Prepare to get to know your new healthy cooking necessity…ghee! Ghee is a nutrient-rich superfood with amazing flavor and many uses and I often wonder how I got through so much of life without even knowing this stuff existed. I blame the saturated fat-phobia of the 90’s for keeping this golden goodness from the forefront. Luckily, we’ve learned our lesson on fat. Healthy fat, in moderation, isn’t bad at all and improves metabolic function, provides energy and satiation, boosts immune system, eliminates cravings, and is essential for hormonal balance.
Ghee is made through a process of slow heating that allows the milk solids to be skimmed from the surface (also known as clarified butter). This leaves a bright yellow semisolid liquid that is virtually dairy-free and much less dense than regular butter. Don’t just use any old ghee, a grass-fed option is always preferred (I love the Fourth & Heart brand).
Despite it’s seemingly recent gain in popularity locally, Ghee has actually had a long history of use in Indian cuisine and plays an important role in Ayurvedic healing. Considered to possess positive energies, much of its traditional value is just beginning to be appreciated on the western half of the hemisphere. From topical use to cooking, it seems like I’m constantly finding a new use for this versatile ingredient. Here are a few reasons I always have some ghee on hand.
Ghee is one of the best oils for cooking.
Ghee has an incredibly high smoke point, which allows it to cook at higher temperatures without burning. This means cooking becomes both easier and healthier. Unlike more unstable fats, saturated fats like ghee don’t break down under high heat. Many otherwise healthy fats, like olive oil, can become oxidized at high temperatures causing free-radical damage that leads to inflammation. Ghee is one of the absolute safest cooking oils that also tastes amazing!
Essentially dairy free
When making ghee, the milk protein is removed leaving you with pure butter oil that is generally free of both lactose and casein which are what often cause dairy problems. This leaves it with all the nutrients of butter but without the irritants that cause allergies and digestive issues. Who says you can’t have your butter and eat it too??
It’s high in vitamins
Similar to butter, an organic grass fed ghee will be high in nutrients like A, D, E and K which are often hard to find from whole food sources and are critical to bone, brain, heart, and immune system. Ghee serves as the perfect vehicle for these fat soluble vitamins and ensures they’re absorbed.
It increases metabolism
The MCT’s (Medium Chain Fatty Acids) in ghee decrease hunger and increase metabolism. Studies show that when you replace butter with ghee, metabolism increases while cholesterol remains unaffected. Another benefit of MCT’s is cognitive function.
It aids in digestion
Ghee is rich in butyric acid, a short chain fatty acid. Beneficial intestinal bacteria convert fiber into butyric acid and then use that for energy and for instestinal wall support. This aids in your bodies natural digestive processes.
Ghee contains valuable fatty acids that may combat cancer
Certain fatty acids are much easier to find than others. Eating plant based can sometimes leave you lacking in essential fatty acids most commonly found in animals. Ghee is a way to get a power pack of fatty acids without the damaging side effects of eating a bunch of meat. Grass fed ghee contains a really potent team of omega fatty acids that can support brain function and decrease the likelihood of degeneration. Two specific fatty acids found in ghee are CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) and butyrate. Butyrate plays an important role in decreasing inflammation which can help heal digestion while CLA has been shown to help decrease body fat and may combat cancer.
It has an awesome shelf life
Ghee doesn’t need to be refrigerated and can last up to three months after opening. This puts it high on my list of travel necessities. When you’re far from home, it can be really hard to find high quality sources of fat. Bringing a little ghee along is a simple solution.
You can make it at home with high quality grass fed butter
Store bought ghee can sometimes be a bit pricey. If you have a little time on your hands, making ghee at home totally doable. Melt butter in a shallow pan on low until you begin to see the white solids float to the top. Skim them off as they appear, with a spoon or small mesh strainer, until you’re left with a golden liquid. Cool and store for a lasting supply!
You can use it topically
Ghee has been known to reduce inflammation and can be applied directly to the skin. It’s a great quick fix for a kitchen burn and helps soothe the wound immediately. It can also be used to help heal a general rash, scrape or cut. Fats play an important role in the membranes of our cells which is especially important when healing the skin.
You can use ghee in any recipe that calls for butter or oil. You’ll aso find many recipes on my site with ghee included in the ingredient list, but my favorite way to use it to simply saute fresh veggies with a spoon ful of ghee and sprinkle of high quality sea salt….delicious! If you want a great resource for ghee recipes, be sure to check out: https://fourthandheart.com/recipes.