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Cooking without oil

So it's a new year. What does that mean for you and your new year's resolutions? Do you have "eat better" or "be more healthy" on that list of resolutions? How about you try a new cooking technique-cooking without oil for improved health and weight loss?!

Why do I cook without oil? Oil is a pure fat, meaning, 100% of the calories in oil are fat. No vitamins, no protein, no carbs, nada except fat calories. In fact, pure oil (any kind) is 4000 calories per pound, or 9 calories per gram, making it 2.25 times the calories per gram than protein or carbohydrates. Fat is the body's way to store energy. Back when we had to be worried about getting enough calories, the body evolved to be able to store it for later use. Problem is, we don't have that later use, and don't need to worry about getting enough calories any more in America. We need to worry about getting the right kind of nutritional density.

You may be saying, well, I've heard that olive oil or coconut oil is good for me. Well-no, it's not. While some fat is needed for the body, oils aren't necessary, and are a processed form of food. Think about coconut. Coconut, while high in saturated fats, does provide a great source of fiber, and decent sources of potassium, iron, and magnesium-all of which are absent when transformed into oil (it is great for the skin though!). Same goes for olives. Extract the oil, and you leave behind the fiber and other nutrients.

There are many physicians out there that advocate for oil-free cooking for their heart and diabetic patients. Doctors like Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, surgeon and writer of How To Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease, Dr. Joel Fuhrman, physician and author of Eat To Live, and Dr. Neal Barnard, founder of Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine and author of Program for Treating Diabetes. They feel that oils lead to additional fatty deposits and the increase of atherosclerotic plaque in the lining of arteries. Check out what these docs say about whole food, low-fat, plant-based nutrition.

So-how do I cook without oil? 
Here are some tips:

  • To sautè: without oil, simply add your veggies to a hot pan, and a splash of water or vegetable broth to the pan to prevent sticking, and saute away. Your veggies won't stick, and you'll still be able to get the caramelization affect your after
  • To bake: sub oils for apple sauce and neutral tasting nut or seed butters, like almond butter. Nut butters, while containing fat, also provide other nutrients like protein and vitamins, and aren't as calorically dense as oils. Nothing has been extracted from them, they are a whole food. For a cookie without oil, try my chocolate macadamia nut biscotti.
  • Soups/Stews without oil: Add your veggies all in together, along with the liquid you're using. No oil is necessary and you can even skip that saute step to save time! For my Caribbean Black Bean Soup, click here.
    • Roasting: To roast veggies, I toss them with some fresh citrus juice, herbs (dried to roast, fresh to finish), and cover with foil. The veggies cook up, and if you desire them to brown up, cook them on parchment paper. This helps the veggies to get a crispier texture as they would get with oil. Finish them by drizzling with vinegar or additional citrus juice. For a recipe on my Roasted Root Veggies, click here.
      • Salad Dressings: I now use a flavored balsamic vinegar for my salad dressing alone. No oil needed. When you're purchasing bottled dressings, your purchasing a lot of filler ingredients, as well as a lot of added fats, sugars, and preservatives. By using a nicely flavored balsamic vinegar, you can taste your salad ingredients more, and enjoy them with less calories. For a recipe for my oil free balsamic dressing, click here.

        Wishing you a very happy and healthy 2016!

        - Jessica from

        Read more about Fat vs. Sugar: the Battle Rages On.

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