We’ve been conditioned to believe that oils – like olive oil, avocado oil, coconut oil and many others – are necessary for good health (similar to the undeserved halo dairy wears – read more about that HERE). In actuality, consuming oil, no matter the kind, is not health promoting
Though they start out as healthy whole foods (olives, avocados, flaxseed), once they’re processed they have little to offer – other than a ton of calories. Oil is purely fat with most of the nutrients stripped away – no really, 100% fat.
Consider this – no one would argue that table sugar is healthy. Processing removes all fiber, vitamins, minerals, fat and protein from the sugarcane or beet plant leaving 100% sugar. When consuming that sugar we miss out on the nutrients that were removed. These are called empty calories: calories that have nothing to offer nutritionally.
It’s the same empty calorie story for oils. When consuming oil, we miss out on the fiber, vitamins, minerals, carbs and protein that were processed out of the plant and consume what’s left: 100% fat. To be exact, there are 120 (empty) calories in just 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
So I miss out on some nutrients.. big deal, right? Wrong.
When including oil in your diet, you not only miss out on valuable nutrients, you also physically harm your cardiovascular system. Within hours of eating a meal or snack with oil in it, the tissues lining your blood vessels stiffen. This constrains their ability to contract and relax, which in turn adversely effects how well your body can pump blood, nutrients, and oxygen around your body.
All in all, eat the whole plants and stay away from the processed, nutrient-lacking oils. This ensures your calories will be full of health-promoting nutrients. Your cardiovascular system will thank you!
Learn more about how avoiding oils can help with weight lose and maintenance HERE.
Cooking with oil is often a habit, although it’s easy to switch to oil-free sauteing, roasting, stir-frying and baking.
Cooking without oil is easier when using non-stick pots, pans and ovenware. Parchment paper is great for preventing foods from sticking when baking. Note that wax paper is NOT the same as parchment paper. Wax paper can’t be used in the oven (because it’s flammable), parchment paper can.
To saute and stir-fry use vegetable broth or water instead of oil. Start with 1-2 tablespoons and then add a small amount (1-2 tablespoons) as needed. Stirring often with a wooden spoon also prevents burning.
When baking, swap out the oil for a fruit or vegetable puree. This results in a more flavorful and moist dish. Our go-to’s are applesauce, mashed bananas, pureed dates, pumpkin, and avocado. In some recipes nut butters can be used as an oil substitution.
Roasting brings out the sweet flavors of veggies and you can still get the soft texture and golden edges without oil, you just have to extend the cooking time. For flavor, season veggies with herbs and spices before roasting. Place a small amount of liquid in the pan – watered down tamari or soy sauce, vegetable broth or water.
Sauces are often filled with butter or cream. You can get that creamy texture with pureed beans and lentils or cooked cauliflower, carrots or potatoes. We also use non-dairy milk (soy milk, almond milk, oat milk, etc.), nutritional yeast, miso paste, or nut butter for a creamy consistency and added flavor. Some of our favorite plant-based, oil-free sauces: white sauce, Thai peanut sauce, and sunflower butter dressing.
Salad dressings can quickly turn a healthy dish into a high fat meal. Oil-free dressings can be made from vinegar, spices, herbs and fruit juice. Ground nuts work well in savory dressings. Some of our go-to’s are 3-minute poppyseed dressing, balsamic dressing, and sesame citrus dressing.
When eating unprocessed plant-based food you’ll get all of the fat you need. Just the right amount is found in foods, as nature made them! Some great unprocessed sources of fat: nuts, seeds, avocados and olives.