As cooking fats go, olive oil is among the healthiest oils, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t raise your cholesterol level. It just means that it doesn’t raise it as much as other oils and fats such as canola oil or butter. In addition, some people believe that heating oils to the high temperatures needed for stir frying can release harmful free radicals.
So if you want to stir fry vegetables or sauté greens, what healthful options do you have? You may not be aware, but you can actually cook vegetables in any liquid, including clear soup broth, wine, juice or even plain water.
If you want to switch out the empty calories that sautéing in oil adds, here’s a step-by-step guide:
Add 2-6 Tbs of vegetable or other clear soup broth to a pan and heat over medium until the broth just begins to boil. The amount depends on the quantity of vegetables you want to cook. Better to start with less and add more during the cooking process.
Add chopped onions first. When cooking, onions release their own liquid which will add to the complexity of flavor.
It’s important to stir frequently to avoid having the onions stick to the pan. And you may have to periodically add more liquid and watch carefully to avoid charring. If they begin to turn black, lower the heat and keep stirring.
After about 5 minutes, the onions will have softened enough to add other ingredients that need extra cooking, such as garlic. Soften the garlic for another minute or two then add whatever other veggies you like in your stir fry. I’m partial to broccoli and cauliflower, and I often add a handful of raw cashews into the mix, but here’s where you can be creative.
Remember, the secret is to not let the water burn off completely and keep stirring.
Cooking purists might say that, without oil, you’re really more boiling or steaming your veggies than truly sautéing them, but that’s a technical difference that won’t matter much to your final dish. Both oil and water help transfer the heat from the pan to your vegetables in order to soften and cook them. And when you use water or broth instead of oil, you’ll be saving approximately 120 calories for each tablespoon of oil you don’t use.
As an added bonus, you won’t have a greasy pan to clean.
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Author: Rebeca Espinoza
Rebeca Espinoza writes about health, fitness and weight loss for Spatz Medical, makers of the Spatz3 Adjustable Gastric Balloon. You can find her on Google+ or at firstname.lastname@example.org.