Dear Real Moms,
We recently inherited a heavy old cast-iron pot from my husband’s aunt. To be honest, I wasn’t too excited at first, because my cabinets are already beyond full. But since a few of my other pots and pans are the nonstick kinds, I thought I’d see what you have to say about which kind is best to use. — Nora, Trenton, NJ.
Thanks for the great question, Nora! As someone who’s constantly trying to declutter (often in vain), I can totally relate to your dilemma. A super heavy, crazy old skillet can definitely seem like an unnecessary addition—until you realize the newer, nonstick cookware so many of us rely on is potentially toxic.
According to the Environmental Working Group, tests have shown that nonstick pots and pans can emit six toxic gases, including two carcinogens, when preheated on high. And while the debate around these findings is, ahem, heated between proponents and naysayers, my personal MO is just to avoid the problem altogether by putting the kibosh on nonstick cookware in my kitchen. I’ve cleared my cupboards of Teflon-coated pots and pans to make extra sure potentially dangerous chemicals aren’t infiltrating my family’s food.
So, Nora, my advice is to go ahead and make some space for the new-to-you skillet by tossing the nonstick kinds.
For those of us who don’t have a cast-iron fairy godmother, consider one of these alternatives:
New cast-iron cookware:Lodge Cast Iron has been churning cookware out since 1896. You can get ‘em pre-seasoned or not, and they’re not too pricey—a 10-inch skillet runs upwards of $22. Le Creuset also has some great picks, but you’re paying extra for the pretty, colorful enamel coating.
Flame Top Risotto Pot, $125 at Emile Henry
Ceramic bakeware: This clean material is perfect for things like casseroles, pies, and cookies. I swear by Emile Henry’s cassoulet pots and pie dishes, which are a busy mom’s dream since they’re easy to clean to boot.
Glass: Okay, so we all know glass isn’t a good pick for a skillet—but it’s definitely appropriate for things like baking casseroles and pies. And even though you’ll want to use a little butter or oil to keep things from sticking, no worrisome chemicals pour out when glass goes in the oven.
At the end of the day, as with so many things in this day and age, it’s a bit of a guessing game. We don’t yet know just how harmful things like cell phones and hormone-pumped meat may be in the long run. Maybe they’ll be perfectly benign. But when it comes to my family’s health, I’m not taking any unnecessary chances. Especially when it’s as easy as trading out a nonstick pan for something way cuter by Emile Henry…just sayin’.
By the way, if you’re interested in more tips and tricks when it comes to cookware, you’ll definitely want to check out my new book, Real Moms Love to Eat, which you can preorder now from Penguin Books.
Before today’s post, I wanted to share with you that I’ll be cookin’ it up at the Kenmore Kitchen Live Studios in Chicago this Thursday at 7pm CST. If you live in Chicago, come on by, 678 N Wells Street
Chicago, or catch the show LIVE online here. Be sure and comment on Facebook during the show.
On with today’s post…With Halloween and Thanksgiving coming up fast (hooray!), grocery stores around here are really laying it on thick in the decorative gourds and squashes department. And I for one fall for those displays every time—they look so pretty in those overflowing bushels that I just have to get them to my table too!
But how many of us actually eat those gorgeous fall gourds after showing them off around the house? Not enough, when you consider the amazing health benefits of cooking with gourds.
Here, the skinny on why those crazy shapes and textures are more than just visually pleasing.
OMG Omegas: Many varieties of squash and gourds are chock-full of omegas, including omega-3, which helps prevent heart disease and cancer, and omega-6, which promotes brain function.
A Plus: Gourds are a good source of vitamin A, which is vital for healthy eyes. Specifically, that’s what helps the eye distinguish between light and dark, meaning it’s extra good now that the days are getting shorter!
Beta-carotene Boost: The reason why veggies like butternut squash are orange in color, beta-carotene can help prevent aging, breast cancer, and heart disease.
Plenty of Potassium: One cup of baked winter squash has 970 mg of potassium (a banana only has 450 mg), making gourds a real winner in terms of potassium. A good thing, when you consider the mineral can help with things like lowering blood pressure.
Antioxidants Ahoy! Many of these fall and winter treats are packed with antioxidants, which could help reduce the risk of inflammation-related disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis and asthma.
So, the bottom line is, do decorate with gourds today, but don’t forget to cook with ‘em tomorrow! Need inspiration? Try Emeril’s delicious herbed spaghetti squash recipe on for size.
Now that I’m back to prepping school lunch every day, I’m spending a lot more QT in the deli section. And while I’ve always been pretty discerning about what I feed my boys, lately I’ve been thinking how scary it is that so many of our nation’s children are eating antibiotic-overloaded meat.
Don’t get me wrong. Summer is fantastic. But one of my only complaints about it is a biggie: it’s just too hot to bake.
So, for all you moms out there who, like me, fear the oven, but, like me, love a good flavor-packed lasagna, I’m pleased to share my No-Bake Lasagna recipe.
I recently demo’d it on ABC, and the host, who was clearly skeptical at first, pronounced it flavorful and even said it was “shifting my mindset on lasagna.” Considering the amount of lasagna enthusiasm in the world, that’s high praise in my book! (Read More Here …)
Apples are a snacker's friend--but it's good to mix things up, right?
Join me in creating a love affair with food! For the next 10 weeks, I’ll be dedicating a weekly tip to falling in love all over again—guilt free. It’s all leading up to the exciting debut of my first book, which is all about loving food and looking fabulous (and is available for pre-order from Amazon now)!
To kick things off, I want to talk snacks. Summer snacks, back-to-school snacks, adult snacks, family snacks, whatever—snacks are our friends! They give you an energy boost and keep you from overeating at mealtime. And hey, any excuse to eat, I’ll take it!
Here, some easy, yummy fave snack ideas:
Cottage cheese with salt, pepper, and scallions: this savory combo packs in protein, calcium thanks to (organic!) cottage cheese and flavonoids, thanks to flavorful scallions.
Almonds and dried cranberries: sweet and savory, together forever, with protein, vitamin C, and fiber all figuring prominently in the medley.
Kashi asiago cheese crackers with honey: I know this sounds crazy, but trust me, the trans-fat-free crackers are scrumptious with local honey, which can be helpful with allergies.
Edamame: just buy the frozen kind and let it thaw, then toss with sea salt and enjoy: a half a cup of these legumes yields nine grams of fiber–that’s the same as four pieces of whole wheat bread, says MedicineNet.)
Speaking of sea salt, you can’t go wrong with a dash of it on sliced avocado, which has great anti-inflammatory properties and is rich in carotenoids.
Dark chocolate: well, why not? an ounce of heaven gets you antioxidants and is good for blood pressure, according to a 2003 JAMA study.
Have other brilliant snack ideas? Send ‘em our way via Twitter!
Mmm, barbecue season. Is there anything better than moist, succulent grilled salmon? Well, maybe the knowledge that it’s actually living up to its healthful promise by being mercury-free.
Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as it should be to determine what’s best when you’re at the store. Take a couple of minutes to digest this info, courtesy of EarthTalk, to save yourself headaches (literally) down the line. (Read More Here …)
First, let me take a moment to soak in the fact that I haven’t even once talked about watermelon in this entire blog. How can that be?! It’s only the most quintessential summertime fruit of all time! So now, to make up for lost time, I present a full homage to the refreshing melon. (Read More Here …)
My kids like Garden Lites’ Cauliflower Souffle best – it’s tasty, and honestly, it looks more like a cheesy casserole than just a bunch of vegetables!
For me, Sundays are my fun days—I get more time to cook a nice dinner for the family and can even relax a little with the knowledge that I’ve successfully mastered last week’s to-do list. But then, inevitably, Monday shocks me with its high level of insanity. Where did all these tasks come from?!
So as much as I’d like to cook every meal like the ultimate June Cleaver, sometimes there’s simply no time. Enter, the healthy frozen food aisle. Now obviously the important thing about pre-made food is to be very discerning. It just doesn’t feel fabulous to eat junk, in my humble opinion. (Read More Here …)
I couldn't stop myself from running over to the adorable Charlie the Tuna at the conference. He's just so darn huggable!
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
After talking with Real Moms who Love to Eat from around the country at this past weekend’s BlogHer Food Conference, it seems we all have our whine threshold. Sure, we want our kids to like what we like, but sometimes it’s just easier to make something easy, healthy, and fun—knowing it’s essentially a kid-pleaser.
I’m pretty sure the Starkist team had all those things in mind when they came up with this cheesy tuna quesadilla recipe. It’s great because my kids get a heart-healthy source of B vitamins, Vitamin D, and Omega-3s, it’s super easy to make, and it’s a little more exciting than your average tuna melt sammy (not that I don’t love those too!). (Read More Here …)
The word “diet” often inspires a chorus of whining, at least amongst my friends. But there are some approaches to eating that really do do a body good.
One such is the Mediterranean Diet, which, like me, aims to bring joy back to healthy eating. Based on the dietary traditions of Crete, Greece, and southern Italy around 1960, it champions fresh, seasonal produce, whole grains, and minimally-processed foods. It recommends protein sources like eggs, poultry, and fish over red meat, olive oil over butter, and above all, homemade food over convenience foods. Take a peek at the food pyramid, and note—red wine is definitely there!
Check out these top 5 reasons to go Mediterranean, then scroll down for a tasty Salade Niçoise recipe that’ll only set you back $5! (Read More Here …)