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A Pan Is a Pan. Or Is It?

I never really paid much attention to what I cooked with until I got pregnant. Then my superhuman nose kicked into high gear, sniffing out anything that might be harmful to my growing baby and would make me feel sick. (Oh, the joys of pregnancy.) One day, when cooking with my super-scratched-up non-stick pan, I noticed a chemical smell. I ran around opening all the doors and windows like a madwoman. I love how things can seem so dramatic when you’re pregnant. Anyway, I decided at that point it was time to start looking into what I was cooking with and how it might affect my family. I quickly realized that my scratched-up non-stick pans were going to have to go.

Non-stick Teflon pans have been a standard in American kitchens for decades, but I’ve been learning there are health risks associated with them. When they’re heated to a certain temperature, the nonstick coating releases up to 15 different toxic gases. This can cause “polymer fume flu,” also known as “Teflon flu.” This flu causes symptoms like a typical flu: chills, headache, fever, and nausea. The fumes can also be fatal to pet birds.

So, I have bit by bit been replacing my old cookware. And I have been learning a lot on this journey to creating a healthy, safe kitchen. Once I had tossed all of my non-stick items, I realized I had no idea how to cook the old-fashioned way and was burning or over-oiling everything. Total disaster for a new wife who wanted her husband to believe she was Betty Crocker—no, better than Betty. Recently I have solved the problem and am so excited to share my news. There is a non-stick option that isn’t bad for you (insert angels singing here): Scanpan—the answer to all my prayers and dreams.

These pans are cast aluminum with a patented ceramic titanium. The non-stick surface is certified to be free from dangerous chemicals. When scratched, it doesn’t become harmful. The scratches are really like scuff marks. This is great in my house, because nobody seems to follow the no-metal-utensils-in-the-pans rule.

I also looked into the Le Creuset pots and bakeware I had received for wedding gifts. (Le Creuset specializes in cast iron cookware. A lot of the finishing is done by hand, making each piece unique.) Phew, they were not just pretty French things to cook with. They were actually high quality. Another brand I’m curious about is Emile Henry: the leading manufacturer of ceramic cookware in France. I don’t own any of these yet, but from what I’ve heard, they heat up gradually and distribute heat evenly, eliminating toughness in food. Emile Henry is quite expensive. I guess it is an investment, and it’s supposed to last a lifetime. Neither of these brands is non-stick, though.

While having the right cookware may keep my family healthier, and while these pans may help me do a better job of cooking, I still have a lot of work to get the Betty Crocker wife title. I would love to hear what all you domestic goddesses have to say about cookware; do share!

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  1. I have Saladmaster. They did a baking soda test and took a few different pots, boiled baking soda for 10 minutes in each. Then you taste test them. The Saladmaster had the regular baking soda taste. The other pans were a range of potent chemical flavors. Out went the non-stick. I can even cook fried chicken with no grease. It’s fantastic. Not trying to sell Saladmaster. It’s just the only ones I have experience with.

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