Whole Food Plant Based Cooking – Eliminating Oil

May 19, 2016

Five years ago, my husband and I watched the documentary Forks over Knives, and we both decided that, going forward, we wanted to adopt a whole food plant based diet (WFPB). For the previous 30+ years, we had been following a vegetarian diet, eating some eggs, fish and yogurt.

The transition to a solely plant based diet was easier than expected. I finally felt like I had found the way I was meant to eat. What I ate aligned with my values and I felt great. Eliminating eggs in baking was an exciting challenge and I loved learning how to cook all over again.

The transition to a whole food diet was another challenge. Although we seldom ate processed food, eliminating oils in our diet was a challenge. Oil is a processed food product – all the nutrients removed, leaving only the high calorie fat.  (see this Forks Over Knives link for further info) And although I don’t believe in calorie counting, I do believe in making calories count; and teaspoon for teaspoon oil offers little but calories. So for the last five years, I have been working on cutting back.

Salad dressings are loaded with oil. Kind of ironic that when you increase start eating more veggies you can also add loads of refined oil to your diet through salad dressings.  But I was amazed to find so many great tasting oil free salad dressings.

Eliminating oil in stir fries is something I have been avoiding for the last five years. I have read about dry frying or adding small amounts of water or broth but always assumed it was difficult and would result in a less flavorful product. However, that is not the case. Recently, I recommitted to eliminating oil and began dry frying. It’s not difficult at all.

A good non-stick pan helps but is not essential for frying veggies without oil.  I found the best results cooking on a lower heat. For some reason, garlic seems to stick, so I don’t add it until later. I generally start with onion, then add other longer cooking veggies like carrots, peppers, mushroom and celery. To finish up, add the quick cooking veggies like kale, spinach, peas and broccoli along with the garlic and spices. If things start to stick, a tablespoon of water or broth will usually loosen things up.  If you are adding rice or quinoa to the pan, adding tamari, soy sauce, water, broth or a sauce will hep.

An unexpected bonus of being oil free, is that the stove is void of oil spatters.

I am continuing to experiment and move towards removing refined oils from my diet. As I perfect the technique, I will update previous blog posts with oil-free options.





One thought on “Whole Food Plant Based Cooking – Eliminating Oil

  1. I too follow a whole-foods, plant-based diet without oil. It’s been a year and a half for me and the benefits are worth every bit of planning! Best to you on your journey.


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