Cooking Tips For Using Less Oil: Which Oil To Use And When
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Around 250,000 BCE, when ancient humans first discovered fire, they also started using animal fats in cooking. This use of fat was due to the fact that when an animal was hunted and cooked on a fire to eat, the fat from the meat would drip off, and some humans tasted this fat and found it tasty. This was also around the time when eating vessels were made of stone, clay, and other materials. Soybean oil was produced as early as 2000 BCE in China and Japan. Olive oil was being produced in Europe as early as 300 BCE In North America and Mexico, peanuts and sunflower seeds were roasted and beaten into a paste before being boiled in water. When the oil rose to the surface, it was skimmed off. In Africa, the same process was used to produce oil, but with grated and beaten palm kernels and coconut meat.

The need to reduce oil and other fat sources in one's diet has become a hotly debated topic due to the average person's current sedentary lifestyle and the sharp rise in obesity and related health problems (especially cardiovascular ones). However, using oil is quite beneficial. The following are some of its advantages:

    Due to their high content of monounsaturated fats, some oils like olive oil can reduce the risk of heart disease.

    Most oils are good sources of omega-3 fatty acids, which are good for the human heart.

    Oils like coconut oil have high levels of antioxidants, which are good for the body.

    Oils like coconut oil have a high smoke point, which lends them well to high-heat cooking.

Another point that is not spoken about much is the fact that used oil may be recycled and used as biodiesel that can power diesel-fired engines and vehicles with very low emissions, instead of being dumped into the drains and sewers that may clog them, which have to be dealt with by town councils and local municipalities by spending copious amounts of time and money to get them unclogged and cleaned.

There are quite a few ways to reduce oil usage for those of us who want to reduce or eliminate oil from our diets. Here are a few examples:

1.    Sautéing vegetables in minimal oil This practice aids in the absorption of the various fat-soluble vitamins found in vegetables.

2.    Using non-stick cookware can help reduce oil usage in cooking, as it enables us to cook without the fear of having food stick to the pan without the use of a lot of oil.

3.    Oils with high smoke points (the temperature at which the oil begins to simmer or smoke), such as olive oil, coconut oil, and avocado oil, are therefore suitable for high-heat cooking.

4.    Using only as much oil as is necessary for frying Pouring only enough oil to submerge the food to be fried is a great way to reduce oil consumption.

5.    Not mixing used and new oils can also help us use less oil when cooking. This is because pouring new oil into the cooking vessel instead of "refilling" the oil can help us keep track of how much oil we are using, while "refilling" the oil can make it hard to tell how much oil is in the vessel after it has been poured and mixed.

6.    If oil used for frying has not changed color or does not have anything in it, then the same oil can be used for sautéing as well, thus reducing overall oil usage.

7.    Using oils rich in monounsaturated fats can have health benefits. Rapeseed oil, rice bran oil, and groundnut oil are examples of such oils.

8.    Deep frying in a shallow pan is the best way to use less oil, but keeping an eye on the temperature when cooking or frying in a deeper pan can help keep the food from soaking up too much oil.

9.    Not using the same oil again for frying is also a good way to reduce oil consumption.

There are a few methods to almost completely reduce or eliminate oil from cooking. They are: 

    Braising: This is a method in which food to be cooked is slow cooked at a low temperature in a sauce of some kind with herbs, spices, or wine.

    Steaming is one of the healthiest and maybe even the easiest option here, as all one needs for this process is water, a heat source, and the right vessel. When steamed, the food would have cooked in the hot vapors of the water that is in the same vessel as the food to be cooked.

    Roasting helps cook food quicker than most methods as high heat is applied to the food being cooked. This method also requires few resources, as all that is required to cook is a vessel and a heat source. Roasting may or may not use oil, but boiling or steaming the food to be roasted reduces the chances of it being burned or completely dried out.

    Baking is also a great option when trying to reduce oil usage. Using various purees, sauces, yogurts, vegan butters, etc. can help reduce the greasiness of baked foods,

    Grilling is another good alternative to reduce oil consumption, as all the oil that any dish to be grilled is going to need is merely in the marinade that’s on the food or is smeared on it, and no more oil is needed during the cooking process.

    Air frying is a relatively new concept that has yet to catch up with modern cooking. It is slowly gaining popularity in urban centers where people are both aware and have disposable income to spend on air fryers. An air fryer merely circulates hot air around the food to cook it, thus eliminating the use of excess oil in cooking. This process is quite similar to conventional baking in a convection microwave oven.

There are a few unwritten rules to be followed when picking an oil to cook with.

1.    High-heat cooking methods like grilling, roasting, pan frying, deep frying, and broiling require oils with higher smoke points like olive oil, avocado oil, and coconut oil.

2.    Sautéing and baking at less than 300° Fahrenheit necessitate the use of either oils with high smoke points, like olive oil, avocado oil, and coconut oil, or less refined olive oil and peanut oil.

3.    Oils that are used for dressing salads and merely flavoring food at the end of the cooking process can be nut oils, seed oils, or canola oils.

Completely eliminating oils from one’s diet isn’t recommended, as oils have healthy fats and omega-3 fatty acids that are good for heart health. However, using the right oil for the cooking process chosen is also prudent. Also, reducing oil and avoiding deep frying will go a long way in improving an individual’s heart health.