This may rock the world of stir fry lovers everywhere, but I have successfully prepared an OIL-FREE stir fry and I was nowhere even close to burning it. I was so far from burning it that it made up for the time last week in which I forgot about my oil-free, vegan brownies in the oven and burnt those poor little things to a crisp. It was not a pleasant experience, let me tell you. I could see icky jet-black burnt spots all over those sadly cracked, dry and completely inedible would-be desserts.
Don’t get too sad about those would-be desserts because this post isn’t about them, it’s about the celebration of this delicious healthy stir-fry recipe completely devoid of oil. Yes, you read that correctly. It IS totally possible to make a delicious, nutritious stir fry without the use of any oil whatsoever. How is this possible you may ask?! Well, my dear, health-conscious reader, the secret is all in a very logical, very simple thing called WATER SAUTEING. Simply add water and shake! Actually don’t shake. Don’t ever shake while you make a stir fry. Okay well, you may shake your body without a culinary disaster, but I don’t recommend shaking the stir fry pan unless you are a master chef with plenty of stir fry pan shaking experience and want to impress an audience. Even then, the act of pan shaking and stir frying is risky business. In my case, I did not shake and fry. I am much too clumsy for that sort of culinary risk taking.
Now you might be wondering, why oil-free?! Behold! ~>
“Guess what foods have almost no micronutrients whatsoever? Oils. Every type of oil. That’s right . . . even olive oil has no notable levels of vitamins, minerals, or phytochemicals. Not only are oils devoid of nutrients, they are loaded with calories. Every single type of oil on this planet has 120 calories per tablespoon, all of which come from fat. It takes time and effort for your body to store fat from seeds and nuts, and most is burned off for energy. However when you consume oil, your body can store the fat with effortless ease in your hips and belly in about 10 minutes. Eating oil is pretty much the reverse of liposuction—yet most of us use it as a major ingredient or cook with it on a daily basis! The average American currently consumes 300 to 500 calories from added oil every single day. This adds up to over 100,000 extra calories each year! Here’s another equation:
An extra 100 calories from oil each day = 100 extra pounds of fat in 10 years
Now, it’s not a huge deal to eat a bit of oil here and there if you eat an overall healthy diet and are physically active and slim, but this is not the case for most people. As many Americans continue to grow overweight or obese, consuming extra calories from oil can lead to additional health problems. This is not simply a matter of fitting into your skinny jeans—at the rate we eat oil, we’re facing heightened risk of diabetes, cancer, or heart attack: For every 200 calories of any food consumed over your basic needs each day, your long-term risk of cancer increases by 20 percent.[i]
So there you have it. That is why oil-free stir-fries are HOT STUFF, both literally and figuratively.
RECIPE 411: Oil-Free Thai Basil Coconut Curry Stir Fry With Plenty-A-Veggies
Makes 4-6 servings.
1/4 cup coconut butter (this is simply blended whole coconut)
½ cup water
2 cloves garlic
1-2 tablespoons curry powder*
½ tablespoon nutritional yeast
1 tablespoon Bragg’s Liquid Aminos or low-sodium soy sauce
4 medjool dates, pitted
2 tablespoons lemon juice
½ cup chopped fresh basil leaves
*Curry powders can vary by brand, so begin with a smaller amount and add more to suit your tastes.
Stir fry ingredients:
2 cups water (this may be more or less depending on how many veggies you use)
1 medium-sized yellow onion
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
About 2 cups sliced shiitake mushrooms or other mushrooms of choice
Liberal usage of baby bok choy (lots and lots of baby bok choy, muhahaha!) <~ Translation: I used 4 stalks, thinly sliced
1 sweet red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1/2 cup water chestnuts
½ cup fresh snap peas
1 cup baby corn
Any other assorted veggies that you love
1) To prepare the sauce, combine all ingredients in a high-powered blender and blend baby blend. This is pretty easy and the sauce is done uber quickly. Once the sauce is done, place it aside for now and get ready for some major water sautéing.
2) Add the onions and garlic to a large pot or stir-fry pan along with one cup of water. Cook for 5 minutes on medium heat until onions are soft and translucent.
3) Add the rest of the veggies to the pot/pan and cook for another 10-15 minutes or until the bok choy has wilted slightly. Add another 1/2 cup to 1 cup of water as you cook the veggies over the course of the 10-15 minutes to ensure that the veggies don’t burn. You don’t want to add too much water, as we don’t want the stir-fry to become stewy or soupy. We want just enough to continue cooking all of the veggies without burning them. So continue to add a bit more water as the veggies cook. Water will naturally evaporate from the pan, but adding more water prevents the veggies from drying up.
4) After about 15 minutes of cooking, add the basil coconut sauce to the pan and stir it in with the sautéed veggies. Cook for another 5-10 minutes and voila, your oil-free stir fry will be ready for eating. Enjoy!
Now I am going to make a confession of love: I love you baby bok choy. I will love you forever and ever. Maybe as much as dark chocolate. Yes, I just went there. Wow, I am so sorry dark chocolate. Don’t worry, I still love you very much too. The reality is that I will never be monogamous in my affection for healthy foods and I would not be surprise if I have a love affair with chia seed pudding or butternut squash soup tomorrow. Over and out.
[i] S. Frankel, D. J. Gunnel, and T. J. Peters, et al., “Childhood Energy Intake and Adult Mortality from Cancer,” British Medical Journal 316, no. 7130 (1998): 499–504.