Blog: 10 Tips for Buying Sustainable Cookware

 

If you read my last article, hopefully, you are raring to go and buy some sustainable cookware. Great!  One problem though – good sustainable cookware isn’t cheap. For example, most ceramic pots and pans actually have a coating. Xtrema is a rare cookware manufacturer that doesn’t coat its ceramic pans. Perfect! Except for this quality, sustainability and non-toxicity cost money. Of course buying durable, long-lasting cookware will save you money in the long run. Sometimes buying cheap is a false saving that doesn’t really help in the short term.

How can you help the planet and save money?

1. Consider Second hand

For some cookware, especially cast iron, there’s no harm in getting something second hand. You can buy it, or even better, maybe talk a family member into passing you one of their pieces of cast iron!

2. One Pan at a Time

I wouldn’t suggest going out and buying a new cookware set straight away. If you are used to cooking with Teflon, it’s better to replace pans as you go. Cast iron, for example, is more work. It’s heavier, and you need to change your cooking style slightly. What if you hate it? Try one, second hand, pan before you buy more. Who knows – maybe you’ll love it and get a set.

3. Take a Look at, or Through Glass Cookware

I recently researched and wrote about glass cookware, which I find interesting. Do you know there is such a thing as a glass frying pan? I have been thinking about getting one (and keeping it away from my children!) I will wait until my nonstick pan starts to wear though. I don’t need it straight away, so why not use what I’ve got? It’s the opposite of sustainable to throw away perfectly usable pans.

4. Less Cookware

I write about cookware so maybe that’s why I have a bit too much in my kitchen! My kitchen isn’t huge but it isn’t the smallest either. I always feel like there isn’t enough room though. Sometimes less is more. If you can’t afford a full sustainable cookware set, perhaps you don’t need all the pieces? As an example, I don’t use a proper griddle to cook pancakes – I use a normal pan.

5. Go For Flexible Pans

A way of using less energy is by having fewer pans. It also has the advantage of clearing some space in your kitchen. I can use the same pan for different things then that helps declutter my kitchen. Versatility can come in different ways and depends on each person, but for example:

  • Oven safe can be convenient
  • Having a lid makes it easier to turn a frying pan into a saute or even saucepan
  • Being easy to clean means they are ready to use for the next meal
  • Fitting on one burner on the stove but having a decent capacity. For a frying pan, 10 inches seems to work well
  • Whatever you do make sure it’s what you need, and it works for you.

6. Mix It Up!

Flexibility goes more than one way. By mixing and matching you increase what you can do. For example, when heating liquids, stainless steel is fantastic. This is great for cooking things like pasta, soup, and sauces, or for steaming. So a stainless steel stockpot can be a great idea. But then a large cast-iron skillet could help with popping corn, frying, and searing.

7. Consider Cores

Copper or Aluminum cores are a great way of using these conductive metals.  Copper bottoms often wear off.  A core is inside the pan so avoids this problem.  It will save you money in the long run through more efficient heating – plus not more hot spots!

8. Consider All Your Options

If you need to fry some eggs, perhaps even consider a small nonstick pan. Yes, it’s better to use the cast iron skillet, if you can, but it is harder! Actually even better could be a stainless steel frying pan with a copper core as it wouldn’t need much heat. Except the eggs will probably stick. If you can deal with that – perfect!

9. Beware Coatings

Coatings are the “Gotcha!” of cookware.  Do you think you are buying a healthy stone pan?  Great – but what’’s it coated in? Apart from chemicals, the coating will eventually wear away and you’ll need to replace the pan.

10. Be Realistic

 

The worst thing you can do is go and buy a sustainable cast iron cookware set and never use it.  Are you prepared to do the extra work?  Do you even have the time?  You can buy really low maintenance, sustainable cookware for a high price.  You can also get some nice, affordable, sustainable cookware that does need a little work.  Getting affordable, long-lasting, sustainable cookware that doesn’t need any maintenance – well that might be harder!

What Cookware Should I Get Then!? What should you aim for in the long term? Here are my thoughts:

  • Up to 1 Nonstick frying / sauté pan with an aluminum body to heat food quickly. Or (better yet) a stainless steel pan with a copper or aluminum base or core.
  • A stainless steel stockpot, ideally with copper or aluminum base of the core.
  • A cast-iron Skillet
  • Steamer / colander – stainless steel
  • Ceramic or glass bakeware

Of course, it depends on what you cook. Want a nice crunchy stir fry? Then a carbon steel wok is perfect. And, clearly, the larger the family the more cookware you need!

Thanks, Beatriz for 2 great articles and information about the differences in cookware and what’s sustainable and what’s not. I appreciate your contribution to holistic and sustainable living from all aspects. Now we know something about sustainable cookware. Got any tips, comments? Beatriz and I would love to hear from you. Enjoy. Judith

Blog: Sustainable Cookware with Beatriz Garcia

 

 

 

 

Beatriz Garcia is my guest blog post writer this week. She reached out to me recently about sustainable cookware and I found her information useful. We often look at packaging as sustainable or not but what about our kitchen cookware? Summer is also a time for weddings and purchases for college dorms. I happen to be a fan of cast iron. Yes, they are heavy but I find them easy to clean and I like the even heating. What type of cookware is your favorite and why? Beatriz and I would love to hear from you.

Beatriz Garcia found out about the sustainable side of cookware when researching healthy cookware for her site Clan Kitchen.  You can find her writing there in the rare moments she isn’t busy looking after her family. Beatriz is keen to cook healthily and sustainably, but also has to balance this with quickly cooking foods her kids want to eat!

Coatings 

Whatever material you choose, you need to beware of the coating. If, for example, you want to avoid Teflon, then you should look for “PTFE free”.  Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) is the active ingredient in Teflon. Unfortunately, many pans are advertised as PFOA free. This is not helpful – PFOA was banned years ago. Other chemicals are now used to manufacture PTFE!  Unfortunately, when reviewing different pans, I’ve found many ceramic or stone pans actually have a coating that includes PTFE. People buying those bands could be misled by this. I certainly wouldn’t expect a ceramic or stone pan to include Teflon. Dr. Mercola, the number one holistic wellness expert, and site in the world, says this about Teflon coatings:

“In fact, the convenience of a nonstick or stain-resistant surface comes at a steep price, as such chemicals persist in the environment, are contaminating water supplies and have been linked to developmental problems, cancer, liver damage, immune effects, thyroid problems and more.”

My advice here is that if you are buying a pan that advertises itself as non-stick; check if it is PTFE free. If it doesn’t state PTFE free, then it probably does have Teflon. This is especially the case with ceramic, stone, aluminum pans, or any pan with a special coating. Here’s the problem with coatings in general: They wear away over time. And when they wear away, the pan loses any non-stick properties it had. The underlying layer/body of the pan is also exposed. This is often not healthy. For example, Aluminum exposure may cause Alzheimer’s. Once the coating of any pan starts to chip, I’d recommend throwing it away. And here we are back to the durability issue!  One coating that you can repair is the seasoning on cast iron or carbon steel pans. 

Efficiency 

It’s not just the energy used in creating the pan that counts, but also the energy used every time you cook with it! The miles per gallon metric for cars is unachievable and unrealistic. But at least it allows you to compare different cars. Yet cookware doesn’t come with anything like that. How can we compare?  The overall conductivity of each material to get an idea of which cookware is best. This isn’t perfect, but it’s something. 

Examining this factor suggests copper and aluminum top the charts, followed by cast iron. Stainless steel is the worst of the typical cookware metals. You don’t normally expose food directly to copper or aluminum for safety reasons. One option is a copper or aluminum core to help conduct and spread the heat. Some pans even have a copper bottom. I can’t imagine a layered pan would make the job of recycling any easier though! 

This might also depend on how you cook though. Cast iron is in the middle of the conductivity range and takes ages to heat up. But there is a way around this! Heat the cast iron pan before putting the food on it, then turn it off the stove when the food is almost ready. The pan keeps its heat a while and carries on cooking. With a little bit of practice, you can get the timing right on this. 

What Next? 

So, you’re sold on sustainable cookware but you’re not sure what to do next!  Perhaps you don’t have money to just go and buy another cookware set.  Keep using the pans you have for now, and watch out for my next article, where I will give you 10 tips on how to buy and afford, sustainable cookware. 

Thanks, Beatriz, for sharing the above information on how to look at our cookware sustainably. Next week Beatriz offers 10 tips for buying sustainable cookware.

Remember your comments are appreciated.

Enjoy. Judith

 

Podcast: Holistic Nature of Us: Meet Dr. Ashley Burkman

Description: Our immune system is a complex system consisting of several organs that are interconnected and interdependent upon each other and our whole body. My guest this week, Dr. Ashley Burkman, comes to us from the field of Naturopathy, a licensed physician discipline valid in several states in the USA. She gives her perspective and expertise on strengthening the immune system especially important as we head into the holidays. She offers a great paleo-based recipe that helps us decrease refined sugars yet satisfies our sweet tooth. Join us for the naturopath point of view that is holistically based. 

About My Guest: Dr. Ashley Burkman is a naturopathic physician at Collaborative Natural Health Partners and has been part of the team for over six years now. Her favorite part of working with this team is the strength there is in collaborating on patient care. While she treats a variety of health conditions, her particular interests are in endocrinology, gastroenterology, and autoimmune disease. 

Transcript: #37 Dr. Ashley Burkman  

Blog: Mindfulness and the Brain

What are some of today’s challenges that that impact our daily life? What are the pillars of a healthy mind?

My podcast guest this week, Ajamu Ayinde, brought us into the field of emotions and mind as we deal with the COVID -19 virus. Ajamu uses transpersonal hypnotherapy to foster our imagination and inner resources. And for me, that is important. All the wise sages of our species acknowledge the simple yet profound wisdom that “We are an inside job”. Our inner awareness and development are more important in most ways than the attributes of our outside life. Which brings us to mindfulness practices.

Richard J. Davidson, professor of Psychiatry and Psychology at the University of Wisconsin and founder and chair for the Center for Healthy Minds, makes a compelling case for how our current challenges impact us. Statistics prove we are distracted, lonely, depressed and some of us are experiencing a loss of meaning.

He describes four pillars of health that can assist us in resetting our inner programs of loneliness, depression, distractibility, and loss of meaning or purpose.

In brief:

  1. Awareness; being aware of our mind’s thoughts at the moment is necessary for real transformation to occur.
  2. Connection: not just about having lunch with a friend or receiving a hug but showing kindness and patience, lending a hand, all contribute to our connectivity.
  3. Insight: listening to our inner narrative towards relationships. What do we sound like to ourselves? If we find we are negative, which can weaken our biology, can we find a way to turn them around, manage them differently?
  4. Purpose: when we wake up excited our biology responds in so many positive ways. When we laugh and engage in what truly matters to us we soar.

COVID-19 has turned some of our worlds upside down. Dr. Davidson suggests that three minutes of a day of quiet, focusing on the breath, maybe a prayer can change the way we respond to distractions, disruptions, and fosters a healthier mind.

I hope you enjoy his discussion as much as I did. The Host offers good reminders for today’s world as we still face uncertainty through this COVID-19 pandemic.
Do you have any mindful tips you find helpful? We’d like to hear from you. All comments are appreciated. Thanks again and enjoy. Judith

 

Podcast: Holistic Nature of Us: Meet Ajamu Ayinde: What’s on your Mind?

Description: COVID – 19 has disrupted our lives in so many positive and not so good ways. We’re quieter, not so busy, but many of us are separated from extended family and friends. How is that going? How does it feel to be limited or prevented from seeing family and friends in the way we considered normal? So much of normal is being redefined. Add to the mix the uncertainty we face with news reports, facts, and data that bombards us daily.

Our mental health is an important part of our wellbeing. I invited Ajamu Ayinde back to chat with him about what he is seeing in his clients at this time and what tips he can offer us. Mental health, mental stamina is needed as we all support and help each other, today. Join us for a thoughtful discussion.

About My Guest: Ajamu (Ah-ja-moo)  James Ayinde (Eye-in-day)
Ajamu is a Certified Medical Hypnotherapist and Transpersonal Hypnotherapy Trainer.  He graduated from Trinity College in Hartford with a BA in Asian Studies, emphasizing multicultural education and Performing Arts. His MA is in Motivational Psychology, emphasizing sports performance.  Certified in Clinical Hypnosis since 1995, Ajamu specializes in hypnotic childbirth preparation, pediatric hypnosis, and cancer support. He was honored as Therapist of the Year by the International Association of Counselors and Therapists in 2004 and he received further honors from the National Association of Transpersonal Therapists in 2012 and in 2017 for his work with athletes and pregnant couples, respectively.  He sees clients in Carmel, NY, and worldwide via Skype.

Transcript: Ajamu Ayinde 

 

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