Oil-free cooking 101
When you're used to oil-free cooking, it comes as a second nature and the simple answer when people ask me how to cook without oil is: just don't use oil!
But for many of us, that may not be quite so simple.
At home, I don't use oil in my cooking because, being a highly refined food, oil provides almost nothing in the way of nutrition except empty fat calories. I would much prefer to get my fats through wholesome and nutritious sources, such as nuts, seeds and avocado. Cooking without oil is actually very simple, and most of the time, you won't even be able to tell much of a difference!
Here are a few simple tips to make oil-free cooking even easier:
1. Stir-frying and sautéing
A good non-stick pan is one of my kitchen essentials, and it makes cooking (and cleaning!) a whole lot easier, no oil needed. Make sure the pan is nice and hot when you add your veggies, and keep sautéing with a wooden spoon to stop them from burning. If you find them sticking to the pan, just add a splash of water or veggie stock.
When cooking pasta sauces, I also like to sauté my onion and garlic in a splash of balsamic vinegar, which gives the sauce a deeper flavour, just as oil wood.
When cooking curries and chilli, I dry fry the spices in a hot pan first (just make sure they don't burn), before adding my veggies and liquids.
Steaming is also a great way to cook veggie, which is naturally free of oil!
Roasting veggies without oil does dry them out a little more, but I really enjoy them cooked this way. Some ways to stop them drying out too much is by coating them in a little veggie stock or maple syrup for a 'glaze', or placing a tray of water at the bottom of your oven as the veggies are cooking, which adds extra moisture.
When making baked potato fries, pre-cooking them until just soft before you bake them also makes them stay super soft on the inside while being crunchy and golden on the outside!
3. Salad dressings
Oil-free salad dressing options are endless! My personal (lazy) favourite is a simple drizzle of lemon juice, apple cider vinegar or balsamic vinegar on my salad. Other great dressings are mixing tahini with dijon mustard and lemon juice (optional, add a touch of maple syrup), balsamic and dijon, mashed avocado, or a hemp or cashew based creamy ranch.
I love also adding a mix of fresh and dried herbs and black pepper to my salads for extra flavour!
When it comes to baking, my favourite oil substitutions are using apple sauce or mashed banana. Simply substitute for equal quantities!
These keep the baked good moist and light, just as oil would, as well as adding some extra sweetness so less sugar is needed too! When making something savoury, pumpkin or sweet potato puree can be used. Adding finely grated veggies, such as zucchini or carrot, to baked goods is another way to make it less dry, and add some extra goodness!
Another great oil substitution in baking is using nut butter instead. Peanut butter, almond butter, coconut butter, tahini (even mashed avocado works!)...whatever you prefer, add some healthy fats and keep the baked good moist without the need for oil. Especially great for making cookies!
That's all from me! I hope you find this post helpful in getting into cooking and baking without oil, and if you have anymore great tips on oil-free cooking you'd like to share, I'd love to know them! xx