The Dangers of Non-stick Cookware And Choosing Healthier Alternatives

The Dangers of Non-stick Cookware and Healthier Alternatives
The Dangers of Non-stick Cookware and Healthier Alternatives

This is a debate that has been on going for years. Are they safe? Should we throw away our existing non-stick cookware?  After researching for days I’ve concluded the safest answer is yes.

The use of non-stick pans was approved by the government in 1960, but that approval was made without any concrete data about the safety of such a product. After the safety debate came to a head, many manufactures claimed the pans were safe so long as they were not heated over 660 degrees F. A typical non-stick pan that’s inadvertently left empty can reach that temperature in a few minutes.

Why so much worry about the specific temperature the pan reaches? When the pan is over heated, the non-stick coating breaks down and produces PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid,) which is thought to be a human carcinogen.

I became more alert to the issue when the EPA stepped in and started focusing its attention to these chemicals. This chemical can also be found in several other household items, such as food packaging (microwaveable popcorn bags), upholstery, and hygiene products. The FDA has linked the traces of this chemical in our bloods to several health risks including: risks of tumors, thyroid disease, immune deficiencies, and birth defects.

The EPA filed suit against the industry and reached a settlement in 2005 that included over $313 million in damages for concealing the harmful health effects of PFOA. This lead to the EPA asking for the complete withdraw of these products from the marketplace by 2015. Even after this request, there has been much debate from some within the industry about how these products are in fact safe for consumer use.

Some advise the harmful health effects can be minimized by being “careful.” To be careful, one must discard cookware with scratches, avoid heating non-stick cookware over 660 degrees, never use under a broiler or leave an empty skillet on a burner. You’re a lot smarter than me if you know when your pan reaches 660 degrees.

There are some healthier cookware options to consider:

Stainless steel – this is an affordable alternative if you’re short on cash to replace your old cookware. The Calphalon Classic Stainless Steel Cookware Set is a great option at an affordable price. I’ve also been eyeing the All-Clad Stainless Steel Set, as it’s known for superior quality and is used by many pro cooks. It’s also dishwasher safe, which is a-maze-ing. Sadly, these will likely stay on my wish list as they are pretty expensive.

Cast iron – this is definitely the safest option, and can even come with some health benefits. There won’t be any harmful toxins leaching into your food with these pans. Lodge has a several options, starting as low as $11 for an 8-inch skillet. Or, if you’d rather, splurge and go for Le Creuset. The entire cookware line is beautiful. You’ll pay slightly more for this one though. 🙂

Green Non-Stick Cookware – Several companies have created new technologies in an attempt to offer safer non-stick cookware. Green Pan and Orgreenic has options that are non-stick without the toxic coatings.

What is your favorite non-stick cookware?

 

 

 

 

 

4 Inexpensive Valentine’s Day Family Traditions

Family Valentine's Day Traditions

Does your family have an annual Valentine’s Day tradition?

Valentine’s Day is certainly not one of my favorite holidays, although I don’t mind the exuberant amount of chocolate that seems to float around all month and then come home from classroom parties. 🙂 I don’t like promoting commercial holidays, rather I believe we should spend time each day telling/showing the people that we love what our intentions and feelings are.

That being said, I don’t want to zap all of the fun out of my kids childhood so I’ve come up with four traditions that are fun for a family of any age or size that doesn’t have to center around spending money.

Heart Pancakes for Breakfast:

Let the children have something to look forward to each year when they wake up on Valentine’s Day morning. Even on hectic weekday mornings, this is a tradition that can last a lifetime, is inexpensive, and allows for time together. We have a squirt bottle that we put the pancake batter in to help shape the pancakes. There are several pancake mold options that would also work. Heidi over at One Creative Mommy has a great tutorial for how to make heart-shaped pancakes with squirt bottles. Check it out!

Heart Pizza for Dinner:

Notice a theme here? Show them how much you love them by filling their tummies with deliciousness and they will thank you for it. Get together a few days in advance to decide what kind of pizza everyone prefers, shop in advance, and spend an hour on valentines eve with the kids making a “lovely” pizza. My kids love cheese and pepperoni so that’s what I generally have on hand. Any recipe would work. I love the way this Heart-shaped Pizza from How Sweet It Is turned out!

Artwork:

Have each member of your family create a piece of artwork each year about something that happened within the past year that they loved or admired. We use varying sizes of thick card stock with matching frames. Depending on the size of your family, you’ll have a valentines gallery wall that will continue to grow each year that you can treasure for a lifetime.

Be your Children’s Valentine:

Each year I write each of my children a valentine. A short, sweet note reminding them what I love about them and how important they are. When they were small I would write it in their baby book or on a valentine card that had their favorite character. Now that my son is older and thinks Valentine’s Day is dumb, I leave a note for him on his dresser. He reiterates how stupid my tradition is, but I know that he reads it and will remember this gesture forever.

What do you do with your family on Valentine’s Day?

Mommy Confession: Obsession with Crime TV Shows

11523379905_3e14d5f650_o

I have a confession: I love crime shows. Love might be an understatement. I’m obsessed with them actually. I don’t attribute this weird obsession to my career – I was watching these shows long before law school entered my mind. Maybe my mother is to blame, I remember her watching America’s Most Wanted and Court TV when I was young.

I’m not talking about the action-packed thrillers CSI or True Detectives. I’m talking about the shows that document real life crime and mysteries. I really try to watch them when the kids aren’t aren’t around… but desperate times call for desperate measures.

Below are a few of my favorites:

  • On The Case with Paula Zahn – Paula Zahn delves into the investigations and legal process of each case. She does this by interviewing those closest to the case: lawyers, investigators, friends, and family. Sometimes she also interviews the murderers themselves. I like the personal approach she takes to each case.
  • Snapped – This is your classic show depicting women at their worst. They’ve gone off the deep end and murdered their husband, boyfriend, fiancee,  or anyone that gets in their way. This is kind of a real life version of all those lifetime movies most of us are guilty of watching (you know I’m right).
  • Fatal Vows -This show is similar to Snapped, but focuses on the craziness that happens after divorce and features both male and female perpetrators. It also features a psychotherapist and forensic psychologist who examine each couple as the story unfolds for the audience.
  • Forensic Files – This one’s an oldie but goodie – dramatic reenactments follow each investigation from the initial crime scene to the end of the legal process.
  • Homicide Hunter: Lt. Joe Kenda – A real homicide detective who has solved more than 400 murders revisits the most disturbing of his career while taking the audience through the process of bringing the perpetrator to justice.

My husband is a different story, he would rather put a fork in his eye than watch any of my shows. Don’t judge me.. it’s what I do when I’m not going crazy taking care of these three kids or working. Let me know what your favorite shows are… maybe I can be converted?

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/8210815@N06/11523379905″>Shut up, just shut up, shut up</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>(license)</a>

How to Get Over and Prevent the Stomach Flu

Gross. A stomach virus. By now, you’ve probably spent at least one winter unable to escape the repeating offender all mom’s dread: the stomach flu. If you’re like me you’ve got kids in daycare, elementary, and middle school and it can be hard to keep track of all those filthy little hands to prevent the spread of this nasty little bug. Fight back against the misery (am I right?!) by following some of the methods we’ve learned along the way in our house.

Once someone already has the stomach flu:

– Most infections happen within 48 hours, although it can take up to a full week to claim all victims.
– Rest. Okay, this seems obvious. But seriously, it’s something I never am able to do myself. Take a day off work, it will save a few sick days in the end if you’re able to overcome the illness quicker. Resting also allows your body to preserve your calories and energy, which you will need to help boost your immune system.
– Quarantine all your little petri dishes and make (force) them to wash their hands immediately when they come in the house. This includes under the nails and up to their elbows.
– Wear disposable gloves when changing diapers or cleaning up vomit. I’m seriously considering a full bio-hazard suit as we’ve had two rounds of the stomach flu in the past 3 weeks, but I’ve been known to be a bit extreme.
– Clean with a product that can actually kill the norovirus. Not all cleaning products are capable. Frequently clean the areas that get used most often: knobs, stair rails, faucets, appliances, toilets, etc. A chlorine based cleaner is highly effective against the norovirus.
– Drink plenty of clear fluids.
– Eat a diet that is easy on your stomach, such as the BRAT diet: Bananas, rice, applesauce, toast. These are also the things that are least likely to stain your carpets when your kids vomit everywhere, so that’s a nice perk.
– Drink herbal teas. Hot teas such as peppermint and ginger relax your stomach and can help boost your immune system.
– If your symptoms have not subsided in 8-10 days, you should seek medical attention as it may not be a stomach virus.

– Avoid food preparation until you have been free of symptoms for two to three days.

Prevention:

– Have plans with someone who has had the stomach flu within the past 14 days? Tell them to stay the eff away. Politely, of course.
– Wash your hands often, especially before eating or touching your face. Carry hand sanitizer for those times when you are unable to wash. Be sure the sanitizer you’re using is actually effective against the norovirus.
– Keep your children’s hands out of their mouths. Or at least try, because we all know it’s impossible.
– Carry your own pens with you so you have less exposure to others germs.
– Shopping cart handles are the worst, be sure to wipe them before using. Most grocery stores now have anti-bacterial wipes near the entrance.
– Switch out your toothbrush when someone in your house comes down with the stomach flu – and be sure to store yours away from sick people’s toothbrushes.

– Carefully rinse vegetables and fruits to avoid the contamination by sick handlers.

Stay well friends, I hope this particular bug misses you and yours.