Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Cooking without Oil

A while ago, I presented two research pieces on oils in general and one specifically on coconut oil. Not only are oils highly processed and bad for your arteries, but oil has around 4,000 calores per pound, making it the most calorie dense but nutrient-poor item in the American diet. Since my earlier postings, several people have asked, “well then, how do you cook?” Here are a few tips.

First, when buying pans, it’s best to buy heavier stainless steel or cast iron cookware. While any type of cookware will work, these higher grade metals are less likely to burn.

Dressings and Sauces:
·         My biggest suggestion is to become accustomed to using vinegars – particularly on salads. These are highly alkalizing and health promoting foods that taste great and can be found everywhere.
o   Try apple cider vinegar, balsamic, red and white wine but also look for flavored infused vinegars. I’ve had some delicious fig and berry infused vinegars. Even chocolate! I’ll be honest, pomegranate vinegar is gross.
·         To re-create creamier sauces or dressings replace the oil with blended silken tofu. I find 1 – 2 tablespoons does the trick.
·         You can also add ground flaxseed or chia seeds to hot water. Start using the same amount of water as you normally would use oil. Slowly add the ground seeds to the water and mix well until the water starts to almost gel and thicken. White chia seeds help make the most appetizing dressing color.
·         White beans or cashews are other great options for creating creamier sauces. Use the same amount of white beans as you normally use oil. If using cashews (always get the raw if you can,) I typically soak the cashews for at least 1 hours before – longer is better. I normally will do 1 part cashews and 1 part old fashioned oats. This creates a delicious creamy blend and helps cut the total fat from the cashews.

To sauté or Stir-fry:
·         Simply replace the oil you would normally use with either water or vegetable broth. First heat the pan and then add your food, add a small amount of water or broth as needed –note you will need less than you are expecting. Depending what you’re making, you can also try juices as well. Be sure to stir often.
·         Several vegetables such as mushrooms or onions contain enough liquid which will release while cooking. Heat the pan first and then cook at a slightly lower temperature for several minutes to caramelize onions or brown mushrooms. Stir constantly.

·          To replace oil or margarine in baking, try using non-sweetened applesauce as a substitute for cookies, cakes, and other sweet baked goods (check out our Peanut Butter and Oat Cookies, the Quinoa and Chocolate Chip Cookies, or Engine 2’s Banana Oatmeal Peanut Butter Cookies.)
·         Mashed or pureed tofu can replace oil in other (non-sweet) baked goods.
·         Ground Flaxseed can also be an excellent sub for oil as well as for eggs (mix 1 tbsp ground flax with 3 tbsp water to create an egg replacer). For baking, use 3 parts flaxseed for every part oil or fat you are replacing. This can cause baked goods to brown more quickly so keep an eye on your dish.
·         Parchment paper is a game changer. It’s safe to cook on and makes clean up a breeze!

As always the information presented in this blog is for educational purposes only. It should not be considered as specific medical, nutritional, lifestyle, or other health-related advice.


  1. Why have I always thought vinegar was acidic? Thanks for not suggesting black beans in baked goods; I would have had to unfriend you for that.

    1. Abby, Beth is right, many "acidic" foods such as citrus are actually alkalizing once in our bodies. Some base foods like milk are highly acidic.

  2. Vinegar is acidic outside the body, but creates an alkaline state when processed by the body. Weird, right?

  3. Thanks for this post. Super helpful!

  4. I agree on many points about oil, but have to point out that in many vegetarian and vegan meals a source of fat (not necessarily oil) is very important for the body to be able to process the fat soluable vitamins in veggies. I often will just add 1/4 avocado to my salads or include nuts or seeds in nonfat veggie based meals