Cooking with oil and other types of fat may harken images of kitchen tradition, but that doesn’t make it the wise choice. With a multitude of healthier options available, there’s no reason not to embrace a new norm of oil-free cooking.
A primary reason that fats are added to cookware is to keep food from adhering to the cooking surface. This not only diminishes the nutritional profile of the finished dish, but it is not always reliably effective. A better alternative is to use specially designed cooking appliances that integrate nonstick features. These help to preserve the health benefits of non-fat and low-fat dishes. Other health concerns have been raised regarding the safety of nonstick pans. The consensus findings are that properly used cookware is certainly safe. Just be sure to prevent damage to the pan by neither using extreme, food-burning temperatures nor abrasive utensils.
While stove top and oven-safe pots and pans are the standard tools for any cooking endeavor, other instruments that often incorporate nonstick properties are steamers. Electric rice cookers and in-pot steamers alike allow heat and moisture to penetrate the food during cooking to keep it moist and delicious, without leaving a sticky residue.
Water can also be used in standard pans without a steamer device. Covering a pan containing a bit of water creates the benefits of steaming without leaving the food attached to the dish. Similarly, stir-frying naturally fat-free vegetarian meals makes for a variety of healthy and delicious recipes when prepared without oil. Instead, add a bit of flavoring with broth, which adds flavor while preventing adherence to the wok.
It’s a Matter of Taste
Another reason that fats are added to recipes is to enhance flavors. Although fat-free meals are often an ideal, a bit of “good fat” is never a bad idea. A few, like olive oil, offer beneficial taste and health profiles. Heating, however, can change these properties and diminish these attributes. Instead, add flavorful oils with health-promoting aspects, such as a favorable proportion of omega 3s, as the seasoning to finished dishes. Try adding olive oil to salads, rice, potatoes, couscous and almost any other recipe that might usually get adorned with butter or dressing.
Grilling and broiling also provide delicious flavor profiles without the need for added oils. In warm weather, use an outdoor grill to let fat drip away from meats during cooking. This allows lean meats to become even leaner while sealing in flavor. Experiment with vegetarian options as well with large vegetable slices or skewers. Special grilling pouches allow the flavors from a vegetable mix to mingle while steamed on the grill. During indoor cooking, try broiling or special indoor grills to achieve similar results. Keep recipes oil-free to prevent smoke generation. While broiling may require a bit of practice to perfect, special appliances make healthy and delicious grilled meals quick and simple.
Whatever the preferred method, oil-free cooking allows the taste, health and quality results every chef desires and everybody craves.