Archive for Oil-free cooking

Pea pesto

Time on Instagram is well spent when I come across dishes as appealing as this quick cheesy pea pesto by Pepe Josephine at @pjantbased.

Photo credit Pepe Josephine

Photo credit Pepe Josephine

This is an easy option for when there’s not a lot of veges in the house but for a bag of peas in the freezer. We all have those times, right?

It makes a great pesto pasta, dip, sandwich filler, pizza topping … anything you want to lather in pesto goodness.

And the good news is peas are high in iron and basil is packed with health promoting flavonoids, oils, vitamins and minerals.

This will only take a few minutes to throw together in your food processor.

1 cup cooked peas

Juice of half lemon

3 Tbl nutritional yeast

1 clove garlic, minced

Handful basil, chopped

Salt to taste

Process and adjust. Add more water if too thick. You can also add more garlic and basil to suit your tastes.

It would be great on these gluten free noodles!


You may also like:

Beetroot hummus

Pasta shells stuffed with cashew basil cream


Vegetable steam-through

Throwing brown rice or quinoa in the rice cooker first thing can be a great basis for nutritious throw-together meals for later in the day.20150210_132415

It could turn into anything: salad, a vege steam-through or form the basis for burgers.

In any case it feels good to have the foundation of a dish on the boil. I love nothing more than having dinner (or at least part of it) sorted by the end of breakfast.

Since I was under siege by my scallopini patch, a vegetable steam-through won out.20150210_132650

By the way, a steam-through is my version of a stir fry. Only healthier. It’s infinitely flexible in a unfussy mid-week kinda way. And is delicious.

It goes something like this.

1 onion, chopped
Half vege stock cube (Rapunzel)
1 scallopini, sliced
Handful cherry tomatoes
Sprigs of fresh thyme, oregano, rosemary
1 large garlic clove, pressed
Sprinkle of dried chilli flakes (optional)
Salt & pepper
Toasted pumpkin seeds

To a large pan add 1 cup of water, stock cube, onion & scallopini. Bring to the boil & simmer.
Add cherry tomatoes, fresh herbs & garlic.
Cover and cook over low heat for ten minutes until cooked. Add a splash more water if sticking.
When cooked add about half cup cooked brown rice and toss with tamari and seasonings.

Serve with fresh tomatoes & toasted pumpkin seeds.

Zucchinis, red peppers & aubergines will all work beautifully. And a dollop of cashew cream stirred in the end. Divine.

You may also like to read about why I cook without oil

Taking the oil out of your food

I know the whole ‘no processed oils thing’ is enough to push an aspiring plant-based cook to the edge of what they can cope with.

“No meat, no eggs, no cheese and now you’re telling me no oil!!”

If you’re on the path of eating only plants you’re already reaping the benefits of reducing the amount of saturated fats in your diet. Your heart, brain, blood vessels right down down to your cells will thank you.

And here’s the ‘but’.

It’s not so great if you’re lavishing your new relationship to salad with loads of oil, sautéing and roasting your vegetables away to oily paradise, munching on high fat muesli bars and welcoming large amounts of nuts into your new found fabulous diet on a regular basis.

With our love of processed oils -and yes that does include olive oil – we’ve swung our balance of omega 6 to omega 3s way out leaving us still feeling sluggish and slow.

Now I’m not bagging all fats. Our wholefood varieties come in a package of fibre, essential fatty acids, trace elements, protein and other vital nutrients. Foods such as avocado, olives, nuts, seeds and coconut can be on your list but are to be used mindfully.

How ever you reduce your use of these highly processed, full fat foods, you will be rewarded.

Check out my previous post on steam sautéing and enjoy the clean feeling of your food.

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.