Are you trying to lose a few pounds or just want to eat healthier? The easiest way to start is to reduce the amount of fat in your diet. A surefire way is to learn how to cook without oil.
It's been almost 10 years since I started to really care about my lifestyle. I try to avoid fast food as much as I can (even though I can't always resist), to cut down on sweets (the most difficult thing!), exercise more (yeah, sure), and have less fat in my diet. You won’t believe it, but the last one is the easier thing to do for a healthier way of living.
The first thing I had to do was to learn how to cook without oil. You may wonder why and I will tell you right now. Because oil is unnecessary added fat. Yes, some fats are healthier, like flaxseed oil or olive oil, but they’re also pure fat and contain plenty of calories. They say that most of the fat we consume goes directly into our body fat storage. So, why not to find out how to cook without oil?
How to cook without oil and still make tasty food
I was surprised to find that it’s easy to cook great food without oil or butter. It’s all a matter of habit, it’s just the same as it is with bouillon cubes. Once you get used to cooking with herbs and spices, you don’t need those cubes anymore. It's the same with oil: once you get used to making some simple changes in your cooking routine, you won’t need to cook with oil. And, if you choose to only use it every once in a while, it’s still a good thing to find out how to cook without oil, because you won’t be addicted to it anymore. And, yes, you’ll still steam, poach, boil, and stew your dishes the same way. You can cut down on oil in your everyday cooking without compromising the flavor.
1. Use water or veggie broth for the stove
When you cook on the stove, use water or veggie broth. Heat up your pan or pot, and add 1-2 tablespoons of water or broth. The moment the liquid turns bubbly, start cooking as you normally would if you started with oil. You might need to add more liquid to prevent the food sticking to the pan, but that’s it!
2. Use a good nonstick pan
If you’re wondering how to cook without oil, most of the time the right answer is using a good nonstick pot, pan, or skillet. Nonstick cookware can save your oil-free meals! You can use Teflon but, if you want to avoid it (there are some concerns about its effects on health), you can choose pans with a ceramic coating or heavy-bottomed stainless-steel pans. Whatever you choose, don’t make compromises on quality.
3. Oil sprayer
There are moments when you can’t avoid using oil completely, so you should use as little as possible in your food. For these moments, buy an oil sprayer and use it to spray the center of your pan. If you don’t want to buy an oil sprayer, just add a few drops of oil to a heated pan, and use a paper towel to distribute it around.
4. Replace oil in baked goods
There are some baked goods that need oil as a softening agent. You can replace it with healthier (and tastier) ingredients like applesauce, mashed bananas, pureed dates, pureed beans, ground flax, or non-dairy yogurt.
5. Homemade oil-free salad dressings
You don’t need oil to make good dressings! You can just whisk some vinegar, spices, and herbs with fruit juice and, eventually, a bit of pulp, if you want a sweet dressing. After all, even a simple lime wedge squeezed over your salad can add lots of flavors, without using oil. If you want to add some fat to your salad (because it can improve the absorption of important nutrients), opt for adding avocado or raw pumpkin seeds.
6. Use parchment paper for baking
As for baking, we suggest you use nonstick or silicone ovenware for easy release. Use them when roasting vegetables or baking oil-free desserts.
You can also line a parchment paper on your usual trays, to prevent your foods from sticking to them. This works best for meatloaves, casseroles, brownies, and quiches. Anyway, anything that would otherwise call for greasing up the pan first.
What about sauteing, roasting, stir-frying and deep frying?
You might be wondering how to cook without oil and still sautee, stir-fry, and deep fry? For sauteing and stir-frying, use small amounts of water or broth (1 to 2 tablespoons at a time), and do this as often as needed to cook and brown the food, without steaming it. Remember to stir the food periodically with a wooden spoon so that it doesn’t burn.
If you want to roast vegetables or other foods, you don’t necessarily need to drizzle oil on them. They might take a little longer to roast, but they’ll eventually brown and cook nicely. Just season them with herbs and spices before placing them in the oven.
Ok, I admit it. Deep frying is not an option if you want to quit oil. But there are alternatives: bake your potatoes and veggies.
If you choose to still use oil, you may want to read this too: Grease Your Kitchen Wheels: A How-to Guide for Cooking Oils.