Saute the Healthy Way!
"I was 32 when I started cooking; up until then, I just ate." - Julia Child
The spluttering popping bits of onion and sweet red pepper danced happily in sizzling habanero olive oil as I ran the wooden spoon in figure eights and esses over my new eco-friendly ceramic coated sauté pan as the prelude to my favorite breakfast of many colorful veggies jammed firmly with turmeric into scrambled eggs, when I paused to question what I was doing. Stabbing at the splatters of grease on my favorite shirt with a stain stick because I had once again forgotten to put on my black chef apron, I wondered – is this really the best way for a calorie counter to sauté veggies? In oil? It is healthy extra virgin olive oil, so I know that’s good. Maybe not good for my shirt especially when mixed with turmeric, but olive oil itself is very healthy.
It was time for some research. Most of the articles, such as this one at About.com, say that as long as you stay below the smoke point of the oil you may sauté and will not inflict undesirable aromas and clouds of smoke in the kitchen or transform a symphony of tastes into a mosh pit of mangled burnt flavors. About.com does recommend that you not use extra virgin olive oil in heated cooking, just the regular olive oil as it has a higher smoke point, which makes it a good choice for a sauté or stir fry, so I added regular olive oil to the shopping list.
In a dissenting voice, The World’s Healthiest Foods adamantly stated that for olive oil, even when the smoking point is not reached, a chemical reaction occurs as a result of the heat that changes the oil’s properties in a not so pleasant or healthy way. WHF says it’s best to “sauté” your veggies in a tablespoon or two of water or broth and then add the healthy olive oil before serving which allows for both the fresh flavor of the olive oil as well as its health benefits to shine.
I admit I was rather dubious about how this would taste and wondered if the texture and aroma would be ruined, but decided to give it a try. Sautéing, by definition, is done with oil not water, but one day I summoned the courage to try it for my egg scramble. With noticeable misgivings I took the first bite. What a relief when I found it was the best scramble I've ever had, in large part because of how the fresh taste of unheated olive oil accented the veggies and eggs. Give the healthy way to sauté a try for all your veggies; the method is described in detail in the recipes below. Remember, extra virgin olive oil is very good for you, so do add a little when the meal is served.
Have a very well seasoned cast iron skillet? Then you are in luck because the more seasoned your pan, the less oil you need! Here’s some great About.com hints and a “how-to” recipe for cast iron no-oil cooking!
Hints for a successful sauté: dry the food so it browns and does not just steam (unless you are going to try the WHF steamy sauté then it doesn't matter); heat the pan and the oil, if you are using it, first; do not over-crowd the pan; and most importantly, get a good pan - it does not have to be expensive to be good, there are many good inexpensive brands.
Enjoying delicious food while losing weight is so easy, especially with the support of your friends here at Calorie Count.
How do you sauté? In oil? In broth or water? Non stick or other type of pan? If you have never tried sautéing in broth or water, give it a try and let me know how it worked for you!