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There are many ways to transform your cooking and baking in order to create heart-healthy, fat-free or low-fat dishes without sacrificing the flavor. The following are a few simple techniques that you can use to cook, sauté, caramelize and bake without using added fats such as oil or butter.

Steaming is a simple way to cook without adding fat, while retaining the important nutrients, color and flavor.

Cooking Without Oil

To start, it is helpful to have a few good-quality nonstick pans. Investing in just one higher quality nonstick pan, such as a classic sauté pan that can be used for most dishes and sautéing vegetables, is a good place to start.

A good-quality nonstick baking sheet can also be helpful; however, parchment paper works as an excellent alternative for baking (see below). Scanpan is just one brand that makes excellent, higher quality, environmentally friendly, nonstick pans that prevent sticking without oil, while distributing heat evenly. However, there are many other available options with different price ranges for nonstick pans. Here are a few simple methods to replace the fats in cooking:


Replace the oil in sautéing with a small amount of vegetable broth, water or wine. Heat the skillet first, and then add a small amount of liquid, about a tablespoon to start with, depending on how much you are cooking. Stir often to prevent sticking and to cook evenly. To cook the food and absorb the liquid faster, cover the pan with a lid or leave uncovered to cook slower.


Caramelizing vegetables such as onions and garlic brings out the natural sweetness and is traditionally achieved by adding a fat. However, start with a heated pan (nonstick pan works best) then add just a small amount of liquid, allowing it to evaporate while lightly browning the vegetables. A tip to caramelize an onion is to add a pinch of salt, which draws out the moisture of the onion, and then it evaporates to provide a sweet, caramelized effect.

Bake or Roast

To bake or roast without adding oil, just line a baking sheet with parchment paper to prevent sticking. Parchment paper can tolerate temperatures up to 425 degrees; however, check the package for specific brand recommendations. Just be careful not to get the paper too close to the burners at high heat.


Steaming is a basic and simple way to cook without adding fat, while retaining the important nutrients, color and flavor. You can use an electric steamer or a steamer basket in a pot with a small amount of water over a medium heat. Bring water to a simmer for just long enough to cook and steam food depending on your recipe or desired texture.

What are your favorite cooking techniques?

Contributed by

Carra Richling
Registered Dietitian

Eat well, be well!

Better Health Begins With You...

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