5 Simple Ways To Cook Without Vegetable Oil
It is pretty universally accepted that consuming foods fried in vats of vegetable oil is not good for your health. While you may find it is fine to indulge in a crispy piece of chicken at the annual family reunion, it should not be a regular staple in your diet. It's all good and well to say that, but what are the alternatives to cooking your foods in vegetable oil and still having them taste great?
1. Use a Healthier Oil
Oil, in and of itself, is not inherently bad. Most of the time it is the type of oil that is used that causes problems. You should consider the qualities of each oil when you are at the grocery store to decide which one is right for your application.
The oil's smoke point is what temperature it starts to chemically break down. Oils with low smoke points (olive, flaxseed, and virgin coconut) are not great choices for high heat cooking. Go ahead and drizzle olive oil on your salad, but don't fry food in it. Two better choices for cooking oil include avocado and sunflower oil, both of which have a smoke point over 400F degrees. Refined vegetable oils have a high smoke point, but if you look at their other qualities you will see why they should be avoided.
Consider what it takes to get the finished product, too. Can the oil be extracted by simply cold-pressing seeds, or are there multiple processing and refining steps involved? The more processing your oil has gone through, the fewer nutrients it retains. Finally, you should look at the good fats compared to the bad ones. Heart-healthy choices include avocado, olive, MCT coconut, and grapeseed oils, among others. Refined vegetable and corn oils top that list.
2. Invest in an Air Fryer
If you want to eschew cooking with oil completely, you also have some great options. An air fryer is one of them. This handy countertop device used high heat air that circulates around your food to produce food that actually tastes like it has been deep-fried. As they have grown in popularity, they have become more affordable. You can find one that is perfect for a side of french "fries" for two or one that will cook chicken for the whole family. Look for features like automatic timers and specialty settings.
3. Use Silicone or Non-Stick Cookware
Whether using your oven or the stovetop, try using non-stick cookware to prevent sticking. Silicone is a popular option for baking because it is flexible and non-toxic. If you don't want to buy new pans, try using parchment paper to line the inside of the pans. It releases easy and won't stick to your food. Be sure to check what temperature it can handle before you put it in a too-hot oven and take care to avoid letting it touch open flames or heating elements.
4. Steam Vegetables
Steaming has been popular for decades, and it is a great way to cook crisp veggies that retain most of their nutritional value. This can be done on the stovetop in a steamer pan or ina steam basket int eh microwave. Either way, the only extra ingredient you will need to properly steam vegetables is a couple of tablespoons of water.
5. Grill Meats and Vegetables
Grilling is an excellent option when you want to step away from cooking with vegetable oil. You can use it for pretty much any food you want to cook. It is a nice treat in the winter and a hallmark of summer dining. Find a nonstick grill mat or basket for vegetables and smaller pieces of meat, fish, or shrimp.
A rotisserie spit adds variety to cooking and lets you accommodate whole chickens or large roasts without worrying about overcooking. You can add a rotisserie to your grill, or buy one that comes already equipped with one.
There are plenty of options for cooking without using vegetable oil. Whether you find alternative oils or try out some new cooking techniques, the finished food will undoubtedly be better for your health.