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  • Writer's pictureMackenzie Martin

How to Cook Without Oil

Want to cut back on calories?—cut the oil!

If using oils to cook your food has become second nature to you, cutting them out can save you a ton of calories; especially if you aren't measuring and using way more than you even realize.

Using oil to cook food is totally normal. But, if you're trying to watch your caloric intake or just want to know a different way to cook your food without using oil, THERE IS A WAY!

I've been big into finding healthier alternatives for all things food for a long time, so I've picked up a couple ways to avoid the need for added oils along the way.

So, let's get into it.


My secret sauce: balsamic vinegar.

Sounds simple. And the best is.

I use balsamic vinegar to cook just about anything I sauté on the stove or roast in the oven.

So, though it is simple, there's two different methods I use for cooking food with said secret sauce.

I love my veggies, so I'll use them as an example.

Method #1: Boiling & sautéing on the stovetop.

What I do:

Step 1: I boil any starchy vegetables until they're tender, like brussels sprouts, carrots, potatoes, etc.

Step 2: While those veggies boil, I heat my other non-starchy veggies, such as broccoli, cauliflower, peppers, zucchini, etc. on a nonstick pan on the stove over medium heat.

  • Non-starchy vegetables don't need to be boiled/steamed because they have a higher water content, and therefore when you do boil/steam them, they get soggy. Like think of when you're at a restaurant and you get the 'steamed veggies' and they're the most basic thing ever & they're soggy AF. Yeah, no thanks. HEALTHY DOESN'T HAVE TO TASTE BAD.

Okay, rant over & back to comes the secret sauce.

Step 3: I toss in a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar (or more, depending on how many veggies are involved) to prevent any sticking and help them sauté.

Step 4: Once the starchy veggies have boiled until tender, I strain them, let them sit for a minute or two, then add them into the same nonstick pan as the other veggies sautéing in the balsamic vinegar. I also throw in another tablespoon or so of balsamic vinegar and let all the veggies cook together at medium heat for another 5*ish* minutes.

  • TIP: I'm flipping the veggies every minute or so to prevent burning.

Step 5: I reduce the heat to low and let them sauté until they're cooked to my liking.

And BAM...sautéd veggies WITHOUT unnecessary added oils. Just add your desired spices/herbs/etc. and good to go!

Roasted veggies


  • Have the correct cookware. Your pan should be nonstick. My favorite to use is a nonstick cast iron skillet. You can find these anywhere and they can be a little pricey, but it's worth the small investment. OR, head over to your nearest TJ Maxx/Marshalls/HomeGoods. Those stores are kitchenware GOALS and I'd be lying if I said I didn't get my nonstick cast iron skillet from there...and way under the price that I would have had to spend almost anywhere else. No need to be boujee with your culinary cookware.

Method #2: Oven roasting.

What I do:

Step 1: I have my oven preheated at 400 degrees F and put all my veggies together into a big bowl. Depending on how much I'm making, I'll drizzle in 1-2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar and them toss everything together in the bowl to evenly coat all of the veggies.

Step 2: Add alllllll the herbs & spices. Then toss the goods together again.

That's the key for making veggies that don't suck. SPICES AND FLAVOR. Again, no one actually likes bland steamed veggies. Spice up your life, y'all!

Gonna go back to my TJ MAxx/Marshalls/HomeGoods spiel here. I LOVE the spices they have in their gourmet section. You can find tons of low-sodium or no-salt added spice mixes *low-sodium or no salt because monitoring sodium intake is important...more on that in another post to come*. My favorite is a roasted garlic, rosemary, & sea salt spice blend from the brand "The Gourmet Collection". That link shows you it on Amazon, and it's more expensive there. If you head into one of TJX stores I mentioned, and it's in stock, you can get your hands on it for just $3.99. You're welcome in advance.

Moving on.

Step 3: I have my nonstick *nonstick ovenware is key* baking sheet or baking dish out and pour the veggies out in ONE EVEN LAYER.

ONE layer is important, because with more than one layer, the veggies won't roast evenly. You'll either have some that are underdone or overdone. We're striving for perfection here. So, one layer.

Step 4: Roast for 25-30 minutes.

  • I'll check in after 20 minutes to see how they look. I cook them until they're a little darker than golden brown, because I like mine a little crispy, but that's a preference thing.

  • You can give everything a flip, but it's not totally necessary. I usually don't.

Step 5: Remove from oven, let cool and enjoy!

And Viola. Once again, BOMB veggies, no oil required.

roasted vegetables

So, to sum it all up:

You really don't NEED to use oil to cook your food. These same exact methods can be used for proteins, like chicken, fish, etc. And yes, I know that for sure because though I may not eat animal protein, the hubs & pretty much everyone else I cook for does, so I use these methods all the time when cooking protein too. So, don't go thinking this only works for veggies.

All you need is the help of some balsamic vinegar, which is just 10-15 calories *on average* per tablespoon. Compare that to 120 calories in your typical cooking/vegetable oils and you can see how many calories that swap alone can save you.

I hope my methods & tips were helpful to you.

Try them out, save yourself some cals, and EAT MORE FOR LESS!

If you have any questions, drop them in the comments.

xo Mackenzie.

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