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. :)