browned bits of the pan and incorporate that into a sauce that I’m reducing, I will always opt for my stainless steel.

And one of the tricks I have to using stainless steel is you need to make sure you use plenty of cooking fat. And stainless steel is one of those cookware that you can cook over really, really high heats. All of these options I’m talking about actually today, the healthy ones, are stable at high heats. But especially great for high heats. I like to use ghee because ghee has a really high smoke point if I’m cooking something really, really hot.

And then you want to make sure that your protein that you’re adding to your pan is at room temperature. Colder proteins, if you pull chicken for example straight out of the refrigerator, you season it and you toss it in a hot pan, it’s more likely to stick if it’s coming from a cold fridge. So, let your meat sit out, season it, wash it, and let it sit while you're getting the rest of your ingredients in order so that it can come back down to room temperature, and that will help it stick less. And then when protein is done cooking on one side, it will release. So kind of let your food guide you when it comes to stainless steel cooking.

So that’s one option that I love. And then next; the cookware that I use probably the most are probably going to be those ceramic pans and the stainless steel. Those are great. The stainless steel, especially, is wonderful because you can transfer it directly from the stove right into the oven if you’re trying to finish something. A pork tenderloin comes to mind that I like to sear on the stove first, and then transfer it into the oven to finish cooking all the way through.

So the next option I want to talk about, number three, is enameled cast iron. And enameled cast iron; there’s a nonreactive coating that lines the iron core of the cookware. Ok, so that’s pretty much what enameled cast iron is. Le Creuset, Staub, those are some of the more popular brands. I personally own a lot of Staub. Again, I’m not affiliated with them, but I just like their stuff. I think it’s beautiful, and it works really, really well.

A friend of mine; a family friend calls it the magic pot, because if you have one of those nice, big cast iron pots, you’re really able to make roasts in it. It just adds a lot of flavor and depth, and you can slow roast in something. You can pan sear it on the oven, transfer it; or on the stove, transfer it to the oven and just make magic happen. It’s just really delicious.

And if you’re looking for a recipe to make in an enameled cast iron pot, I have a beef burgundy on my website. It’s an older recipe, so forgive the not amazing photos. But that is an awesome recipe if you’re looking to make something with a Dutch oven is what those are also called. So enameled cast iron is great. I also have several enameled cast iron pans, just frying pans, not just pots. And those are wonderful really for cooking anything. I really like to keep those to proteins, but you can use sauces because of that lining; it won’t damage the iron core.

Ok, which leads me to my next one. It’s just plain old cast iron; a cast iron pan. So cast iron is great to cook; I think it’s great to cook if you’re not adding any water. So that’s my rule of thumb. When I’m using cast iron, I’m only usually cooking protein in that cast iron. Anything where I’m cooking a vegetable, or making a sauce or a chili, I will cook that stuff in either my stainless steel or my enameled cast iron. But plain old uncovered cast iron I will try to keep it kind of waterless cooking is one way to think of it. So I’m just adding fat to the pan, and then I’m adding a protein.

And that’s because if you’re cooking with water or other acidic foods it can damage the cured layer; the oil layer that you’ve used to help protect that pan. It can eat through that oily layer, find its way into the iron, and then you could possibly leach iron from the pan into your food.

Now this isn’t as scary necessarily as aluminum, but if you know that your iron levels are already high, then it’s a really good idea maybe to try to restrict cast iron use to just, like I said, waterless cooking. But it’s great. I use it regularly, probably once a week for proteins, like I said before. And you want to make sure you cure it really well. Don’t be intimidated of cast iron; it’s actually really easy to use. You just scrub off whatever bits are in there, you season it with more oil, mineral oil or olive oil, whatever floats your boat, and then you cure it by sticking it in a low grade oven.

And curing means that you're baking that pan, those oils into that pan, so it finds its way into whatever pores are there and helps protect it, keep the air off of it so it won’t rust. If you’ve ever had a cast iron pan rust, it’s because air and water of course combined and reacted with the iron. So that’s a really great option. Cast iron is much more affordable than enameled cast iron, but it requires a little bit more maintenance.

The last piece of cookware that I want to talk about today that’s safe, believe it or not, it’s a type of plastic, but it’s silicone. And silicone is actually food safe; at least it’s safe at or under about 425 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s pretty high, and I really, when I think of silicone, I’m thinking of those muffin molds or all those really fun little molds that you might find on Amazon for making gummies out of. And I like to use my trays for making muffins, for making crustless little mini quiches, I’ll do those in those molds. They’ll just pop out once they’re warm enough. Desserts; I’ve used them to make no-bake tarts before in a little small mold. And then I even have these little square ones that I’ll use; I’ll make a coffee creamer out of coconut milk and maple syrup, or you could even blend a date into it to sweeten it with something natural that’s even Fed and Fit Project compliant, and other flavors, and I will pour those into little bitty square silicone molds, freeze them, and then I’ve got these cute little frozen coffee creamer squares that I just pop into my coffee when I want one. So, silicone is a great option.

Like I said, I will link up to all of these online, and I hope this is helpful to you guys. Like I said, there is still research being done, and I’m sure that the landscape of healthy cookware is going to change in the future, but I will do my best to keep you guys on the cutting edge of my research and my personal experience, the things that I’ve used, and enjoy, and how I choose to use them.

So thank you guys for dialing in; we will be back again next week, like I said, with a recording, an interview with the Siete Foods folks; they’re really, really wonderful people and I think you’re going to enjoy hearing from them. Hope y’all have a great week, I’ll talk to you soon.

   

7 Responses to “Ep. 65: Healthier Cookware Options”

  1. #
    1
    Alanaposted June 21, 2016 at 5:49 pm

    So pumped for this. I follow you on snapchat and have seen you mention cookware there but forgot to take note. This is so helpful when planning my wedding registry!

    • #
      Cassyposted June 21, 2016 at 6:11 pm

      I’m so glad!! I’ve got a “cooking equipment” post planned too that will span slow cookers, pressure cookers, ice cream makers, blenders, etc. 🙂

  2. #
    2
    Barbposted September 2, 2016 at 2:11 pm

    Hi Cassie- Is it worse to cook food in aluminum foil than to use it for cold food in the fridge? Or is it OK to use aluminum foil to set on top of a casserole dish in the oven if that dish doesn’t have a lid (aluminum not touching the food)?

    • #
      Barbposted September 2, 2016 at 2:11 pm

      Oops – **Cassy! sorry about that!

  3. #
    3
    Stephanie Cahillposted October 21, 2016 at 1:57 pm

    Ahhh cool, thank you for linking the cookware and asterisking the must haves. I must have that Berndes frying pan!!! and some of those silicone trays! Thanks again 🙂 Stephanie

  4. #
    4
    Sanjidaposted December 24, 2016 at 12:43 am

    Hi Cassy,
    Thanks for the post,
    Your blog is very good, with informative article.
    I likes your post about “Healthier Cookware Options”
    best of Luck.
    🙂

  5. #
    5
    Claudiaposted January 7, 2017 at 10:09 pm

    Dear Cassy.
    Nice blog!!
    I m happy to read your article about cookware.
    I just like the helpful information you provide to your articles
    Really you’ve mentioned here nice information about cookware.
    I’ve saved this because I found it notable. I would be very interested to hear more news on this.
    Good luck.
    😉

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