I have always loved to bake. Whether it’s baking mac n’ cheese, chicken, or desserts, I love how easy it is just to plop something into the oven and go about my business till the timer goes off! And, of course, more than just getting to enjoy the food, I love to share with family and friends and see their reactions (hopefully positive!).

Up until about a year and a half ago, however, I used to bake in those non-stick cake pans and cookie sheets.  At the time, I didn’t realize that the chemical creating this “non-stick” coating was potentially toxic, but when I learned, things began to change around our kitchen.

After a lot of research and reading, I learned that the potentially harmful chemicals found in non-stick bakeware are called PFOAs (a form of PFCs), considered to be likely human carcinogens by the EPA.  The non-stick coating on these pans is made of a chemical called PTFE, which releases PFOAs when the pans are heated and when the non-stick coating begins to wear down.

Well this is inevitable, isn’t it? You have to heat the pans to bake, and I can absolutely tell you that my eyes weren’t fooling me when I noticed the layer of non-stick chemicals scratching off.  I swear I even found pieces of the coating on the bottom of cookies I made once–ugh! I also learned that exposure to PFCs can lead to a variety of health concerns which include, but are not limited to, low sperm counts in men, thyroid disease, reproductive problems, and lower birth weight.  Ding! If the non-stick coated cookies weren’t a big enough signal to get rid of our bakeware, these health concerns sure struck a chord.

Safe Baby Healthy Child blog post on safe baking pans mom and son kneading dough together

Soon, my husband and I began to swap out our old non-stick bakeware for new, safer alternatives like glass and stainless steel.  Although it may have been a slight investment in our kitchen initially, we can now say it was well worth it!  Our bakeware has not only held up much better than our old non-stick bakeware, but it is also helpings us avoid PFOAs in the kitchen.

If you’re looking to learn more about safer bakeware options, but don’t have the time to research or don’t know where to start, I think the list below will help!  I’ve put together what I have learned are safer alternatives of bakeware:

Stainless Steel Bakeware

Stainless steel bakeware bakes food evenly and does not contain the non-stick coating that scratches and wears off.  It also provides an easy release of food, won’t rust, and maintains its shape over time!  The slight concern with stainless steel is that it may leach nickel, but it is generally regarded as non-reactive, especially if you’re not using acidic foods.  Still, it’s a much less-toxic alternative to non-stick bakeware.

I’ll be honest and say I didn’t believe I could bake with a non-stick cookie sheet when I first bought ours, but I was wrong. Why did I have that non-stick bakeware all along? Maybe media was convincing me it was better.  Who knows? I recently made some organic sausage and cheese balls from scratch on our stainless steel cookie sheet.  Check out the before and after…they came out perfect!

Glass Bakeware

Glass baking dishes are non-porous and non-reactive, so they won’t leach chemicals into your food!  In addition to being great for baking, they can also serve as toxin-free food containers to store leftovers.  Finally, glass is also an eco-friendly alternative for bakeware since 90% of recycled glass is used to make new glass products. Always use food-grade glass for baking and storing. Decorative glass or colored glass can have lead and other chemicals that leach into food.

I use my glass baking dishes for casseroles, even brownies and cakes! This is a summer squash gratin I made for Thanksgiving last year.  Tasted great and cleaned up easily.

Eco-Friendly, Toxin-Free Paper Baking Products

Today you can find a lot of paper baking products made from natural, eco-friendly paper, great for those one-time-use situations.  Two of my favorites are Cupcake Creations Paper Cupcake Cups and If You Care Cupcake Baking Cups.

Eco-friendly and Silicone-free Cupcake Cups

The cupcake cups are made from natural, eco-friendly paper and are grease proof, silicone-free, and decorated with food-safe inks.

I love my Cupcake Creations baking cups because they work great for baking, don’t require a lot of muffin-pan clean up, and can be mini stand-up appetizer bowls. I had a bunch of leftover snowman printed ones from Christmas, and decided to make Raisin & Date-Syrup muffins a couple weekends ago.  The muffins cups stood up perfectly in the oven and they came out even better!  As for how the muffins tasted, I’m pretty proud of them, especially since it was the first time I made muffins sweetened only with fruit!

A Word on Unbleached Parchment Paper

Although unbleached parchment paper is made from 100% unbleached recycled paper and is often suggested for lining baking sheets to help prevent scorching and for easy cleanup, I found out that it has silicone in it.

When I make recipes that are prone to stick such as broccoli-cheddar bites I make from leftover steamed broccoli, I now coat the stainless steel baking sheet with some organic coconut oil.  Such an easy way to disguise leftovers!  My family (including my picky-broccoli-eating little brothers) gobbled them up.

Safe Baby Healthy Child blog post on safe baking pans little girl baking muffins

I hope this list helps you find safer and less-toxic options for your own kitchen. I’ve found that taking baby steps towards a healthier, toxin-free lifestyle works best for us, since change can get a bit overwhelming at times.  I find our toxin-free and eco-friendly lifestyle to be almost like a hobby! I love learning about new ways to help eliminate toxins from our lives and new ways to be more eco-conscious.  Any little bit makes a difference.

–    Date Syrup & Raisin Muffin Recipe
–    Broccoli-Cheddar Bites Recipe
–    Sausage & Cheddar Balls Recipe

About Hanna, Owner of LiveESP.com

Hannah is the CEO/President of LiveESP.com, a site she had that was dedicated to helping people build healthier, toxin-free, and eco-friendly lifestyles.  Hannah is the oldest of 6 and grew up in south Florida.  She has always had a love for being environmentally conscious and healthy.  She also has a passion for cooking healthy, toxin-free meals, and with a family of 8, there was always someone around the house to taste test her creations!

After graduating college, Hannah and her mom started learning about the toxins in products they were using around the house.  That’s when the transformation in her parent’s home and her own home began.  With this new-found knowledge on toxins, Hannah and her mom wanted to create a site to make it easier for others to also lead a healthier, toxin-free lifestyle.  In September 2011, they started LiveESP.com to teach others about toxins and offer a wide selection of non-toxic and eco-friendly products for healthier homes.

This post was originally posted in 2013