WFPBNO—Whole Food Plant Based No Oil, Say What?

whole food plant based no oil baba ganoush

Could another letter be stuffed into the acronym WFPBNO? Probably, but let’s not tempt fate! The mile-long acronym stands for Whole Food Plant Based No Oil, and we’re giving you a quick overview of what that means. BTW, even though we’re a fan of the all-mighty acronym (CFDG = Clean Food Dirty Girl, PFL = Plant Fueled Life), we didn’t make this one up. T. Colin Campbell, Ph.D., coined the term “whole food plant based” in the eighties to distinguish this way of eating (focus on whole plant foods) from vegan eating (focus on no animal foods, not necessarily whole plant foods).

Why should I avoid oil on a plant based diet?

In simplest terms, oil is not a whole food. It is highly processed and all oils, even extra virgin olive oil, are high in calories and low in nutrients with zero fiber. Yes, the human body needs a certain amount of fat, but you can get that fat from whole plant foods, like avocados, nuts, and seeds. 

When you get fat from whole plant foods, you get it packaged with fiber and nutrients. If you want to learn more, here’s a blog post about the nutritional reasons behind a WFPBNO way of eating. 

I think of oil as the table sugar of the fat kingdom. Similar to how manufacturers take healthy foods like beets and throw out all their nutrition to make sugar, they take wholesome corn and scorch-earth it down to corn oil. Like sugar, corn oil calories may be worse than just empty.  

Michael Greger, M.D.

WFPBNO sources of fats

A certain amount of fat is a must in our diet. Fortunately, there are plenty of whole plant sources. If you want to fatten up your knowledge, take a peek at Fats 101 and learn about saturated fats

Here are some of our favorite whole plant fat sources:

  • Avocados
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Nut and seed butters, like tahini, almond butter, and peanut butter
  • Unsweetened coconut 
  • Tofu and soy milk

Cooking WFPBNO

Most of us learn to cook using oil for everything from sauteing to roasting. The idea of cooking without it can be intimidating if you’re new to the concept, but you’d be surprised just how easy and tasty it is. Here are the basics of cooking without oil. Don’t worry, you got this.

Sauteing without oil: Begin in a dry preheated pan. Add your ingredients and allow to cook for a bit. When things start to stick, add small (up to 2 tablespoons) splashes of water or vegetable broth. Don’t add more liquid until what you’ve already added has evaporated and your food is sticking again. We’re not trying to boil or steam, we want to caramelize to bring the sweetness out of the veggies. Stir often until cooked to your liking. Instead of using water or broth, you can try soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, or rice vinegar for depth of flavor.

Roasting veggies: Be sure to use parchment paper, a silicone baking mat, or nonstick cookware. Most veggies are fine to roast without coating. Just spread them out evenly on your surface and check regularly. Toss once or twice to keep things roasting evenly. For veggies that dry out easily, like potatoes, you can parboil them before roasting to retain moisture. For extra flavorful roasting, make a yummy sauce from ingredients high in whole fats, like tahini, and then add some soy sauce and other seasonings to make the flavor pop. Coat your veggies before roasting.

Oil substitutes for baking: There are so many to choose from! Applesauce, mashed dates, mashed bananas, pumpkin puree, and even nut butters work great. Typically, these can be used to substitute oil 1:1. If a recipe calls for 1 tablespoon oil, swap with 1 tablespoon applesauce and follow all other instructions as written. Easy peasy!

If you want specifics, read Molly’s tips for eating less oil and watch this video: How to Cook Without Oil.

Delicious WFPNO recipes

We’ve made it super easy to get great-tasting whole food plant based oil-free recipes. Did you know all 200+ Meal Plans and 3,000+ recipes included in our Plant Fueled Life membership are WFPBNO? A membership with us gets you immediate access to all of them. Join here and get cooking today!

In addition, every free recipe on our blog is WFPBNO. Here are some of our favorites: 

no oil baba ganoush
Oil-free Baba Ganoush
no oil Sweet Potato Flatbread (oil-free) What to Do When You Can't Get Certain Whole Food Plant Based Ingredients
Sweet Potato Flatbread
no oil plant based caesar salad dressing
Plant Based Caesar Dressing
no oil lemon tahini dressing
Lemon Tahini Dressing
baked tofu oil free wfpb
Perfectly Baked Oil-free Tofu
perfectly roasted potatoes no oil
Potatoes Roasted with No OIl
Plant Based Chocolate Chip Blender Muffins (oil-free)
Chocolate Chip Blender Muffins
wfpbno chocolate cake
Whole Food Plant Based Oil Free Chocolate Cake

Insider secret

Cooking without oil makes it so much easier to clean up! If getting dishes done faster doesn’t convert you, we don’t know what will. 

“My kitchen has been oil-free for over five years. My body thanks me and the ease of kitchen clean-up is miraculous!” 

–Sandrina R.

Getting started

Even if you’re not strictly plant based or you’re not quite ready to give up your extra virgin olive oil, you can ease into this. 

Start with one meal a week and see the difference. Or, commit to cutting it out entirely for just a week and see if you want to go back. Drop a comment below to let us know how it goes!

Wishing you lots of delicious food that you feel awesome about.

Team Dirty

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Our Sweary Saturday Love Letters are written by our ex-boozer, ex-smoker, plant-loving co-founder, Molly Patrick.

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