Taking the time to prepare homemade, healthy meals is, in my opinion, one of the most important things you can do to keep skin youthful, resilient and beautiful. After all, the cells and structure of your skin are literally made up of the food that goes into your body. But do you ever stop and consider how you are preparing your meals and what effect this might have on your complexion and general health?
The health problems associated with non-stick Teflon pots and pans have been documented for some time – there is nothing pretty about them – but what’s the alternative? Healthier options like stainless steel and copper are good, but I’ve found that I easily burn my stainless steel cookware and copper is insanely expensive. That is why I almost exclusively cook with my trusty and timeless cast iron.
Cast iron can seem intimidating, especially the seasoning part. But trust me when I say it is very easy. Why do I love cast iron so much? For one thing, it’s completely non-toxic. No chemicals, off-gassing or toxins to worry about. Cast iron is also probably one of the few kitchen items that gets better as it ages, as frequent use creates a tasty, seasoned surface. The older it is, the more prized among home chefs. It is virtually indestructible, naturally non-stick and extremely affordable. Though I have a few pricier enameled cast iron pots and baking dishes from Le Creuset, which are perfect for oven-to-table entertaining, most of my cast iron pieces are by Lodge. Lodge has been making cast iron cookware in America since 1896 and the quality and price are unbeatable.
And now for the beauty link! The beauty benefit of using cast iron cookware, in addition to the health perks above, is that it contains a vital mineral: iron. When you cook with cast iron, you get trace amounts of this mineral in your food. Iron helps your body utilize antioxidants properly and activate B-group vitamins. These vitamins are critical for elastic skin and strong nails and hair. Iron also helps red blood cells carry oxygen around the body, which is needed for immunity, circulation of nutrients (key for radiant skin!), and muscle health.
You can cook almost anything in your cast iron. Sauces, meat dishes, vegetable stir fries, french toast, scrambled eggs. The list is endless. Just remember to wash it immediately after use with hot water (no soap), scrubbing with salt and a coarse sponge if needed, and then dry. I keep a separate sponge and towel for the cast iron, and make sure to rub a thin coat of oil – I prefer coconut oil, as it has a high burning point – before I put it away. This has made using and caring for my cast iron pans and griddles simple and practical.
Here’s a video on how to properly season cast iron if it’s new and unseasoned, or how to clean one that’s gone rusty. Happy and healthy cooking!