How To Cook Without Oil

Cooking with out oil – are you serious? How do I brown my onions and make salad dressing??

Let’s start with the why?

One of the most powerful ways of maximising the health benefits of a plant-based diet (and to lose weight) is to eliminate the use of extracted oils.

Whether they be cold pressed, heat tolerant, saturated, unsaturated, poly, mono, from a fancy boutique … they are pure and simply 100% fat.

The added nasties are the release of free radicals when heated, the hydrogenation process used in margarines, rancidity and of course their cholesterol-raising properties.

And we use oils A LOT.

Think about it: we fry, saute, roast, dip and dress our foods in oil.  Not to mention all the hidden oils present in snack foods, cereals and breads.

“But I only use olive oil! That’s healthy right?”

Olives are a most wonderful food and whilst the oil contains a higher ratio of monosaturated fat, it is still pure fat. Much better to eat the olives and look after your blood vessels.

So what are the alternatives?

Steam sauteing was nothing short of a revelation and it hasn’t let me down in taste and depth. In fact, very quickly after eliminating oil from your diet your taste buds get a whole new lease of life and flavours are accentuated.

For browning onions simply heat 1-2 Tbl of water or stock, add your onions and steam for about 5 minutes stirring occasionally. Add liquid as needed to prevent sticking. You can add a little tamari or lemon juice for enhanced flavour and/or use alternative liquids such as beer or wine, juicy tomatoes, tomato paste, vegetable juice, rice vinegar or Bragg’s Aminos.

And what works for onions will work for other veges, so stir-fry away.

Dry roast spices and seeds over medium heat to release their fabulous aromas – just make sure you hover and stir – they only take a minute! You can also throw them in to your saute broth and your curry will love you even more without the oil.

Saving the salads! The options here are endless. Often simply leaving out the oil in your favourite dressing and using a little water or extra lemon or orange juice will do the trick. Experiment with different mustards, vinegars, citrus, herbs, sweeteners; add a little tamari, nutritional yeast for flavour and/or avocado or tahini for richness. For the more adventurous, use roasted bell peppers, tomatoes, nuts or try combos of raspberries and orange, lemon and ginger, citrus and chilli. And quite honestly, when the lettuce is fresh and sweet – do you really need anything on it?

But my toast! I know, this can be the last bastion of butter or marg. But just try something new for a week and see how it feels. Alternatives are plentiful – avocado, hummus, tahini, nut butters. Or be brave and try your favourite topping on its own.