The toxins in our modern world can affect our health more than we realize. Often we can feel sick and “blah” without ever knowing why. Our blood tests may show up clean, our vital signs are just fine--yet we drag through the day knowing we’re not living our best lives.
One of the first places I point my clients to when they come to me in this state is their kitchen--and I’m not even talking about food, although that’s important, too. I’m talking about the tools we use in our kitchen. Here are five items to toss for a healthier kitchen, and ideas for what to replace them with.
1. Toss: Plastic Storage
BPA is an ingredient used to make plastic. It’s a type of xenoestrogen, which is a chemical that mimics excess estrogen in the body. The Center for Disease Control found BPA in nearly half of the sample U.S. population they studied in 2004. Small amounts of BPA enter our bodies from the plastic containers we use to store food. Switch to glass, which is non-reactive - meaning it doesn’t leak chemicals when heated. Pyrex is a great brand because it’s also oven safe (straight from fridge to oven? Yessss, please). If your budget won’t allow you to run out and go nuts with all new Pyrex, Mason jars are an inexpensive alternative and can be found even cheaper at the hardware store. You’ll not only increase your health but your hipster street cred.
2. Toss: Plastic Cooking Utensils
How many times have you leaned over your gorgeous pot of chicken soup and stirred it, only to feel your plastic ladle turn all floppy and bendy when you pull it out? That means there’s plastic in your food. Have a plastic spatula with the corners melted off? You ate plastic. Toss all plastic utensils and replace with non-reactive and sturdy materials. Wood and bamboo are safe and gorgeous options. Stainless steel is also non-reactive, but be careful to avoid scratching your pots and pans with it. Silicone is safe up to 450 degrees Fahrenheit (232 degrees Celsius).
3. Toss: Plastic baggies
Your delicious hummus and heirloom tomato sandwich on hearty bread deserves more than a chemical-laden plastic bag for an outfit. Toss the Ziplock and wrap lunches and healthy treats in parchment paper or an all natural beeswax wrap. Parchment paper is easy to find and inexpensive. Beeswax wraps are a bit of an investment but are reusable and a fantastic kitchen staple. If used often, they pay for themselves and create far less waste—and you’ll never have to buy plastic bags again. One thing less on the Costco list. Boom. The occasional use of plastic bags is unavoidable for most, but try to wrap the food in parchment paper first to avoid the plastic touching your food if you need to use them.
4. Toss: Nonstick Teflon Skillet
Teflon (the leading brand of non stick kitchenware) has phased out manufacturing PFC—a chemical that may be cancer-causing. But it’s still in a lot of old cookware in kitchens all over the U.S. And the new varieties of nonstick may not be any better. The nonstick chemicals break down at high heat and get into our food. Cast iron is a wonderful alternative. You’ll need to “season” it by cooking fat in it several times to create a natural nonstick coating. You can do this with coconut oil, ghee, or avocado oil. And instead of toxic chemicals entering your food, you know what seeps into your food when you cook with cast iron? You got it - IRON. This is great news for us women who are chronically low on iron. For an extra iron boost, use your cast iron skillet to cook something acidic, like garden-fresh tomatoes.
5. Toss: Nonstick Pots and Pans
Get rid of all the nonstick pots and pans as well and replace with ceramic or stainless steel. Once you get used to cooking with ceramic and stainless steel, you’ll never want to go back to nonstick. You’ll notice your food cooks more evenly and thoroughly than its nonstick rivals. And the other cool thing is they won’t leach shady chemicals into your food. Win, win.
Bottom Line: Think about what you cook and store your food in, because it does make an impact on your health--not to mention the environment. I challenge you to toss these five items in your kitchen and see if you notice a difference. And trust me, you won’t even miss those melted spatulas.