A Dutch oven can be used in so many different ways, from cooking meats, to creating casseroles, to making healthy rice dishes, to concocting soups or stews, and even to baking some delicious French bread! A recipe list for a Dutch oven can get endlessly extensive, so in this article we hope to give you a guide to cooking different types of foods in a healthy way in your Dutch oven so that you can use it to cook any recipe.
For those who do not have one yet, or if you are looking to switch to a healthier one, below is a short guide for finding the safest and healthiest Dutch oven. Additionally, further below we have some of the most popular ways to use a Dutch oven and some tips to prepare them in a more healthy way, including our favorite Dutch oven recipes!
Finding the Perfect Healthy Dutch Oven
What is A Truly Healthy Dutch Oven?
When searching for Dutch ovens, some of the most commonly searched for values are the shape, size, and weight. Additionally, the ability for heat distribution and retention is an important aspect for a Dutch oven, due to its heat capabilities being one of its greatest strengths. For ease of use, easy handling and easy cleaning is important while still keeping its best cooking benefits.
What do people look for when looking for healthy Dutch ovens? Generally speaking, many may look to cook healthy recipes in a Dutch oven, but they are less likely to consider whether or not the Dutch oven itself is healthy. The above-mentioned attributes may assure the best-suited cooking experience for an individual’s needs, but it does not ensure its health.
The primary thing that makes a Dutch oven “healthy” is the material it is made of.
When food and a cooking pot heats up, it reacts with its surroundings, including the cookware itself, if it is of a reactive material. A truly healthy Dutch oven would be one that doesn’t leach toxins into food while cooking.
Are Conventional Dutch Ovens Healthy?
Dutch ovens are conventionally made from metals like cast iron, aluminum, stainless steel, or ceramics. When heated up, all metals, chemicals, glazes, and enamels leach toxins into food while cooking, including chemicals like Cadmium, Lead, and Petalite (an ore of Lithium used in glass); as well as metal ions like Al-Aluminum, Ni-Nickel (steel), Ti– Titanium (steel), Mo – Molybdenum (steel), Cr-Chromium (steel), Fe-Iron (steel). The metal ions and chemicals and oxides from ceramics and metal-based cookware react with food, with heat acting as a catalyst.
These toxins assimilate with food and accumulate in the body over time, which can eventually cause health problems and a compromised immune system.
The bottom line is – the material of a Dutch oven is what makes it “healthy”. Thankfully, nature provides us with a material that is inert and non-toxic: pure and all-natural clay. It is a proven healthy material that had been used for ages for cookware, until a few decades ago when we moved away from it and invited all sorts of health problems!
Among the endless options of Dutch ovens, one of the only Dutch ovens that is made from 100% pure, primary clay with no additives is Miriam’s Earthen Cookware, or MEC.
7 Our Favorite Healthy Foods Commonly Cooked in A Dutch Oven
Rice and Grains
Rice and other grains are a staple when it comes to healthy eating. They are a great source of complex carbohydrates that your body needs for its daily activity. Rice is most commonly cooked in rice cookers and small pots, but Dutch ovens work fantastically for ensuring thorough cooking of every rice grains.
Traditionally, rice is cooked by adding oils or additives to make rice fluffy, tasty, and each grain separate from one another. However, adding these oils increase the fat content of your rice, making it less healthy.
To cook rice in a more healthy way, one key way is choosing rice that is not enhanced or enriched. Look for unprocessed rice to use to serve with your meals! Additionally, avoid using additives or oils when making your rice.
For a great rice dish, check out our Kichari recipe – made with rice, lentils, veggies, and spices in a 100% non-toxic Dutch oven!
Soups and Stews
Soups and stews are well known for their ability to soothe and provide an easily edible, enriching meal. Dutch ovens allow for easy soup-making with its large size and its phenomenal heat distribution and retention for thorough cooking. With a good mix of vegetables and an added protein, soups and stews can be both healthy and satisfying. However, one may find it difficult to make a good tasting and healthy broth. To enhance the flavor and texture of broth, store bought thickeners, excessive oils, salt, and other additives may be included, which can compromise the health value of a soup or stew.
Cooking soups and stews is especially beneficial when cooking in Miriam’s Earthen Cookware — a healthier Dutch oven: all ingredients of the soup can be prepared in a single pot, and all the included flavors are retained well within the broth. In MEC clay cookware, the natural steam-retention capabilities help create a natural broth that is both flavorful and healthy!
You can almost never go wrong with vegetables when it comes to healthy eating. Vegetables are full of nutrients the body needs. When prepared in a Dutch oven, the vegetables steam nicely and evenly from the inside out.
When prepared with a MEC Dutch oven, those important nutrients are even further retained due to its gentle, far-infrared heat cooking. None of the nutrients are damaged or lost from a hot damaging contact surface, keeping their colors, flavors, and textures. That means there is no need for pre-seasoned vegetables to ensure they have flavor: you can enjoy a vegetable’s natural flavor at its peak.
Here’s a simple and easy way to steam your vegetables in a clay Dutch oven!
A casserole, or one-pot meal, can be a great way to get the full spectrum of nutrients your body needs. Cooking proteins, grains, vegetables, and more all together can create a healthy and satisfying dish to enjoy. In MEC, casseroles are made easy because of how thoroughly each ingredient cooks.
Try some biryani, an ethnic casserole from the East.
Or try some mushroom rice casserole here!
One of the awesome benefits of a Dutch oven is you can bake bread! A round Dutch oven’s roomy interior is perfect for baking bread of any type due to its ability to evenly and effectively distribute heat. Homemade baked grains are an excellent source of complex carbs.
Baking bread in a pure clay Dutch oven pot like MEC is far easier than with a standard Dutch oven. You do not need to soak prior to baking, you can bake with a lower heat setting, and it cooks your grains thoroughly in the same time or less! (Find out how here.)
Some examples of breads you can cook in a clay Dutch oven include naan bread, sourdough bread, artisan bread, and traditional yeast bread.
Learn how to make some homemade artisan bread!
Meats of any variety can be cooked in a Dutch oven. One popular way of preparing meat is slow cooking meat in the presence of moisture, or braising. Braising meat is perfect in a Dutch oven because of its thicker and taller walls, allowing for the easy retention of broths, stews, and other liquids that you may braise meats in.
When braising with all-natural clay pots, the pot can take in air as needed so that the nutrients are cooking in the presence of oxygen, they by remaining full of life even after cooking. As a result, your meats turn out more flavorful, and there is no searing required beforehand – it can all be done in the pot. Like other foods, all the nutrients are retained as well, giving your body the vitamins it needs.
Additionally, a Dutch oven from MEC features a unique steam locking lid, which traps steam inside the pot. This steam retention is important for braising meats well, and it also helps retain nutrients that would normally be lost from escaping steam.
Try these 5 Great and Delicious Braising Recipes for yourself!
Making your own healthy sauces at home is a great way to stay healthy: you know exactly what goes into your sauce for your meals! Additionally, you can make your own jams and other spreads for your meals with your Dutch oven.
The key to making healthy sauces and jams is choosing healthy ingredients. From there, you can prepare it in the healthiest Dutch oven material, pure clay, and get a thorough texture and delicious taste.
Try this recipe to make your own additive free jam.