Plant-Based and Oil-Free

You might have noticed that some of my blog posts have taken a more plant-based approach, which is no accident.  In the past months, my eating habits and choices are taking a conscious move toward a vegan lifestyle.  Beyond just vegan, I have been moving away from using any type of oil, either in cooking or in my diet.

Why, you ask, when for decades olive oil has been thought of as a “healthy oil”?  My cholesterol numbers have always hovered around the high side, even when I was in high school.  Although my ratio of good cholesterol to bad cholesterol is fine, the overall number has always been troubling to me  At the launch event for Veg Tucson, which is a coalition and resource group for people choosing a vegan lifestyle, while attending lectures and demonstrations I asked the question of multiple presenters why I never saw a change in my cholesterol numbers during times of following a vegan diet.  I learned that some people genetically produce more cholesterol than others, which makes sense, as there is heart disease on both sides of my family.  While it doesn’t necessarily have to be for the rest of my life, for people like me who naturally produce more cholesterol, if I want to see those numbers go down, I need to take a break on the oil, which includes all varieties (olive, coconut, sesame, nut oil… simply put no oils!).

Balsamic vinegars from Alfonso Oils
Always good to have a few of these in the pantry

How exactly do you cook without any sort of oil?  It’s actually quite easy and fun, and took almost no adjustment.  Quite surprisingly, I found that I liked the taste of my food even better, and could leave ingredients much more simple, while tasting more flavor!  Wherever I might use oil, I have switched to using broth or high-quality vinegars.

To start with, I went on a tasting adventure at Alfonso Oils.  Alfonso’s carries a huge selection of delicious balsamic vinegars which are rich and thick enough to use on their own, without missing the oil.  The black mission fig is my favorite, hence the larger bottle.  I recommend investing in the speed pour bottle topper, which is sold there, near the register, as it is self-closing, and eliminates the need to remove the cork each time you want to splash some vinegar on a dish.  You can taste as many varieties as you like.  My favorite combination on a salad is the black mission fig with a splash of grapefruit white balsamic vinegar.

I am not necessarily recommending that everyone go oil-free if it is not for them, but do play around with eliminating oils where you can in your cooking.  You will be surprised at how much more flavor you find in your favorite dishes.

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