Being into the whole real food thing is tough. You gotta dissect labels for toxic ingredients, trudge off to an actual farm to get food, spend hours slaving away in the kitchen every week, and you don’t have the luxury of picking up an easy frozen meal at a normal grocery store and firing it up in the microwave when you don’t feel like cooking.
Oh but it doesn’t end there. You also have to worry about whether or not the pots and pans that you cook all that healthy food in are killing you. That nonstick skillet you whipped up many a Hamburger Helper with in years past must not be touched. Your trusty old aluminum baking sheets aren’t so trustworthy anymore.
Types of Healthy Cookware
First, I want to briefly explain what the basic materials that make for safe cookware are. Your best bets are:
- Stainless steel. Quality matters. Because stainless steel is an alloy of not just carbon steel, but other metals including chromium and nickel, you want the highest-quality stainless steel, which contains less of the cheap heavy metals as filler. Nickel is of primary concern, because it is toxic and can leach from the steel into your food. High-quality stainless steel will have low levels of nickel, and will be constructed in a formulation which makes it resistant to corrosion and leaching or reactivity. To be on the safe side, avoid very long-term cooking and storage of acidic foods in stainless steel, as acids are what can react with the metal causing it to leach.
- Cast iron. This stuff has been used for centuries. When well-seasoned, cast iron cookware has a coating of polymerized fat which not only turns it into a nice non-stick surface, but acts as a barrier between the iron and your food. More on this in a bit when we get to choosing cast iron cookware.
- Enamel coated cast iron or steel. Naturally non-stick and non-porous. Again, quality matters. High-quality enamel coating is non-reactive and safe for all types of cooking. Lesser-quality enamel may contain lead, or may chip, allowing unsafe material underneath the coating to leach into food.
Now, let’s pick out some pots and pans!