Should You Avoid Microwaves?

I remember the first microwave we had in our house.  It was the mid-70’s and my Dad worked for a company called Winchester Electronics based in Watertown, Connecticut.  I have no idea if they’re still around, but one of their biggest consumer product lines was microwave ovens.  Since he worked for the company he got one at a steep discount for about $550, which was a fortune back then.

Microwaves have come a long way, but ultimately they haven’t changed that much. The principle is still essentially the same. They use radiation to manipulate the food at the molecular level, making them vibrate by the short radio waves emitted into the food. The vibration creates energy which heats up the food. This is why the food cooks quickly — because all the molecules on the inside are cooking at the same time as the ones on the outside, unlike conventional heat which starts on the surface and makes its way inside the food.

So that’s all I’m gonna say about how microwave cooking works. Now I want to talk about why you might want to avoid using them, or at least minimize their use. Continue reading “Should You Avoid Microwaves?”

Pros and Cons of Non-Stick Pans (and which kind is best for health)

I grew up in the era of better living through chemistry. When teflon-coated pans came out they were a life-saver for busy moms everywhere. Non-stick pans have evolved over the years and the days of little bits of chemical coating scraping off and entering your food are mostly behind us. Mostly.

In ths post you’ll learn about the five types of non-stick pans to help you make your next purchase a more informed one.

Based on my research, types of non-stick pans include teflon, copper, anodized aluminum, diamond, and thermolon.


Pretty much everyone agrees that this is the worst kind of non-stick pan you can buy. First, it scratches easily, and second, the chemicals can get into your food. No brainer that this is a no-go.

A common concern with copper pans is that copper can leach into your food during cooking. However if you use copper pans that are lined with stainless steel on the inside, you get the benefits of copper (heat conduction and aesthetics) without the safety concerns. The relatively new Red Copper pans are lined with ceramic and so are reported to be safe (and beautiful too).

Anodized Aluminum
There is much conflicting information about this type of cookware. Although the anodizing process stops the aluminum from leaching into food, there’s evidence that the additional coating on some brands of anodized pans is similar to the chemical used in Teflon. Therefore I’m not recommending this type of pan without further research.

Developed by a German company in the late 70’s, this cookware is made using one of the best non-stick technologies available. It uses diamonds and specially made steel to create an extremely durable piece of cooking equipment. You can find it on Amazon (but beware of sticker shock): Woll Non-Stick Diamond

This is a ceramic-based “green” non-stick coating technology that is considered safe as long as the brand states it’s PFO-free. The one downside seems to be that the non-stick properties of the ceramic coating degrade relatively quickly (some say within about a year), requiring regular replacement.

So there you have it! Personally I’ll stick to mostly cast iron, but when I need something lighter I’ll go with a ceramic lined pan.

[Note: When I get a chance to do further research into the anodized aluminum materials I’ll update this post.]

Beets – A Lesson in Frugality

Whole Golden BeetsBeets are the ultimate in nutritional usefulness.  Each part of the beet is nutritionally useful, and even the few small parts you don’t want to eat can be fed to your garden in the form of compost.

Golden beets are beautiful and sweet, and according to some sources are much lower in starch than their red cousins.  So if you are reducing starch in your diet for health reasons, golden beets are OK!  Also, red beets are a pain with their sheer redness, which gets all over everything in your kitchen.  I’ve already got stains on everything from all the turmeric I’m consuming, and add the red “blood” from beets and I’ve got sunset-colored cutting boards and wood-handled knives, not to mention my hands…  Ah the price for health.  But I digress…

Beets can be divided into three uniquely useful parts: the roots, the stems, and the leaves.

Roots: The root bulb is the most deliciously sweet part of the plant.  The easiest way to cook the beet root is in foil packets on your grill (btw you can skip the peeling step and eat them with the peel on).  Another way is to simply peel them and steam them, then drizzle with a little olive oil and salt and serve warm. Continue reading “Beets – A Lesson in Frugality”