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More About Aluminum - Cookware You Can Live With

Q: I have read your articles about the toxicity of aluminum cookware and changed ours about a year ago. However, I still use some non-stick pans, especially for eggs and pancakes. Is it true that these aren't really great either?

A: Yes, from the testing I've done over several years, I've definitely found the non-stick pans to be nasty for the body. My first knowledge of this came from a pet magazine that I was reading. For years it has been common knowledge among bird owners that the toxic fumes emitted from one Teflon-coated frying pan in use can kill a bird on the opposite side of the house. Boy, did that make an impact when I read this!

It reminded me of the days when coal miners would take a bird down into the mines with them to determine air quality. If the bird kept breathing, everything was O.K. If the bird died, the men knew to hightail it out of there, as the oxygen level was dangerously low.

A common, mistakenly held viewpoint is that as long as the non-stick surface is on something other than aluminum, it's O.K. to use. Consistently, I have found that to NOT be true.

Whether the non-stick surface is applied to stainless steel, glass, or cast iron, I strongly urge you to remove them from your kitchen. They contribute to decreased energy and degenerative, toxic conditions in the body.

Now, before you freak out and decide to become a fasting monk for the rest of your life, let me assure you that there is life after non-stick! If you've gotten used to high heat, fast clean-up cooking, it will be a switch for you. However, I personally think it's a worthwhile minute or two in clean-up time to save your brain, kidneys, liver and joints, to name a few of the areas affected by toxic cookware.

The cookware types that I recommend at this time are: well-seasoned cast iron (very easy to care for and great for things like eggs and pancakes); plain glass (NO Silverstone added, please!); pure stainless steel (no layers of aluminum stuck in there); and unchipped enamel pans. The least expensive are the glass and cast iron. Unfortunately, the unadulterated glass pans are difficult to find at times. Currently they can be purchased at K-Mart stores. The cast iron is available at many well-stocked hardware stores.

As they are heavy, I recommend that you use the smallest pan needed for your cooking task. For all you stir-fry kings and queens I recommend either carbon steel or cast iron woks. My husband has used both and loves his cast iron wok which we purchased at the Ace Hardware store in Dunedin, Florida . They usually have a great selection of all cast iron cookware, including some baking pans.

Although it may seem like a hassle to switch, it can make a big difference in your family's health and your current and future doctor bills.

It's worth it!

Cast Iron Tips
After seasoning cast iron pans (coating them with oil then baking for 30 minutes), the surface performs like a non-stick coating. This also improves with age, provided you follow these maintenance tips:

  • Pre-heat the pan. Iron heats slowly and retains the heat a long time. Get to know your pan and how far in advance to turn on the heat.

  • Clean-up is very easy because of the non-stick nature of the seasoned cast iron surface. Even eggs come off easily with a five minute soaking in water and a few scrubs with a rough pad. Prompt cleaning is recommended.

  • The only other maintenance tip is to thoroughly dry the pan after washing and to re-season it if you mess up on any of the above.

Cast iron is versatile. It is equally adept at turning out eggs (scrambled, fried, or poached), meats (fish, steaks, cheeseburgers, etc.), and Dutch apple pie, as well as perfect pancakes.

Cast iron is virtually indestructible.