Monday, June 21, 2010

what pots and pans are right for you?

Recently, I’ve been doing a bit of research on pots and pans. I currently have nonstick pans, but have been hearing lots of negative talk about potential side affects of the nonstick coating. Apparently, it can cause cancer…but then again, it seems that everything now days can cause cancer. So I’m not too concerned, but I do feel like I should at least research some of my other options.

I’ve learned that there is much more to consider when buying pots and pans beside how well they heat food, how easy they are to clean, how pretty they look on my stove, etc. I should also consider the safety of these pots and pans as they are essentially the surfaces upon which my food will sit.

So here is what I found as far as healthy kitchenware is concerned; however don’t go and throw out everything you currently have. Decide for yourself what is the best cookware for your family and your cooking needs, and then do your research and wait until you find a sale…don’t pay full price!

  1. Aluminum: This material has become less popular over recent years as we learned that it reacts to acidic foods like tomatoes and causes leaching, and we don’t need to add even more of this potentially toxic substance. My vote = FAIL
  2. Teflon: Teflon was/is very popular as a great non-stick surface. However, Teflon is said to leach toxic chemicals linked to cancer, birth defects, and obesity. In addition Teflon has a tendency to scratch and chip easily making the pot or pan unusable. My vote = FAIL
  3. Copper: It looks great and it gives the impression that you are a fancy chef (even if your not!) It also conducts heat very well. Yet it is hard to care for and keep looking nice. Copper would be nice for occasional or decorative use but not for every day cooking. My vote = NEUTRAL
  4. Silicone: This material has really made a splash in recent years. The attraction is mostly due to the fact that it is a non-stick surface that isn’t Teflon. It seems that silicone doesn’t leach but it is also should not be used at temperatures hotter than 420 degrees. Silicone is safe, but personally, I do not like using it. I feel like it has a weird smell…but I have an ultra sensitive nose! My vote = NEUTRAL
  5. Glass: Glass is awesome for baking and for the oven. I would even say it is the best material for these uses (although it is definitely breakable and somewhat heavy). It is safe and easy to use and cleans up very well. Glass doesn’t conduct heat well so it is much better for oven cooking than for stovetop cooking. My vote = PASS
  6. Cast Iron: An old classic that has been used for generations. It is durable and easy to use once it is seasoned. It has been used for many decades without any connection to ill effects so this option is likely to stick around. My vote = PASS
  7. Stainless Steel: It’s safe, but not the easiest for non-stick cooking. Cooked on scrambled eggs are going to require some serious soaking in my experience. It may not be the most convenient but it is certainly safe. My vote = PASS

Just like electronic devices, it seems that there are always new materials coming out for kitchen tools. I recently heard of “Green Pans” that claim to be safe and non-stick alternatives to Teflon. I personally like using non-stick Teflon…but I’m also aware that sacrificing convenience now is a lot wiser that sacrificing health complications later on in life.

So...after my research, I've decided to glass for baking (which I already did) and stainless steel for the majority of my cooking. However, I still have a couple Teflon pans…just for eggs!

How about you? What do you use? What do you love?

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