Class #3 – The Detoxed Kitchen
In this class we will be discussing the physical part of detoxing your kitchen. There are
three areas that I want to focus on that I find are “emergency” areas when it comes to
getting harmful chemicals and surfaces out of the kitchen. They are pots and pans,
storage containers, and cleaning products. In the video you will find a discussion about
just pots and pan and storage containers. Then below that there is a quick bonus video
with an interview that I did with my DIY cleaning product guru Dana from
WholeHealthDana.com. Let’s get started!
1. Is Your Cookware Killing You?
The good news is probably not. There have been some scares over the years about
non-stick surfaces like Teflon. Honestly, I find that a lot of hype surrounds these kinds of
claims. There are only two times I would suggest that you run out and get new
cookware and that is if you have damaged non-stick surfaces or are cooking in uncoated
aluminum. These surfaces can release harmful chemicals that you probably need to
Your cookware is a kitchen tool that is an investment! It is important to treat cookware
as an investment as well. In class #7, Your Kitchen Assets, we will talk about when it is
time for an upgrade and even talk about how to make that happen on a budget. For this
class I want to talk about different cookware surfaces, their toxicity and what you can
expect when you cook on specific types. The following list is organized from most toxic
to least toxic.
Aluminum – If you have non-coated, raw aluminum cookware you should consider
recycling it. Aluminum is linked to Alzheimer’s and early dementia in humans. Here is
the real trouble, when you cook at high heats or use acidic foods like tomatoes it causes
the aluminum to breakdown and leech into your food. It is a small percentage and using
an aluminum pan a few times does not mean you are doomed. The trouble is long term
exposure. Research shows a commonality specifically in Alzheimer cases of greater
amounts of aluminum deposits in the brain. Your exposure to the metal is from a lot of
places, not just your cookware, however I believe that decreased exposure is key.
Aluminum is one type of cookware that, even when undamaged, I would tell you to ditch.
Teflon Non-Stick – Really, who doesn’t love a Teflon skillet for cooking eggs? They are
great and make clean up a snap. Right? In the 1960’s non-stick Teflon cookware
became popular. By the 1980’s Teflon was the king of cookware until it was suggested
that ingesting flaked Teflon could be dangerous to your health. It is still a very popular
cooking surface today. The fact is Teflon is inert in the body, meaning it causes no
harm. So ingesting it is gross but not harmful. Shock, right? However that does not
make non-stick Teflon surfaces completely safe. The trouble is when damage occurs.When you have a non-stick surface that is damaged with scratches, wear or chips you
are exposing yourself to the binding agent that is used to make the cookware surface
non-stick. If you read the “care” instructions that come with your non-stick cookware, it
will tell you to dispose of damaged cookware. So for this reason Teflon non-stick should
not be used with sharp or metal utensils and should never be put into the dishwasher.
Also, they should never be used on high heats. This can release a toxic gas that is
unsafe for living things. One last rule, they are not oven safe! It will cause the surface to
bubble and peel. You should dispose of your Teflon cookware if it has any damage at
all. On the other hand, if you are a good steward of the Teflon non-stick cookware then I
would dare to say it is safe to use. No high heats, no scratches, no peeling and you will
Not So Toxic:
Stainless Steel – Are you surprised to see this on the NOT SO TOXIC List? The minor
concern is that not all stainless steel is created equal. Some brands have large amount
of other alloys such as nickel and chrome. The concern is once again for acidic foods
and high heat cooking. If the metal alloys leech into the food it can cause a toxic
exposure. I think leeching is a valid concern but the risk is minimal. The less expensive
the cookware the more of these alloys will be present. For most of us, stainless is by far
the best option for cooking. Although it’s not non-stick, it heats evenly. It is oven and
dishwasher safe typically and is in a price range that most can afford. I would
recommend these for just about any type of cook and especially one that wants to put
cookware in a dishwasher.
Anodized Aluminum – So these are a combination of aluminum and non-stick. These are
very versatile and suitable for most cooking styles. I have had a version of these and
they lasted me many years with heavy use. So they make the “Not So Toxic” list
because although they are made of aluminum there is no exposure to it on the cooking
surface. It is hardened aluminum and the non-stick coating is the cooking surface.
There are brands that are so durable that you can use metal utensils in them, use them
in the oven and they are dishwasher safe. A far cry from traditional non-stick where
versatility is concerned. Great for all kinds of cooks and really awesome for clean-up. If
your anodized aluminum cookware does get scratched, bubbled or chipped, I would
recommend replacing them.
Cast Iron – Let’s get one myth out of the way, you cannot get iron in your body from
eating food made in cast iron. Done! TV cooking shows have popularized cast iron and
for good reason. It is the superior cookware. An enamel coated cast iron cooking
surface is my very favorite. It always performs just like I want it to. The catch is your
stoves cooking surface. Cast iron works great if you are cooking with gas, but if you are
cooking with a glass topped electric stove I would think twice. First, let’s talk about how
safe it is. If you are cooking with enameled cast iron it is perfectly safe, nothing to talk
about. If you are cooking in uncoated raw cast iron there is some very minor concern
about the porous surface and oils going rancid inside those crannies. The real
drawbacks of cast iron cookware come from the cost, weight, no dishwasher use and the
type of cooking surface you are working on is key; I say gas only. Not toxic to your bodybut can be very toxic to your checkbook!
Enamel – A super safe option is enamel cookware. Basically you are cooking on
hardened glass. Nothing to leech into your food. It is practically indestructible and can
go from stove, to oven, to freezer, to table, to dishwasher and look perfect through it all.
Completely non-toxic and cooks evenly like a dream on all surfaces. Drawback is the
weight and the price. It is heavy, I won’t lie. It can be a challenge moving a full skillet
from the stove top to the oven. The price is expensive but they are said to be 30-50 year
cookware pieces. You may never have to buy another set in your adult life! Definitely a
kitchen asset! I currently cook with enamel and I love it! Not one complaint.
Glass – Completely non-toxic. Good for glass top ranges and other electric surfaces.
Not for the new cook though. It takes some getting used to learning to cook in glass
cookware. Huge drawback is breakage. You have to use great care when cooking on
your stovetop with glass cookware. Although non- toxic, it’s not a surface I would
recommend for most people.
Stone – Also non-toxic, I love stoneware for oven cooking. I prefer it to most other
surfaces in the oven. It cooks evenly and heats so quickly. Stoneware is also great for
serving on the table. It’s attractive and practical. The trouble comes with clean up. It
can be a bugger to clean and soaking is really not a great option. I use parchment when
I cook in stoneware and that helps with cleaning.
Ceramic – If you are buying ceramic cookware it is safe if it is made in the US or Europe.
Made elsewhere it could contain lead in the coating on the cooking surface and that
would be unsafe. Ceramic is easy to cook in and is generally regarded as safe. I
struggle with the weight and the fact that it is easily broken, chipped or scratched. Some
ceramic can be pricey. It easily goes from all cooking surfaces to oven and dishwasher.
Not a bad option, but for a cook that is using it every day you might see it wear a little too
Bottom line is to buy the cookware you can afford and will use. If you hate that stainless
is not non-stick then stay away from it. If you love beautiful cast iron but have a glass
top stove opt for something that is better suited to your cooking surface and cooking
style. Maybe a mix and match is best for you? No one says your cookware has to
match, thank goodness because mine doesn’t! I have cast iron, enamel, non-stick,
glass, and stone. The work sheet in this section will help you determine what is best for
the type of cooking you do.
2. Food Storage 101
We live in the age of plastic. If you started to make a list of all the things in your house
that have plastic in it you would be shocked. In fact, now that I just said this you will be
aware of it and be shocked! In the 1960’s Ziplock bags started refining the way we store
food. Before that most food storage was in glass and metal. Even the prepackaged
foods came in cardboard, glass or metal. Now almost every prepackaged food comes in
plastic. It is really remarkable when you consider it. So if you are using plastics for food
storage I want you to follow these few rules. They are designed to help keep toxic
exposure to a minimum.
- Never microwave your food in plastic containers. The pores of the plastic open and
it leeches toxic chemicals into your food.
- Never place hot food in plastic before refrigerating it. Same reason as microwaving
- Try to minimize freezer storage in plastic containers. Extreme temperatures like cold
cause the plastic to degrade and when unfrozen cause toxins to leach into food.
- Never wash your plastic in the high heat of your dishwasher. This also degrades the
plastic and can cause it to release toxins.
- Do not mix, blend or whip anything in plastic containers. This can cause the
ingestion of microscopic pieces of plastic that can cause harm in the digestive track.
Now if you just read all that and are a little freaked out by plastics and want a change, I
understand. There are dangerous chemicals in plastic and BPA (Bisphenol A) is just
one of many. When you see things that say BPA free you must understand that you are
trading one toxin for another. Plastic chemicals cause harm to your body’s glandular
system, otherwise known as the endocrine system. These are the parts of the body that
are responsible for producing our hormones. Chemical exposure over time can disrupt
our endocrine system and cause many things; sexual dysfunction, hair loss, loss of
sleep, impaired growth functions, tissue development issues, mood disorders and
reproduction problems, especially in children and adolescents.
The great news is this is an easy switch to make. Honestly, we just went from all plastic
storage to glass about 3 months ago and I love it. Glass is so much easier to clean,
won’t stain and I can heat foods right in the bowl, eat from it and then stick it right into
the dishwasher. All this in addition to the fact that I am avoiding toxins! Here are some
of my best tips for food storage and creating a non-toxic environment.
- Mason Jars – Mason jars come in all sizes. There are only a few lid sizes so storage is
easy. They look amazing in the fridge and pantry. They are fairly inexpensive and can
be used over and over again. Hands down my favorite way to store pantry staples,
refrigerated liquids, small fruit, veggies and nuts. Safe and non-toxic to the max!
- Ceramic – Some kitchen specialty stores carry amazingly cute ceramic bowls with lids.
I use these for going from the fridge to the table. They look great and you only have
one bowl to clean. You can reheat in the microwave without the potential toxic
exposure from the vessel. Two drawbacks. You can’t see what is in them so you may
forget about the food inside. They also chip easily. Great non-toxic choice if you love
style and fun in the kitchen.
- Glass – Most practical and cheapest way to store food. You can buy whole sets of
these with plastic lids in one box. The plastic lid is not ideal but the most practical and
makes a good seal for food storage needs. I would recommend not microwaving the
plastic lids on the bowl of food. I also try to not stuff my bowls too full to prevent my
food from touching the plastic lid. Glass is non-toxic, safe for reheating and easy to
- Metal – There are some super cool metal food containers out there. I want to transition
my freezer containers to metal. Most are stainless and have metal locking lids. Threecheers for metal in the freezer! The huge drawback is reheating. You can’t put metal
containers in the microwave. Stainless would be non-toxic, but I would stay away from
- Paper – This is specific to lunches that you would normally carry in a plastic bag. I
recommend wrapping your food in parchment paper or even a paper towel and then
place it in the plastic bag. You can do the same for items that you are going to freeze.
Obviously liquids and soft food may not hold up well with this idea. But certainly an
easy step to lessen the toxic load in your body.
Here is the deal, if you are storing in plastics follow the rules stated above and you will
make plastics much safer for your body. When you can, slowly transition to glass, metal
or ceramic by buying one piece at a time. Remember to recycle your plastics!
3. Under the Kitchen Sink – DIY Cleaning Products
Honestly, this is something that I struggle with still. I am slowly making changes to my
habits in cleaning and using non-toxic cleaning products. Some I make and some I buy
at my local grocery store (who is now offering great alternatives of chemical free
cleaning products). Because I am on this journey still myself, I have brought in a DIY
cleaning product expert to help us. Watch the interview video as I talk with Dana from
WholeHealthDana.com about how to truly DETOX under the kitchen sink.
There is a great eBook attached with this class for DIY Kitchen Cleaning products. I fully
trust and support Dana’s work! However I am in no way advocating one specific
Essential Oils (EO’s) company. There are many choices for quality oils and when using
them for cleaning you don’t have to buy the most pure grades. I fully agree with the
ideas that EO’s are great for cleaning in a non-toxic manner. Dana really makes it easy
for us all to understand and implement!
Here you will find a guide to help you implement the “emergency” changes that you may
need to make. You will see that we have our Road Block here as well. Pace yourself,
too much to fast can lead to frustrations and we are working to eliminate those!