Weight Loss Wednesday: Sauté Your Way to Oil-Free Cooking

While it’s easy to replace oil with applesauce in baked goods, cooking without oil is more difficult. Although certain oils, like olive oil and especially coconut oil, have many health benefits, they’re not exactly low in calories. One tablespoon of olive oil, coconut oil, or canola oil has 120 calories, all from fat. While these are mostly healthy, monounsaturated fats that you definitely need in your diet, if you feel like you’re using too much oil, there are simple switches you can make to decrease calories and fats. Oil is most necessary in cooking when you’re sautéing vegetables, but I have three fool-proof alternatives that work just as well.

vegetable broth, soy sauce, and orange juice

1. Vegetable Broth

Vegetable broth is the healthiest oil alternative, containing less than 1 calorie per tablespoon and zero fat. While you can sauté vegetables with water, vegetable broth is more flavorful and dissolves less quickly than water. As long as you have a non-stick pan, this is an ideal oil replacement. The broth will take a few minutes to dissolve so make sure you keep your vegetables in the frying pan long enough for all of the vegetable broth to be absorbed. You can definitely taste the vegetable broth on the vegetables, but it’s not a super strong taste so it can work with many different dishes.

sautéed vegetables


sautéed vegetables













2. Soy Sauce

Soy sauce is less versatile than vegetable broth because it has a stronger flavor, but it is a great option for a classic vegetable stir-fry. You can also use soy sauce to flavor tofu for a stir-fry, which is what I did. Soy sauce has 10 calories per tablespoon and no fat. However, soy sauce does contain a lot of sodium (unless you get a low sodium version), so just be mindful of how much you use. I used one tablespoon to fry a package of extra firm tofu, but I definitely advise adding more once you combine it with your grain and vegetables.

tofu in soy sauce


tofu in soy sauce

Don't get discouraged when it looks gross. It's all part of the process...

tofu in soy sauce


3. Orange Juice

Our managing editor, Zoe, swears by this oil replacement, and I agree. Orange juice can add a fresh, citrus taste to the classic vegetable stir-fry. Just make sure that you add it bit by bit to see how much of citrus taste you want. I used one tablespoon for about half a cup of mixed vegetables, which gave it a light citrus taste. However, if you really want to taste the citrus, I would advise using at least two tablespoons and keeping the vegetables in the pan for a longer time. Orange juice only has 6.88 calories in one tablespoon, zero fat, and adds just a little bit of vitamin C.

I combined all of these options into one big giant stir fry, and it was delicious. You’ll probably want to add some more soy sauce to the stir fry, but with all the calories you’ve saved, you certainly can afford it!

Less calories and fat than your normal stir fry, but just as good!

Try these oil alternatives the next time you’re sautéing vegetables, and you’ll fill your belly without widening your waistline.


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4 Responses to Weight Loss Wednesday: Sauté Your Way to Oil-Free Cooking

  1. Vegan Gypsy says:

    Great post! For my own health & weight loss goals, I prefer to follow a mostly-oil-free diet. Once I broke the olive oil habit, I was surprised at how greasy everything tasted with it! Vegetable broth is my go-to substitute, find it allows the flavors of the foods to really come through, not masked by an oily residue.

  2. Stir frying cooks vegetables quickly. Be prepared to work fast. Try broccoli stir-fried in a little peanut oil, and topped with finely chopped peanuts. Add a splash of soy sauce or hot chili oil if you want more flavor.

  3. gold price says:

    Cooking oils, including olive oil, canola oil and vegetable oil, are used for many purposes, but two of the most common are to add flavor and to prevent foods from sticking to a pot or pan. Most cooks sauté fresh vegetables in oil to soften and flavor them. Often, oil is mixed with vegetables prior to roasting to infuse them with flavor and prevent them from drying out. Oil is also used to make popular vegetarian foods such as bruschetta, hummus and pesto. Using an oil substitute in a recipe is a way to cut the amount of fat and calories, and it often makes the finished product healthier.

  4. Pingback: Foodie Tuesday: Bake Your Way to Oil-Free Brownies! | I Eat Grass

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