We all know that home cooking gives us total control and transparency over our ingredients so that we can make the healthiest choices possible. But what about the vessels we cook it in? Because we wrote this story, we wanted to dive a little deeper into being mindful of the materials our food gets cooked in, emphasizing that it’s just as crucial as being aware of ingredients and macros, if not more so. We’ll explain.
Non-stick pots and pans are oh-so convenient. They are super easy to clean, which makes home cooking way less daunting, and let’s face it, anything to get us in the kitchen more often making healthy food is a win. And they require less oil, which is fab if we’re counting calories or referencing a recipe that calls for not-so-healthy fats. But there are some caveats.
If you’re using your mum’s hand-me-down Teflon, we hate to say it, but it may not be worth the sentimentality, or the convenience. Teflon is just the name brand, but there are plenty of off-brands making this same coating. It’s derived from toxic chemicals known as polyfluorinated alkyl substances, aka PFAS, and polytetrafluoroethylene, or PTFE. Once heated to normal cooking temperatures, this cookware releases toxic gasses and chemicals into our food. Imagine blowing your paycheck at Erewhon just to make your food … toxic.
These chemicals have been linked to birth defects and even cancer. And it’s not just ourselves that are affected—when we wash the cookware and rinse food down the drain, these toxic chemicals get released into our water systems and are not easily filtered out. That means it can affect the whole community. Less toxic cookware = less toxic water for everyone.
Compared to toxic coatings, hard-anodized cookware is safer. It’s way less likely to warp and rust, and the anodized coating prevents aluminum from leaching into your food as well. This material itself is totally safe, but there are some precautions we have to take to make sure it remains safe.
The quickly oxidized layer itself is super strong, and won’t compromise even acidic foods like your favorite tomato sauce recipe, but caring for it is crucial. Since aluminum is considered a heavy metal, and heavy metal build-up is associated with dementia, Alzheimer’s, and even cancer, we don’t want it in our food.
Being sure to use wooden or silicone cooking utensils prolongs the life of your cookware, and ultimately the safety of your food. When we use metal utensils to scrape the bottom of the pot or pan, we risk breaking through that anodized layer, damaging our cookware and exposing the non-oxidized aluminum, which does seep into our food. Acidic foods increase the amount of aluminum that seeps out, yikes.
Stainless steel for the win
While cast iron is a great option for stove-to-oven use, this softer material can easily corrode and break off bits of iron into your food—not the good dietary kind, but a heavier load that is not easily absorbed by the body.
Stainless steel is the superhero material for cookware. While it comes at a price, it can last a lifetime, and its non-porosity is ultimately badass, especially when it comes to cooking our precious and delicious, healthy meals. Just be sure you’re getting a brand that is high-quality stainless steel, so it won’t leach nickel and chromium into your food.
We gravitate toward the chic and indestructible All-Clad, because they are also oven-safe, meaning you actually save space and money because you need less—they can go straight from the stovetop to the hot oven to braise, bake, and finish just about anything. Bone apple tea.
Up next, be the first to know our weekly content and sign up for our Poosh newsletter.