Spring Clean Your Kitchen
By Carolyn “The Healthy Voyager” Scott
Spring is upon us, and that means it’s time for spring cleaning—out with the old to make room for the new. That applies to your kitchen, too. You might be surprised to learn that many of the cooking items you use on a daily basis could be harming your health and rendering your nutritious foods useless. I’ve compiled my top 5 items that should be added to your toss pile this spring cleaning season in order to keep you and yours as healthy as can be!
Non-Stick Pots and Pans: The most important health factor that should be considered is the transfer, or leaching, of the cooking surface material to the foods being cooked. Heat changes the composition of materials so what may be safe at room temperature can be extremely toxic when heated. Non-stick surfaces like Teflon®, are the biggest offenders when it comes to leaching. In fact, when a non-stick surface is heated beyond a certain level, the fumes can kill birds and create Polymer Fume Fever, a sickness in humans producing symptoms similar to a cold. Most recipes call for the cooking surface to be heated at a medium to high temperature so cooking with a non-stick pot or pan will almost always be dangerous. So don’t wait until the bottoms of your pans are chipping to trash them, start replacing your most used pieces as soon as possible. REPLACE
WITH: Ceramic, stainless steel, cast iron, and/or glass. Be sure there are no toxic paints or coatings.
Plastic Containers: As mentioned above, leaching is hugely important factor to consider. Whether it is food or beverage, plastic should never be the vessel. One must even be cautious of BPA-free containers as there are other contaminants that can be leached from lower quality items. Be a discerning consumer and buy the best! When you add hot foods to plastic storage containers, the heat draws toxins from the containers, which then mix with your food. This is why you should never leave plastic water bottles in the car. Ever taste “plasticy” water? It’s been sitting in the heat, leaching toxins into your otherwise healthy beverage. This happens when you store food as well and even more so when you microwave them. Don’t let chemicals be the secret ingredient in your dishes. REPLACE WITH: Ceramic, stainless steel and/or glass.
Dish Towels and Sponges: Bacteria breeds mainly in cool, damp places like sponges and dish towels. We use these every day to clean up our counters and plates—but if not properly taken care of, we are doing more harm than good. A sure fire way to keep your cleaning aids at their best is to wring them out to release excess water after every use, store them properly so that they can air out and dry quickly, wash regularly and throw them away every 2-4 weeks. If you have old towels and sponges, it’s time to go shopping!
Overcrowded Refrigerators/Freezers: Clutter is never a good thing and, especially in refrigerators and freezers. When the refrigerator is overstuffed, there isn’t enough room for the air to circulate properly and decomposition begins. In addition, many foods will pick up the odors of others—likely causing you to gag, throw away food, and waste quite a bit of cash. This can also cause bacteria and mold to grow in between containers, on walls, and in drawers. In freezers, overcrowding can cause freezer burn as well as forgetfulness! Ever forget what’s in the back of the freezer completely frozen over and covered in ice? From now on, toss foods as soon as they expire. Don’t keep items that you “think” you will use someday like fast food sauce packets. And, properly pack and label your foods with the date and, when possible, consolidate items. Your food will last longer, will taste a whole lot better, and save you a considerable amount of green.
Microwave Ovens: I know that there is quite a lot of controversy when it comes to microwaves, but I’m here to tell you, anything that heats your food that fast and is otherwise cool to the touch, can’t be good for you. These microwaves that are heating your quick lunch are actually transforming the chemical makeup of your foods on a cellular level—it’s essentially food radiation. Ever notice that many things are less crispy and more rubbery when nuked? That’s because while those little waves are heating up, they have mutated your food. And mutated food not only loses it texture and taste, it loses all its nutrients and causes us to ingest radiation.
REPLACE WITH: Convection oven and/or toaster oven.
While a full kitchen overhaul may be costly, if you focus on the items you use most frequently, you can invest in your health while minimizing any financial outlays. You can always do more later and have fun doing it. We should all make an investment in our health and the kitchen is a great place to start. I wish you all a very happy spring as well as super healthy cooking spaces.
Carolyn Scott is the executive producer, creator, host, and writer of The Healthy Voyager brand. Her web series, radio show, site, blog and social network show you how to live, and travel, healthy and green.