The All Natural Kitchen

Below are just a few things I have learned on the GFCF boards about what is safest to use in the kitchen.  I had no idea about any of these things before.  It can be expensive to replace a lot of your kitchen ware.  I didn’t do it all at once.  I asked for different things for Christmas and birthdays and when some of my things needed to be replaced, I replaced it with the good stuff.  Some things I did throw away immediately.  But here are a few things off the top of my head.

1.  Use stainless steel saucepans and cookware.  There are even better options out there, but personally, I think this is the most economical.  If you have a lot of money to spend, visit Dr. Mercola’s web site.  He talks extensively about cookware, but even he says stainless steel is a decent option.  Most cookware leaches chemicals into the food such as lead.  Stainless steel leaches only a very small amount and won’t break the bank.  If you have cookware that uses Teflon – throw it away.  Even the government has fined the makers of Teflon, but for some reason, they’re still for sale.  If you’re not sure if you have Teflon or not, look at your saucepans.  Can you see scratches where part of the coating has come off?  Throw it away.  Those particles have come off and gone right into your food.  That grosses me out.  If a bird flies over a pan that is made of Teflon that is cooking something at high temperatures, the bird will die from the chemicals being emitted into the air.  I know, how many times do you have a bird flying through your kitchen?  But, that doesn’t sound very safe for the people in your house either.  The only thing I have kept that is likely Teflon-like material is my pancake griddle.  I can’t find one that isn’t coated and I can’t get my GF pancakes to cook right in a stainless steel pan.  They stick like crazy.  I’ve also gotten stainless steel cupcake pans and cooking pans for chicken nuggets, etc.  I found these at Whole Foods.  They still get that build up of black grease stuff, so I replace my pans at least once a year.

2.  Parchment Paper – In addition to using stainless steel pans, I also use all natural, unbleached parchment paper to line my baking pans for chicken patties, fries, french toast sticks, etc.  I buy 365 brand from Whole Foods.  Sometimes Woodman’s has unbleached parchment paper too.   If you have non-stainless steel pans, using parchment paper is a little bit better.  Even my stainless steel pans still get those black grease stains on them that are hard to get off, so using parchment paper prevents that black stuff from getting on the food.    

3.  Anchor Hocking glassware.  This brand can be found easily at Target or Wal-Mart.  Many forms of glassware contain lead, but Anchor Hocking does not (or contains a very minute amount).  I have their loaf pans, 8×8 and 9×13 baking dishes for casseroles, etc.

4.  Use Hamilton Beach brand crock pots.  Many crock pots contain lead in the ceramic coating used on the inside of the crock pots.  There is a web site that tested all the major brands and tells you how much lead is leached into the foods when the crock pot is heated up.  Hamilton Beach is the only brand that tested at zero, or close to zero.  I replaced mine because I use my crock pot a lot and it was only about $49 or so from Wal-Mart or Target for a six-quart size.  The manufacturers got away with using lead because the crock pots pass federal testing for lead, but only when the crock pots are not turned on.  Once you heat up the crock pot, the lead is released, and right into your food.  Yuck. 

5.  Minimize your use of the microwave.  There is a ton of info out there on the dangers of microwaves.  I’m sure it is all true, but I still have a microwave in my house and use it on occasion, but I try to use my toaster oven as much as possible.  It takes a little bit longer to heat stuff up, but I think it’s worth it.  Microwaving changes the make up of the food that’s being nuked.  If you microwave meat to thaw it out, you have just eliminated all of the B vitamins you would have gotten from the meat.   Same with chicken.  I never microwave my meat or chicken any more.  I have to remember to take it out the night before or I run to the store and pick up fresh meat.  Microwaves also emit radiation into your home, whether they are in use or not.  Obviously more radiation is emitted when they are being used.  Definitely don’t microwave baby food or baby formula or breast milk.  You are killing the vitamins in their food and changing the make up of the food itself.  We still don’t even know the effects of eating microwaved food.  Heat soups and baby food on the stove in a saucepan or put it in the toaster oven.  Heat baby bottles by placing the bottle in a pan of hot water, or sometimes I just ran it under the sink with hot water.  We got a hot air popper to make popcorn and use organic popcorn kernels.  The kids love it.  Heat up the butter in the toaster oven of course, and always use glass or ceramic type containers/bowls to heat things up in the microwave or toaster oven.  Never heat up plastic, even in the microwave.  I used to do this and it’s terrible.  There are tons of bad chemicals used in plastic, and when you heat plastic, those get released even more, and right into your food.  I mainly use my microwave for microwavable meals, which I know is bad, but hey, I’m not perfect.  🙂  I still like the convenience of having a meal in 5 minutes when needed and Amy’s and Ian’s happen to make some good ones unfortunately. 

6.  Lead-free dinnerware.  Mikasa makes two lines of lead free dinnerware.  I have the Italian Countryside.  I believe the other is French Countryside or something similar.  The one I have is just a basic off white with some floral imprints along the rim.  I got mine at Carson’s on sale with a coupon and paid about $179 for a set of 8 with some serving dishes.  Most other dinnerware contain lead.  I needed new dishes and my birthday was coming up.  So guess what I got? These are more fragile though.  I had other people over doing my dishes when I had surgery and found 3 chips in my dinnerware!  I was not happy.  I’ve never chipped them though.  You just have to be a little more careful when putting the dishes away and not just throw them in the cabinets. 

7.  Be careful what plastics you use.  Avoid them entirely if you can and use glass instead, but sometimes it’s unavoidable.  If you do use and buy plastic (like tupperware for example), stick with numbers 2, 4, and 5.  There is usually a little triangle on the bottom of plastic that tells you what number plastic was used to make the item.  2, 4, and 5 don’t leach a large amount of chemicals into your food, but you should still avoid heating anything in plastic, no matter what number they are made with.  Number 1 plastics are OK for one time use, but should not be reused.  This is usually what water bottles are made of.  Avoid plastic with numbers 3, 6, and 7.  I threw mine away.  Some of these included some Gerber sippy cups.  Nice.  3, 6, and 7 plastics have known cancer causing agents in them.  This finally leaked into mainstream media, and now you will see baby cups and bottles marked “No BPA.”  This is one of the bad chemicals they used to use in baby bottles and cups all the time.  When you heat them up, they release even more harmful chemicals.  Even if you don’t put them in the microwave, they are going through the dishwasher at high temp’s all the time.  This is why a few years ago, when my son was a baby, I used glass baby bottles.  You can find them at Babies R Us or online.  Yes, a few broke, but when they are little, you are feeding them.  It’s when they are toddlers, that you might want to use some plastic sometimes.  For tupperware, I bought a few Pyrex glass storage containers with lids.  I’ve heard Pyrex may contain lead though. 

For water bottles, we have some stainless steel Klean Kanteen water bottles.  You used to only find them online, but now I’ve seen them at Whole Foods. Some of the sports caps do leak though, which is a big bummer because I like to send the smaller ones in the lunchbox.  But, I’ve heard they do have some caps that are leak proof, but you have to buy the caps separately after you buy the water bottle.  Very dumb.  Pottery Barn now sells Klean Kanteen’s with cute designs.  I just got my son a Batman one.  Klean Kanteen doesn’t sell these though.  You have to get them from Pottery Barn, then go to Klean Kanteen’s web site to buy the leak proof caps. Stupid. I’ve also found that the bottles tend to sweat, so we also have the bottle wraps. The sports bottles are also a little hard to open for littler ones.  You have to twist, then pull up, and do the reverse to close.  So sometimes they don’t get closed right and leak in the lunch box.  They need to make these better, but just a few years ago, Klean Kanteen was the only company making stainless steel water bottles.  We also have one really nice Nissan brand stainless steel big water bottle that keeps liquids cold for 24 hours.  I found it online.  This one is really nice and it’s completely leak proof.  My son loves it for school because he will only drink his water cold and they are required to keep a water bottle at their desk all day long.  It’s too big for kids under 6 to manage themselves.  It works great in the summer when you’re out at a theme park or baseball game in the heat.  The Klean Kanteen sometimes gives the water a metallic taste, but only my older son has complained about it.  I don’t notice it.  Usually means you just need to wash it out better.  I just found a glass water container at Whole Foods that has a rubber type coating on the outside, so that if it is dropped, it has less of a chance of breaking.  I really like this one.  No plastic or metal taste.  However, there is no sports cap or anything.  It just has this screw top that you have to take off so it’s like you’re drinking out of a narrower Mason jar.  Not easy to do when you’re driving.  Hopefully, they’ll come out with something better soon.  It was a very expensive bottle too.  I use it for myself, but not really feasible for little kids.  If you use a different stainless steel “looking” water bottle, make sure it is not lined with aluminum.  Sigg is one brand that I know that uses aluminum on the inner lining and they are sold at Whole Foods like they are a safe, good choice.  Wrong.  Avoid.  Aluminum is just as bad as plastic.  Many of the thermos’ in stores are also lined with aluminum.  I got one online (I believe it was Nissan brand too) that is stainless steel throughout, and it keeps food warm or cold for much longer than the cheap ones sold in stores, plus it’s bigger.  I believe it lasts for 6-8 hours.  The cheaper ones last only about 3-4 hours, if that.   The only problem is that they are bigger and you need a larger lunchbox to fit it in.  We use the retro style lunch boxes that are taller when we use the thermos. 

8.  Avoid using harsh chemicals to clean, especially in your kitchen, where you prepare your food.  I like Seventh Generation brand cleaning products.  You can sign up on their web site to get coupons for their products.  Now you can find their products at main stream grocery stores.  Or you can always make your own cleaning products.  I haven’t had the time to do that yet, but there are a lot of recipes out there using vinegar, baking soda, etc.  Avoid using chlorine to clean.  I use Seventh Generation’s dishwashing detergent for our dishes.  The commercial stuff is loaded with chemicals, and you are then eating off those dishes.  I’m guessing there’s got to be some residue left on them.  Plus, I’ve had all of my kids at one time, reach into the soap holder on my dishwasher right after I’ve poured the detergent, and they quickly lick their fingers, thinking it’s sugar or something!  Yuck!  Very toxic.  Seventh Generation is non-toxic in case something like that happens with toddlers in the house.  If kids can die from ingesting the cleaning supplies in my house, I don’t want them in my house.  I feel better having all natural products around.  Shaklee is also supposed to have cleaning products that are non-toxic but I haven’t tried them yet.

Related Posts:

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  1. I often wonder about plastic bags?? This was SO informative! Thank you!! But it totally sucks Pyrex has lead!!! 🙁 🙁 I have a Camel Pak which is plastic but I will try to see what's in it. Obviously glass is better but with a 15 month old??? You suggest the stainless steel ones?

  2. Thanks for the post and all the good information!

    Don't buy mikasa French countryside – I just had them tested and they came out high on lead. And they are just plain white, no colored painted decorations. I tried to get mikasa to take them back, but they wouldn't do it.

    • Hi Laura,

      I know your post was from last year, but I was wondering if you would get in touch with me to tell me more about your Mikasa French Countryside testing. I’m just learning about lead issues and was searching for info since that is what I have in my kitchen. Many thanks.

  3. I am wondering how you know that the Mikasa Italian Countryside dishes have no lead in them. I have had these for a few years but haven’t had them tested yet.

  4. I am interested to hear more about the Mikasa dishes lead content? I have a set of the Mikasa English Countryside and trying to figure out how to test them. Thanks so much!

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