Last week I talked about oil and its effect on the body. If you missed it, check it out over here: All You Need to Know About Oil
As a result, you may be looking to get oil out of your kitchen. This may seem like a challenging task at first, but learning to cook without oil is not only healthier but actually quite easy. I’ve got you covered today with some easy ways to cook oil-free in your kitchen. So without any further ado, here are some of my favourite oil-free cooking tips, just for you.
This is a common cooking method that usually starts with adding oil to a hot pan. But, you can totally sauté your food without oil. In fact, vegetables taste much better without that oily film on them. To do so, you’re going to start with a good non-stick pan. Enamel or ceramic coated pans are ideal and work quite well.
Then, you’re going to heat your pan to the temp you would normally use and add a little splash (1-2 tbsp) of water or vegetable broth. Once you add your veggies to the pan, keep them moving. You don’t have to move them constantly, but keep a good eye on them. Now is not the time to start browsing Instagram, keep your head in the game.
Some veggies will release a little water on their own while being sautéed, so this will help. You’re just going to keep an eye on the pan, sautéing as usual, and adding another tablespoon or two of water or veggie broth if things start to stick or look dry. Be sure to add your liquid to those brown spots you start seeing on your pan. This is called deglazing. The natural sugars will come out and stick to the pan a bit. By adding some liquid to the pan and moving your veggies around you’re re-incorporating that flavour back into your dish.
Sidenote: If your dish is smelling burnt, you don’t want to be deglazing those bits, skip this step if that’s the case. And next time keep your eye on the pan. 😉
Roasted vegetables are absolutely delicious. Roasting adds such a nice flavour to your food, but often the method is to toss your veggies in oil and then season before roasting. Not only is this step totally unnecessary, but it adds unnecessary calories and makes your meal less health-promoting. Thankfully, roasting without oil is super easy. To do this, you’re going to want to line your baking tray with either parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Both will give you the non-stick surface you’re looking for. Just be sure to read the package as some products will have a maximum temperature for use that you don’t want to exceed. (Kitchen fires are no joke.) All you need to do is spritz the veggies with some vegetable broth or water and then season as you normally would. Pop ’em in the oven and cook as usual. Easy peasy.
I know, I know, you’re always told to grease the pan to keep your treats from sticking, right? Not necessary my friend. Nowadays we have access to healthier ways to keep your baked goods from being forever glued to the dish you made them in. Silicone baking dishes are a great non-stick option. You can get these in many shapes and sizes from muffin cups to bundt cake pans. If you don’t have any silicone bakeware, don’t fret, parchment paper is your new best friend. Line your baking pan with parchment to get that same non-stick effect. You may need to wrestle with it a little to fold into the corners of oddly shaped dishes, but it will still do the job. Just be sure that when you pour your batter in, it’s contained within the parchment lining.
How do you replace the oil called for in the recipe of your baked treat? Fruit purees like applesauce, mashed banana, or pumpkin puree work well. Experiment a little and try other fruit purees to add some different flavours. Another option (for baked goods that require some fat to come out with the right texture) is to sub a plant-based fat like mashed avocado or nut butter. These are healthy fats that still contain all the phytonutrients the plant came with, so they are a solid choice.
For more tips on baking WFPB, check out this post: The Essential Guide to Baking Plant-Based Goodies
Ok, so I don’t think I need to tell you that deep-frying your food is the least healthy cooking option, right? But sometimes you just want that crunch to your french fry or cauliflower wing. Let me introduce you to the air fryer. These are becoming increasingly popular in plant-based kitchens, and for good reason. They work by circulating warm air around your food so you get that crispy deep-fried texture without so much as a drop of oil. Pure magic. These are more widely available than ever before at multiple price points, so have a look at your local kitchen store. You can also get similar results in a convection oven, just be sure to turn your food halfway through the cooking time.
Many dressing recipes out there call for oil, but drowning your salad in an oil-based dressing adds empty calories while harming your blood vessels. Not exactly the intention when you tuck into a big bowl of nutrients. So, ditch the bottled stuff, your best bet is to make your own. There are lots of options for dressing your salad. You can go as simple or as fancy as you like with this. Simple would be using balsamic or flavoured vinegar or a squeeze of citrus over your salad. If you want to amp up the flavour you can mix these with some herbs and spices. Or, you can pull out your blender and toss some tasty things in there. Fruits, vegetables, some liquid, and some flavourful herbs or spices are all it takes to put together a great dressing. The sky is the limit.
If you prefer a creamy dressing you can start with a base of soaked cashews (or another nut of your choosing) blended with some water and then flavoured as you like. Tahini is another great base for creamy dressings. Silken tofu and some water or broth also makes a good base and is a lower fat option than nuts. Just add your acid of choice (lemon juice, lime juice or a vinegar) and then flavour with fresh herbs, spices or condiments (think dijon, sriracha, chipotle peppers etc.) to make just the right mix for you.
The Bottom Line
Oil is so ingrained in our culture that you’ll find it added to just about everything you see. Seriously, walk through the grocery store and read some food labels, you’ll be blown away at the things that have added oils when it’s not even needed. (I mean, peanut butter? For real?) I know cooking without oil may seem impossible when you start, but it’s totally doable. Once you get used to it, you’ll notice your food tastes so much better when it’s not coated with fat. With a little practice, you’ll be an oil-free cooking pro in no time.
If you found this post helpful, please use the buttons below to share on your favourite social media platform. Also, be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss out on new posts. Thanks!
Feature image credit: Photo by hue12 photography on Unsplash