Besides the arm workout, cooking in a cast-iron skillet has other redeeming qualities for our health and our wallet. We know we should aim to eat fresh, wholesome foods but let’s not forget about how we prepare those foods. If you are spending your hard-earned cash on quality local and organic foods, it’s not just the food that matters, the pots and pans are just as important.
It’s Naturally Non-Stick
Non-stick pans are made with Teflon. When heated to high temperatures, such as for a stir-fry, Teflon releases chemicals into the air called PFCs (perfluorinated compounds). Studies have linked certain PFCs to health problems relating to hormones, liver dysfunction, and brain health. A scratched non-stick surface releases even more of these PFCs into your food. These chemicals eventually find their way into our landfill and waterways ending up back in the food chain. The good news? Cast iron is naturally non-stick when “seasoned” properly—no chemicals needed!
It Fortifies Food with Iron
Iron deficiency is one of the most common nutritional deficiencies worldwide with toddlers, premenopausal, and pregnant women, vegetarians and vegans having an increased risk for the deficiency. Since cast-iron cookware is made of iron, it releases some of this goodness into our foods. In fact, when you cook some added acidic foods, such as tomato sauce, in cast iron, you can increase the iron content of your food by up to 30%.
I can’t tell you how many cast iron pans I have seen at thrift stores and rummage sales for $5. And don’t we all have that relic cast iron pan handed down from our grandma? Today, cast iron remains some of the most inexpensive cookware on the market. A brand-new skillet may cost you just $16 and because it lasts forever, it’s a one-time purchase that gets better with age.
It Cooks Evenly
The hefty weight of cast iron pots and pans is part of what makes them so magical. The heavy cast iron will hold heat longer than most other pans, whether you are searing meat on high or simmering a soup on low.
We are often reminded by our doctors to eat “like our grandparents did” for a healthy diet. I think grandma knew that it’s not just the food that matters, but how we prepare it.
Do you cook with cast iron? Share your tips, tricks, and favorite recipes below.