Nutrition

Cooking in Cast Iron

Healthy eating is not just about the food itself that we ingest, it also matters what you use to cook it in!

I have always loved using non-stick cookware for the ease of cooking and the cleaning portion that comes thereafter but truly never realized that in order for it to be made that way it takes harsh chemicals like perfluorooctanoic acid, that eventually leeks out into our food. According to the American Cancer Society, “PFOA has the potential to be a health concern because it can stay in the environment and in the human body for long periods of time. Studies have found that it is present worldwide at very low levels in just about everyone’s blood. Animal studies have also presented a link between PFOA exposure and cancer development. Of course, something else that can cause cancer!

After Anthony was diagnosed with cancer, this was one of the simple changes that I made. I stopped utilizing all non-stick cookware and started slowly changing out items in the kitchen, beginning with purchasing a cast iron skillet which I now use to cook all of his meals in. Because I knew that Anthony would start have iron deficiency anemia related to his cancer treatment secondary to reduced appetite, poor nutrition, potential gastrointestinal mucosal damage that results in blood loss and bone marrow suppression I resorted to using cast iron cookware. Iron is an essential nutrient for all the cells in our body. Iron’s main function in our body is to help transport oxygen through hemoglobin in the blood and myoglobin in muscles. 

As a registered nurse one of our education instructions to our patients is to use cast iron cookware to cook in as a way to help increase their iron levels and prevent or improve their iron deficiency!

Safe, non-toxic types of cookware include: cast iron, stainless steel, glass and copper. One of the cast iron skillets that I use the most, which is also incredibly priced is from Lodge. Taking it way back to one of the oldest, yet safest ways to cook!

The best part about a cast iron skillet, other than the health benefits are that it will last you a lifetime. That is of course, if you take care of it appropriately:

Cleaning Tips

  1. Wash cast iron by hand (avoid putting in dishwasher or using any metal scrubbers). For extra sticky situations, simmer a little water for 1 minute, then scrape after cooled.
  2. Dry promptly and thoroughly with a lint free cloth.
  3. Rub with a very light layer of oil, preferably while the cookware is still warm.
  4. Hang or store cookware in a dry place. 

Cooking Tips

  1. The great thing about cast iron is that it can be used on all types of stovetops, including in the oven!
  2. Cast iron heats up very quickly, so make sure to use a lower heat setting to pre-heat prior to adding food and to also prevent food from burning or sticking. 
  3. You can use any utensils you like on cast iron, but avoid using anything plastic or aluminum for toxic purposes! Bamboo utensils are always a great option as they are organic and will not scratch any surface.
  4. Make sure to use a hot handle mitt (remove if placing in oven!).

Seasoning Tips:

  1. Seasoning is a very important part of keeping your cast iron cookware working to its optimal state and preserving its condition. It is the act of baking oil onto the iron.
  2. Using the cookware regularly will help maintain its seasoning but if it not in use often, you will want to make sure to season it if you start to notice it is getting dull.
  3. Although essentially you can use any type of cooking oil to season, it is not recommended that you use any animal based fats as they can go rancid quickly which is a health concern.
  4. It is important to maintain the seasoning by applying a very thin layer of oil after each cleaning.
  5. At some point you may need to completely re-season your cast iron cookware, if so follow these instructions.

Purchasing all new cookware can definitely be a financial burden but it is a lifetime investment for your health and in the long run can save you a lot of money on potential medical care related to health conditions that may arise from using alternative cookware that expose you to hazardous toxins. Lodge has a nice array of cookware to choose from which is reasonably priced.

Health tip:

*Any application of the recommendations in this website is at the reader’s discretion.Information is provided for informational  purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.Please consult with physician prior to use.