As I was reading Dr. McDougall and Dr. Campbell’s books, I realized that my first big adjustments on this adventure was going to be cooking and eating without added oil, salt and sugar. The idea of cooking without oil was a tough one. Not adding salt was easy since I was never that into it in the first place. Sugar was a giant monster to be tamed! Probably the hardest of all. What is that they say about big changes….it is about the process not perfection! Definitely no perfection here!!
Let us first look at oil….can I really live without adding oil to food? Can I really cook without oil? Is it possible to eat out without all that added oil?
Okay, I witnessed in my WFPB cooking class that it is possible to cook/saute without oil but I wasn’t sure how to do it. So I googled “sauteing without oil” and came across a video by a WFPB chef demonstrating how to saute without oil. I watched this video over and over. I would add a link but I don’t remember his name (google and lots will pop up). Anyways, the video chef suggested to keep a cup of water or veggie broth next to the skillet when sauteing and spoon the liquid in teaspoons at a time. Too much liquid boils the food, just a little bit will help with the sauteing! So I practiced…and I actually got better at it. I discovered that as the onion or garlic are sauteing, the little of splashes of liquid actually pick up the yummy stuff that is sticking to the skillet which not only adds flavor but also adds color to the veggies!
Another part to sauteing without oil is the skillet itself. It was suggested in the video to get stainless steel of some quality so that the pan holds the heat and distributes it evenly. Since all I was using was old cookware from 10 years ago, I bought an All Clad stainless steel 12 inch skillet from amazon.com (link below). I liked using it but I found that I had to scrub to keep it clean.
After a while, I realized that I liked non-stick surfaces better. Then I went on the hunt for a new non-stick skillet. I was learning in my research that what a skillet is made of matters. It was suggested that it can affect the taste of the food among other things. So I found another skillet on amazon.com whose non-stick coating is free of certain chemicals and had high ratings (link below). It has a ceramic non-stick coating and I love it!! It makes sauteing without oil very doable and the food tastes great. Also, washing it is very easy. It is the first skillet that I have owned that claims to be non-stick and really is!!
I do need to expand a bit on the “tasting great” part. When first transitioning I was looking for the same texture and flavor…as say….sauteing veggies in oil or even animal fat (ex: bacon grease). Well, it didn’t have that same crunch texture or taste but I have learned taste buds do change. What seemed unacceptable becomes acceptable. The chef in the video that I watched came close to that level of taste and texture (or so it seemed) but I was/am a novice at cooking so I am learning “taste great” is relative!! I have decided if I am going to eat in a way that promotes good health then I must change my attitude along with my taste buds.
As far as frying foods, as in “floating in oil” fried, I had stopped doing that years ago except for once in a great while. About a year ago I did fry up some tofu but I found it too greasy and again, my tastes had changed. It just didn’t taste as great as I remembered. I am still looking for a way to bake tofu to get that same type crunch texture and flavor. I will post when I find it!
Here are the links for the two skillets:
This is the stainless steel All Clad skillet that I bought in May 2015:
The non-stick pan I bought in November 2015:
Part 2 will be about baking without oil and part 3 will discuss eating out.
Transitioning to a whole food plant based diet was surprisingly easy for me. Once I made up my mind to do it; I was all in. The hard part was figuring out how to shop and cook this plant based way. Fortunately for me, the ladies who hosted the potluck (discussed in last week’s post) also had cooking classes for newbies! Their business is called Wholistic Kitchens https://wholistickitchens.com/ At the time it was a 4 class program that focused on a different food group each week. For example, during oil week we learned why and how to eliminate oil, find oil substitutes and how to cook without it. Milk week was learning how to make our own nut milks and taste tested many of the brands and different types found in grocery stores. Of course, we left each class stuffed from testing all the various recipes. I don’t remember the 3rd week but I do remember that the 4th week was learning how to WFPB grocery shop. The class met at a local grocery store and as we shopped we were learning to read labels, where to find tofu, nutritional yeast and miso!
At the same time, I was also educating myself through videos, such as “Forks Over Knives” http://www.forksoverknives.com/. That video really summed it up in a nutshell why I decided to change my diet for life. I was also reading “The China Study” by T. Colin Campbell http://www.amazon.com/China-Study-Comprehensive-Nutrition-Implications/dp/1932100660 and “The Starch Solution” by Dr. John McDougall https://www.drmcdougall.com/health/shopping/books/starch-solution/ The more I learned the more I was convinced this was the best decision for my health.
In the first few months of eating this way, I noticed that I was losing weight without even trying. It was amazing. No weighing or measuring anything! I really didn’t do this to lose weight as I had been at my goal weight since 2008 but if I lost a few pounds I wouldn’t complain. Other changes I noticed pretty quickly after changing my diet were: body odor had almost disappeared, I had more energy and I was no longer overeating junk food and then obsessing over it. The biggest concrete change was that my total cholesterol went down. The year prior I was tested at 220 and after 6 six weeks of this new way of eating I retested and came in at 175! I finally passed a test without studying!!
Today I have decided to begin my journey of blending my two passions. Passion one is education. I am a 5th grade Dual Language ESL reading and science teacher. I love my job. I give it my time, love and commitment.
Passion number two began in 2014 when I went to a whole food plant based (WFPB) potluck with a group of people in my community that I found on Facebook. I wasn’t sure what plant based meant but I quickly learned it meant no animal or dairy products, no oils, salt and sugar. What I discovered was the food was amazing and tasty. I came home and cleaned out the pantry, refrigerator and freezer! I decided then and there to eliminate all animal and dairy products and I am still on my journey to eliminate added oils, salt and sugar.
Two years later, I am off two medications, lost a few pounds, and I feel wonderful! Through all this I have come to believe that eating this way not only promotes healthy living but it is also better for our planet and it is compassionate towards animals.
As I ponder my future in education I can’t deny my perspective has changed since I eliminated animal products from my diet and went WFPB. I no longer see myself as a teacher in the public schools five years from now. Instead, I see myself working in some capacity helping and teaching other people the benefits and rewards of living a WFPB lifestyle.
At one time I only read books on teaching and now I mostly read books on WFPB topics. I am currently reading “Proteinaholic” by Dr. Garth Davis http://proteinaholic.com/. It is an excellent read because it makes “the why” of eating plant based understandable, very detailed in the science and research that supports this way of eating and it does have a touch of humor! I also listen to podcasts when driving to work, my current favorite is Easy Vegan by JL Fields http://jlgoesvegan.com/about/easy-vegan-radio-show/ I love her soft and soothing voice, her questions are what I am wondering and she has great guests.
I am not sure where this blog or adventure will lead me but I will post ideas and updates along the way. Let the adventure begin!!!!