You may have gone through your refrigerator and pantry to remove unhealthy foods, but have you considered the hidden toxins in regularly used cooking utensils and equipment in the kitchen? Whether you are a dedicated minimalist or just looking to streamline your kitchen routine, check out this list of 10 things that don’t belong in a healthy kitchen.
This extended time at home has many of us cleaning out cabinets and paring down our possessions, and it’s wonderful that so many are donating this excess good kitchenware to those in need. So what is it a healthy kitchen can do without? Do we need appliances and cookware dedicated to cooking one thing, like rice cookers and donut pans? And is everything we have on-hand the healthiest version available?
What your grandmother cooked with and passed down to you might have been the best money could buy during her time, but it may have little more than sentimental value considering what we’ve learned and innovated since then. As we get back into the swing of our busy lifestyles, we are all looking to work smarter and not harder, and there are timesaving appliances that preserve the nutrients and texture of your favorite nutritious foods that you have yet to discover!
In my Radical Metabolism book, I go into detail about how to detox your kitchen to reduce the toxic load on your metabolism. If you are looking to level up your health and lose weight in the process, this book is a must-have for you.
10 Ways to Detox Your Kitchen
Ditch the Nonstick
Teflon coated nonstick pans are an absolute no-no in a nontoxic kitchen. Teflon is the DuPont brand name polytetrafluorethylene, which not only contains a toxic form of fluoride but also a carcinogenic chemical called PFOA. It only takes 2 minutes of heating a Teflon coated pan for these toxic chemical gases to start releasing from the surface.
Eliminate the Aluminum
Aluminum is everywhere in the kitchen, from pots and pans to foil and bakeware. Any lightweight metal kitchenware handed down from your relatives or found in a garage sale is most likely made from aluminum, and while aluminum foil (also called tin foil) may be handy, it isn’t doing your health any favors. Aluminum can accumulate in your kidneys, brain, and gastrointestinal tract, where it irritates mucus membranes, destroys the digestive enzyme pepsin, and interferes with absorption of calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and vitamin A. It’s toxic accumulation in the brain is linked to neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s Dementia, and should be eliminated completely from the kitchen.
Start by replacing your aluminum foil with parchment paper and unbleached paper products like muffin tin liners. Make sure your baking powder is aluminum-free, and upgrade your cookware to high grade, nickel-free stainless steel and lead-free enamel coated cast iron. Bakeware can be made from lead-free glass, clay, or stainless steel.
Look for Lead
Corelle dishes made the news again recently for even the simple designs made before 2005 testing positive for lead. They are now recommending all pieces that fit this description to be used for decoration only, and not for food. If you are going to use Corelle dishware I recommend only using plain white. Other good options are lead-free glass and ceramic.
Lead can also be present in any glass, ceramic or clay vessels in your kitchen. Make sure they are tested to be lead-free. And I have one other caution with lead. Many people buy used cast iron cookware from yard sales, but it’s vitally important to test these for lead. Bullet and cast makers use these to cast their lead and there may be high levels of lead residue on these pans that wouldn’t normally be there. Lead test sticks are inexpensive and readily available in hardware stores and online and I highly recommend using them on any cookware you are suspicious of.
Keep the Copper Out
Copper is being touted as the new healthy vessel for cooking and drinking from, but I strongly caution against it. My classic book, Why Am I Always So Tired?, went in detail about the dangers of copper overload, and to put it simply, the copper used to make cups and cookware is biounavailable, so your body will store it in your tissues and be unable to use it. To make matters worse, copper pan linings usually contain nickel, which is a highly allergenic metal that should also be avoided. Brass containers also usually have copper and should not be used either.
Get Rid of the Microwave
I realize many of you cringe at the thought of doing without this convenient appliance, but it is a must. Even the World Health Organization cautions against the use of microwaves because of issues with uneven cooking allowing dangerous microbes to remain in the food. But beyond this, my concern is with the radiation and what it does both to you and to the quality of your foods – and yes, even your water.
If you research this issue, it doesn’t take long to see that experts and studies don’t agree. Microwave proponents claim food cooked in them is just as healthy as any other method of cooking. The reason they say is because they look simply at nutrient content. But when some researchers dug further, what they found is that the proteins present in the foods change their shape so the body can’t use them. Similarly, antioxidants are rendered useless and vitamin levels plummet.
As if all of this wasn’t enough, microwave cooking also leaches chemicals from the containers you use into the food. This is a primary source of xenoestrogens, the chemicals in plastics wreak havoc on our hormones. The older your microwave is, the more radiation leaks out from around the seals and through the glass, which ultimately affects you and your health just standing next to it.
Pare Down the Plastics
All plastics have the potential to leach chemicals into our foods to varying degrees – including the bags you put your produce in. A 2011 study published in Environmental Health Perspectives found that even thin plastic wraps and plastics with the BPA-free label leached xenoestrogens into the food inside. Instead of plastic containers and bags, switch to glass. I like wide mouth mason jars with lids for food storage and freezing, and the glass bowls with lids for taking food on the go.
Upgrade your Water Filter
Clean water from the tap is just about extinct. It has been found to contain any number of contaminants, including lead, copper, aluminum, fluoride, mold, parasites, bacteria, pesticides, fire retardants, rocket fuel, medications, and many other toxic substances. It takes more than a simple carbon filter that makes your water taste good to truly filter out all of the toxins coming your way, so if you’re using a faucet mount filter or pitcher, it’s time for an upgrade.
If your kitchen has multiple water sources like a faucet above the stove, or water and ice from the refrigerator, then a whole house multistage filtration system is going to be the easiest and best choice for you. If you rent or need a more budget-friendly option, then a countertop filtration system that’s easy to install or remove may be your best option. Either way, I’d consult the experts at CWR. They’ll provide a free consultation and recommend the water filtration system you need, based on either your municipal water report or a water test from your well. Mention code ALG for a discount.
Streamline Your Space with Multifunction Appliances
Home cooking is so much easier and fun with nifty gadgets to use to make prep time and cooking go faster. But I can’t tell you how many I’ve collected over the years that just sit in the drawer or on the counter after the newness wears off. I can tell you which ones stand the test of time, however.
At the top of my list is my VitaClay Cooker. It replaced my rice cooker, slow cooker, roaster, steamer and even pressure cooker. The meat is tender, the vegetables are crisp, and the flavors are brighter than I’ve gotten with these other methods, but it still has the same convenience.
Other kitchen must-have appliances are my blender that also has a food processor attachment, coffee/seed/herb grinder, juicer (though a high-powered blender could suffice), and immersion blender. I have very little use for appliances like a rice cooker (I have my VitaClay), grilled sandwich maker, bread maker, egg scrambler, and many other single-use machines that just take up space and tempt me to eat foods that don’t promote health in my body.
Sort Through Your Spices
You would be amazed at what ingredients are added into common spice mixes. You can find sugar in your garlic salt and casein from dairy in your taco seasoning mix, along with a variety of preservatives and anti-caking agents. On top of that, many imported spices and herbs are irradiated, which inactivates their healing properties. Make sure you read the labels and choose organic, non-irradiated brands to keep in your cupboard.
Throw Out Artificial “Fresheners” and Clean House on Chemical Cleansers
It’s no secret that the kitchen can be one of the biggest sources of unpleasant odors in the home. But aerosol air fresheners, wax melts, and plug in deodorizers with artificial scents and strong chemicals are not the way to go. Scent receptors are a direct highway to your brain, so toxic scent products are among some of the most dangerous offenders.
I keep a small, discreet HEPA air purifier running near my kitchen 24/7. It not only filters common allergens that come in through open windows but also neutralizes odors. When I want a pleasant scent to greet guests, I use an essential oil diffuser and diffuse only those oils I know are safe for sensitive individuals.
Strong chemical cleansers and disinfectants are easily replaced with vinegar, baking soda, and hydrogen peroxide. Instead of throwing out your citrus peels, use them to make a citrus infused vinegar with even more cleaning power. And instead of harsh, ammonia-based disinfectants, use hydrogen peroxide on counters and hard to reach areas, to kill mold and other harmful microbes. It breaks down into harmless water and hydrogen.
Do you need to detox your kitchen? Which of these suggestions will you start with?