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5 Best Ways to Cook Vegetables & 2x Benefits

fitness

What’s the biggest difference between someone with a six-pack ab and someone with a four-pack ab?

(For the record, I think a four-pack is perfectly fine, but some of you may wonder why your six-pack isn’t coming out to play, why there’s a layer of fat/”bloat” on top of your muscles, which is what this article is about…)

“Genes” might immediately come to mind. (God, why can’t you just give me the perfect ab?)

Or, perhaps, “workout regime” or the dreaded “diet.”

And if you’re more cynical, “metabolism” might also be up there.

There’s no foolproof way to get a six-pack in real life, but if you’re looking at just “working out”, it’s probably 30 – 40% of the equation. Don’t get me wrong, I love fitness and it’s very important….

But diet probably accounts for 60 – 70% of how you look.

fruit and veg

As with improving your morning routine, *refining* your diet is another way to improve your odds of getting your six-pack with minimal time and effort.

It’s a quick win, but also an impactful one.

Now what do I mean by “refining” your diet?

I mean cutting down the unnecessary table salt, refined oil and sugar that you may add to your healthy foods like vegetables. Small steps like this add up…

So, to dive deeper into this topic, I’ve invited Katie Mae, a plant-based nutritionist and culinary instructor at the TrueNorth Health Center, and Dr. McDougall’s Health and Medical center, to share with us her teachings on the salt, sugar, and oil-free diet (plant based SOS-free diet) .

We’re going to talk about:

  • Three best ways to cook vegetables without oil
  • One simple tip to brighten up the flavour of foods without salt (or using less salt)
  • One easy, natural sugar substitute you can use to satisfy your sweet cravings without using refined sugars
  • Katie’s top express salt, sugar, oil-free recipes for busy people

Katie has also launched her Plantz Culinary Boot Camp, which will start on May 11th.  If you want to cook more often, and enjoy eating a whole food, plant-based diet, check out her course HERE.

Let’s start with Katie’s free tips on how to cook your way to a healthy and lean body.

carbs

Best Ways to Cook Vegetables Without Oil

Q: When people first start an SOS-free diet, it may sound too extreme for some people. People may be like, “There’s no way I can cut salt, sugar, and oil out”. So why don’t you give us 3 tricks to cook vegetables without oil?

Katie Mae:   

Yeah, well, one of the first things I do with not having any salt, sugar, and oil in the diet is teaching people how to sauté their vegetables without oil.

And so there are three methods to do sauté your vegetables without oil:

#1: Sauté the Vegetables: You could water sauté the vegetables, which means you just add water in the place of the oil, so a tablespoon or two of water instead of oil.

#2: Sweat the Vegetables: Or you could sweat the vegetables. Sweating means that you’re releasing the natural water and juices that are in the vegetables. So what you do is put the vegetables into a pan, a dry pan, no oil or water added, and I usually put it over medium heat and put the lid on so the vegetables will release all their juices and water.

The lid keeps the moisture in the pan, so you don’t need to add any liquid because there’s liquid there on the bottom of the pan, just from the vegetables. You just want to make sure you’re stirring the vegetables occasionally so they don’t burn. So we call that sweating.

#3: Steam Frying: The third option would be very similar but I call it steam frying. So rather than pan frying or deep-frying your vegetables, you have the pan, you have the vegetables in a dry pan and keep the lid on the pan but turn the heat up to medium high.

And so you’re going to brown the vegetables faster because it’s a higher heat, but with the lid on the pan you’re still keeping the moisture in the pan, you just want to stir frequently so that he vegetables don’t burn on the bottom.

The vegetables will start to brown and that is like a caramelization. So that flavor from the browning is really, really good.

And after the vegetables are cooked, you could even add a little bit of water, just to help release some of that caramelization on the bottom of the pan, that’s a lot of flavor there. So those are my first recommendation.

How to Cook Your Vegetables And Add Flavour with Less Salt

Salt: The next one would be to not cook with any salt.

#4: Don’t add salt to your dishes. And that’s really easy to leave out.

If you want to brighten up the flavour while you’re cooking, you could always add citrus, like a little bit of lemon or lime that really brightens up the flavour.

But then you could add the salt if you really wanted, *after* the food is done cooking. Add it right before you eat it so the salt is right on the top of the dish and then your tongue can taste it easier, rather than having the salt mixed in.

How to Replace Refined Sugars with Healthier Substitutes

#5: Replace sugar with dates: And then sugar is something we don’t really cook with much, but if you want to make a salad dressing or something, you can always use dates.

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Add dates to a blender and use those.

Or in baked goods, there are a lot of options for using dates or bananas, applesauce, strawberry jam, all these fruits, even dried fruits you could use.

So fruit is my favourite thing for sugar replacement.

Katie’s Top Express Salt, Sugar, Oil-Free Recipes for Busy People

Q: What is your favourite and easiest express salt, sugar, oil free recipe for people who are busy on the run that you can share?

Katie Mae:   Yeah, well, I have two things that I love.

One is sweet potatoes, baked sweet potatoes; I always make those in the morning. Most mornings I’ll put a couple in the oven and I make sure I put them in the oven an hour before I have to leave the house, so that they’re done cooking when I have to leave.

sweet-potato

I can just take them out and put them in a container and take them to go because they stay warm for a while. The sweet potatoes don’t need to be in the refrigerator and they taste really good without anything added. I don’t even have to add salt or pepper; they just taste so good on their own.

And sweet potato is a great starchy food that will hold that will hold you for a long time because it is not like fruit that’s going to be digested really quickly.

For desserts, because people always want dessert, I have two recipes: banana blueberry bar and four fruit cookie.

Banana-Blueberry-Muffins-plant-based-katie-1024x768

The two recipes are on my website, and they’re really easy to put together.

There are just oats and a lot of different fruits in them, so there’s this whole food sweetness and they’re just really flavourful. So I make those in big batches and then freeze them.

About Katie Mae: Katie is a plant-based nutritionist and culinary instructor at the TrueNorth Health Center, and Dr. McDougall’s Health and Medical center. Katie has launched her Plantz Culinary Boot Camp, which will start on May 11th, 2015.  If you want to cook more often, and enjoy eating a whole food, plant-based diet, check out her course *HERE*