Healthy Cooking: Stoneware

As much as it is important to select good-quality food to eat, it is also important to consider the equipment with which we prepare and store our food. In this post I’m focusing on bakeware, but I’d also like to discuss food preparation and storage as well.

It’s important to understand that the materials that come into contact with our food can impart chemicals that can cause us harm.

Many of us are aware of the effects of BPA (that’s another post waiting to happen!), but there are other toxins to beware of as well!

For example, aluminum from foil and cookware can leach into our food and build up in our bodies, contributing to weak bones and dementia.

Take this as my plea for you to stop wrapping your food in aluminum foil before baking it, and to stop cooking things in disposable aluminum pans!aluminum (2)

Other minerals, such as nickle, can also leach into your food from lower-quality metal cookware, and cause a variety of health issues.

However, I don’t want to harp too much on what NOT to use. What I’d like to focus on are some good healthy options!

My personal favorites are stoneware, glass, cast iron, and ceramic. I think that glass and cast iron already get a lot of press, so let me take a moment to introduce you to stoneware.

Stoneware!

Stoneware, specifically the stoneware sold by The Pampered Chef (which I sell, so if you’d like to start using stoneware in your kitchen, I can help you with that!) is an excellent choice for baking, roasting, re-heating, etc.

  • It’s made of natural lead-free clay mined in the USA. (stoneware made in China may contain lead)
  • It distributes heat evenly
  • It draws moisture away from the food as it cooks, resulting in crispier crusts and lighter baked goods
  • It develops a naturally non-stick surface over time, as it becomes seasoned.
  • It doesn’t retain odors or flavors
  • It’s really easy to clean! Just warm/hot water, and scraping with a nylon scraper!
  • It’s oven, microwave, and freezer-safe

Stoneware comes in all shapes and sizes, convenient for many uses! I have two “large bar pans” which are the size of a cookie sheet, and I use them for many many things. I also have bread pans, a round pizza stone, a Round Covered Baker, a Rectangular Baker, and my newest addition, which I am very happy about, is a toaster-oven-sized bar pan! Your toaster oven is a healthier option for re-heating food than your microwave, and the little bar pan ensures that the food you reheat stays nice and crispy and heats through evenly! I am hoping to get the muffin pan and pie pan this month while they’re 20% off!🙂

Another nice thing about it is that the more you use it, especially with oils and other fats, it develops a naturally nonstick surface,  and cooks even better! They say, “The worse it looks, the better it cooks!” Case in point: my new toaster oven pan compared to my older Large Bar Pan (which hadn’t been cleaned yet after cooking dinner on it…sorry):

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Here are some things that I use my “large bar pan” for:

pizza (perfect, crispy crust!)

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roasting veggies, baked veggie & kale chips…or Baked Eggplant for making Simple Baba Ganoush (my new fave!):

20140213_195821 Babaganoush-eggplant

baking chicken  (such as one-pan Butternut Squash, Chicken, & Sage) & other meats (bacon in the oven is great!)

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also, cookies, rolls, homemade pita bread…

Whether or not I was a Pampered Chef consultant, I would strongly recommend replacing your aluminum cookware with something non-toxic, but since I know first-hand the quality and benefits of the Pampered Chef stoneware, I highly recommend them! Also, I can hook you up, if you’d like!🙂

Happy baking!