For anyone looking to eat more whole foods or trade in heavy oils for some healthy alternatives, there are many options you can use. Even healthy oils like olive and coconut oil may not be desirable for everyone, especially for those who need more fiber, are watching their calories, or just want to eat less refined forms of food. Some people may also have sensitive digestive systems or health issues such as heartburn or gallbladder disease that can all be triggered by dense sources of fat, including oil. Many fitness competitors and athletes may also be watching their fat intake in order to get a leaner physique or enhance their energy by reducing the digestive stress from dense sources of fats. Whatever the case, no matter what your reason, going oil-free is easy and doesn’t mean bland tasting dishes.
When it comes to recipes where oil is drizzled over your meal, such as salads, go for some delicious oil-free salad recipes instead. For other dishes, such as baked goods, try out a few of these low fat replacements below that keep items tender, tasty and very moist just like oil does, but with additional fiber and far fewer calories. Most oils contains 120 calories in 1 tablespoon and anywhere from 12-14 grams of fat per tablespoon. These simple swaps for oil will go a long way in reducing the amount of dense fats in your diet with just a few bites, and are just as satisfying too!
Unsweetened applesauce is one of the best oil replacements to use in muffins, quickbread, cakes, cookies, and even pancakes. You can buy the entire jars of applesauce (choose organic and unsweetened) or use the individual cups for single serving options. Applesauce is fat-free and adds a slightly sweet flavor, a moist texture, and a nice dose of potassium and vitamin C to your baked goods. It will also help hold baked goods together a bit and create a nice texture to your recipes once they’re finished baking. Generally, 1/4 cup of oil can be replaced with one small individual container of applesauce (or roughly 1/4 cup). Try it in Oat Quickbread With Sunflower Seeds and Flax or try using it in place of the oil in Carrot Cake Muffin Tops, Apple Cider Muffins, or Carrot Apple Muffins. If you want to make your own applesauce, give it a try with this recipe!
Puréed or Mashed Bananas
Bananas are naturally starchy and sweet, which makes them perfect where you need to create a moist texture without losing too much structure in your goods. Bananas’ starch and lower water content will help the recipe hold well together and provide a natural binding feature. They work perfectly to replace eggs, oil, and even butter all in one recipe. Use 1/2 a medium ripe banana where you would use 1/2 cup of oil. Just be sure to mash or
purée it first. You might also want to add 1-2 tablespoons of water if your banana isn’t quite ripe yet. Unripe bananas will be starchier and less moist than especially ripe ones where the sugars have broken down a bit. Try this trick in Zen Fusion Carrot Cake Muffins With Pecan Frosting, Oatmeal Muffins, Whole Grain Banana Date Flax Muffins, or Banana Cake With Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting.
purée works exactly like bananas do in your baked goods or even in smoothies where you want a dense texture and full flavor but without too much fat. You can even use pumpkin in place of the oil in recipes such as casseroles, dips, or veggie bakes. Pumpkin helps recipes bind together, it adds moisture, and can take on both sweet and savory flavors depending on the other ingredients and flavors used. Normally, 1/4 cup pumpkin will replace 1/4 cup of oil. Try it out in Creepy Crawly Veggie Pumpkin Muffins and Creamy Pumpkin Coconut Pie. Also see more of our pumpkin recipes here for other ideas!
4. Chia Seeds
Chia seeds are lower in fat than oil per serving (about 3 grams per tablespoons) and work really well in a recipe where you would normally use oil for a couple reasons. When ground into a flour, they help bind the other ingredients together and also absorb moisture of other liquids used in the recipes. This helps your dishes stay together and also prevents them from drying out. It’s best to use ground chia seeds to replace oil instead of the whole seeds just for texture purposes, but you can use the whole seeds if you like. Chia seeds can also replace the eggs in your recipe at the same time. Per 1/4 cup of oil called for, use 3 tablespoons of water or other liquid and 1 tbsp. ground chia seeds. If you don’t have ground chia seeds on hand, grind the whole seeds in a coffee grinder or food processor, which just takes a few seconds. Store in the fridge and use them in: Orange Triple Chocolate Chip Cookies (also sugar-free!) or Raw Truffles With Chia, Carob and Coconut. You can also try this trick in any of our pancake, muffin or cookie recipes for more ideas.
Wait, wait, wait- do not run away! Prunes are delicious, despite their reputation for being just a digestion enhancer. Prunes are also great for your bones and they happen to make a killer oil replacement due to their natural sweetness, rich moist flavor and binding nature. They’ll help keep your goods soft, crisp on the outside like oil, and can even replace eggs and oil all in one. Look for prune puree at the store where the kids’ individual packs of pureed fruits are found. You can also just use baby food packs of pureed prunes, or even carrots and squash in pureed form too. This is helpful for those of us that don’t feel like cooking and pureeing these foods ourselves, or if you just want to keep them in your pantry to have on hand. They’re also cheap and work just like applesauce anywhere you use them. Try prune puree out in these Double Chocolate ‘Everything’ Cookies – they’ll definitely win you over!
Remember, the goal isn’t to go fat-free since we all need some healthy fats in our diet. But it’s always nice to try to implement more whole foods in place of oil when you can in your recipes. You never know … you might just create a new favorite dish without even meaning to!
See our Low Fat Vegan Menu for more ways to replace oil without losing nutrition, flavor or missing out on tasty foods!
Lead Image Source: Raw Truffles With Chia, Carob and Coconut