Disclaimer: This toxic free living post is intended for informational purposes only. I’m not a qualified practitioner and I’m not encouraging anyone else to implement these switches. Please consult a qualified medical practitioner if you have any issues or concerns regarding medical problems. This post contains affiliate links, meaning at no additional cost to you I earn commission if you click on a link and make a purchase. See my full disclaimer here.
We’re exposed to over 700,000 chemicals everyday, which are associated with a range of symptoms and health problems (1). One source of these chemicals is our kitchens and in the foods and drinks we consume (1). However it isn’t just the types of food and drink we consume that impacts our health. The way we prepare and cook food, the oils we use, the type of cooking equipment and what we store food in can also impact our health.
Toxic free living involves making changes to reduce the amount of toxins and chemicals we’re exposed to improve our health and help manage symptoms for those with chronic illness. I’ve previously written about 6 Free Ways To Start Toxin Free Living and 15 Easy Ways To Begin To Reduce Chemicals In Your Home to transition to a non-toxic home. Below are 10 tips for a non toxic kitchen specifically.
10 Toxic Free Living Tips For A Non Toxic Kitchen
1). Avoid processed foods
Processed foods are any that have been altered in some way from their natural state to make them either ready to eat or quicker to prepare, enhance their flavour or texture and extend their shelf life. Common store bought processed foods include:-
- Microwave and ready meals
- Tinned soups and stews
- Chocolate, cakes, biscuits, cookies, flapjacks, granola bars, energy bars, muffins, scones
- Pancakes, crepes and waffles
- Cereals and granola
- Crisps and popcorn
- Pastries, pies and sausage rolls
- Sauces, stocks and gravies
- Desserts, such as cheesecakes, panna cotta, popsicles/ice lollies, ice cream, sorbet and mousses
- Drinks such as milk, fizzy drinks and squashes
These processed foods can have a negative impact on our health as they:-
- Have been stripped of nutrients,
- Contain added refined sugar and salt,
- Contain vegetable oils that are low in anti-inflammatory omega 3 fats and high in inflammatory omega 6 fats,
- Contain unnatural artificial flavourings, sweeteners, colourings, preservatives and emulsifiers, which increase inflammation and feed the bad bacteria in the gut, which can suppress the immune system (2, 3).
Make healthy versions of processed food at home
Toxic free living doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy your favourite foods. You can make healthy homemade versions of these processed foods, using only natural ingredients that maintain their nutrients and are free from these artificial inflammatory ingredients, such as:-
- Risotto, like this Pumpkin, Mushroom & Spinach Risotto.
- Pancakes, like this Healthy Oven Baked Chocolate Pancake. Baking the pancake in the oven, rather than standing flipping each one in a frying pan as traditionally done, makes them quick and easy to prepare in just 15 minutes.
- Soups, like this Root Vegetable Soup.
- Pesto, like used in this Sprouted Buckwheat Pesto Salad.
- Desserts, like this Healthy Panna Cotta and Sugar Free Tropical Fruit Popsicles.
- Milk, like this Tiger Nut Milk Recipe, which is an allergy friendly plant based milk alternative, free from dairy, soy, grains and nuts, made with just 2 ingredients (tiger nuts and filtered water).
- Bliss balls, like these Wild Blueberry & Lemon Healthy Bliss Balls, make a great alternative to granola bars. They’re small bite sized balls, making them perfect for an on the go snack and in lunch boxes.
- Chocolate, like this Dairy Free Christmas Chocolate.
2). Remove and replace plastics
Plastic cups and storage containers, even BPA free, leach chemicals into the food and drinks we consume, which can weaken the immune system and cause a range of health problems, including:-
- Hormone disruption,
- Reproductive problems,
- Respiratory and breathing problems,
- Autoimmune conditions,
- Impaired brain development,
- Damage to the nervous system and
- Cancer (4, 5, 6).
Therefore, for toxic free living I replace all my plastic products with safe alternatives like bamboo, glass, ceramic, wood and paper. Below are 6 easy example swaps I have made to remove plastic from my kitchen:-
- Wrap food with beeswax wrap (UK Link/US Link) rather than cling film.
- Swap your plastic water bottle for a stainless steel (UK Link/US Link) or glass one (UK Link/US Link).
- When purchasing fresh produce at the supermarket, rather than single use plastic bags, use reusable cotton produce bags (UK Link/US Link).
- Store food in glass containers with bamboo lids rather than plastic.
- Swap plastic kettle for a glass one (UK Link/US Link).
- Swap plastic food bags for unbleached paper bags (UK Link/US Link).
- Swap plastic straws for glass straws (UK Link/US Link).
3). Use ceramic or glass bakeware and cookware
Aluminium, copper and teflon tins and pans leach toxins and heavy metals into foods and drinks when heated or when they scratch, peel and flake, which is harmful to our health and is associated with the following symptoms and conditions:-
- Flu-like symptoms,
- Shortness of breath,
- Nervous system disorders,
- Reproductive problems,
- Connective tissue problems (7, 8, 9, 10).
Xtrema‘s 100% pure ceramic saucepans and casserole dishes and Pyrex glass baking, roasting, muffin and loaf tins and trays are the safest non toxic bakeware and cookware as they:-
- Don’t contain toxic chemicals,
- Don’t scratch,
- Don’t leach heavy metals into foods and drinks,
- Don’t release harmful fumes when heated (11).
4). Eat seasonally
We can buy and eat many foods all year round, due to being able to ship foods from around the world. Seasonal eating is eating foods at the same time of year they’re grown locally.
The nutrients in food declines over time. Purchasing foods grown locally means the time from food being picked to us consuming them is less. In season foods provide us with the specific nutrients our bodies need during each time of year and require less harmful pesticides to grow (12). Therefore, foods will be:-
- Higher in nutrients,
- Lower in toxins and
- Have a stronger flavour (12).
This Eat The Seasons post has a month by month guide, with the fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds, herbs and spices that are in season for each month of the year.
5). Buy organic
- Contains a higher amount of heavy metals,
- Are grown using harmful artificial chemical pesticides to kill weeds and stop insects eating our food,
- Contains artificial colourings, flavours, additives and preservatives to preserve shelf life,
- Conventional meat and dairy products are produced using antibiotics and hormones, which all enter our bodies when we consume them (13).
In contrast, organic food is:-
- Higher in nutrients,
- Contains a lower amount of heavy metals,
- Free from toxic chemical pesticides, colourings, flavours, additives and preservatives,
- Organic meat, dairy and egg products are also free from antibiotics and growth hormones (13).
Organic products can be expensive so for fruits and vegetables I prioritise buying organic produce on the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen List, where the levels of chemical pesticides are higher, and buy regular conventional products on the Clean 15 List, where the levels of these toxic pesticides are lower. If you can, purchase organic fresh foods at your local farmers’ market as the produce are likely to be fresher and more nutritious due to less storage and transportation compared to supermarkets.
|Dirty Dozen||Clean 15|
|1). Strawberries||1). Avocados|
|2). Spinach||2). Sweet Corn|
|3). Kale, Collard & Mustard Greens||3). Pineapple|
|4). Nectarines||4). Onions|
|5). Apples||5). Papaya|
|6). Grapes||6). Sweet Peas|
|7). Cherries||7). Eggplant/Aubergine|
|8). Peaches||8). Asparagus|
|9). Pears||9). Broccoli|
|10). Bell & Hot Peppers||10|. Cabbage|
|11). Celery||11). Kiwi|
|12). Tomatoes||12). Cauliflower|
|14). Honeydew Melon|
how to wash produce to remove pesticides
For both conventional and organic fresh produce, to help remove pesticides, I always wash the food in water with baking soda (14). Add 1 teaspoon of baking soda for every 250 ml/1 cup of water, leave the produce to soak for 12-15 minutes, then drain and dry thoroughly before eating or cooking.
6). Use low temperature cooking methods
When food is heated, harmful toxic compounds are produced and nutrients are lost (15). Higher temperatures and longer cooking times are associated with higher levels of toxic compounds and a greater loss of nutrients (16). These toxic compounds are:-
- Associated with an increased risk of cancer,
- Damage our DNA and,
- Can cause nervous system problems (17).
Therefore, it is recommended to avoid toasted, chargrilled, barbequeded, deep fried and microwaved foods, where the highest cooking temperatures are used and the nutrient content of food can reduce by 60-90% (18). Also, boiling and cooking foods in water causes valuable nutrients to leach into the cooking water, which are lost when drained (18). Therefore, with the exception of soups, stews and risottos, where the cooking liquid is consumed or absorbed, boiling and cooking foods in large quantities of water is not the best cooking method (18). Instead, steaming uses the lowest temperatures and preserves the greatest amounts of nutrients (19, 20, 21). Therefore, it is recommended to steam foods until fork tender.
7). Use the right Oils or replace with oil free alternative
Cooking oils are commonly used in baked products and to prevent food from sticking to pans. Each individual oil has a smoke point, which is the temperature the oil begins to break down, produce smoke and release free radicals, which damage the body and can cause numerous health problems, such as:-
- Rheumatoid diseases,
- Cardiovascular/heart problems,
- Breathing problems (22).
Oils with a high smoke point are suitable for sautéing, frying and baking, while those with a low smoke point should not be heated and instead used as a salad dressing and for vinaigrettes (23). Sunflower, corn, soybean, peanut, palm, sesame, grape seed and cottonseed oils are all low in anti-inflammatory omega 3 fats and high in omega 6 fatty acids (24). Large amounts of omega 6 fatty acids relative to omega 3 fatty acids increases inflammation (24). So, if using oils, I instead use avocado, coconut, olive and flaxseed oils.
Cold-pressed, unrefined, extra virgin varieties of these oils are healthiest as they are unprocessed to retain the minerals and enzyme content, which maximises the nutritional benefits. However, cold pressed oils have a lower smoke point than refined oils (23). Refined oils have a higher smoke point but are highly processed with the use of chemicals, which also destroys the nutrients (23).
|Refined Avocado Oil||520°F / 270°C|
|Refined Olive Oil||465°F / 240°C|
|Refined Coconut Oil||450°F / 230°C|
|Cold Pressed Unrefined Avocado Oil||375°F / 190°C|
|Cold Pressed Unrefined Coconut Oil||350°F / 180°C|
|Extra Virgin Olive Oil||325-375°F / 160-190°C|
|Cold Pressed Unrefined Flaxseed Oil||225°F / 110°C|
When baking, ensure the temperature you use doesn’t exceed the smoke point of your oil. Alternatively, to eliminate concerns regarding smoke points and prevent you using refined oils, replace oil with:-
- Mashed banana,
- Unsweetened apple sauce (UK Link/US Link),
- Pumpkin puree (UK Link/US Link),
- Mashed sweet potato.
For sautéing and frying to eliminate the problem with oils’ smoke points and chemical refinement, you can replace oil with filtered water or broth, adding a small amount as needed.
8). Avoid high mercury fish
All fish contains mercury. In large amounts, mercury is toxic to the brain and nervous system and can cause fatigue, impaired mood, headaches and heart problems (25). Therefore, it is recommended to avoid large fish that are high in mercury:-
- Bigeye tuna
- King mackerel
- Orange roughy
Instead consume smaller fish, which are low in mercury like:-
- Atlantic mackerel
- Canned light tuna
- Shrimp (26).
Oily fish (salmon, mackerel, herring, trout, whitebait, sardines, pilchards) is the best source of anti-inflammatory omega 3 fatty acids as well as vitamin B12 and D, which reduces inflammation and supports the immune system.
9). Replace aluminium foil with unbleached parchment paper
Aluminium foil is used to line baking and roasting trays. However, as noted above, aluminium leaches into the foods and accumulates in our organs, increasing the risk of numerous health problems (27).
A toxic free alternative is to use parchment paper. However, ensure the parchment paper is unbleached like Juvale’s in the UK or If You Care in the US. White parchment paper is coated chlorine, which leaches a toxic chemical dioxin into food when heated (28).
10). Avoid canned foods & drinks. Buy products packaged in glass or cardboard instead.
To minimise the risk of metals from cans corroding and leaching into foods and drinks, they are lined and coated with plastic (29). However, plastics can also leach into foods and drinks which, as noted above, suppress the immune system and are linked to numerous symptoms and health problems (4, 5, 6, 30). Instead, buy foods and drinks packaged in glass or cardboard where possible.
other health and wellness posts
- 10 Free Ways To Improve Your Health
- 12 Vagus Nerve Exercises To Improve Physical & Mental Health
- Anxiety & Stress Relief – 15 Things To Do In Bed
- Healthy Food Swaps For Numerous Dietary & Allergy Requirements
- 6 Free Ways To Start A Low Toxin Lifestyle (& Why It’s Important For Health)
- 15 Easy Ways To Reduce Chemicals In Your Home (& Why It’s Important For Health)
- 5 Tips To Maximise The Health Benefits Of Sunlight
- 5 Simple Swaps To Ease Morning Anxiety & Stress
- 6 Detox Pathways to Support In The Body For Health & Chronic Illness Management
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I hope these tips are helpful. Does anyone else lead a non toxic life? What others tips do you have for toxin free living, a toxic-free home and a non toxic kitchen? I’d love to know. Leave me a comment below or message me on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or Youtube.