I know, I know – not only do we have to worry about processed ingredients, we also have to be concerned about how we cook our food. After all, preparation is everything and I know our great-grandmothers were not using teflon. Many of you who follow my Facebook page have seen me post about toxic cookware and bakeware before. I often get questions from readers asking what new cookware to stock up on and so I decided to challenge you to overhaul your cookware.
So what’s wrong with nonstick or aluminum cookware?
The teflon coating releases toxic fumes that can build up in your bloodstream and hang out there. I learned a lot about aluminum last week at the Weston A Price conference and it is quite a nasty toxic heavy metal that can cause all kinds of other issues including Alzheimer’s and cancer. It seems when heated it can be released into our food. No thank you.
Many of you were probably gifted your cookware and bakeware for a wedding or other big life event and it is a hard pill to swallow to start replacing it. I am going to share what I ended up getting, piece by piece. These are the pieces you really need and will use day in and day out. I think the cookware and bakeware sets may seem like a good deal, but they rarely give you the pieces you will use on a regular basis and you have to choose one style of cookware so I wouldn’t recommend them.
Non-toxic Cookware Types
Here are the types of cookware and bakeware I use and recommend – starting with my favorite and moving on down:
- Enamel coated cast iron or steel. Naturally non-stick and non-reactive, this is high quality material. This is not something you need for every piece of cookware in your kitchen. I use this for certain types of cooking like making sauces and braising/stewing.
- Cast iron. When I think of chuck wagon cooking, I think of cast iron. It has been used forever. I have found that when my pan is well-seasoned, it is virtually non-stick. I love the beautiful browning I get on my food when using cast iron. For cooking technique junkies out there like me, cast iron is the greatest!
- Stainless steel. This is a tricky one. Many stainless steel items on the market today have multiple fillers of other metals including chromium and nickel. These can leach into your food just like aluminum. So with stainless steel, high quality is of utmost importance so you know what you are getting.
So which pans do I like and use?
Pots – Sauces, Braising, Stewing, Boiling/Steaming, Stocks
You technically only need 3 pots but I am going to list one extra here that I also use pretty regularly and it is also very inexpensive.
- I love this small 1 1/4 quart saucepot. I recently bought it after I burned my stainless steel one and I am amazed how much better it is. It conducts heat beautifully and is totally easy to clean because it is enameled. It is also much less expensive than quality stainless steel (go figure).
- I use this enameled dutch oven for all of my soups, braising and stewing and also for boiling small batches of water for sprouted pasta or a for making a small batch of stock. The 5 1/2 quart-sized dutch oven works perfectly for my family of 3 but if you have a larger family you may want to spring for the 7 1/4 quart.
- I love my stock pot. It is a multi-use pot and I love the size and that I can use it for making pasta or steaming vegetables, as well as making a big batch of stock. Sure – there are larger stock pots out there but I am a small human, and when I am by myself and need to dump out a steaming hot pot of stock into a strainer in the sink, this bad boy is just big enough for me to maneuver on my own!
- This pot is entirely optional but I have to say, I use it almost daily so I think it is a worthy investment. It is a very small butter warmer. I use this not only to warm butter, but also to make sauces or heat up a small amount of water for a recipe. I depend on this tiny pot so it had to be on my list.
Pans – Frying, Searing, and Sauteing
I have three pans I use on a regular basis. That’s it.
- Cast Iron Skillet. I have one cast iron skillet for frying eggs and basic sauteing and searing. I love that this cast iron pan gets screaming hot quickly and retains heat well. I also love that it can be moved from stove top to oven with ease. You just cannot do this with non-stick pans. They come in all sizes but I think having a bigger one is your best bet to saving money on buying multiple pans. I use this enameled one so I don’t have to worry about seasoning it all of the time, but you can get a great quality regular cast iron pan for next to nothing like this one. I do recommend seasoning the latter yourself once you get it even if it comes ‘pre-seasoned’ because they most likely used some kind of cheap vegetable oil and you can use lard or tallow for a healthier and more effective coating.
- Covered 6 quart Saute Pan. I have a large saute pan with a lid to make items that are ‘soupier’ and need some time to cook down. For example, creamed spinach! A pan like this is also great for making quinoa or risotto!
- Stainless Steel Saucier. My saute pan is great for making savory items, but I personally go to my 3 quart saucier for making things like custards, ice cream bases, or when I am working with gelatin-based desserts. A saucier is similar to a saute pan but the sides are curved instead of straight. A saucier is wider than a sauce pot making it excellent for reducing and thickening.
Griddles and Grills
It takes some getting use to but I am actually loving my cast iron griddles and grill pan now. I opted to giveaway my non-stick griddle about a year ago and have not missed it.
- Cast iron Griddle / Grill pan combo. This is a large griddle/grill pan combo that you place over two burners on your stove top. It is a flat top griddle on one side and a grill pan on the other side. I brush it with ghee or coconut oil using a silicone pastry brush. This largely keeps everything from sticking quite well. I made my banana pancakes on here every week!
- Cast iron waffle maker. This cast iron waffle maker makes the best waffles! I have never had such a nice crisp texture on the outside from my old non-stick waffle maker. They key again is using a silicone pastry brush to keep it coated with your favorite cooking fat. I use ghee or coconut oil.
That is pretty much everything that I use for cookware. See – not a really long list! You can replace piece by piece.
So what do I use for bakeware?
It has taken me longer to replace my bakeware. I focused on getting rid of anything with a non-stick coating first and then focused on buying quality stoneware and glass items.
Baking Pans, Cookie Sheets and Muffin Pans
- Glass bakeware. For most of my casseroles, I just use glass bakeware. I have a ton of these bakers and they serve me well. I really only buy one size to keep things simple but this set seems like a great bargain because it includes the large size, a square baker, and also a loaf pan.
- Enameled stoneware bakers. For smaller gratins and for reheating food, I use these enameled stoneware bakers. They come in a multitude of sizes for whatever you need. I like the square and oval ones.
- Roasting pans / sheet pans. I use these sheet pans that are stainless steel, however all stainless steel contains some aluminum. I cover it with a silicone baking mat (just make sure you find the one that fits your pan size) or parchment paper to reduce the risk of the trace aluminum in the pans from leaching into my food. I know some folks also love this stoneware sheet pan as well but I personally worry about breakage over time as there is not a good warranty.
- Cake pans. I personally like cooking my cakes in this 9-inch round stainless steel pan. This springform pan with a glass bottom is also pretty ingenious.
- Muffin tins. I pretty much exclusively make my muffins in these silicone baking cups. I just place them on top of one of my baking sheets. They are super easy to get out and pretty green because I do not have to use cupcake paper liners. I also have this cast iron muffin tin but use it mostly for egg-y type recipes.
- Pie pan. I use this simple glass pie pan for all of my pies and quiches.
- Oval roaster with lid. This is an important purchase. I use this oval roaster for roasting not just large pieces of meat or a whole chicken, but also for braising. You can roast in the lid as well so it is really two roasting pans in one. I really do not use those fancy french roasters. I like having a lid.
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I hope this answers all of your very frequent questions about how to make the switch from your current cookware to non-toxic!