I recently listened to a podcast that advocated cooking without oil.  Since I learned to cook with oil and have always done it, the idea of not using it was intriguing.  Growing up, my mom cooked with Crisco (and lots of our food was deep fried).  I recognized that wasn’t a healthy option and after years of using vegetable oil, switched to more natural oils, like coconut oil and olive oil.  Because I am always looking for ways to improve my diet, I started digging a little deeper.  There are some sources that claim oil is unhealthy and should be eliminated from your diet.  I am not taking that stance at all here, but want to present you with alternatives to cooking with oil.  While I do agree that it is processed and pretty far from it’s natural state, not adding preservatives and other chemicals qualifies it as real food in my book.

After doing more research about cooking without oil, I learned that eliminating oil is a great way to lose weight.  Oil has about 120 calories per tablespoon and 100% fat and little to no nutritive value.  That’s quite a few calories for such a small serving.  While it’s true that we need some healthy fats in our diet, there are more delicious ways to get them (like avocado or fish, for instance).  But what should you use instead and how can one cook with no oil?  As it turns out, there are lots of good options with far fewer calories and more healthy benefits.

Sautéing vegetables:  Instead of adding oil to the pan when sautéing veggies, add a little vegetable broth or water.  Vegetable broth has about 2 calories per tablespoon and of course water has zero calories.  Since vegetables contain so much water, the water will cook out so there isn’t a lot of need for additional liquids.  You’ll want to keep an eye to make sure all of the water doesn’t cook out and the food burn.  Near the end of the cooking time, season as you normally would and enjoy the natural flavor of the veggies.

Baking or roasting vegetables:  There is no need for liquid of any kind when baking or roasting veggies.  The vegetables will cook and even brown without the addition of oil and you’ll keep the natural flavor of the vegetable as well.  To keep them from sticking to the pan, just line it with parchment paper.  If you’d like them to brown more or get crispier, simply put them under the broiler for a few minutes near the end.

Baking:  When baking, you can substitute real foods like applesauce or banana and have a moist, flavorful dish.  Instead of using oil to coat the baking dish, use parchment paper; it’s easier to clean up too.  Trust me, no one will ever notice the difference!

If you’re a little skeptical about cooking without oil, try reducing the amount of oil you currently use and substituting water or broth.  You may be pleasantly surprised at how easy it is to cut some unnecessary calories!

What do you think about cooking without oil?  Have you ever tried it?

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