5 Ways to Detox Your Kitchen

Everyone knows it’s important to eat healthy.  We start off most new years with the intention to clean up our food intake, loading up on more veggies and less processed foods.  But what about the utensils and products you use to make all that healthy food? If you’re not careful, you could be unintentionally filling your body with toxins, despite your healthy eating. 

To help you prepare cleaner, safer food for yourself and your loved ones, here are five steps to detox your kitchen:

  1. Ditch the nonstick cookware

Nonstick cookware contains polytetrafluoroethylene (PFTE) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA).  These can easily be ingested or inhaled when cooking—especially if you scratch the nonstick surface of your pan.  They have been linked to cancer and have been known to cause flu-like symptoms when absorbed.

So what should you cook with instead?

Cast iron is a great, inexpensive option that can last decades.  Although it can seem intimidating to care for at first, once you’ve seasoned it correctly, it’s a breeze to maintain.  Just coat it in fat (tallow works wonders, but if you don’t have any of that lying around you can also use avocado oil or coconut oil), flip it upside down in the oven at 375° over a baking sheet or foil on the lower rack.  Let it cook for one hour.  I’ve found repeating this process a few times results in the best seasoning on my pans creates an excellent cooking surface.

When you do cook with it, don’t use soap and water to clean it.  Leave it on the stove and add enough water to cover the bottom.  Bring the water to a boil and then use a wooden or silicone spatula to scrape off any residual food.  Dump out the dirty water and rinse and let dry.  Voila!

But if cast iron is still too intimidating, ceramic or stainless steel cookware offers a less toxic option than nonstick as well

2. Store food safely

Switch to glass storage containers to avoid the toxic chemicals from plastic that can leech into your foods.  Many plastics storage containers and plastic bags and wrap contain bisphenol A (BPA), which messes with your endocrine system.   

The endocrine system is what produces and secretes our hormones, so it’s extremely important to keep it in good shape. (I know I sure hate when my hormones are out of whack!) BPA mimics naturally occurring hormones in our bodies, causing our endocrine system to malfunction.  Because of BPA’s effect on our endocrine system, low exposure to it has been linked to impaired immune function, early onset of puberty, obesity, diabetes, and hyperactivity.

Plus, the manufacture and disposal of plastic has a hugely negative impact on our environment.  So instead of using plastic containers and plastic bags, opt for glass storage containers, stainless steel, or silicone bags.  This is not something that you need to do in a day—start small! Throw out your most badly scratched Rubbermaid and save those glass jars you get from the store.  I’m still slowly making the switch myself. (It’s amazing how much plastic was—and still is—in my kitchen!)

3. Ditch the plastic utensils

Plastic cooking utensils often melt or leech chemicals into our foods and pans.  Many of these utensils contain BPA, which poses the hazards discussed above.  Additionally, hard plastic utensils are often made of plastic melamine.  A combination of formaldehyde with the chemical melamine forms these types of plastics.  Formaldehyde is a known carcinogen and can easily leech into your foods. So throw out those plastic utensils and opt for safer—wood, bamboo, silicone, or stainless steel

4. Reduce your use of paper towels

What?!! She’s telling me to stop using paper towels?!!  

I know, I know.  It seems impossible.  But I promise you, it’s not as hard as you think to at least reduce your use of the wonderful paper towel.

Many paper towel brands contain dyes, inks, fragrances, chlorine bleach, formaldehyde, adhesives, and other chemicals that can have a negative effect on your health.  Plus, the process of producing those paper towels is not the most environmentally friendly. 

This one is a particular step I’ve been trying to take for the last couple months.  I finally went to Tuesday Morning and bought a ton of cotton cloth towels to help me replace some of my paper towel usage.  (I tended to use A LOT of paper towels for just about everything). 

While I still keep a roll of paper towels in the kitchen, I have noticed a huge decrease in my usage.  Instead of going through what seemed like a roll every couple of days (seriously—my addiction was bad), I can’t even remember the last time I replaced my roll.  I made sure to stock up on the cotton cloths so I wouldn’t have to wash them constantly (because I am terrible about laundry—truly terrible). 

 So instead of reaching for 3 paper towels every time I need to dry my hands, dry off a dish, or clean up a spill, I reach for my reusable cloths instead.  Give it a try! I bet you’ll be surprised how quickly you’ll get used to avoiding the paper towels. 

5. Get a water filter

Unfiltered tap water comes with a huge host of ingredients that can wreak havoc on your health.  Most tap water contains traces of prescription drugs, chlorine, fluorine compounds, Trihalomethanes (THMs), hormones, and even pesticides

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) analyzed 20 million tap water quality tests and detected 316 contaminants in the water delivered to homes across the U.S.  The sources of these contaminants ranged from agricultural pollutants (pesticides and chemicals from fertilizer- and manure-laden runoff), industrial chemicals (from factory discharges and consumer products) polluted runoff from wastewater treatment plants, and pollutants that leached from pipes and storage tanks.  

Well, you think, I’ll just buy bottled water.  Don’t do it! Not only are you exposing yourself to more plastic, but most bottled water is just bottled tap water. So you’re dealing with the same risks that you get from your own sink.

So choose instead to install a water filter.  Something as simple as a filtered water pitcher can be an easy solution, or a filter that connects to your sink can be convenient as well.  Just ensure you get a quality filter that will filter out most of the pollutants.

 

While I don’t encourage you to take all these steps at once, hopefully this helps you be more mindful of the kitchen items you buy in the future and gives you the info you need to take small steps towards reducing toxins in your home. 

 Cheers to a cleaner, safer you,

Rachel 

 Have you already taken some of these steps? What step gives you the most pause?