I've heard about folks going oil free for years now but I haven't been interested in trying it. I have to admit I didn't really understand why I would want to, nor was I interested in eating blah food! Oil gives food such a nice mouth feel doesn't it?
For the last few months Nana Kwaku has been suggesting we give it a try. I have resisted. But at the end of last year I was a bit fed up with the fact that I was gaining weight and that stubborn belly fat refused to go away even after all these years of eating strictly vegan and eating mostly raw a good portion of the time.
On January 1st, 2016 we started our juice fast which lasted 22 days. As we came off the fast we committed ourselves to 90-100% raw and to oil free. It's now the end of March and we are still on track. I am making very few cooked meals and I haven't used oil other than a few drops of toasted sesame oil for flavor in a few recipes. We have eaten cooked at restaurants but even there we aim for the less oil options and avoid the fried whenever possible.
I am very pleased with the results. Even though I eat my fill I have not gained back more than a few pounds of the weight I lost during the fast. The belly and hip fat is slowly fading away. My face looks slimmer too. We both are feeling and looking lighter and better.
In the kitchen it's been a little harder to come to grips with. Somehow it just feels wrong not to add oil to dressings, sauces etc. But, we've found the TASTE of these oil free dishes isn't suffering. In fact most taste better! I've been adapting my usual recipes and creating some new ones.
Why Oil Free?
For years others in the plant-based health field like Dr. John McDougal and Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn have talked about going oil free for heart health. Studies have shown that heart disease is reversed on a low-fat plant-based diet.
Of course many others have said olive oil is "heart healthy" and that fish oil is good for you too. You probably have even heard that coconut oil is good for you.
While it's true that you need fat in your diet, oils are not the best way to get that fat. Oils are a highly processed food. They have all the fiber and nutrients (the good parts) removed leaving only the fat. What results is high in caloric density and low in nutrient density.
It's all fat and not much else. And FAT MAKES YOU FAT! Carbohydrates and protein each have 4 calories per gram, while fat has 9 calories per gram. One tablespoon of oil has 120 calories. If you have been struggling to lose weight or that spare tire, the oil in your diet could be the reason why.
Healthy Sources Of Fat
Ok, so if we aren't going to use oil, where do we get the essential fatty acids we need in our diets? Get them directly from your food. Eat nuts. Eat avocados or olives. Flax seeds, hemp seeds, chia seeds and walnuts are great sources of omega 3 fatty acids. Even those leafy greens and that fruit you are eating have some fat.
If you are eating a good variety of whole, plant-based foods such as fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds you will be getting all the fat you need directly from the plants.
What we have to remember, and I know it can be hard because all around us we hear messages to the contrary, is that God, the Divine, Mother Earth or whatever you want to call it, has provided the perfect food for us. If we eat what we are meant to eat, we will be fine. We are meant to eat fruit. We are meant to eat veggies. We are meant to eat the nuts and seeds that are provided.
We don't need to extract, process, change, enrich, chemicalize or supplement. We don't need to worry about food combining or "incomplete" proteins. We can forget about ratios of this or that.
We just need to eat whole plant-based foods. Organic foods. Eat enough to satisfy your hunger. Drink plenty of pure water. These are the natural wonders that have been provided for us. When we eat a variety of this rainbow bounty, as if by magic we will get all the nutrients we need.
Oil Free Recipes
Ok, so how do we make this work? Here's what I've found
• Just ditch the oil in most recipes - I'm serious! You don't need it. Add water or other liquid instead if needed.
• Oil Free Dressings - I've been using my Nutri-Bullet or blender to make very nice dressings using hemp seeds or pine nuts or sunflower seeds. Add these plus some water with your other dressing ingredients and blend away. You'll end up with a creamy and tasty salad dressing.
• Use the whole food instead - I've replaced the olive oil in a raw bread recipe with some olives. I've massaged avocado into my kale salads and omitted the oil in the dressing.
• Sauté with water - You can use water to sauté your onions or, actually, just skip the sauté step altogether.
• Avoid fried food - At home or eating out, choose steamed, boiled or baked instead. Of course raw is the very best but if cooked is what you are looking for, choose wisely.
• Ask for no oil - When you are eating out at restaurants, ask the waiter what's oil free. Or ask what can be made oil free. Never be afraid to ask for what you want.
As I said earlier, the cooking or preparing the food has been the hardest for me to get used to. I'm so used to adding oil, it just doesn't feel right. But that's changing. And I really don't miss it in the eating part!
Here's a few of the recipes I've posted recently. Click on the images to go to the recipes
So, what do you think? Can you do it? Will you try it? What questions do you have? Have you done it? Tell us about your experience.