This article was created in partnership with GreenPan.
At this point in my adult life, I feel like I've gotten pretty good at the healthy swaps game. Algae oil > butter. Ground turkey > ground beef. Sweet potatoes > regular potatoes. And yet, it never occurred to me there might be a healthy swap for my cookware.
I mean, a pan is a pan right? You heat it, it cooks, you eat.
*Insert record scratch*
Unfortunately it's not that simple. I may have learned how to expertly sear a steak without setting the house on fire using my old, crappy nonstick pans, but I didn't know I was basically serving up that medium-rare goodness with a side of plastic—yum. That is, until I discovered GreenPan.
GreenPan is ceramic nonstick cookware that's free of the nasty chemicals and toxins found in most other nonstick brands (more on that below). With GreenPan pans, the only thing your food is getting is a clean, even cook.
Everything I've made so far on these bad boys (sautéed veggies, low-and-slow scrambled eggs, seared pork with a red wine glaze) would do Gordon Ramsay proud. Oh, and I've had zero problems with sticking—food slides right off with nothing more than a satisfying sizzle.
Wait, back up, why are nonstick pans bad?
Many brands use coatings made from a plastic synthetic called PTFE (polytetrafluoroethylene), to achieve that nonstick quality. So yeah, you're basically cooking your food on plastic.
That might be OK at lower temps, but when you heat that baby up to around 464 degrees, the plastic coating can begin to decompose. Around 554 degrees, it starts to release tiny particles into the air (eek). And around 680 degrees, you start to get toxic fumes. The latter can occasionally result in a condition called polymer fume fever, which causes flulike symptoms and chest tightness.
If you're thinking, "I usually cook over medium-high heat, so I'm probably fine," consider that one study found it takes only eight minutes for a PTFE-coated pan left on a burner to hit 750 degrees, which is well above the PTFE industry's recommended 500-degree limit.
Also, your stovetop doesn't come with an exact temperature reading, and high temperatures sometimes are required when frying or cooking red meats like burgers and steak (the perfect sear temp is debatable, but most people say the cooking surface should be smoking hot).
The bottom line: No matter what temperature you're cooking at, PTFE is always made from a combo of chemicals, so if you're at all concerned about them making their way into your foods, best to steer clear of traditional nonstick pans.
How is GreenPan different?
GreenPan uses a ceramic coating called Thermolon, which is made from a sand derivative instead of plastic and is free of chemicals. The result is nonstick cookware that actually heats more quickly and more evenly, which means you can get that chef-quality sear over a much lower heat. But if you do accidentally overheat your GreenPan pan, breathe easy—no sketchy chemicals will end up in your food or in the air.
GreenPan also has all the other features you look for in high-quality pots and pans: The cookware is easy to clean, long-lasting, and—bonus—environmentally friendly. It's really the greenest choice you can make to take care of your health and Mama Earth.
Let me put it this way: If you care about healthy eating (don't we all?), make the swap that really counts and take plastic off the menu.