Cooking Without Oil

The health benefits of a low fat, whole food, plant based diet are widely documented. You can prevent and reverse heart disease, diabetes, and even cancer, as well as many other less serious diseases, by adopting a healthy diet.

Eating for health is becoming more mainstream every day. Besides avoiding meat and dairy products, eliminating oil is an essential component of a truly healthy diet. That’s why cooking without oil is so crucial in maintaining or regaining your health.

Oil is a processed food, which is 100% fat.  So now you must be thinking,.”what about good fats?”. In oil even the so-called “healthy fats” are processed. To get the full benefits of those fats, they should be eaten in their whole food form, such as whole olives, or ground flax.

Cooking without oil - vegan french toast

Imagine cooking without oil

The thought of cooking without oil or even spray oil can be hard for many to imagine. But as more and more people realize how destructive oil is to their health, using alternatives is becoming more common. Oil replacements for baking include applesauce, mashed potatoes, and mashed bananas. Oil replacements for sautéing include vegetable broth, wine, vinegar, soy sauce, and of course just water.

Cooking without oil requires different techniques from cooking with oil. Some things cook faster, some things cook more slowly. Different temperatures may be required, and different cookware may also be required. Once you’ve mastered the techniques you’ll find the food is just as delicious, without hurting your health.ackee and callaloo

There are a growing number of websites devoted to cooking without oil. With just a few minutes of research, you can find hundreds of recipes, tips, and videos to get you started. A few of our favorite resources are Engine 2, Fatfreevegan.comDr. Barnard, and Dr. McDougall.

“Fat-Free” cooking spray

Cooking sprays often claim to be a healthy alternative to cooking with oil, and many even claim to be “fat free”. It may sound like strong language, but these claims are actually not true. Companies can make these false claims due to a technicality in food labeling rules.

They get away with it because they use serving sizes which are essentially zero. At the top of the “Nutrition Facts” label below you can see that the serving size is 1/3 of a second, which is impossible to achieve even if anyone actually ever tried to get a “serving” that small:
Smart Balance cooking spray

If look closely at the center of the label, you’ll notice that when the “serving” is one second, it actually contains 1.5 grams of fat. If you spray a pan for 10 seconds, that’s 15 grams of pure fat! And as you can see in the picture the front of the package says “zero fat & calories”.  It’s just not true.

They get away with it due to a technicality. When labeling foods if the amount of an ingredient is 0.5 grams or less, they can round it down to zero. Since they say the amount for 1 second is 1.5 grams of fat, that means 1/3 of a second is actually 0.5 grams. So they round it to zero, and put in big letters on the front “ZERO FAT”. It’s a perfect example of misleading advertising.

Cooking spray is like any other oil, by calories it’s 100% fat. If you look at the nutrition label of any oil, you’ll see the total calories is the same as the “calories from fat”. Cooking spray and oil are processed fat, period.

If being healthy just isn’t enough for you…

When my family used to cook with oil, in addition to the everyday cleaning, we’d have to occasionally scour the tops of our kitchen cabinets. They would get covered in a layer of sticky residue which had built up from all the frying, sautéing and grilling. It had that slight rancid oil smell and was a dust magnet.

The particles had floated up and collected into a sticky mess. It took a lot of elbow grease to remove even a single layer of cooking grease (sort of like what it takes to remove it from our veins!). Have you looked on top of your kitchen cabinets?mushrooms frying in pan

We’ve been cooking oil-free with nonstick cookware for about two years now. We’ve found that we don’t have to clean like that anymore, EVER!

Take a load off

Of course your weight is related  to your general health, but eating a low fat, whole food, plant based diet is the healthiest way to lose weight and keep it off. Not only does your risk of getting heart disease, diabetes, and cancer decrease, but you feel better on a daily basis. Leave the grease behind!vegan french toast close up

Take it from me, I used to LOVE deep fried foods, eggs, mayonnaise and cheese and could never imagine living without them. I wasn’t concerned much about my health but I noticed myself putting on a couple of pounds every year.

In western culture we’ve come to believe that putting on weight is a normal part of aging. It’s not. You really are what you eat, and if you eat processed fat you put on weight. My gain of a couple of pounds a year was a result of feeding my body junk.

It adds up over time, but it doesn’t have to. Since I cut out added fats from my diet less than two years ago, without even doing any formal exercising, I lost 25 pounds, my cholesterol is down, and I fit into my college jeans again. I expect in another year or two I’ll fit into my jean jacket from high school (and yes, I still have it!).

10 thoughts on “Cooking Without Oil

  1. Pingback: Wearever ceramic cookware review | Best Nonstick Cookware GuideBest Nonstick Cookware Guide

  2. Pingback: Wearever ceramic cookware review - Love Low FatLove Low Fat

  3. Can you use ceramic cookware for stir fry cooking without oil? If so, how does one manage the temperature. For example, WearEver recommends low to medium heat.

    • Absolutely, we do it all the time. Check out how we fry the onions in our tofu scramble recipe here. We also recommend cooking on low to medium heat, it does take a little longer but greatly extends the life of the cookware.

  4. So these cooking sprays may not be truthful to science, but neither are many of your claims about oil. You use the word “processed” in such a generalized way. Vegetables and meats are processed, unless you bite into the cow directly, or decide not to peel your carrot. Please promote science, not emotional reactions without sensibility.

    • Hi Joe- Thanks for your comment. I’m not sure why you think anything I’ve said has been emotional, it’s all 100% based on science (for what it’s worth I have an MS in Chemical Engineering from M.I.T. and a Certificate in Plant Based Nutrition from eCornell). The preponderance of evidence is really quite clear that a whole food plant based diet is optimal for health. Regarding processed food, you’re correct that not all types of processing are equal. Very lightly processing food such as steaming vegetables can actually enhance nutrient bio-availability. However squeezing all the fat out of an olive and then eating it happens to be a very unhealthy form of food processing. By stripping all the fiber and other micro-nutrients out of what you’re eating, you also change it’s impact on your cardiovascular system which can have devastating impact on your endothelial cells.

      • Hi, Ayal – stumbled upon your website researching Teflon vs ceramic sautéing pans… thanks for the solid research… I’ll definitely be switching over to ceramic when my current Teflon pan gives up the ghost.

        Also wanted to support you in your advocacy of whole food-plant based (WF-BP) eating… I too made the switch about two-and-a-half years ago. Sounds like you made the switch for your health… I made the switch when I decided I didn’t want to be the cause of the suffering that cows and chickens experience so that I could have dairy and eggs in my diet.

        Once I made that choice, I researched how best to eat that way. I noted how much healthier Bill Clinton and Al Sharpton discovered it was due to their adopting diets recommended by Drs Esselstyn, Ornish, Barnard, Greger, Furman et al.

        The transition was tough as I had no idea how to cook without oil though having been a vegetarian for over a decade made things a little easier. Fortunately, I learned from Esselstyn that it takes 45-90 days to train our tastebuds to enjoy food with little to no salt, oil, and sugar (SOS) and stuck with it and danged if it wasn’t true. Better still, not only have my taste buds adapted, I’ve also learned how to cook and spice in ways that my omnivore friends enjoy as well. Enjoy as in ‘come back for seconds and leave the pot clean’.

        Even though I went WF-PB for the chickens and cows, I went SOS-free for my health as I read how detrimental SOS is to our health… after I went SOS-free, I dropped 4 of the 5 meds my cardiologist had me on due to a massive heart attack five years ago… I’m on the smallest dose possible of the last medication and have cholesterol and blood pressure so low that I am basically “heart attack proof” at this point. I also dropped another 40 lbs without effort on top of the 35+ lbs I dropped during my cardio-rehabilitation regimen. I also dumped my cardiologist for a vegan cardiologist when the old one was telling me how he’d been able to keep cheese in his life by micro-planing sharp hard cheeses… reminds me of when doctors with tobacco stained fingers used to tell their patients that they needed to give up smoking!

        I concur with your work-arounds for oil in baking and sautéing. I’d also suggest the use of blended canellini/great northern beans for sauces/salad dressings (also works for baking). I also substitute flax meal or chia seeds as egg substitutes for baking purposes.

        Thanks for the good work you do and keep it up!


  5. I find offending to say the least to go so openly against one of the very things that has shaped half a dozen thousand years of human civilization, if not more.
    If you Americans have gone on for decades eating the worst poisons you could come to think of to the point of getting used to it and becoming the world’s fattest country, the problem is not in the olives.

    • Hello Antonio,

      Thanks for your comment. We agree there are a lot of unhealthy ingredients in processed foods. And yes, it’s an enormous problem here in the states. Oil happens to be a processed food and we tend to believe the science that consuming whole foods (as opposed to processed foods) allows your body to process them more efficiently. That’s not to say we never use olive oil. Some of us grew up in an Italian household after all! We just feel that oils in in general are overused and contribute to many health problems.

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