While consuming enough fat is rarely a problem if you’re following a standard American diet, getting enough healthy fats is another story — especially if you want to avoid oils and trans fats. Considering that 36.5 percent of the national adult population suffers from obesity and that 1 in 4 deaths in America is caused by heart disease, we’d say that including more healthy fats in whole plant form and less refined oils in Americans’ diets should be a priority. Why? Well, simply put, hydrogenated oils contain trans fats and along with animal products full of saturated fats such as cheese, red meat, and dairy products, they contribute to driving your cholesterol levels up which prompts blockage in your arteries. On the flip side, plant-fats in their whole form such as olives, avocados, nuts and seeds, and coconuts are rich in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats which are actually protective against heart disease. Good news is, all of these are mighty tasty and give us a variety of vitamins and minerals as well.
Whether you’re already following an oil-free diet or you’re simply looking to up your intake of plant-based fats, here are five easy and healthy ways to do it:
1. Boost Your Breakfasts
Whether you’re a smoothie-for-breakfast kind of gal or you can’t go a day without your morning bowl of oatmeal, it doesn’t matter — there’s always a way to sneak in healthy fats right at the beginning of your day! A sprinkle of chia seeds, flax seeds, or hemp seeds goes great with pretty much anything. In a green smoothie? Check. Mixed in with your Pumpkin Pie Overnight Oats? Check. On top of avocado toast? Check! You get the idea.
Not only are most seeds rich in omega-3s and omega-6 fatty acids, they also contribute to keeping you full and satisfied for longer periods of time because of the fiber they contain. Pumpkin seeds, which are in season right now, are especially rich in mono-unsaturated fats. These kinds of fats are also found in nuts, sunflower seeds, flax seeds, chia seeds, and sesame seeds, and help in stabilizing blood sugar and managing your weight. They also contribute to protecting you against heart disease and play an important role in your overall health (mood and hormone production).
Looking for breakfast ideas full of healthy plant-based fats? We’ve got you covered! Love pancakes in the morning? Get your fill of omegas with these Apple-Almond Butter Pancakes, these Chia Oat Banana Pancakes, and these Protein-Packed Hemp Crepes. Bowls more your thing — be it smoothies or oats? Then, give this Green Goddess Golden Milk Smoothie, this Green Superfood Detox Smoothie, this Sunrise Nourish Bowl, these Halva-Style Overnight Oats, and this Chocolate Chia Breakfast Pudding a try. Lastly, if you like savory dishes in the morning, try this Savory Mushroom Avocado Toast, this Banh Mi Avocado Toast, or this Naan Avocado Toast With Dukkah and Pan-Fried Chickpeas .
2. Get Sauce-y
A good sauce can bring a plain dish from a-okay to wow, and add depth and flavor to already-spectacular meals. That’s only one of the reasons why we love them though. The other reason? It’s easy to sneak in healthy plant-fats in delicious sauces — in fact, they actually form the base of many of our favorite creamy recipes! Case in point, this Green Chili Nacho Cheese Sauce and this Heirloom Carrot Pasta With a Sunflower Cheese Sauce.
Using soaked cashews, other nuts and seeds, coconut milk, and even avocados to make sauces and creamy toppings for pasta bakes and other dishes is not only a good option for going dairy-free but it’s a great and tasty alternative if you’re on an oil-free diet. Did you know that cashew nuts contain mostly unsaturated fatty acids and monounsaturated fats? That’s the kind of fat you want — it reduces high-triglycerides and, by proxy, prevents cardiovascular disease. Coconut milk, another source of healthy plant-fat, has also been shown to be beneficial in decreasing low-density lipoprotein levels (bad cholesterol) and raising good cholesterol levels.
Want to reap the benefits of healthy fats and eat finger-lickin’ good sauces? Then try this Oil-Free Smoky Gouda Cheesy Sauce, this Creamy Pumpkin Seed Alfredo With Kale and Sweet Peas, this Lasagna With Cashew Bechamel, and this Mushroom and Pepper Fajitas With Spiced Cashew Cream Sauce. We also suggest you make this Vodka Cream Sauce, this Tortellini With Cream and Wild Mushroom Sauce, and this amazing Oil-Free Mac and Cheese. You won’t regret it!
3. Make a Spread
While meals are an obvious opportunity to add much-needed plant-fats into your diet — don’t forget about snacks. A healthy dose of fat mid-day can actually help you curb nasty cravings later (e.g late night chips) and ensure your blood sugar doesn’t spike, which will keep you productive and focused during the usual late-afternoon lull. Good news is, nuts, seeds, and avocados all contain oleic acid which is the compound that contributes to satiety. In other words, nut butters, avocado on toast, veggies with dip, and best of all — vegan cheeses — are all totally fair game.
Make a spread of your favorites and enjoy yourself! We suggest making this Paprika Cheese, this Smoked Cashew Cheese Spread, this Easy Almond Cream Cheese, and this Spicy Jalapeño ‘Cheese’. This Macadamia ‘Goat’ Cheese and this Smoked Coconut Gouda are also worth trying. Last but not least, you have to try out this Oil-Free Cashew Carrot Paté, this Oven-Fried Okra With Sunflower Cider Dip, this Oil-free Kale-Edamame Hummus, and this Curried Tahini and Potato Dip. These oil-free spreads are great for any party — even a party of one!
4. Dress Your Salads
We all know that a good dressing is an integral part of any salad but the oil and sugar content (not to mention nasty chemicals) of conventional store-bought dressings are sky-high — a shame, because making oil-free dressing is not only easy but a great (and tasty) way to pack in healthy fats. Not sure how to do it? Then, check out our guide on How to Make Oil-Free Vegan Salad Dressings.
If you want to keep it simple but still get your healthy fats with your greens, you can add a good helping of avocado, some nuts and seeds (like in this Bright Beet Salad With Quinoa and Toasted Pumpkin Seeds), a drizzle of tahini — or all three! Speaking of tahini — did you know that just two tablespoon gives you 14 grams of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats while also providing you with 14 percent of your iron RDA, and 12 percent of your daily calcium needs? Yes, sesame seeds are the real deal!
Looking for creative dressings and salad ideas featuring this gift from the gods (we kid — but not really)? Then, give these 5 Oil-Free, Dairy-Free Salad Dressings a try. You should also make this Kale Salad With Creamy Ginger Tahini Dressing, this Hippie Macro Glow Bowl With Maple Turmeric Tahini Dressing, this Baked Falafel Salad with Two Creamy Dressings, and these ‘Fishcake’ Canapés With Tahini. These delicious salads will give you all the omega-3s and flavor you need — it’s a guarantee!
5. Praise the Almighty Avocado
While including nuts, seeds, and coconut in any of your meals is sufficient to get enough fats in your diet if you’re oil-free, there’s no denying that avocado is the queen of healthy fats in the plant-based world. It goes well in a variety of dishes and it’s totally acceptable to eat it with a spoon, too (yep — we said it). Not only is it versatile but it contains about three grams of monounsaturated fat per serving, which can improve your cholesterol levels and decrease your risk of getting heart disease. Avocados are also rich in B-vitamins, vitamin C and E, potassium, folate, and soluble fiber. They also contribute to the absorption of fat-soluble nutrients such as carotene and lutein found in green vegetables.
If you’re looking for ways to include avocados in your meals besides the obvious guacamole, we suggest trying this Chilled Avocado and Pea Soup, this Hummus, Avocado, and Sun-dried Tomato Sandwich, this Kimchi Cucumber and Avocado Sushi, and this Sweet Potato Bean Burger With Avocado Bun. These Mediterranean Grilled Chickpea-Stuffed Avocados, these Mushroom Quinoa Stuffed Sweet Potatoes With Smashed Avocado, and these Avocado Nori Snacks are also good for lunch or dinner. Last but not least, you can use avocados to make a healthier version of your favorite desserts, try this Raw Avocado Cacao Mousse, this Mexican-Spiced Chocolate Avocado Pudding and this Chocolate Avocado Tart!
Recommended Resources and Recipes to Get You Started
Want to find more helpful tips and recipes regarding an oil-free diet? Here are a few articles that might interest you:
- 5 Ways to Get Sufficient Omega Fats Via Plant Foods
- The 5 Cleanest Sources of Plant-Based Fats
- The Importance of Plant-Based Fats for Your Brain and Body
- 5 Oil-Free, Dairy-Free Salad Dressings
- How to Cook Oil-Free Without Sacrificing Flavor
- 5 Oil-Free (and Vegan) Alternatives to Mayo for Your Sandwiches
- How to Make Stir-Fry – No Oil Necessary!
- How to Make Clean Eating Dips and Spreads That Eliminate Oil and Dairy
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Lead Image Source: Zucchini Noodle Stuffed Avocado With Creamy Sauce