Many flavorful, heart-healthy recipes begin by sautéing fresh vegetables like onions, garlic, carrots, celery, and peppers. Early in my culinary career, I was taught that the first step when sautéing vegetables was to drench the pan with oil and then quickly sear the vegetables over high heat. Back then, I did not realize that I was weighing down all those healthy vegetables with pure fat! Consequently, I was providing less-than-healthy dishes to customers and to my family, as I was using this same method back at home.
Luckily, in the years since, I have been able to explore healthier ways to prepare vegetables for flavorful dishes and I love to pass them along whenever I get the chance! So, whether you are searing fresh vegetables for a healthy side dish, or constructing a flavorful soup or stew, below are some tips for ditching the fat so you can enjoy the flavors nature originally had in mind.
- Sweating-Down Method – Gently mist a nonstick skillet or stockpot with canola oil cooking spray and heat pan over medium-high heat. Drop in each chopped vegetable one at a time, and let it heat through for about 30 to 60 seconds before adding the next. This will help the temperature of the pan remain high and allow the natural moisture in each vegetable to be released individually, creating “nature’s perfect sautéing liquid.”
- Adding Water or Broth – With your vegetables already in the pan, drop in a tablespoon or two of water or unsalted vegetable broth, and then turn on the heat. The water or broth will prevent your vegetables from sticking to the pan during the cooking process. It will also help to evenly combine any spices or sodium-free seasoning blends with the vegetables.
- Finish with Dry White Wine – Depending on the dish you are preparing, you may consider splashing two to four tablespoons of a nice, dry white wine in your vegetables toward the end of the cooking process. The wine will steam flavor through the vegetables and is certain to elevate the recipe. And don’t worry – most of the wine will evaporate during the cooking process.
The next time you sauté vegetables using one of the above methods, I think you will be pleasantly surprised. The vegetables will still taste delicious, they won’t stick to the pan, and most importantly, they won’t include any unnecessary (and unhealthy!) added fats. By using simple tips like this, you can decrease the calorie density of your meals – helping you feel fuller, longer – while improving your overall health.