One of the questions I get asked a lot is how do I cook without oil? It’s a good questions as three years ago, I would have been asking the same thing! Here are a few healthy plant-based substitutes that will help you get away from cooking with high fat and animal products.
In baked goods: apple sauce, pureed pumpkin, and believe it or not, cooked and mashed up black beans are great options.
For baking and pan roasting, forgo oil on the pan or cookie sheet and use parchment paper instead. Generally parchment paper can withstand temperatures up to 400 degrees (double check the product you purchase/use). You can also purchase a "silpat," a silicone baking mat which is reusable, but I'm not sure about the silicone absorbing into the foods at high heat?
2. Cooking oil for stir-frying - low sodium vegetable broth, water, wine, juice, essentially any liquid. I do also dry sauté sometimes. Oil is unnecessary and is devoid of nutrients other than 100% fat. It’s better to get your fat from nutrient dense sources like nuts, seeds, and avocado.
You can also freeze vegetable broth. To freeze small amounts for sautés, place in ice cube trays and you have small amounts as needed! In a separate blog, I instruct on how to make homemade vegetable broth. It is really easy and avoids the excess sodium often found in vegetable broths. My preferred commercial broth is Engine 2 vegetable broth found at Whole Foods. It has a good price point, is fully organic, and has the lowest content of sodium of any vegetable broth I have found. If you don’t have access to Whole Foods, at least try to find a low sodium broth or make your own.
3. Eggs -
- 1/2 banana to 1 egg.
- Flax seed "egg"- 1 Tbl. freshly ground flaxseed in 2 1/2 Tbl. of water, mix together and then let rest in dish for about 5 minutes to thicken. Flax seeds contain Omega 3s, fiber and protein, and other nutrients but you have to use it freshly ground to get the benefit as it is unstable in oil form or ground form for prolonged storage. I use a cheap coffee grinder specifically for grinding my flax seeds as they gunk up the blades.
- Also, if you are not using white flour, you might not need any eggs as binding agents as other flours, like whole wheat, tend to be bind more with any liquid in the mix.
4. Buttermilk (1 cup) - 1 cup almond or soy milk with 1 tsp. of apple cider vinegar or lemon juice added.
5. Cheese - nutritional yeast flakes can add a cheesy taste to things and you'll get a bit of protein, fiber and iron with no added fat! There are many plant-based recipes that use things like cashews to make “cheese” sauces.
6. Salt - Mrs. Dash, vinegar, lemon, coconut aminos, mustard (without added sodium)
7. Salad dressing - my favorite basic go to is balsamic vinegar (no oil needed!) - I put it on salads, cooked vegetables, and even raw chopped kale as it evens out the bitter taste from the kale a bit. You can get flavored balsamic vinegars (one of my faves being Maine Blueberry) as well but double check for added sugars.
8. Thickeners - Chia seeds are great to add as a thickener and you'll get added fiber, Omega 3s, protein, and other nutrients! Arrow root can also be used as a thickener. Some recipes I have made call for things like tofu, avocado, and cauliflower, to name a few, to act as thickeners/emulsifiers.
This is clearly not an exhaustive list but meant to get you thinking about other ways of cooking without animal products and oil. Please let me know if you have any favorites that work for you!
In good health,