5 Materials for a Healthy Kitchen (+ a $650 giveaway!)

This contest is now closed and the winner has been selected! Congrats to…

Stacey P.!

The holiday season is upon us, which means many of us will soon be baking and cooking up a storm with our families! And I don’t know about you, but I’ve been working hard these past few years to improve the materials I cook with in my kitchen. For one, non-stick is mostly out and so is plastic. Now I say “mostly” because I like to balance these goals with reality, but I do think the 80/20 rule is a great goal when it comes to these sorts of things.

So today, I’m excited to partner with our sponsor, MightyNest, to share some of the materials that you’ll now find a lot of in my kitchen. They definitely know their stuff when it comes to smart choices – all their products are free from known toxic ingredients such as BPA, PVC, phthalates, lead, melamine, formaldehyde, flame retardants, parabens and more. So while many of us are here because we’re concerned about what foods we’re cooking – let’s be sure we don’t overlook what tools we’re using to prepare, serve and store all that wholesome goodness as well!

Plus, not only does MightyNest have all the healthy gear you need to outfit your kitchen, but they also donate a very generous 15% of any order back to the school of your choice. A healthy kitchen and money for your school… sounds like a great combo to me! So, to help you get started with your transition to “5 Materials for a Healthy Kitchen” one lucky 100 Days of Real Food reader has a chance to win a HUGE giveaway package today, which includes both $400 of products and $250 for the school of the your choice – a total value of $650!! Just click the blue button below to enter!

Cast Iron

For years now I’ve read recipes that recommend using a Dutch oven but I never had one to use – until now (thanks to MightyNest)! My husband (who rarely gets excited about kitchen tools) even said, “That new pot is really cool!” And that’s because it’s made of cast iron, a material that can be used on the cooktop and, if necessary, transferred into the oven for continued cooking or braising. Unlike pans that are coated with a layer of that non-stick chemical stuff, cast iron cookware does not release gases or chemical particles into the air or your food when it is heated—so once you get it coated nicely you can get your sear on without worrying about what you’re inhaling or worrying about sticking, either. I can’t wait to use my Dutch oven as an alternative to my slow cooker with recipes like soups, stews, roasts and chili. (As you can see below, my daughter gives it a thumbs up as well.)
5 Materials for a Healthy Kitchen on 100 Days of #RealFood

Stainless Steel

Stainless steel is everywhere in kitchens these days, from decorative finishes to cookware and utensils. And that’s because it’s a time-tested, durable, and non-toxic material that can withstand use (and even abuse) on the cooktop, in the oven, on the table, or for storage in the fridge or pantry. Many stainless steel products are also comprised of recycled material, making this a great green option if that’s your thing. Higher grade stainless steel like 18/8 or 18/10 will never rust.
Now I was personally excited to get this stainless steel muffin pan because I had already switched over my baking sheets from non-stick, but not these yet. So now I can make muffins right in the pan without worrying about liners. And we were happy to discover that with a little brush of butter (before putting in the batter) the muffins will come out clean without sticking!
5 Materials for a Healthy Kitchen on 100 Days of #RealFood

Bamboo

When it comes to cutting boards, bamboo is a good choice for many reasons. It absorbs very little moisture compared to other woods, and for this reason it also resists swelling, which can lead to cracking and warping. Cutting boards made from bamboo won’t dull your knives, and they’re also less likely to result in cross-contamination (like raw meat juices!) than plastic boards thanks to the naturally-occurring anti-microbial compounds in bamboo. One important note: you’ll need to hand wash these bad boys!
5 Materials for a Healthy Kitchen on 100 Days of #RealFood

Glass

Baking, serving, and storing your food in glass means your kitchenware is free of lead and chemicals like BPA that are commonly found in plastics. Now I do avoid sending my kids to school with glass containers (for obvious reasons), but when it comes to the home use that’s our storage material of choice. The key is to look for tempered glass, which can withstand temperature changes or even being dropped. We’ve had a set of glass containers (pictured in the front below) for over 3 years now and only ONE has broken. I kind of can’t believe it. I also love that glass containers are pretty enough for both food storage and serving – plus they can go right in the dishwasher when you’re all done. What’s not to like?!
5 Materials for a Healthy Kitchen on 100 Days of #RealFood - 3

Ceramic

My family is a huge fan of homemade pizza, and one of the ways we love to make it is on our grill using our ceramic pizza stone! Ceramic is an earth-friendly material that can withstand extreme temperatures. It creates the crispy crusts on homemade pizza, breads and other foods when cooked on it.
5 Materials for a Healthy Kitchen on 100 Days of #RealFood

Bee’s Wrap (Bonus!)

Well, this creative alternative to plastic wrap was new to me – how neat! Made from organic cotton muslin, beeswax, jojoba oil and tree resin, Bee’s Wrap is a totally safe and sustainable food wrap that can be used again and again (for about a year). The antibacterial qualities of beeswax and jojoba oil help keep food fresh and all it takes is the warmth of your hands to soften the wax enough to form it directly around food or open containers. A little forming creates a seal, and as it cools, the material stiffens holding the seal intact. When you’re ready to use Bee’s Wrap again, just wash with a little soap and cool water and allow it to air dry. It’s perfect for covering leftovers like cheese, baked goods, bread, fruit or even half a lemon. Leave it to the bees!
5 Materials for a Healthy Kitchen on 100 Days of #RealFood
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What materials do you love to use in your kitchen?

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188 thoughts on “5 Materials for a Healthy Kitchen (+ a $650 giveaway!)”

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  1. This was such a good reminder! I thought of the cooking utensils immediately with the stainless steel, but totally forgot about the muffin pan. Most of the cookware we have started as hand-me-downs. It is just not part of the budget unless we ask for things for birthdays or Christmas. But I do like my cast iron! Since we live in Minnesota and already have snow, we have been talking about a dutch oven, it works on the stove or open fire if we loose power again this year.

  2. I have had my stainless steel cookware for 32 years. It is durable. I can cook anything in it. I I love it. Despite all the fads, I have never felt there has been a reason to change.

  3. I love my cast iron for searing steak and then putting it directly into the oven. I’m hoping to get a cast iron Dutch oven someday. We have very little glass items because I’m not a dainty cook, so they are no longer with us. ;)

  4. Neat items and giveaway!!! Would love a dutch oven, and the bees wax is news to me :)
    My favorite materials to use in the kitchen is a nutmylk bag, great for getting smoothies and super smooth!

  5. I have some of these items such as the pots and pans and have eliminated most of the plastic food storage items, but not all. I hadn’t thought about the backing sheets and muffin tins. Now I know what to put on my Christmas list.

  6. I love my cast iron skillets and baking stones. I use both almost every day. I am also a big fan of glass containers for storage. I’m trying hard (on a very limited budget) to replace as many of our plastic containers as possible with glass. (I’ve had some good luck at yard sales!)

    What a fantastic prize – especially the donation to the school. LOVE that!

  7. I’ve been using all of these materials for many years, except for the Bee’s Wrap. I have to try these!! What a great idea!

  8. I have the cast iron Dutch oven and a brasier. They are the most used things in my kitchen. I have stainless steel pots and pans, but I’ve never though to invest in the baking pans like I do for the everyday meal cooking dishes. The bees wrap really has me curious. I hate plastic wrap and would love to switch it with something more user friendly.

  9. Definitely need to make these changes to my kitchen. Never thought about all that was mentioned until your article. Thanks for educating us.

  10. I my stainless steel pots and pans but never thought of a cookie sheet or muffin tin. stainless steel is so easy to clean!! I love them! I do have a cast iron frying pan however they are not recommended for use on the glass or ceramic stove tops. I really want to get some glass containers for leftovers and such. just haven’t had the money to do so. never heard of bees wrap before. interesting.

  11. I was just wondering what we should do about the school we entered in order to enter the giveaway. I am homeschooling my kids this year, but that wasn’t an option, so I just put in the school that they were going to last year. Is there something I should change? Can the money go toward our homeschool? If it doesn’t make a difference, I know the school the kids were going to was wonderful, and I would not mind at all if the money went toward the school I entered. On a less confusing note, I hope I win!! I just read 100 days of real food, and me and my husband are in the process of switching over to all REAL food and organic when we can. We have 6 children, and only one income, so this has been a challenge (especially b/c the kids are not used to having more vegetables than rice/bread etc.). But we’re doing it! This would be such a wonderful little push in the right direction. :)

  12. i have just about all of that stuff, and i do love my cast iron, that is about all i cook in. i cna’t wait to try the bees stuff

  13. I asked for a whole new set of pots and pans for Christmas (fingers crossed that Santa will be good to me this year!) How difficult is it to clean a stainless steel pan? That’s the main reason I’ve been hesitant to get rid of my non-stick stuff……

  14. I have always used stainless, my husband won’t use anything else. The bamboo I find interesting, I will have to look into it

  15. Wow, these products sound so awesome!! The only thing in my kitchen I love is my wood cutting board, and my one cast iron frying pan. I would never in a million years be able to afford a kitchen makeover, so even dreaming about winning this Mighty Nest giveaway is amazing!!! Thanks for the great info, I love hearing about this kind of stuff!

  16. would love these for my daughter and hubby to use when cooking for my 2 precious grandsons – 2 1/2 yr. old Jonah and 1 yr. old Ezra!

  17. Oh gosh, I need help in each section. Still have some non-stick pans, only have one glass storage container (yes, 1) and it’s probably time to switch to bamboo. Hope I win!!

  18. I love my cast iron, use them every day, they never leave my stove top. I also use mostly glass storage and am now very interested in the bees wrap.

  19. What a perfect partnership – 100 Days and Mighty Nest! I’m trying to use our cast iron more, and the bees wrap looks very cool.

  20. I was told cooking with cast iron pans puts iron into the food you are cooking. My dad had trouble with processing iron and they told us not to cook in cast iron pans.

  21. What is the best product for freezing soup? I’ve heard stories about glass breaking in the freezer, but wasn’t sure if there was a specific kind of glass that was perfect for freezing liquids.

  22. I’d love to try the stainless steel muffin pans and the beeswax paper! Absolutely love our cast iron! There’s a few more pieces I’d still like to get. And we also use glass to store everything in, did away with plastic a long time ago.

  23. I would love to try the bees wrap. I use stainless steel and glass mostly. But I need to get rid of the one non-stick pan in my kitchen.

  24. I use glass and stainless steel, and have tried cast iron but I have trouble coating it. I get a nice glaze and the minute I scrub off bits of bacon or some other crusty thing, I have to start over. Love the bees wrap – so cool! Great giveaway, would love to try some stuff!

  25. I just bought a Lodge cast iron pan to bake this no knead artisan bread & it has been amazing!http://www.melskitchencafe.com/crusty-artisan-bread/ I then used it to cook some rib eye steaks a couple nights ago & they came out so crusty & tender. So glad I decided to get this pan “just to make bread”! Can’t wait to try it for different things.

    One thing I know I need to do is find an alternative to non stick for our pancake griddle & our big egg frying pan. Need to figure that out.

  26. I’ve been slowly replacing “unheathly” items. One thing that has helped and was cheap to do, was to use canning jars for storage. Thanks Lisa!

  27. We have used our Griswold cast iron for years, and we use pyrex for storage, but also some plastic containers that are supposed to be bpa free. I have new nonstick cookware from Pampered Chef, do I really need to replace it? Thanks for the useful tips!

  28. I love these and have all except the Bee Wrap and the SS muffin pan. I have been looking for both of these… Would love to win any of these… thank you for posting!

  29. Thank you Lisa for this great post! Wanted to let your readers know that U-Konserve has glass containers with silicone sleeves for added protection from breakage. They’re sturdy enough for takeout lunches, and also can be used in the oven, microwave, freezer and dishwasher. http://www.ukonserve.com

  30. The only thing new to me is the Bee Wrap. Other than that, we’ve been using all of these for years. Heck, a Cast Iron pan was the only way my mom ever made fried eggs – And for a reason! Dutch Oven – As the weather cools down the first thing I pull out is my Dutch Oven and in goes the chicken (often bone-in breasts for ease) to brown on the stovetop, then add wine, stock and root veggies / onions to roast/braise to a classic french style meal.

  31. Growing up my mom used only cast iron and copper. So I was “spoiled.” I have stainless steel cookware but use primarily my Lodge cast iron skillet and Dutch Oven for almost any needs!

  32. We love to use glass containers. It has been a slow process to switch from plastic as the glass containers are $$$. Stainless steel muffin pan! Wow I have never seen one before.

  33. I have slowly been upgrading our kitchen tools to get the older, unhealthy items out.

    I am excited about the Bee’s wrap and will be trying that soon!

  34. I love my cast iron skillet. I was a little apprehensive about using it at first but with a little practice I can now even make over-easy eggs in that thing. I want to try reheating pizza in it as a previous poster suggested.

    Lisa, have you ever tried making pizza directly on the grill, without a stone? It works very well and you end up with a really yummy grilled/charred crust. Plus, you don’t have to get the crust perfectly round, just flatten it out and call it “rustic”. :)

  35. Thanks for this article! I am beginning to think about replacing my kitchen ware with items that are safer and more environmentally friendly. These products would be a great place to start! Especially the dutch oven which is a pan I use multiple times per week.

  36. Thank you for the introduction of great products. I am always looking for ways to make my cooking safer. I LOVE the glass containers!

    1. Jennifer, I JUST did this myself a few weeks ago! I got a ceramic frying pan (from Aldi of all places – $15!) and I am so thrilled with it. The egg slides right out of the pan and cleanup is just hot water! Definitely recommend.

  37. I love the bees wax muslin. I will have to search or find that online, I actually hate the plastic wrap because it never functions for me. The one thing I try to work on getting out of the house is canola oil.

  38. Lisa – I’ve been following you for some time and just love your blog, happy to share some things which I know will be helpful to you.
    1, parchment paper .. It’s been around forever and is a must-have for any kitchen. Instead of greasing or spraying your baking pans or cookie sheets, line with parchment paper. Works great for baking pastries or roasting veggies or granola or nuts. Once you have it in your kitchen you’ll find lots of random other uses such as covering food in the microwave and making little paper patterns (I’m a quilter) which will hold up for re-use.
    2. Stainless steel pressure cooker .. Every young family can benefit from learning to use this tool! It can have a wonderful tender pot roast with potatoes and carrots and cabbage ready for the table in an hour and a half. You spend ten minutes browning the meat in some chopped onions and just a tablespoon of oil, then remove the meat and put a little ‘shelf’ in the bottom of the pan to hold the roast off the floor of the cooker while you pressure cook it, put the meat back in, add a cup of water and put the lid on for fifty minutes. After that time, you add your veggies and put the cover back on for another twenty minutes. There is a little learning curve involved in using a pressure cooker . You need to learn to recognize when the pressure is just right and how to quickly bring the pressure down before opening to add the veggies.. But once you have the hang of it you will love it.
    3. Good old glass quart canning jars and lids. Use the to keep dried beans and peas and macaroni and nuts .. They look good lined along your shelf and seal up tight to keep out bugs

    Thanks for the bee wrap tip, I am going to look into that!

  39. I love the idea of the bees wrap! Also, if anyone in your family is a little Iron deficient, cooking on cast iron helps with their anemia- for a little of the natural iron in the pan gets transferred to your food. We use our cast iron skillet a lot to help our 1 year old get the necessary iron in his diet.

    Thanks for all the other kitchen “must haves”. I think my Christmas list just got a lot bigger!

  40. thank you for sharing this list, just in time for Christmas! I had a cast iron pot on my list and now I can send my husband a specific link to one!! Like you I have been trying to switch out my kitchen ware for safer alternatives. I am getting there, little by little!!

  41. I love my cast iron pots the most but I could really use another muffin pan. I need a good non toxic materials mini muffin pan. I’d love to win this!

  42. I have never heard of the Bee’s Wrap before- that looks interesting. We have been in the process of getting rid of all of our plastic storage containers and switching over to glass. I would like to get some new cookware for Christmas, so I will have to look into the different options you’ve posted. Thanks!

  43. Is stainless steel non stick. Oh I have do much non stick. But I do throw them out the first hint of wear. Do I need to season a Dutch oven?

  44. I absolutely love cooking with cast iron (My mother is a Griswold so cooking with cast iron is in our blood). Most of the pieces I have are old hand-me downs, and they are the best. There is nothing better than a perfectly seasoned cast iron skillet.

  45. I try to use glass or metals when baking. We are fans of homemade pizza also. We reheat leftover pizza in a cast iron skillet on a low heat with a cover and a bit of oil in the pan. It becomes nice and crispy on the bottom and perfectly warmed on top. My husband tries to make them weekly–I believe he would eat it every night if he could.

  46. Great tips for cooking materials. Most of them I use, but haven’t replaced everything yet. The Bee’s Wrap looks awesome….haven’t seen many items to replace plastic wrap. I’ll need to look into this for Christmas gifts.

  47. I LOOOOOOVE cast iron! I thought I’d had cornbread before but then I put it in a hot cast iron skillet with some bacon grease melted in the bottom. Oh-my-yum!

  48. Wow! All those items look awesome. I love my cast iron, but since most isn’t enameled, it can be a pain to clean. Your dutch oven looks beautiful.

  49. We’ve switched to all stainless steel stovetop cookware. Slowly switching to glass storage. Eventually would LOVE to have no plastic anything!

  50. Where did you get your cookie pans? I am in desperate need (as in I don’t have a single pan left) and don’t have a clue where to look

  51. We have recently began crossing over to all glass for our storage and cooking dishes. There are alot more options out there than it used to be. Also, the aluminium bakeware looks amazing… I have a few pieces that I use, but the Holidays are coming! so here’s to wishing… LOL!

  52. These are great! Thanks for sharing. But the link to the muffin tin is broken. I would love to see more information about that thing!