Unhealthy Oils & Chickpea Cakes with Oil Free Coleslaw

May 15, 2015

unhealthy oil

It's almost that time of year again. Cookouts, picnics, corn on the cob, potato salad, and coleslaw. It's hard to believe that Memorial Day is right around the corner, and I am ready for some summer fun and food.

Coleslaw is one of my favorites and today I made a light and refreshing, oil-free version. I personally prefer cooking without oil and people are often surprised by my oil-free viewpoint. Today I thought I would explain why I avoid unhealthy oils.

I was very fortunate to participate in the plant-based nutrition courses at ECornell.  I take the responsibility of writing this blog very seriously and wanted to learn everything I could about plant-based nutrition.

The added bonus was that it was run by my plant-based guru, Dr. T. Colin Campbell with lectures by Dr. John McDougall and Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn.

One of the biggest takeaways from that course is that all oil, even olive oil, is unhealthy especially for people with chronic disease.

For example, Dr. Esselstyn tells a story in his book, about a man named William Valentine, who had quintuple bypass surgery.

Following his surgery, Mr. Valentine followed a very strict plant-based diet and went from 210 pounds to 156 pounds. For 14 years, he maintained his weight, his diet and health, when suddenly he started to experience a recurrence of angina. He promptly contacted Dr. Esselstyn.

Mr. Valentine didn't want any more heart surgery. He assured Dr. Esselstyn that he only ate whole grains, legumes, vegetables, and fruit. Dr. Esselstyn was baffled until Mr. Valentine mentioned one more thing. Here is what Dr. Esselstyn had to say about it:

“William Valentine forgot to mention that he was consuming “heart healthy” olive oil at every lunch and dinner in salads. It was what they call a Eureka moment. Immediately, I advised him to give up the olive oil. He did and within seven weeks his angina disappeared.”

So why is oil so bad?

Consuming a lot of olive oil or any other unhealthy oils can lead to weight gain and obesity. There is no nutritional value in oils. Vegetable oils contain no fiber, no minerals and are 100% fat calories.

Two tablespoons of oil has 240 calories and is more calorie dense than even pure refined sugar. Vegetable oils are also loaded with trans fats. Trans fats are toxic and associated with numerous chronic diseases.

Vegetable oils can also raise your risk of cardiovascular disease because any kind of processed oil can injure the endothelium, which is the innermost lining of the artery and the gateway to cardiovascular disease.

The next question people always ask is: “how about coconut oil?” According to Pritikin Research, the fat in coconut oil is 92% saturated fat. Ounce for ounce coconut oil has more saturated fat than butter, lard or beef and can raise LDL cholesterol as much as animal fats.

Cutting back on unhealthy oils is easier than you think.  In the past,  I used a lot of olive oil when I sautéd vegetables. I never measured it, just threw in the sauté pan. Now I always sauté my vegetables in seasoned vegetable broth.

Overusing unhealthy oils in salads was another mistake I made in the past. Now I rely more on vinegar, herbs and citrus juices for flavor like in this oil-free coleslaw recipe.

If I am making a veggie burger, I bake it instead of frying it in oil. If I am baking and the recipe calls for oil, I replace the oil with apple sauce. There is always a way to avoid unhealthy oils.

You can learn more about  fats and unhealthy oils following these recipes with this humorous video from plant-based nutritionist and dietitian Jeff Novick. He really spells it out.

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Unhealthy Oils & Chickpea Cakes with Chipotle Sauce & Oil Free Coleslaw

Oil Free Cole Slaw
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This oil-free coleslaw is light and refreshing and you won't miss the usual creamy dressing so often tossed with cabbage.
Serves: 4
  • 8 cups green or savoy cabbage, cored and thinly sliced
  • ½ cup lightly chopped cilantro
  • 1 large carrot grated
  • 5 green onions, sliced
  • 1 serrano pepper, seeded & minced
  • ½ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons maple syrup
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • salt & pepper to taste
  1. In a large bowl, combine the cabbage, cilantro, carrot, onions and serrano pepper.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients.
  3. Toss the cabbage mixture with the dressing. Cover and set aside for about an hour to marinate.
  4. Before serving, taste for additional salt and ground black pepper.

Roasted Chickpea Thanksgiving Cakes
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
All the flavors of Thanksgiving in these delicious and healthy little chickpea cakes.
Recipe type: Main
Serves: 6 patties
  • 1 15 ounce carton or can of cooked garbanzo beans, rinsed
  • ¼ cup vegetable broth for sautéing (or more if needed)
  • 2 teaspoons grated ginger
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • ½ cup onion, chopped
  • ½ cup celery, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 6-8 sage leaves, chopped (depending on size - if smaller use 8)
  • 2 flax eggs (2 tablespoons of ground flax whisked with 5½ tablespoons of water - put in refrigerator for 10 minutes to thicken) or a commercial egg replacer
  • ¼ cup apple, grated
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 cup vegan breadcrumbs (or more if needed)
  1. Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. In a nonstick skillet, heat the vegetable broth. Add the onion and celery and saute until soft about 3-5 minutes. Add the garlic, ginger, basil, salt, pepper and sage leaves. Saute for another 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat.
  3. In a food processor, add the rinsed garbanzo beans, flax eggs, apple, onion mixture and baking powder. Puree to combine. Remove from processor and place in a large bowl. Add bread crumbs. Combine. Taste for seasonings.
  4. With wet hands form 6 patties. Adding more bread crumbs if needed to hold it together. Place on baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Cook for 30-40 minutes, turning once.

Chipotle Sauce
Prep time
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This simple sauce adds a lot of flavor to veggie burger and patties. A little goes a long way.
Recipe type: Condiment
Serves: ½ cup
  • ½ cup cashews, soaked for 1 hour or more and rinsed
  • 3 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (comes in cans)
  • ¼ cup vegetable broth (or more)
  • salt & ground black pepper to taste
  1. Add the cashews, chipotle peppers and vegetable broth to a food processor. Process until smooth adding more vegetable broth for consistency. I like it a mayo consistency. Taste for seasoning. Add salt & pepper if needed.
  2. Serve on top of chickpea cakes or burgers.



5 thoughts on “Unhealthy Oils & Chickpea Cakes with Oil Free Coleslaw

  1. Fats have a nutritional value in our bodies. They help carry nutrients, carry fat soluble vitamins. Now no longer eating animals or fish. No longer getting fats from milk or milk products. Removing oils from our diets. My question is how do the fat soluble nutrients work with out this substance. What about essential fatty acids. I understand they are needed for brain function as well as in other parts of our body?

    1. Hi Maria – good questions. You can get all the healthy fats you need in nuts, seeds and avocados. I personally eat hemp seeds, ground flax or chia seeds everyday for my essential amino fatty acids also known as complete proteins. I sprinkle hemp seeds on salads and I love them on top of sautéed beans like cannellini beans over steamed green. Adds a lovely flavor and a little crunch. I use ground flax in anything creamy I am making or baking including oatmeal in the morning. Chia seeds also taste great on salads or sautéed veggies. Other great sources of complete proteins are quinoa, amaranth, soybeans and buckwheat. Thanks for being part of our community Maria.

  2. All oils are highly refined products and are NOT a whole food. It doesn’t make sense to remove white sugar and white flour from our diets and still consume oil. Yes, we need a little fat in our diets, but it should come from whole foods like nuts, seeds and avocados. Thanks for explaining why we should avoid oil!

  3. Oil oxidizes over time while it sits on the shelf after processing, that includes all oils even coconut oil and olive oil. Oxidized foods when consumed create free radicals in the body which are extremely harmful and lead to inflammation as well as many other problems. All oil must be avoided due to this reason. Don’t fall for marketing ploys that are trying to sell you “healthy” olive oil…

  4. I feel real frustration at the constant different stands on all food products. So much information pro and con. Good oil bad oil. good food bad food. Now we have bad oil . Is there good oil? We need fats in our diet to carry nutrients but we pooh pooh the different products. As I understand it that only certain oils are good for us. Some change with heat and oxidize. Other require proper storage and short shelf life. Olive oil is the one main oil considered most frequently as the best but heat it up or expose it to light it changes it’s contribution to healthy oils. Are we going too far? Is this blog to educate us and give valuable information? Lets have the real facts. Eliminating all fats is not healthy. Especially if one is vegan. Let’s start giving pros and cons and not just hightlight the”bad”. So tired of ” BAd” news.

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