We all know that we should reduce oil intake as much as possible, but how many of us actually know how to eat less oil?
Come to think of it, how many of us really know why reducing oil intake is advisable?
Well, we’ve given this a little thought here at Happy Happy Vegan, and we’ve put together an article that’ll explain both for you, our wonderful readers 🙂
Why should we reduce oil intake, anyway?
There is a whole heap of confusion surrounding oils and whether or not they are good or bad for us. Read one article and you’ll be led to believe that eating coconut oil by the spoonful is a great idea, but read another and you’ll be told that all forms of fat are the devil’s work. The truth, as ever, lies somewhere in between.
Firstly, there is a huge difference between fats and oils. Oils are extractions, meaning that in order to get into the bottle on your kitchen worktop they have to be processed into a concentrated form.
This is regardless of whether that oil originates from olives or avocados. When it comes to oil, you are basically consuming concentrated fat.
So, all fat is bad?
Nope, not at all, and this is where so much of the confusion lies.
Fats, when found in whole foods, are essential to our wellbeing. So, yes, there are indeed a whole host of healthier fats that we can consume.
These fats in their whole food state supply us with goodness such as omega-3s and monounsaturated fatty acids, beneficial stuff for a whole host of reasons. Thankfully, getting these fats into our diets isn’t all that difficult, providing you know where to find them! (1)
Below is a list of healthy fat sources. Getting a good mixture of these in your diet on a regular basis will help keep your body and mind in good shape:
Nuts – You don’t need many of these bad boys every day, but they’ll certainly help you get extra goodness into your diet. Think Brazil nuts, walnuts, pistachios, almonds etc. Make sure you buy the unsalted, raw form wherever you can for maximum nutrition. Just a handful each day will suffice.
Seeds – Just like nuts, seeds are packed full of good fats that will keep you energy levels up and help improve cognitive function. Superstars in the seed world include: Flaxseeds (sometimes referred to as linseeds), sunflower, hemp, pumpkin and one of our all time favorites, chia.
Avocados – Avocados are another great way to get the healthy fats that your body needs. Plus, the fat found within the avocado also helps the body absorb the carotenoids that they have in them, too. You can use avocado oil for hair growth as well, making it a true all-rounder.
Soy stuff – Soy products such as tempeh and tofu can provide you with a decent dose of the good fats as well. Try to make sure that you buy GMO free, organic products whenever you can, though. (2)
Olives – Olives rate highly on the plant food fat table. These little bullets of goodness are, of course, where the world famous oil comes from but, unlike the oil, the whole food contains numerous other benefits depending on which variety you choose to consume. (3)
There is, however, a problem. Olives are usually soaked in brine, so be aware of the amount of sodium you are getting when eating them. Moderation is advised.
As with all other processed foods, oil is not being served to us in the way that nature intended it to be. Many of the good things that come with the whole food versions are basically stripped away during the extraction process.
This leaves us with a product that is not only 100% fat, but also a food that is essentially lacking in the nutrients that we need for optimal health, too.
The fact that the process of extraction has taken place means the goodness that comes from the oil when consumed as part of a whole food is now missing in many instances. Nutrients work better together, not when separated.
The short two minute video above shows the difference between refined oils, extra virgin olive oil and eating walnuts or almonds when it comes to our cardiovascular risk factors. Take a look!
What About The Different Types Of Oil?
Much has been made about the benefits of certain oils over the years. A while back it was all about olive oil and how the Mediterranean diet can help us live longer, healthier lives. Lately, coconut oil is the hot product that is demanding everyones attention. (4)
We agree that some oils are better for you than other oils, but the point is that none of them are particularly good for you. This tends to be lost in all of the marketing hype surrounding whatever is making the headlines at present – don’t be drawn in. A pound of sugar is better for you than two pounds, but neither is great. You get the picture.
And, no, we’re not saying that you should do away with all of the oil in your kitchen (although you certainly could). What we are saying is remember to treat all of them with a little bit more caution than you may currently be doing.
Making up some tasty chocolate energy balls with coconut oil is fine every now and then, but cooking with coconut oil at every meal is asking for trouble.
So, how exactly do we reduce oil intake?
As with so many things in life, a lot of it is all about breaking old habits and creating new ones. Changing the way that we cook is all it takes, so let’s take a look at some tips to reduce oil intake on a day-to-day basis:
Get some new pots and pans
Nonstick pots and pans are the easiest way to lower the amount of oil that you use when cooking. Choosing high quality cookware may be expensive initially, but their lifespan far exceeds that of the cheaper versions available on the market. (See our Best Cookware For Glass Top Stove article for some pointers!)
We use Le Creuset for most of our cooking these days and we can’t imagine using anything else. When these guys say nonstick, they really mean nonstick! Plus, they don’t use Teflon or PFOA, making them one of the safest options out there for you and your family.
Master the art of oil-free stir-frying and sautéing
We’ve all been brought up to dash a little oil into the pan whenever we use these methods, but it really isn’t necessary.
Having a small jug of either water or broth by your side when cooking is the key. Simply add a tiny amount – one or two tablespoons – at a time, so that your food will still color but won’t be steamed by the liquid.
Repeat throughout the cooking process whilst continuing to move the food in the pan every now and then to prevent burning.
CHECK OUT THESE AMAZING VEGAN STIR-FRY RECIPES!
Make oil-free baking and roasting possible, too
For all those bakers among you, silicone bakeware makes light work of removing oil free goodies that would ordinarily stick with standard bakeware.
Change up your baking with oil-free substitutes
Contrary to popular belief, baking doesn’t have to involve oils, margarines, and butters. Swapping these fatty things with ingredients such as a fruit purêe can dramatically reduce oil intake, making your favorite sweet treats a little healthier and all the more enjoyable.
Try mashing up some bananas or including apple sauce in your next recipe, or why not experiment with some nut butters? There are plenty of alternative recipes out there that will help you explore the world of oil-free baking, so get cooking!
CHECK OUT OUR NUT BUTTER FOOD PROCESSOR REVIEWS NEXT
Patience is a virtue when it comes to oil-free roasting
Roasting veggies is like sautéing and stir-frying, adding oil is just something that we do. It’s almost like we are on autopilot!
However, being just a little bit more mindful can pay dividends when it comes to reducing the amount of oil we use in our cooking. Before you next put your veggies in the oven, stop yourself from adding oil and reach for the seasoning instead.
Use a mixture of herbs and spices along with a little vegetable stock and set your timer for just a little longer than you would ordinarily. Keep an eye on them as they go to ensure that they do not get overcooked and you’ll soon get the knack of making perfectly browned, deliciously vegetables that are 100% oil-free.
Deep fried crispiness without the oil
If you are anything like us here at Happy Happy Vegan, a good and crispy batch of veggie wedges is always a welcome sight. Thankfully, you can achieve maximum crunch without having to worry about saturating your food in oil. Here’s how:
Simply make up a batch of egg-free coating using cornstarch and unsweetened plant milk (mixed to the consistency of egg whites) and dip your favorite veggies straight in.
Then transfer the dunked wedges onto a plate of seasoned breadcrumbs and roast on your nonstick baking tray until golden and super crunchy. These bad boys are extremely moorish, so make sure you roast enough!
Another way to get that fried food taste without the greasiness is to get yourself an air fryer. These natty little machines will allow you to enjoy fries and the like, but with just a smidgin of oil…rather than a few cups! Not quite an oil-free diet, but way better than eating foods saturated in oil.
RELATED: BEST AIR FRYER REVIEW
Switch up your salad dressings
As with the baking tip above, salad dressings can benefit from a little bit of fruit or nut, too, and can be a great place to start if you want to lower your oil intake.
For those dressings that require a sweeter taste, use fruit juice as an oil alternative along with the usual mix of vinegar and spices.
If it’s a more savory twang that you are looking for, try incorporating some nut butter into the mix instead of the fruit juice to give you a creamy coating for your leafy side dish or mains.
RELATED: WHAT IS THE BEST MORTAR AND PESTLE
Full steam ahead
One of the most obvious ways to reduce oil intake is to switch over to a steamer. Steaming your veg is a very simple way to cook and it also helps to keep plenty of their goodness intact, too.
One tip to remember when steaming, always add your spices towards the end of the cooking time. Putting them on any earlier risks them being effectively washed away.
Simple sauces without the oil
Many sauces call for oily additions, but we can do without them all and cook with plant-based alternatives.
Whizzing up legumes or vegetables with a little plant based milk can create some wonderfully creamy sauces to accompany your favourites dishes. Nuts such as cashews also make great sauces, especially when soaked overnight before blending.
As you can see, reducing your oil intake needn’t be a bind. It’s more about being prepared and staying mindful than anything else.
Making one or two small changes to the way that you cook can make a huge difference. Why not give it a try and let us know how you get on in the comments section below? You may never look back!
About The Author:
Lisa Williams is a committed vegan, passionate animal welfare advocate, and keen follower of too many v-friendly food blogs to mention. She started happyhappyvegan.com back in 2016 because she felt there was a need for more straightforward information on plant-based living.
Back then, too many sites seem to either concentrate solely on recipes or be too intimidating or inaccessible for the v-curious, and she wanted to change that. The landscape is certainly a whole lot different now!
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- The Vegan Society | Omega-3 and omega-6 fats | https://www.vegansociety.com/resources/nutrition-and-health/nutrients/omega-3-and-omega-6-fats
- Cleveland Clinic | Soy Foods | https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/17491-soy-foods
- Nicola Shubrook | Are olives good for you? | https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/are-olives-good-you
- Kris Gunnars, BSc | Mediterranean Diet 101: A Meal Plan and Beginner’s Guide | https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/mediterranean-diet-meal-plan