Adding oil to stir-fry does not have to be obligatory; it is possible not to use oil in food preparation. In fact, oil (which is not a health food or whole food) usually just adds fat and calories to the final dish. Registered Dietician Julieanna Hever states, “Contrary to popular thought, oil is not a health food. Oil is 100 percent fat, contains 120 calories per tablespoon, and is nutrient-poor and calorie-rich. Although there are small amounts of a few nutrients present in some oils, there is no health benefit from consuming them. Minimizing or eliminating oils is an easy way to cut calories and excess fat from the diet.” Therefore, making stir-fry without oil when possible is the way to go. Here are some easy ways to do just that:

1. Buy or Make Some Good Quality Vegetable Broth

Instead of putting oil straight into the pan, add water or vegetable broth instead. The only problem with this is that it has to be bought or made, but you buy oil if you use that now, so it really isn’t more work to do this unless you make it so. Also, making vegetable broth or stock is not very complicated or problematic: click here for a great low-sodium vegetable broth recipe, and you’re on your way to a great oil-free stir fry. Don’t think you’re wasting your money and time! Vegetable broth can also be used to make soups, sauté all the veggies you can think of, or you can even freeze it in cubes for later use if you run out of ideas.

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2. Get a Nonstick Skillet or Wok

As oil makes food not stick to pans, omitting it can sometimes prove to be disastrous. If you don’t already have a decent nonstick pan, you should invest in one. But, don’t assume you’ll never use it or you’re wasting your money on more kitchen supplies, because these pans will last forever if you take good care of them, and they are extremely versatile. Whatever brand you choose, make sure the coating isn’t ridden with harsh chemicals (choose eco-friendly coatings if they’re available), and be sure to hand wash it so the coating doesn’t wear off prematurely.

3. Heat the Pan First

Prior to chucking in your desired stir-fry vegetables, heat your nonstick skillet/wok on medium-high heat. To check and make sure your pan is hot enough, flick some water in it and see if it evaporates or sizzles. If it does, your pan is ready to go. Add in about ¼ cup or more of vegetable broth or water and then add in garlic, onions, and carrots or other vegetables that are heartier and take a while to cook. After cooking these vegetables for 10-20 minutes, then add in leafy greens, bean sprouts, or any other fast cooking vegetable you like. Add in some low sodium tamari, ginger, or Chinese 5 spice and you have a delectable stir-fry!

Relying on oil does not have to be the way to go: from stir-fry to baked goods, oil doesn’t have to be a main ingredient. An added bonus: omitting oil makes the flavor of vegetables sing, especially in stir-fry. So the next time you make it, try these steps to a healthier, more flavorful stir-fry!

Image source: Indian-Chinese Broccoli Manchurian Stir Fry

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