Whether we realize it or not, we put a lot of energy into feeding our families healthy. From researching recipes to finding the best ingredients, it takes a lot of time! But do you pay attention to safer cookware options?
When it comes to being healthy, what we cook is just as important as how we cook. The problem is that there are mixed views out there and some of the more desireable cookwear options are expensive! I really try to limit how much I invest in cookware, but when it comes to my familys healthy, there are some things that are worth splurging on.
#1: Cast Iron Skillet
Let’s start with the workhorse of the kitchen and the one that will help to replace your nonstick pans. We now know that teflon is dangerous, and infact, the industry is working to remove it from the market.
But as much as we may hate teflon, it’s hard to argue the convenience of non-stick cookware. It took us years to figure out how to replace it. Cooking an egg on stainless steel does work if you season the pan properly, but it was hard to teach this to the other people in my family.
Did you know that there is a cast iron community out there? They LOVE their cast iron pans and once you start using one it will be easy to see why! There are even high end cast iron pans that will cost you $200+ for a skillet. That speaks volumes to the effectiveness.
However, the best part is that a $25 Lodge cast iron skillet (wait for a sale and it’s closer to $15) is all you really need. It comes preseasoned- though you may want to season it yourself, and with just some avocado oil and preheating the pan, the eggs will slide right off!
How To Use A Cast Iron Skillet to Make Eggs
One of the best parts about cast iron skillets is that they evenly heat and also hold their heat. However, there is a trick to using cast iron. It must be preheated before using to prevent anything from sticking. Just to give you an idea of how to use it, I’ll explain how I cook eggs below:
- Heat the cast iron skillet over medium-low heat for 5-10 minutes or until the pan is heated. I turn it on while I am getting the eggs and other ingredients ready. NOTE: Do not heat it on high. Going from cold to burning hot could warp the pan
- Coat the bottom of the pan in a thin layer of oil or butter. I use Avocado oil since it is a healthier choice. As you cook, some of the oil will absorb into the cast iron, so it isn’t all going into your food!
- Add the eggs and cook as you normally would. If the eggs stick to the pan, it could be one of several reasons:
- The skillet was not hot enough
- The skillet was too hot (this usually isn’t the issue)
- Not enough oil in the pan. Remember that some gets absorbed in to the pan, so add a thin layer to the bottom of the pan
- The pan isn’t properly seasoned
If you want to try out another easy recipe, check out these Smash Burger Sliders In A Cast Iron Skillet
#2: Enameled Cast Iron
You may not know that this is what they are called, but you are definitely familiar with them. The most common enamled cast iron pans would be Le Creuset or enamled Lodge. These are also the only 2 brands I would recommend, as other brands may contain lead in the enamel.
These pots are just as great as cast iron pans, though the way you cook on them is different. You do not need to season the pan and preheating is optional, though it does improve performance.
The reason I invested in an enameled cast iron pot is because it is one of the safest ways to cook acidic foods. For example, cooking tomato sauce in a stainless steel pot may cause the pot to leach nickel and chromuim…which is not a good thing! Enameled cast iron is not known to leach into your foods.
I personally only have the Le Creuset dutch oven so I haven’t tried cooking eggs in it. However, when I cook ground beef or other foods in it, I need to be sure to add oil or the food does stick and burn. I like to use Avocado oil and I add enough to coat the bottom of the pot. If anything starts to stick, I add more oil or some liquid.
How To Use Enamled Cast Iron Pans
As you probably know, these pots are pricey! These are definitely going to be an investment piece and one that you can pass down to your kids or grandkids.
Because they are such an investment, you want to be sure to properly care for them…or you could have just bought any other pot! Here are a few tips that will help you get the most out of your enameled cast iron:
- Coat the bottom of the pan with oil, then turn the heat on over low-medium heat. You want to heat the oil with the pan to help prevent burning on the bottom of the pan.
- If you find that your food browns or burns too fast, turn down the heat and use more oil. If I am cooking something like a beef stew and I notice the meat beginning to burn, I will just add in the broth and scrape the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon
- The enamel can scratch. Do not use metal utensils and take care in cleaning the pot. You don’t want to use an abrasive sponge that can scrape the enamel.
- Just an FYI – all cast iron pans, including enameled cast iron will work on an induction stovetop too!
#3: Stainless Steel Cookware
Stainless steel has become my go to. It sears beautifully, cooks evenly and cleans up like a dream!
However, there is a learning curve with stainless steel that you may not expect. Because it retains heat, you need to cook on a lower heat than you may be used to. However, once you get the hang of it, you will be sold!
Stainless steel is not non-stick, so cooking in it does require a bit of oil or butter. Cooking spray will ruin the pan, so don’t even try it. Good quality stainless pans are pricey but they will last a lifetime. So you don’t want to damage them.
Another thing to know is that stainless steel alone is not a great conductor of heat. Becuase of that, they typically have an alumimum core and scratching the stainless could expose the aluminum, which defeats the purpose of the stainless pan.
The BEst Stainless Steel Pan
There are so many choices when it comes to stainless steel pans…not to mention, so many price ranges! I am all about saving money when possible, but this is one time when you will need to splurge to be sure you get what you need.
Stainless steel can leach nickel and chromium so you want to be sure to find a pan that uses 18/8 or 18/0 stainless steel (it should be marked on the bottom of the pan). The demoinator represents the amount of nickel in the steel, so these will have these lease amount.
Like I said, these pots and pans are going to be an investment but you will be able to keep them for a lifetime with proper care.
Here is a list of the pots and pans I would recommend:
- All Clad – My absolute favorite stainless steel line. Cooking with their pots and pans just feels like a luxurious experience!
- Homichef – I have not tried this brand but I have heard good things about their cooking sets. It will be much cheaper than All Clad, but it is nickel free.
- Caphalon – This company used to mark their stainless steel but lately I have read that they do not mark it because it can vary based on production batches (there are other factors that apply as well). I have one and love it but if I were to buy a new pan, I would go All Clad.
What I use in my kitchen
Given that I have a food blog and love to cook, it may come as a surprise that I have a limited number of pots and pans!
I like to save money, but deep down I am also a minimalist! I like to invest in good cookware, so I can only afford one, and so far it has been working for us! If you’d like to know what I use, here you go:
- All Clad Stainless Steel Rondeau Pot – I use this for soups and stews. If you get REALLY lucky, sometimes you can find All Clad at TJ Maxx but it isn’t too much cheaper than Amazon
- Caphalon Tri-Ply Stainless Steel Saute Pan with Cover – I honestly use this for everything! I love this pan and it is a great price point. I have had it over 10 years but if I were to replace it someday, it will be with a similar sized All Clad piece similar to THIS
- Le Creuset Stock Pot – There is a reason Le Creuset is so popular. It actually lives up to it’s name! There are only 2 items in my kitchen that would NEED to be replaced if lost – this pot is one of those items (the other is my Vitamix). I got my pot as an Amazon warehouse deal but you can also find it at their outlet stores if you have one nearby. Be wary of the ones being sold at discount stores as I have found that many of those are made in China, which may be a discounted line. Just go for the real thing!
- Caphalon 3 Qt Sauce Pan – I am indifferent to this pan. Now that I have my Le Creuset, I only use this pan to steam vegetables (with a steamer insert) or cook noodles. I do everything else in the Le Creuset. I would recommend it if you need one but you could skip it if there are other things you need to buy first.
- Caphalon 1.5 Qt Sauce Pan with lid – Sometimes you just need a small pot! This one is perfect. Not much to say about it, but it does the job! And the clear glass lid is more helpful than you would imagine.
- Lodge Dutch Oven – My newest obesssion. We had this set for 3 years before I finally decided to figure out how to use it. Now I consider it a kitchen staple!
When it comes to pots and pans, this is all I have! Like I said, one of each is plenty and less things to store too. Did I miss any of your favorites? Let me know!
What Cookware to Avoid
I can’t end this post without telling you what me and my family avoid in our house. But I’ll keep it brief:
- Copper – I have wanted a copper pot for years but they were waaay out of my price range. Lucky for me, it turns out that they actually leach copper into food. So it is recommended that we don’t cook with it. It is ok to have it as a layer in the stainless steel pan, but you don’t want the copper to touch your food
- Non stick cookware – Teflon is now known to be harmful to our health. We should have known when birds started dying when people would cook with it…but sometimes it’s easy to overlook the convenience of non stick
- Ceramic cookware – Ceramic cookware is just too new to the market. As far as we know, it is ok to cook on but I am always weary of trends. They always claim to be safe, until they aren’t. We did try one in the past but once it started scratching I threw it out and didn’t replace it.
We work so hard to cook healthy for our families and it makes me so angry when we aren’t told the whole truth about what we are cooking with. Yes, we should research things before we buy them, but we should also be able to trust the manufacturers when they tell us something is safe.
In the end, I have done years of research when it comes to safe cookwear and I’m so excited that I FINALLY put it all into a post! Did I miss something, or do you have a favorite too? Let me know in the comments below!! I have a slight obsession with healthy cookware 😉