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.
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
- 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
- In a large bowl, combine the cabbage, cilantro, carrot, onions and serrano pepper.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients.
- Toss the cabbage mixture with the dressing. Cover and set aside for about an hour to marinate.
- Before serving, taste for additional salt and ground black pepper.
- 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)
- Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- Serve on top of chickpea cakes or burgers.