I've decided that I'm not super impressed with chefs/cooks who can only make meals taste good if they use lots of oil (or butter for that matter, but that isn't an option in a WFPB diet) in them. Cook me an oil free, or very low oil meal that is still flavorful, filling, and delicious and I'll be a lot more impressed. I know, you have heard such great things about olive oil and coconut oils, so we should all be eating lots of them, right? Not at all. People are almost as protective of their oils as they are of their meat so this is never an easy discussion! Unfortunately all oils, including olive oil, and even the coconut oil that you've been eating by the spoonful puts stress on our cells. Lots of new solid studies refute the claims that had us all hopping on the olive/coconut oil band wagon years ago. Here is a great review of some of these studies. Oil taxes endothelial cells that line arteries that keep our blood flowing freely, and our artery walls supple. It also causes oxidative stress, the very thing we are trying to avoid with an antioxidant rich diet. Whole fats like nuts, seeds, and avocados have better nutrient content and are better for our bodies but should still be used moderately. Whole olives are better than olive oil, but are brined so unfortunately are super salty so eating a lot of them isn't a great idea. Bottom line, learn to cook without fats.
It is trickier to make grains and veggies taste good without oil. Meat is inherently flavorful, mostly due to the saturated fat it contains, so when I was cooking with it I did not have to worry as much about the grain/starch/veggie dishes being the centerpiece. Now these count for a lot more because they ARE the centerpiece. I am trying to branch out and have many techniques in my arsenal to make vegetables and grains taste amazing without using much, if any oil. Cooking in veggie broth, or water/broth sautéing as shown in this video, is one way to use no fat when cooking. Honestly I always thought it was the fat that added all the flavor, but now that I have been cooking this way, I realize that it is not a big sacrifice at all.For a stir fry or when starting a soup, I use a tiny bit of broth or water in a hot pan when starting the onions, carrots and celery. Sometimes, I will start out a dish with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and add water or broth i(instead of oil) as I go and it comes out great. The veggies caramelize just as they do if you are using oil, if you let the water or broth just about cook off, then add a tiny bit more broth or water, and keep going like that.
Branching out with herbs is another way to flavor foods. As a bonus, herbs pack a huge antioxidant punch! Some herbs have more antioxidants in 1 t. than in a whole cup of fruit or veg. Thyme has definitely become a favorite of mine, as has cumin, coriander,and cinnamon and I have been making some great curry dishes. They are absolutely delicious. I also have been making veggie tacos and I just simply grill veggies, sweet potatoes, and squash and add taco seasoning just as I would to taco meat and they are so yummy. Duncan and JD will eat them. For Cooper, I use Beyond Meat and I still mix it with a tiny bit (literally 1-2 oz) of organic ground turkey since he still will not chow down Beyond Meat by itself.
We went other night to my favorite restaurant, and it was a bummer that I did not enjoy most of the food because there was so much oil in and around all of it. It's not that they're using more than they did before, it's that I don't enjoy food drowning in oil anymore. JD is having the same experience. I never thought I would say that I did not enjoy oil or butter, but I really do not have a taste for them anymore. Don't get me wrong, some great fries once a month or so definitely make me happy and are a treat, but a vegetable dish that's drowning in oil doesn't really do it for me. A lot of veggies at restaurants are cooked in bacon fat too, which obviously is not on the plant based plan! I used to love this flavor but just the thought now is disgusting. I'm not just talking myself into it. It really is.
I am also amazed at how little oil I can put into a salad dressing and still really enjoy it. JD still needs more than I put on it, but he is getting used to less as well. Since he doesn't like avocado I put more oil in his dressing, and I put avocado on my salad and we are all good.
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I am Chrissy Roth, a mom, wife, Physical Therapist, Spin Instructor, and Wellness Coach with a Certificate in Plant Based Nutrition. I've had a passion for health and nutrition my whole life and have always been drawn towards prevention. Why wait until your fat or sick or both to do something about your health? I'm looking to be the healthiest me NOW and am always sharing what I know. I love a challenge... 2 boys who think they are cavemen and a husband who wants to go veggie but hates beans, tofu, legumes, and most nuts.... I WILL make this happen cause that's how I roll (whole grain of course)...