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Spring Clean YOUR Kitchen

Equipping the laboratory of life with the right cooking equipment.

Doing a thorough spring cleaning is smart “medicine” for all aspects of your life.

As my 106 year old mentor, Dr. Hazel Parcells, used to say, “When you select the pots and pans or the equipment that you are going to use to perform the most important task of your daily regime—what you do and how you do it represents life or death, success or failure.”

So, here’s the skinny on what works and what doesn’t in your kitchen.

Avoid Aluminum

You can aluminum-proof your kitchen by getting rid of any aluminum cookware you still have hanging around the house and use only stainless steel or glass to prepare your food. Check all steamers, measuring cups, bread pans, and cookie sheets, and make sure you replace them with items made from Pyrex, stainless steel, or dairy tin. I also recommend replacing any baking powders with aluminum to reduce your overall exposure to aluminum buildup.

Keep in mind that aluminum tends to accumulate in your organs (brain, especially and intestinal tract), muscles, and tissues, with a host of toxic results. Accumulation can impact magnesium absorption and chelates pepsin from the stomach.

Dr. Parcells once said “I’d rather have the most poisonous snake in my kitchen, than an aluminum pot or pan.” She taught me that in the 1930s there were even Senate hearings on the side effects of aluminum. The classic book “Why Humanity Suffers” that Dr. Parcells recommended is still in my library and documents all the insidious health hazards of aluminum that have been forgotten.

In addition to avoiding all things aluminum, stay away from copper-lined pots and pans, too. Copper can be leached into foods and create overload leading to a variety to nervous ailments and thyroid issues. Also take care to avoid aluminum foil and plastics (saran-wrap type coverings) as much as possible, storing food in glass or ceramic containers.

Cook with Care

I personally recommend heavy stainless steel waterless cookware, which cooks foods in its own juices in a vacuum seal. Although it’s more expensive than regular stainless, the waterless type of pot or pan will help keep the vitamins and minerals in your food where they belong. Enamel-covered Le Creuset is also an excellent choice, as is CorningWare.

Any high gauge stainless steel will also do—as long as it is not copper lined.

For baking, rely on heavy-duty tin or black steel. Use only glass or stainless steel bowls, especially for food storage. And instead of aluminum foil for cooking and reheating, use parchment paper. Because paper-wrapped food cooks in its own juices, both nutrients and flavor remain within the food. You can buy it at most grocery stores.

Maneuver Away from the Microwave

Microwaves are a form of electromagnetic energy, like radio waves or light waves. Although they’re an exceedingly popular way to reheat or even cook food, I’ve never been comfortable with them.

Back in the 1970s researcher William Kopp examined research conducted by Soviet scientists into what was then a new technology. Kopp’s review of the Soviet research turned up some interesting—and shocking—facts about food cooked with microwaves, which included:

• Carcinogens that developed in some meats, milk, and cereal grains
• A rise in stomach and intestinal cancers among those who ate microwaved foods
• Dysfunctions in the digestive and lymphatic systems of those who ate microwaved foods
• The formation of free radicals
• A decline in the bioavailability of many nutrients
• Destabilized proteins

Moreover, Kopp found that all of the foods that the Soviets had studied were damaged in some way.

All of the “improvements” in the technology of microwaves can’t change the core of what a microwave does—and that’s submerge the food you’re putting in your body in waves of radiation. In our fast paced world, it’s easy to make excuses and use a microwave anyway for the sake of time.

However, not only does your health depend on you making a different choice, but it’s truly no more time or work to heat up leftovers on a stove. You’ll be surprised how easy it is and how much you don’t miss cleaning up food platters from the inside of your microwave.

Otherwise, you may be adding a dose or carcinogens to your diet every time you “nuke” a meal.

Parting Words

As Dr. Parcells would often remind me, and I am now passing along to all of you, “Your kitchen is the laboratory of life. You are the kitchen chemist. Be sure you know your business!”

Comments (8)

  • Kimberly May 3, 2016 - 5:39 pm Reply

    Does stainless steel cookware leach nickel?

  • Team ALG May 3, 2016 - 5:45 pm Reply

    Dear Kimberly: Yes – it can if it is not a high quality stainless steel.

  • Joyce May 3, 2016 - 9:14 pm Reply

    I didn’t see any mention of cast iron. I’ve taken my microwave out of my kitchen and have removed all of my Teflon cookware and have replaced it with cast iron.

    • Team ALG May 3, 2016 - 10:00 pm Reply

      Hi Joyce: ALG purposefully did not include cast iron – although it is a very good conductor of heat and cooks food very evenly. She decided to omit any mention of cast iron because of the increasing number of individuals who have “silent” or diagnosed hemochromatosis (iron overload). When cooking acidic foods in cast iron, iron is leached into the foods and so cast iron cookware is contraindicated.

  • kate May 3, 2016 - 9:15 pm Reply

    “For baking, rely on heavy-duty tin or black steel” How do distinguish aluminum pans from tin? and pardon my ignorance, but what is black steel? What about heavy iron fry pans, are they safe?

  • Team ALG May 3, 2016 - 10:03 pm Reply

    Kate: Thanks for your question. Heavy duty tin (known also as black steel) can easily be confused with aluminum, that’s true. You can use a magnet to detect the aluminum from the tin. Your magnet will not cling to the aluminum but it will cling to the tin. Regarding your second query re heavy iron, please refer to our answer above for Joyce. Thanks.

  • Joanie May 4, 2016 - 5:58 am Reply

    How does one know the quality of stainless steel when shopping?

  • Team ALG May 4, 2016 - 8:35 am Reply

    Joanie: Thank you for posting. You will want to avoid any aluminum or copper-clad stainless cookware. Also, note that a magnet (you can use a small kitchen magnet) will not cling to pure stainless but will cling when the steel contains nickel – a metal you will want to avoid.

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