Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Health Benefits of Cooking with an Iron Skillet


Julia here! Do you cook with an iron skillet? Iron skillets are one of the most wonderful tools you can use in your kitchen! And here are a few reasons why...

Health Benefit #1- Use Less Cooking Oil!

That lovely sheen on cast-iron cookware is the sign of a well-seasoned pan, which renders it virtually nonstick. The good news about this is that you won’t need to use oodles of high-calorie oil to cook your tasty foods like potatoes, veggies, chicken, and more. :D We usually use a dab of butter on our antique frying pan, instead of cooking oil. I've heard it's not best to mix butter and cooking oil when seasoning one skillet, and we use butter because we usually cook scrambled eggs in our antique pan. :)

BTW, To clean cast iron, never use soap. This will strip the pan of its natural seasoning.Simply scrub or scrape your skillet with a washcloth or a brush and hot water and dry it completely. (We actually scrape ours off with a small square of plastic that came with our pizza stone.) :D

One way to season your cast-iron skillet is to cover the bottom of the pan with a thick layer of kosher salt and a half inch of cooking oil, then heat until the oil starts to smoke. Carefully pour the salt and oil into a bowl, then use a ball of paper towels to rub the inside of the pan until it is smooth. If you're using butter, heat a small amount of butter in the pan until it's good and sizzled, then wipe clean with paper towels. (why paper towels? So you can discard them after use.) If you have purchased a new iron skillet, it may take a few times before it's seasoned enough to use. 

Health Benefit #2- Avoid Harmful Chemicals.

Hang onto your hats, this is the scary part! The repellent coating that keeps food from sticking to nonstick pots and pans contains PFCs (perfluorocarbons), a chemical that’s linked to liver damage, cancer, developmental problems and, according to one 2011 study in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, early menopause. (YUCK. And we're using this regularly?) PFCs get released—and inhaled—from nonstick pans in the form of fumes when pans are heated on high heat. Likewise, we can ingest them when the surface of the pan gets scratched. Both regular and ceramic-coated cast-iron pans are great alternatives to nonstick pans for this reason.
We actually have a few nonstick frying pans still, but we're looking into replacing them for this very reason, and keeping an eye out at estate sales and yard sales for any unwanted iron skillets. :D

Health Benefit #3- Solve Iron Deficiency!

Did you know nearly 10% of American women are iron-deficient? (Neither did I, until I looked it up) Gloria (my dear mom and co-blogger) has struggled with iron deficiency, and I think cooking with our skillet has helped a lot. Her last blood-work report showed normal iron levels, even without her taking any iron supplements!

You see, while cast iron doesn’t leach chemicals, it can leach some iron into your food...and that’s a good thing. :) Cooking food, especially something acidic like tomato sauce in a cast-iron skillet can increase iron content by as much as 20 times!

Now, this isn't a health tip, it's a frugal one - using an iron skillet means you can decrease your pan replacement costs by 100%! THEY LAST FOREVER. :D 

So, what are you waiting for?! Dig out that iron skillet (or beg, borrow or snatch one from your Aunt Bea) and cook something great and guilt-free for yourself today. :D 



You will find us linked up at some of these fine sites.
More info about skillets here. :)

22 comments:

  1. We have a few great cast iron pans. Sadly I have to get help when I use them because I can't lift them anymore (they are SOO heavy!). ;) But we love them too!

    That's wonderful about your mom doing better...I had read that about iron deficiency only a few weeks ago and was very surprised by that fact too. Glad to know it really works!

    ~Rachel~

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    1. Hi Rachel! Aww, yes, they are heavy... I have to help Mama lift them sometimes. Yes, the iron really works! It's a nice benefit to beautifully-cooked food, the fact that it's also better for you! ;)

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  2. I'll never forget the first time I tried to "clean" an iron skillet. My boyfriend at the time had a FIT!
    Thanks for sharing at Tuesdays with a Twist!

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    1. Haha - once we had a friend of my mom's "helpfully" wash a skillet of ours with soap... We freaked out later when we realized why our skillet was going rusty! :P

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  3. My Granny always cooked with a cast iron skillet. I am new to the iron world and have ruined a few, become REALLY rusty and had no idea how to fix that. I am on a mission to figure out how to use/store/clean one properly.

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    1. Aw, how sweet! Neither of my grandmas cooked with an iron skillet but my mom and I are starting a new tradition. ;) Good luck on your mission! Hope our post was helpful. :D

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  4. We love our iron skillet, great tips!

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    1. We love ours too, Kristy! Thanks!

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  5. I love my cast iron skillets! The first one I ever got was a lovely 12 inch. My newest addition is a dutch oven; a Christmas present from a dear friend. She knows me all too well! ;)

    Another benefit not listed is WORKOUT! LOL Those things can be HEAVY! Great for strength training and even cardio! ;)

    I aspire to be like the character in Tangled-to just fling that thing around everywhere like it weighs as much as a feather, haha!

    Love this post!

    Many Blessings,
    Moriah Jordan Miller

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    1. Oooh, a Dutch oven! Nice! Oh yeah - cast-iron skillets are HEAVY... that's why they last, they're so durable and strong! :D I usually never have a problem when carrying it around with both hands, and I've actually gotten to where I can pick up our large one with one hand and turn the scrambled eggs out of it with the other. ;)

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  6. I just started using a cast iron skillet because I was sick and tired of all my other skillets I would buy warping. It is a bit harder to clean the cast iron, but thank you for reminding me that it is worth it!

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    1. This is very true - cheap nonstick pans tend to warp, while an iron skillet never does, even after a century of cooking! :D Thanks for coming by!

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  7. Wow! Totally didnt know about the Iron thing. Thats crazy! Super helpful post girls, I am definitely going out to buy an iron skillet. :) Found ya at the Get Schooled Link Party. :)

    Krista @ joyfulhealthyeats

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    1. We're so glad you found the info helpful and happy to hear you're going to get an iron skillet! :D Let us know if you find one for a great deal. ;) Thanks for coming by!

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  8. This is great post and I have used them before and love how it cooks the food. : ) Have a great day.

    Vanessa

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    1. Thanks Vanessa! We do too, the even heat is really nice for cooking the food well. Hope you have a great day too! :)

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  9. I absolutely love using my iron skillet - so long as I do not have to lift it too much {have silly hands after an operation :-( } Thank you for sharing at our ALL MY BLOGGY FRIENDS party !

    Linda
    With A Blast

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    1. Thanks for having the party, Linda! Oh, sorry to hear about your hands. :( Yes, it's too bad somebody hasn't invented a 'lighter' iron skillet. That's their only fault. :D Can't complain about the way they cook! :D

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  10. Wow! Totally didnt know about the Iron thing. Thats crazy! Super helpful post girls, I am definitely going out to buy an iron skillet.
    physical therapist colorado springs

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    1. Thanks for the comment. Yep, it's really good news! So easy to get some good iron. Plus they don't wear out like teflon pans.
      Have a great day!
      Gloria

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  11. I love my cast iron skillet; I recently purchased a iron tortilla pan and it was sticking after seasoned...I see I may have to do it a little longer and perhaps another time to get it right. Thanks for the info.

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  12. My hubby uses our cast iron dutch oven to catch drippings when we smoke a turkey, ham, and or brisket, It's an awesome way to season it. He will dispose of the drippings and wipe it down and bake it in the oven. Then when I make chili or soup we have an awesome smoky flavor.

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