Welcome to our guide to cooking without oil. Want more like this? Check out all of our guides.
We’ve had a lot of questions lately about how to cook without oil – and why you would even consider it. Enjoy!
THE CASE AGAINST OIL
Oil is not a whole plant food. Think of oil like fruit juice. It’s a derivative of a whole food, which means that most of the nutrition is left behind. Most people can agree that drinking a glass of apple juice isn’t a particularly healthful choice compared to eating a whole apple. Think of oil in the same way. Something goes awry when we deconstruct foods from the way nature packaged it. Corn is great, but corn syrup is not so great; brown rice is nutritious, but white rice (stripped of it’s bran and germ) is not nutritious. Get the picture?
When you extract just the oil from a whole food- be it olives, flaxseeds, or any other plants- things start to go awry, mainly because you are throwing out most of the good nutrients and concentrating most of the bad nutrients. For example, olive oil is a whopping 120 calories for just one tablespoon! A lot of calories, not a lot of nutrition. Research shows that even olive oil may impair artery function(like other undesirable fat sources) and when compared to nuts, olive oil falls behind in lowering LDL (“bad”) cholesterol. Most of the heart healthy nutrients that we associate with high-fat plant foods have been stripped away in oil, but remain in whole foods like nuts.
Oil-free is a great trick for weight control. Oil packs a hefty 120 calories per tablespoon, and it’s all too easy to over-pour when using it. With clients and herself, Kayli has found weight loss and healthy weight maintenance to come much more easily without oil in the picture.
Oil-free is cheaper! Olive oil ain’t cheap. Removing it from your shopping list is a simple way to lighten your grocery bill.
DOES OIL-FREE MEAN FAT-FREE?
No! Oil-free simply means you eat fat packaged in its whole-food form, the way it’s meant to be eaten. Think walnuts, almonds, flaxseeds, sunflower seeds, avocados, and whole olives. Sure, these foods are high in calories. But each calorie comes with a powerful dose of nutrition.
HOW TO COOK WITHOUT OIL
Trading a glass of apple juice for a whole apple is a simple swap, but we encounter oil differently- mostly as a cooking ingredient. Here are a few quick tips and resources for cooking without oil.
Use parchment paper or a reusable silicone baking mat to keep veggies from sticking during roasting. Toward the end of cooking, you can spritz with a little vinegar or vegetable broth and seasonings to add moisture and help the seasonings stick.
You can easily “water sauté” vegetables by adding a splash of water or vegetable broth to the sauté pan. This technique is more like steaming than true sautéing. Alternatively, you can try this nifty trick with stainless steel pans.
SALAD DRESSINGS + SAUCES
This one is easy! Dressings and sauces can easily be made creamy with cashews, nut butter, tahini, and avocado. We have many oil-free dressing and sauce recipes, but the Creamy Cashew Cayenne Dressing is our current favorite.