How to Keep Questionable Chemicals Out of Your Holiday Cooking

It’s prime season for cooking and baking. Don’t let toxic pots and pans spoil the festivities.

By Emily Main

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Stock up on cookware made without toxic chemicals (they make great gifts, too).Stainless Steel: A good set of clad stainless-steel pots will last you a lifetime, Dr. Feister notes. "Clad" means that the pots and pans are made from layers of heat-conducting metals, such as aluminum or copper, that are surrounded by stainless steel. Stainless steel is a poor conductor of heat, but it doesn't react with food and it doesn't pose any health threats. So you get the benefits of cooking with aluminum or copper (another good heat conductor that has uncertain health effects) without being exposed to them. A very small percentage of people are allergic to the nickel in stainless steel, he says, but the material won't pose any problems to the general population. Dr. Feister's preferred brand is All-Clad, which is made in the United States and comes with lifetime warranties. Just make sure it's not "bottom-clad" only; good-quality clad stainless steel is clad all the way around.

Glass and Stoneware: Finally, for all your holiday baking, stock up on glass Pyrex casserole dishes, pie pans, and loaf pans. Stoneware is another great alternative, Dr. Feister says. The Pampered Chef sells stoneware muffin pans and rectangular stone sheets that can be used for cookies. Most chefs prefer aluminum cookie sheets, however, because they're so good at conducting heat. If you do use aluminum bakeware, line it with parchment paper, preferably the type coated with silicone, not GM-based soy or vegetable oils or petroleum-based paraffin wax.

The Ideal Cookware Set: Buying a 10-piece set of pots and pans can be a waste of money if you wind up with a bunch of pieces you don't need. In addition to the glass and stoneware baking items, Dr. Feister recommends having the following pots and pans in your kitchen. They'll serve all your cooking needs without exposing you to toxic chemicals. And since the season of massive-markdown sales is nigh upon us, you might even find some at a discount.

  • 12-inch All-Clad stainless steel skillet
  • 10- or 12-inch Lodge cast-iron skillet
  • 2- and 4-quart All-Clad stainless steel saucepans
  • 5½- or 7½-quart Le Creuset enameled cast-iron Dutch oven
  • 12-quart All-Clad stockpot
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