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How To Choose Healthy Cookware?

Nowadays, the market is flooded with variety of different cookware, as a consumer, how to choose healthy cookware for the kitchen is very important. Everybody wants a healthy body, however, the health have much to do with our diet. A healthy diet can not be separated from the healthy cookware, here we will talk about how to choose healthy cookware for the kitchen.

Do you know? One taste of hot tea in a styrofoam cup and you are drinking more than tea. Even though the cup looks stable, it’s not. Have you noticed how dried foods stored in plastic bags start to taste like plastic? It’s because food ions react with synthetic or metallic ions.

Avoid adding toxins to your foods. Here are guidelines for choosing—and using—healthy cookware. Quality cookware helps you maintain good health and, in some cases, even enhances flavor. It's also useful to know which foods most quickly react to plastic storage containers and to aluminum and cast-iron cookware.

Before making your kitchen purchase, consider the reactivity of various tools and cookware and, whenever possible, favor inert or non-reactive. Or, as second choice, use moderately reactive pots and utensils. As possible, avoid more reactive cookware.

Inert, Non-Reactive Cookware – A Superior Choice

Enamel is actually a fused glass surface. With proper care, a fine enamel pot lasts a lifetime, whereas inexpensive enamel cookware from variety stores has such a thin enamel layer that it chips easily and is not worth its purchase price. Once chipped, discard enamel kitchenware or enamel fragments will find their way into your food and the underlying metal will react with food. If it’s affordable, favor enamel pots.

Titanium is nonreactive and lightweight but a poor heat conductor. So typically what is labeled titanium cookware is actually aluminum cookware that has a fused ceramic-titanium, nonstick coating. This cookware is expensive, but durable and a healthful, nonreactive choice.

Glass coffee pots and casserole dishes are inert and affordable. Favor glass containers for storing food.

Bamboo steamers and paddles as well as wooden spoons, chopsticks and crockery are non-reactive and modestly priced.

Earthenware and ceramic are inert. Additionally, they emit a far-infrared heat, the most effective and beneficial heat for cooking, which enables a full range of subtle flavors to emerge. Primarily used for lengthy simmering or baking, these beautiful but breakable items require special handling.

Paper Goods are, in some applications, effective. Line reactive aluminum cookie sheets or muffin tins with parchment paper or paper muffin cups. And for food storage, as is practical, favor waxed or butcher paper over plastic wrap or bags.

Silicone cookware is inert, FDA approved and safe up to 428 degrees F. If heated above its safe range, silicone melts but doesn’t outgas toxic vapors. Silicone is a synthetic rubber now made into baking pans, baking sheets, muffin tins, spatulas, ice cube trays, molds, rolling pins and more. It is the only non-reactive, non-stick material. The advantages of silicone include heat resistance (below 428 degrees), flexibility, the fact that it can go directly from the oven or microwave into the refrigerator or freezer and that it is generally easy to clean.

Moderately Reactive Cookware -- A Good Choice

Stainless steel is the least reactive metal, and for many people, the most versatile and healthful cookware option. Of the various weights, heavy-gauge stainless or surgical steel is superior. It makes an acceptable set of basic pots, pans and bake ware. Remove food from metal as soon as it is cooked to minimize the food from developing a metallic taste. Once stainless steel has been scratched, through normal scouring, the leaching of metallic ions is more noticeable. Better yet, don't scour stainless cookware. When you've burned something onto the pot, cover the damage with baking soda or a strong detergent and let it rest for a day. The soda will "lift" off the scoarched food.

Carbon steel is inexpensive and is ideal for a wok or sauté pan because it rapidly conveys heat. To prevent rusting, carbon steel must be thoroughly dry when not in use.

Cast iron pots are good for quick breads, pancakes and crepes and for sauteing vegetables. Do not, however, cook soups, liquids or acid foods in cast iron, as these foods leach harsh-tasting iron from the pot. Although a soup cooked in cast iron becomes iron-enriched, it’s not a bioavailable form of iron, and is therefore undesirable.

Reactive Cookware -- Not Recommended

Nonstick cookware contains plastic polymers (silicon is the one exception). The surface of the original nonstick cookware, Teflon, was coated with the synthetic resin. In newer nonstick pans, polymer commingles with the anodized metal surface. If heated to 500 degrees F., the polymers emit fumes that are lethal to parakeets and certainly not healthy for humans. Nonstick surfaces first appeared in 1944. Prior to that, cooks minimized sticking by using lower temperatures and/or more fat or liquid. It’s doable today. And should something stick, elbow grease removes it.

Cast aluminum is more stable and preferable to thin aluminum pans. Rather than wrapping a baked potato in aluminum foil, consider baking it directly on the oven rack or placing it in a covered casserole dish.

A new anodized aluminum pot is non-reactive and fairly durable. However, once the surface chips, peels or is scratched, it becomes reactive.

Plastic it's easy to assess the reactivity of plastic in terms of its structure. The more flexible a plastic, the more it is reactive. Thus plastic wrap more quickly exchanges synthetic ions with food than does a flexible milk jug; and the latter is more reactive than a sturdy plastic container. Do not store foods in plastic containers that once contained chemicals. And, it's not advisable to microwave food in plastic.

Foods Vary in their Reactivity

Do keep in mind that temperature affects reactivity. When hot, a food reacts more quickly than when it is cold. Thus, refrigeration deters uptake of metal or plastic ions.

It’s not necessary or expedient to ban all plastic from your kitchen. However, you might explore creative ways to decrease your use of reactive products.  May this information serve you in skillfully upgrading and maintaining a healthy kitchen.


A Carbon Steel or Stainless Steel Wok, Which Is Better?

Serious chefs prefer woks that are made of cast iron or carbon steel.  Opinions are evenly divided over which of these two materials provides the best surface for wok cooking. 

Both can withstand very high temperatures and retain heat well.  Cast iron woks, like all cookware made from this material, must be seasoned before using

Stainless steel woks will often contain a layer of copper or aluminum between the stainless steel sheets.  These woks look beautiful and work as well as cast iron or carbon steel, but they are generally much more expensive.

Woks are also available in aluminum and Teflon, although these are much less desirable materials.  They are not suited to cooking over high heat, and will quickly become unusable with traditional Wok cooking.


How to Season The Carbon Steel Wok

Many type of woks are available today, carbon steel is still the best. With proper treatment, it will last forever.

Here's how to season the carbon steel wok

1.  Wash the entire wok in hot water with a tiny amount of detergent and a sponge or pad. (Such as stainless steel sponge or pad)
2.  If needed, scrub the exterior of the wok with scrubber and an abrasive cleanser. Don’t use anything abrasive on the inside of the wok.
3.  Rinse the wok thoroughly and dry it.
4.  Put the wok onto a high heat.
5.  Move the wok, turning it and tilting it so that it all gets over the heat, until the wok turns a blue/yellow color.
6.  Take the wok off the stove and turn the heat down to medium.
7.  Now add about 1½ teaspoons oil over the entire inside surface of the wok. Be careful as the wok will be extremely hot.  A safe way to do it is with kitchen towel held in tongs – or use a heat-proof basting brush designed for barbecues or any other heat-proof brush to brush on the oil.
8.  Put the wok back onto the medium to low heat for about 10 minutes.
9.  Leave to cool slightly and then use paper towel in tongs to wipe the oil off.  You will see black residue on the paper towel.
10.  Repeat steps 7 through 9 until no black residue comes up on the paper. This may take 3 or 4 seasonings. Then the work is now ready to use.


How to Clean a Carbon Steel Wok?

Cleaning your carbon steel work properly after each use will help it to last longer.

1. Rinse the wok in hot water.
2. Gently lift off or scrub food particles away with a nonmetallic scrubber.
3. Rinse the wok again.
4. Dry the interior and exterior of the wok with kitchen towels.
5. To finish drying, place the wok over medium to medium-high heat.
6. Wipe the inside of the wok with a small amount of vegetable oil. This helps prevent rusting. (This step may not be necessary if your wok is properly seasoned and gets a lot of use.)
7. Store until ready to use again.

Tips:

1. Never scrub a carbon steel wok with an abrasive cleanser, as this can damage the seasoned surface.
2. Do not put the wok in the dishwasher.
3. If rust appears or the wok is accidentally cleaned in the dishwaser, simply re-season it, being careful to remove all the rust.


What Sort of Wok Should You Buy

Comparing with aluminum, stainless steel even copper woks, we recommend choose carbon steel wok, you don't absolutely need a wok to create satisfying Chinese meals. Nonetheless, the bowl-shaped utensil has several advantages - it spreads heat evenly, uses less oil for deep-frying than a traditional deep-fat fryer, and ensures that food tossed during stir-frying lands back in the pan and not on the stove.

Flat or Round Bottom?
If you are cooking with electric burner, your best option is to use a flat bottom wok. Round bottom woks can reflect heat back on the element and damaging it. A flat bottomed wok can also be used on gas stoves.

Handle with Care
The flat bottom woks normally have a long wooden handle, like a skillet. The long handle makes it easy to move and tilt the wok when stir-frying. Most also have a small "helper" handle on the other side, so the wok is still easy to lift. Round bottom woks may follow the traditional wok design with two small metal "ears," or have a single long metal or wooden handle.

Size Matters
Woks come in a variety of sizes, restaurants may use woks that are several feet across. The size of wok you choose will depend on several factors, including your own preferences, the type of stove you have, and the depth of the wok.

Care and Maintenance
It's very important to season your wok before using it for the first time. Seasoning removes the preservative oil manufacturers place on the wok to prevent rust, replacing it with a light coating of cooking oil. It is also important to clean your wok after each use. Given the variety of woks on the market today, it's difficult to give a general set of seasoning and cleaning instructions. However, below we do have instructions for seasoning and cleaning a carbon steel wok for reference.


Is Aluminum Cookware Bad for Your Health?

For many years, rumors have circulated about aluminum cookware.  Some people have said that using aluminum is toxic, while others claim a link between aluminum cookware and Alzheimer's disease.  So is aluminum cookware bad for your health? 

The Dangers of Consuming Aluminum
It's true that aluminum is toxic to humans in large concentrations.  However, aluminum is also one of the most common elements in our environment, and it is present in our water, in many foods, and in both prescription and over-the-counter medications.  Aspirin, antacids, and antiperspirants all contain high levels of aluminum. 

Furthermore, only a tiny fraction of the aluminum that people consume is absorbed into the body, the rest passing harmlessly through the digestive tract.  Most people consume between 30 and 50 mg of aluminum per day, with no ill effect.

The Amounts of Aluminum Transferred Through Cookware
Aluminum cookware can react with foods, especially those, such as tomato sauce, which are high in vinegar or acid.  This reaction leaks a trace amount of aluminum into the foods, which are then consumed.  Some types of aluminum cookware are treated so that the aluminum is unable to react with foods.  For example, anodized aluminum uses a chemical bath and an electrical current to bind the aluminum into the pan.

Researchers studied the amount of aluminum that could leak into foods by cooking a tomato sauce in an untreated pan.  Even this most potent combination resulted in only 3 mg per serving, less than 10% of the average daily consumption.  This is far too little to pose a health risk.

Aluminum Cookware and the Link to Alzheimer's Disease
In the 1970s, Canadian researchers released a report that indicated that Alzheimer's patients showed evidence of higher levels of aluminum in the brain than healthy patients.  A link was immediately drawn between the popularity of aluminum cookware (which accounts for more than half of all cookware sold) and increasingly large numbers of Alzheimer's patients.

In the years since those initial findings, however, this link has been discounted.  There is no evidence to support the theory that increased consumption of aluminum increases the risk of contracting Alzheimer's.  It's possible that having the disease causes more aluminum to be stored in the brain or that there is no link between aluminum and Alzheimer's at all.  Researchers are still investigating the relationship, but it is quite certain that the culprit behind Alzheimer's is not aluminum cookware.

Conclusion
Aluminum pans do not pose a health risk to their users, even if they are scratched or pitted.  The amount of aluminum that leaks into food is negligible, and far less than that consumed through other methods.


What is Anodized Aluminum Cookware?

Anodized aluminum cookware is a popular choice among many people, both for its price and for its durability. It is completely non-reactive to acidic foods and won't dent like pure aluminum either. The thicker the piece, the more even the heat distribution and the cooking performance, as a rule, so look for products that have at least a heavy, reinforced base that will last you a long time.

How Does Anodization Work?
Anodized aluminum is aluminum or aluminum alloy that has been treated in a chemical bath consisting of electrolytes like sulfuric acid, and then running an electrical current through the bath. The result is an extremely hard oxide coating on the outside of the cookware to prevent chemical reaction happening, because aluminum is a highly reactive metal. Anodized aluminum cookware is relatively inexpensive and a very good conductor of heat.

What Are the Advantages of Anodized Aluminum Cookware?
The anodization process gives aluminum cookware a hard inner layer with a smooth, non-stick surface.  Furthermore, this layer is highly non-reactive, which means that it won't be discolored as easily and it won't pass on any strange flavors to your foods.  Some other advantages of anodized aluminum include:

• Won't dent as easily as regular aluminum.
• Food won't stick and burn.
• Easier to use – requires less stirring and scraping.
• Washes up more easily.
• Scratch-resistant.
• Healthier – requires less cooking fat, and no metals will leak into your food.
• Darker color retains more heat, saving energy costs
• Twice as strong as steel.
• Heavier weight helps it sit better on your heating element.
• Costs less than stainless steel, with many of the same properties.

Finally, the anodization process allows aluminum to hold dyes, so that pans can be made in festive outer colors.


How To Season Cast Iron Cookware

Cast Iron Cookware have been used for cooking for hundreds of years. Cast iron's ability to withstand and maintain very high cooking temperatures makes it a common choice for searing or frying, and its excellent heat diffusion and retention makes it a good option for long-cooking stews or braised dishes.

Before using the new cast iron cookware, it must be seasoned properly and it will last a lifetime.

1. Wash the cast iron cookware with warm water and soap using a scouring pad. If you have purchased your cast iron cookware as new then it will be coated in oil or a similar coating to prevent rust. This will need to be removed before seasoning so this step is essential.

2. Dry the cookware thoroughly, it helps to put the pan in the oven for a few minutes to make sure it's really dry. Oil needs to be able to soak into the metal for a good seasoning and oil and water don't mix.

3. Coat the pot or pan inside and out with lard, Crisco, bacon fat, or corn oil. Ensure that the lid is also coated.

4. Place both the lid and the pot or pan upside down in your oven at 300F for at least an hour to bake on a "seasoning" that protects the pan from rust and provides a stick-resistant surface.

5. For best results repeat steps 2 and 3 and 4.

6. Every time you wash your pan, you must season it. Place it on the stove and pour in about 3/4 tsp. corn oil or other cooking fat. Wad up a paper towel and spread the oil across the cooking surface, any bare iron surfaces, and the bottom of the pan. Turn on the burner and heat until smoke starts to appear. Cover pan and turn heat off.

Tips
• If food burns, just heat a little water in the pan, and scrape with a flat metal spatula. It may mean that re-seasoning is necessary.
• If you're washing the cast iron too aggressively (for instance with a scouring pad), you will regularly scrub off the seasoning. Wash more gently or repeat oven-seasoning method regularly.
• If your pan develops a thick crust, you're not washing it aggressively enough.
• If storing your Cast Iron Dutch oven for any length of time, it is always best to place one or two paper towels in between the lid and the oven to allow for air flow.
• Also, after cleaning after each use it is always best to place it back in the oven on 350 degrees for 10 minutes or so to ensure all water has vaporized and left the surface of the cast iron.


How important is a timer in the kitchen?

Timing is Everything
Here's a kitchen utensil you may not have considered before: A digital timer. Digital timers help keep your kitchen tasks under control. You can time the exact seconds, minutes or hours needed for a cooking process. Many come with a flip-out stand and a magnetic backing, so you always can keep them handy. Some can be clipped to your belt if you need to leave the kitchen. Others come with a string to hang around your neck. Nothing ruins a meal like over- or undercooking; don't rule out the importance of a timer!


For Beginner Cooks: Buy Only What You Need

A cookware set can be a beautiful thing! If you know what brand and style of cookware you want, as well as the materials and features that work best for you in your kitchen, then it’s time to buy a cookware set. All cookware sets include your essential pots, pans and the lids that go with them, but some include much more. If you're a beginner, a large cookware set may be too much. Start small and remember, you don’t have to buy the entire set at once unless there’s an unbelievable sale in the brand you want.

Start with just the basic pieces: A large pot, a regular saucepan for cooking veggies and rice or warming up soups and sauces, a small saucepan for melting and cooking small amounts of liquids or gravies, a sauté pan for everyday dinners and maybe an omelet pan for cooking small breakfasts.

Buy these basics separately to try out the different cooking materials, or try a small 7 piece cookware set to see what works for you, your cooking style and your kitchen.

Once you settle on a brand and type of cookware that works for you, build your set little by little just the way you want it, especially if budgetary constraints are an issue.


Choose Non-Stick Cookware for Faster Cooking and Clean Up

If you’re a busy person and you spend less than 30 minutes cooking your dinners, non-stick cookware is for you. There’s no doubt that there’s less room for error when you cook in a non-stick pan because food hardly ever burns. And, if it does, you can easily soak it right off very quickly without scraping or using harsh detergents. This type of cookware also requires less cooking oils to achieve the same effect, so for people on special low-fat diets, this can be a great option. However, non-stick cookware can be a little more fragile than other types of cookware as you have to be careful about utensils. You’ll need a separate set of plastic and wooden utensils for use with your non-stick cookware.

The benefits of owning non-stick cookware:

Less chance of a burnt dinner.
Easy clean up. A quick suds, wipe and rinse is usually all it takes. Non-stick pot and pans do NOT go in the dishwasher, however.
Black exterior shows no stains so cookware always looks great.
Use less cooking oil.

Non-stick cookware is great for cooks who:
Are on a budget. There are many cookware sets to choose from at every price level and you can find non-stick discount cookware sets easily.
Lead busy lives. Large, young families, quick meals, and hectic schedules are the hallmarks of this cook.
Are on a low-fat diet.
Hate burning dinner more than anything!
Want clean-up to be a snap!