The Non-Toxic Kitchen: Safe Cookware


474320931_Cathy_blog_052014There has been lots of awareness-raising lately about the safety of our food supply including the tools we use to cook and store our food. Many nutritionists, health care providers and scientists agree that reducing exposure to toxins whenever possible makes good sense.

The Environmental Working Group (EWG), an environmental health research and advocacy organization, suggests 3 types of cookware as your safest bets for clean, toxin-free cooking:

1) Stainless Steel
Stainless steel is considered a healthier alternative to non-stick cookware. And, chefs often prefer the performance of stainless steel over non-stick cookware. All Clad® is a well known premium brand with a reputation for great performance. Many less expensive lines make great options as well.

182657555_Cathy_blog_0520142) Cast Iron
Having been around for decades, cast iron is still considered one of the safest and most durable cookware options available. Cast iron performs beautifully and provides the health benefit of adding iron to your food. This cookware requires the unique step of “seasoning” to keep it performing properly, but, in spite of this extra maintenance, those who use it love it. You can still purchase cast iron cookware and it is now available pre-seasoned (though some say you still need to do additional seasoning). A leading manufacturer of cast iron cookware is Lodge®.

3) Enameled Cast Iron
Porcelain enamel covering cast iron makes this cookware beautiful, durable and safe. This cookware can be pricey so you could gradually build a collection by treating yourself to one piece at a time. Le Creuset® and Lodge® are two popular manufacturers of enameled cast iron cookware.

Glass Drinking Bottles

As more research is surfacing on the dangers of plastics like BPA and phthalates, another trend is emerging - glass drinking bottles. Being a fast paced person, I’ve steered clear of glass bottles in the past for obvious reasons. But, these new glass water bottles come with silicone covers to protect them from breakage which appeals to even the clumsiest of us. You can get them in a variety of styles and colors and all parts are dishwasher safe for easy cleaning. Here are a few popular options:

174902626_Cathy_blog_052014Stainless Steel Drinking Bottles

If you prefer not to use glass drinking bottles, another safe alternative is BPA-free stainless steel drinking bottles. Here are a few good options:

For more information on the safety of plastics, click here for EWG’s guide to plastics.

An Alternative to Pasta - More About Vegetable Noodles

If you haven’t invested in one of the new kitchen gadgets that turn vegetables into spirals or noodles, you might want to jump on this bandwagon. Vegetables have never tasted so good!

I tend to love kitchen gadgets (at least the dishwasher safe ones) because they add some interest to the usual boring chopping of meal prep. AND, they intrigue my family members so they are willing to use them!! Help in the kitchen?.....Sweet!

I was playing around with my new Paderno World Cuisine Spiralizer first introduced to me in Kelly’s Chews Strategically "Zoodles" post and decided to make zucchini noodles. I was so enamored with these beautiful "zoodles." What else could I do with them in addition to putting them under my pasta sauce? Here is what I came up with....

This is a perfect low carb breakfast that is packed with protein and a full serving of vegetables. We also eat this for dinner at my house.

Zoodles Breakfast Casserole
Makes 4 Servings



4 medium zucchini squash
4 large eggs
¾ Tbsp coconut oil
¾ Tbsp ghee (clarified butter)
½ tsp sea salt
¼ tsp black pepper
⅛ tsp nutmeg
2 Tbsp Panko bread crumbs, optional (Gluten Free Panko crumbs available here)



-Spiralize the 4 zucchini squash into zucchini noodles.







-Spray a medium sized glass casserole dish with vegetable cooking spray. Melt the coconut oil and ghee in the casserole dish.



-In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs with the salt, pepper and nutmeg until blended.


-Add the egg mixture to the casserole dish and blend with the oil and ghee.






-Add the zucchini noodles to the dish and toss gently using tongs until the "zoodles" are well coated and incorporated with the eggs.







-If you like a little crunch with minimal carbs (2 gm per ½ Tbsp) sprinkle 2 Tbsp of Panko crumbs evenly on the top.



-Bake in 400º pre-heated oven for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown.





Nutrition Information per Serving (with Panko crumbs): Calories: 167, Protein: 9gm, Carbs: 8.5gm, Fiber: 2gm, Total Fat: 11gm, Saturated Fat: 5.5gm, Cholesterol: 191mg, Sodium: 369mg; (without crumbs- Calories: 158, Carbs: 7gm)

If you don’t like eggs and prefer to have your zoodles as a side dish for dinner, here is a quick variation of this same recipe sans the eggs plus a little more fat.

Zoodle Bake
Makes 4 Servings



4 zucchini squash - spiralized
1 Tbsp coconut oil
1 Tbsp ghee (clarified butter)
½ tsp sea salt
¼ tsp black pepper
2 Tbsp Panko bread crumbs, optional (Gluten Free Panko crumbs available here)


-Spray a glass casserole dish with vegetable cooking spray. Melt coconut oil and ghee in the casserole dish.

-Add the zucchini noodles, salt and pepper. Toss gently with tongs to coat with the oils.

-Sprinkle Panko crumbs evenly over the top if desired.

-Bake in 400º pre-heated oven for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.


Nutrition Information per Serving (with Panko crumbs): Calories: 104, Carbs: 8gm, Fiber: 2gm, Total Fat: 7gm, Saturated Fat: 5gm, Cholesterol: 5.5mg, Sodium: 310mg; (without crumbs- Calories: 95, Carbs: 6gm)

Note: You can add more herbs and spices to either of these recipes as desired and add garlic, onion and peppers for additional flavor. I was just going for super quick and delicious here!

 For a printer-friendly version of these recipes, click here.

For a printer-friendy version of this blog post, click here.


About Author

Cathy Greer Mazanec, MPH, RDN, LDN

Cathy is the Senior Manager of Nutrition and Healthy Living Programs at SAS Institute Inc in Cary, NC. She is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, functional medicine nutritionist, blogger and food photographer. Cathy's specialties include integrative and functional nutrition, gut health, food allergies and intolerances and culinary nutrition. She is also a Certified Biofeedback instructor. An avid lover of the outdoors, Cathy spends her free time biking, golfing, kayaking, paddleboarding, sitting under the stars and spending time with her grandson. Follow @CmazanecRD on Twitter.

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