Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Week 50

Evaluate your cookware and replace that which is unhealthy.

With Christmas right around the corner, if you have not already done so, get at least one good pot or skillet.  Thinking about what you introduce into your food from your cookware is very important.  It is not important that you have a pretty matching set (though there is nothing wrong with that).  The important thing is that you are not creating health problems for yourself or your family by using unhealthy cookware. 

Let me give you some guidelines and then share with you what I use.

NEVER USE:  Pots, pans or skillets with non-stick coatings.  These items are really that bad and should never be used.  If you are currently cooking with any of these type pots and pans, I would suggest seriously thinking about replacements right away.

You may not think this is that serious, but did you know that the FDA has called for a reduction of a chemical used in making these coatings due to adverse health effects such as cancer and a suppressed immune system?  Since the US government and regulatory groups are heavily influenced by companies and their profits, and thus allow many questionable chemicals and practices, it is definitely a big concern when they decide something is not healthy.  Replace your Teflon coated pots and pans, even if they are not scratched up.

Glass cookware, stainless steel, aluminum and cast iron can all be coated with a non-stick coating.  No matter what the coating is on, it is unhealthy.

NOT RECOMMENDED (especially if trying to go 100%):

Aluminum pots and pans.  Aluminum pots and pans are typically cheap (they are very lightweight too) and aluminum will leech into your food.  This is controversial though, because if you take an antacid (which I do not recommend - there are many other side effects to be concerned about) or eat foods with additives, you may be getting a lot more aluminum than what you get from your cookware.  According to the ATSDR governmental agency, the average American adult gets 7 to 9 mg of aluminum a day in their food from flour, anti-caking agents (which is why I recommend not using pre-grated cheese), baking powder (which is why I recommend buying an aluminum-free brand), and food colorants (all artificial ingredients are on the foods/ingredients to avoid list).

Anodized aluminum pots and pans.  These are much better than non-anodized but aluminum will still leech out of them, especially if you are cooking something acidic in them (such as a tomato-based dish). 

Health issues with aluminum include nervous system, reproductive system and immune system problems.  However, the ATSDR report from 2008 states that the level of aluminum a person receives from food and cookware would not be harmful for a healthy person. 

"Eating large amounts of processed food containing aluminum additives or frequently cooking acidic foods in aluminum pots may expose a person to higher levels of aluminum than a person who generally consumes unprocessed foods and uses pots made of other materials (e.g., stainless steel or glass). However, aluminum levels found in processed foods and foods cooked in aluminum pots are generally considered to be safe."

Hmmm... generally considered to be safe.  If you are eating the typically American diet, then you will not need to worry about cooking in aluminum pots and pans.  However, if you are trying to gain or maintain your health and vitality by eating 100% FoodsbyGod, you might think about getting better cookware options.  

SOME LEECHING WILL OCCUR:  Stainless steel pots and pans, even the expensive heavy duty ones will still leech some elements into your food, for example nickel and chromium.  Saladmaster makes waterless stainless steel cookware (which is extremely expensive!), and they changed their stainless steel composition first to 304 stainless steel in the 1980's and then to 316 stainless steel (surgical steel and that used in deionized water systems in the semiconductor field) in the 1990's and then a final upgrade to 316 stainless with titanium in 2008.  If you have ever been to a Saladmaster party, you know that food cooked in these pots and pans tastes great.  That is because with their newest cookware, leeching is not occurring from the pots into your food.  Obviously, some leeching does occur from standard stainless steel pots and pans or Saladmaster would not use such expensive compositions of stainless steel.  I am not recommending Saladmaster, or stainless steel pots and pans.  I am just using Saladmaster and their stainless steel compositional changes over the years to show you that some leeching does occur with stainless steel cookware.


NO LEECHING WILL OCCUR:  Glass pots.  I love my glass pots and use them exclusively for acidic dishes (all tomato dishes and to make my bone broths).  Nothing will leech from glass pots and pans, if they are made correctly (all would be that are made in the USA such as Corning products).

The problems with glass pots and pans is that they are no longer manufactured.  I have gotten mine at garage sales and on Ebay.  Glass pots and pans are great for soups and stews, but they quickly lost favor when sold in the 1980's because they do not heat evenly and must be used on low heat (or things burn on the bottom).  This is unfortunate because they are the best cookware option for many things. 

SEASONED CAST IRON:  The amount of leeching that will occur with cast iron depends upon how you care for your cast iron and how well it is seasoned.  Minimal leeching will occur if they are used and cleaned correctly and these are the 'original' non-stick pans.

I NEVER use my cast iron for acidic (tomato) dishes.  Acidic foods will eat through your seasoning.  Well seasoned cast iron skillets were the first non-stick skillets and work wonderfully.  The best skillets were made by Griswold (front left skillet in photo above).  I have two antique Griswold skillets that I use exclusively to cook eggs.  The Griswold skillets have a smoother surface and are exceptional.  With a well seasoned skillet, you should not be leeching chemicals through the seasoning into your food.  Butter works great to coat the skillet prior to cooking eggs in it and clean-up is a breeze.  It is KEY that the skillet is hot before you butter it and pour your eggs into it.

I bought a new very large cast iron skillet in the 1990's that I use to cook meats and sauté vegetables.  The best thing to use for seasoning a new skillet is pork lard (cook some good quality pork bacon in your skillet).  NEVER use soap to clean your skillet.  I use the scouring side of a sponge and warm water only.  Then I always dry the skillet well after cleaning it (I place in on the stove top to dry it).  When seasoning, cook some bacon, pour off the grease (and save it), then wipe out the skillet and regrease it with the pork grease.  Place it in the oven at a low temperature (200 °F) for several hours.  This will allow the grease to penetrate into the pores and create a good seasoning or non-stick coating.  This process will need to be done a few times for a brand new skillet.
Besides having cast iron skillets, I love my cast iron griddle.  To clean, I wipe it off with a paper towel.  It is wonderfully seasoned, and nothing sticks to it.

"As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another." Proverbs 27:17

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