Cooking without oils

One of the healthiest “mini-conversions” people can make to rid their diets of excess calories, while honing in on super nutrition, is to learn how to use alternative ingredients and cooking methods that eliminate added fats and salt.

This is one of the most important components of the Eat To Live plan that I have been following religiously.  It’s not simply a weight-loss thing, like some people suppose.  It also helps to keep cholesterol, blood pressure, diabetes (Type 2), and many other chronic disease in check.

zuchtopWhile there are so-called “healthy fats” that are essential to the body, most of these are easily attained through rich natural sources such as nuts and seeds.  Even with this knowledge, however, it is difficult for people to realize that cooking can be accomplished without the use of added oils, even the “healthy” ones.

So, relearning cooking methods and using alternative ingredients are essential if one really wants to succeed in eating an optimal nutritious diet without compromising for lack of knowledge.

When I came across this post, I knew it belonged on my blog.  I have seen some good articles, and some good videos on specific techniques, but this, perhaps, is the best one yet.

Posted on Forks Over Knives, this article, by Darshana Thacker, “Expert Tips on How to Cook Without Oil”, covers most all cooking methods with alternative suggestions and ingredients.  She also discusses cookware suggestions that are helpful.

Take a look at it, and let me know what you think about it!  I’d love to hear other ideas that are not included here.

Click this link to read this great article!

Twitter handles:

Forks Over Knives
Darshana’s Kitchen


Pinto beans

Our family loves pinto beans!  My wife and I both learned to eat them at a very young age with cornbread.  We both had fathers who used the leftover cornbread to mix with buttermilk as a nightly treat until it was gone.  It may just be a Southern thing, but I’ve heard of lots of old-timers who did this.

The beans DO need to be soaked overnight for the best results.  Using the method printed on most labels of dry beans, to use the unsoaked beans and boil them rapidly for five minutes before leaving them to simmer for 45 minutes to an hour, does not usually have great results.  They are edible, but you don’t get the benefits of the spices blending well, and you certainly don’t get the darker, soupier liquid that makes these so tasty.

It’s a tradition to put the beans on to soak and announce to my wife, “Hey, we are having pinto beans tomorrow!”  This is met with, “Yippee!” (her favorite expression of delight when it comes to food).

Here is the way I do them.

pinto beansIngredients:

1 lb of pinto beans (I use Bob’s Red Mill pinto beans.)
1 medium red onion, chopped
1 cup fresh carrots, chopped
1/2 cup fresh celery, chopped
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 tbsp black pepper
1 tsp cumin powder


Wash beans thoroughly and then soak them overnight in water.  Empty beans into a colander, rinse them, and place them into a large pan.  Cover the beans with water to twice the depth of the beans.  Add all other ingredients and bring to a boil.  After boiling for a couple of minutes, lower the heat, cover, and simmer until beans are soft.  Usually, they are soft enough to eat within 45 minutes to an hour, but if you have the time, and enjoy the awesome aroma emanating from the kitchen, simmer them for a couple of hours without letting them become dry and sticking to the bottom of the pan.

Fast-cook beans and mixed quinoa

This is a wonderful blend of mixed fast-cook beans and a quinoa blend of black, red, and white grains.  It was perfect for a late supper with a fresh tomato and romaine salad and tomato vinaigrette I made this afternoon.

I saved about half of it for tomorrow’s lunch at my mother’s house where I like to bring my own food so no one has to worry about what to fix for “Todd’s diet.”  Just makes it easier, a non-issue.

Fast-cook bean mix and quinoaIngredients

1/2 cup fast-cook bean mix*, washed and ready to cook
1/3 cup organic mixed quinoa, washed and ready to cook
1 stalk of fresh celery, cut in small bite-size pieces
1/2 red onion, chopped
1 tbsp of fresh Italian parsley, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp cumin powder
red pepper sauce to add when serving (optional)


Place all ingredients, except the red pepper sauce, in a pot and cover with water.  My rule of thumb is to double the volume in the pot when cooking fast-cook beans.  In other words, if the ingredients are 1″ deep in the pot, add water to 1″ above the ingredients.  This is enough to cook without becoming a soup, or to let the ingredients boil dry.  Bring the ingredients to a boil, and then lower the heat to medium-low and cover.  Cook for about twenty minutes, or until the water line is no longer visible.  Test the beans to see if they are soft enough for you.  Then, serve hot.

Makes about 3 entrée-size servings

I served mine with some assorted raw veggies and slightly blanched white-cap mushrooms.

*This can be done with any fast-cook bean.  I prefer a bean blend that usually consists of green lentils, mung beans, and split-peas.

Cauliflower Tomato Purée

I found the best cauliflower I’d ever seen on a produce shelf this week at Sprouts and brought it home, intending to eat it raw in my salads this week, but I changed my mind after thinking about how great it would taste in a tomato-ey soup.  So, I went to Trader Joe’s and bought some nice looking Roma tomatoes and put together this ensemble for a very tasty, and quite filling, purée.

Cauliflower Tomato PureeIngredients

1 large organic cauliflower, cut in large pieces
8 Roma tomatoes, quartered
1 large red onion, diced
8 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
1/2 cup dried adzuki beans (or other dry bean that is fast-cook type)
2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp red pepper
64 oz (2 boxes) of low sodium vegetable stock (I used Imagine brand)


Place all ingredients in large soup pot and bring to a boil for about five minutes.  Lower heat, and cover for one hour, until all ingredients are soft.  Let cool for about 30 minutes.  Carefully dip all ingredients into a blender and purée until entire soup has been blended.  Depending on the size of your blender, this may take three to five “loads.”  After all the soup has been blended, pour all together back into the single pot, and stir until the consistency is…well…consistent.

I divided this half-and-half into containers for the freezer and for three large servings for lunches this week.

Makes about two quarts.

Butternut lentil soup

Fast-cook dry beans

Dry Lentil-Pea MixI keep a jar of fast-cook dry beans handy for impromptu meals.  “Fast-cook” dry beans, like lentils, mung, green split peas, black-eyed peas, are a great start to the day, nutritionally speaking, and they are perfect for the spur of the moment because they do not require a long period of soaking.  After rinsing them thoroughly, you can bring them to a rapid boil, and leave them boiling for about five minutes, then turn the heat to a medium setting and let them cook for about 20 minutes, and they’re ready to eat.

Typically, Saturdays and Sundays, especially at breakfast, lend themselves to breakaway opportunities, when I don’t have to rush out the door to fight the commuter traffic.  And, this is where the “fast-cook” dry beans really become a good thing to have around the kitchen.

This is a soup that is ready to put together at a moment’s notice that takes only 30 or 40 minutes to prepare and cook, enough time to do the other morning routines while you wait.  My dogs need at least that much time just to say hello in the mornings and get all their begging for attention done!

For this recipe, I used some butternut squash from my own garden I had frozen last year, along with a bean mix of lentils and split peas.  Often, I will combine “fast-cook” beans when I’m running low on certain varieties.

Mung bean sproutsButternut lentil soup


1/3 cup of lentil-split pea dry bean mix
1 large clove fresh garlic, sliced thin
1/2 yellow onion, sliced thin
1 cup butternut squash, peeled and sliced
1/4 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 cup bean sprouts (mung is what I used) for topping


Place all ingredients, except the bean sprouts, in a pot.  Add enough water to cover the mix and to leave a soup when it’s done.  I usually add enough water to double the depth of the beans (one inch of beans in the pot, add two inches of water).  This will absorb and boil down, so you are left with a hearty soup.  Bring ingredients to a rapid boil for about five minutes, cover, and adjust the setting to medium-low.  Cook for about 20 minutes.  Test the beans for softness, and adjust cooking times to your preference.  Add the bean sprouts, and you’re ready to chow down on a delicious soup for the day.

Makes 20 ounces, so you can share, if you want.

Butternut Lentil Soup

Roasted mango and tomato stacks

Excited about my mangoes since getting my new peelers, I’ve been working on some main course uses that would not taste so much like a dessert.  This is a sweet dish, but it’s delightful, light, and perfect for hot days.  We are at 101 F today in Dallas.  Have mercy!

Roasted Mango and Tomato StackWe had this tonight for dinner, along with fresh sweet corn off the cob, romaine and arugula salad, with raw red cabbage slices, sliced avocado, and my new favorite homemade Fig Balsamic Salad Dressing.


1 mango, peeled and halved (See video on how to do this, if you need help.)
1 large beef-steak tomato, divided into 4 slices
2 half-inch thick fresh pineapple rings, cored
10-12 fresh blueberries
1/4 cup raw sunflower seeds
1/4 cup raw cashews, rough chopped
1/4 tsp nutmeg, freshly grated
1/4 tsp cinnamon


In a blade coffee grinder, grind cashews, sunflower seeds, grated nutmeg and cinnamon together, set aside.  Cut mango halves so that the round side is flat enough to sit on the roasting rack as the base.  Assemble the ingredients in this order, bottom to top: mango half, one tomato slice, 1/4 of the seed and spice mix on each half, pineapple slice, tomato slice, the remaining seed and spice mix on each half, and 5 or 6 blueberries on each stack.  Set each stack carefully on the roasting rack and roast for 60-70 minutes in 375 degree oven.

Makes two large servings

Eat To Live progress pictures

I’ve been following the Eat To Live program strictly for the last seven weeks with the goals of achieving better health.  To me, the specific goals are to normalize my blood pressure and blood sugar, sleep better and C-PAP free, ridding my body of the aches and pains of psoriatic arthritis and avoid dangerous pharmaceutical options in the future, stay on top of my old demon of depression, and generally, to feel more vitality in life.

Weight loss was not, is not, and won’t be my ultimate goal.  That’s because with Eat To Live, your body weight will normalize over time, and if you are obese, like I am, the weight will fall off quickly without counting calories, carbs, fats, proteins, nothing!  Just eating the right foods and avoiding the wrong ones is all there is to it.

Still, weight loss is one of the most enjoyable benefits of my plant-based Eat To Live nutritional program.  And, it is the one most noticeable by others.

During the last seven weeks, since I officially started the program on June 6, I have had several family gatherings where there have been countless pictures by family members, many of which are very revealing of the weight loss.  I want to share these, along with a little information about when each picture was taken.

Before and after pictures, or rather “progress picture”

This first one was taken about 4 weeks prior to starting Eat to Live at the family party celebrating our daughter’s marriage to her long-time partner:

2015 before

The second one was taken just two weeks after starting the program at a family dinner to visit with my nephew and his family when they were visiting here in Dallas (I’m the one on the right.):

2015 2 weeks

This one was taken with my daughter, her spouse, and my wife, three weeks into the program:

2015 3 weeksThis one was taken on July 4, four weeks into the program, while celebrating the 4th with our wonderful family at a great Mexican restaurant in Oak Cliff (Dallas).  At this point, I am not seeing much of a change, though I had already gone down a size in my jeans:

2015 4 weeks

This one is where I started noticing the changes more, taken a little over a week ago, visiting with my niece and her newest child while they were visiting family in Dallas:

2015 6 weeks

And, finally,this was taken yesterday, at seven weeks into the program, visiting with another niece and her first child:

2015 7 weeks