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Ghee is utilized in many traditional Indian recipes and is a popular fad amongst Paleo diets; heck, countless people are even adding a dollop to their morning coffee. So what is this genius, healthful ingredient that is doing wonders for people?
Ghee, also known as a variation of clarified butter, began its trend in India.
Clarified butter is achieved when butter is heated and melted gently on medium-low heat in a heavy-bottomed pan, allowing the milk solids from the butter to separate and remain at the bottom of the pan. There is usually a layer of foam (whey) that sits at the top of the now remaining liquid oil which is skimmed off the surface.
A key factor in making your own ghee is do not stir! This is vital in allowing the milk solids to sit at the bottom of the pan and the foam at the top. Without the milk solids at the bottom and the foam at the top, one is left with a liquid oil called butterfat, better referred to as “liquid gold” as it does wonders for cooking and health! This clarified butterfat can then be strained through a cheesecloth to get rid of the milk solids.
To make ghee, do exactly as mentioned above. Once the milk solids have separated to the bottom of the pan, continue to simmer the butter until all of the moisture has evaporated and the milk solids appear to have a slight browning color. And that’s it!
The result will be a delicious nutty and butterscotch-like aroma and taste that just cannot compare to regular butter. Not only is it much yummier than butter, ghee also has a longer shelf life; it can be kept in a clean jar at room temperature, in the fridge for up to six months, or frozen up to a year. Ghee will solidify at room temperature which is expected.
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How is ghee used and for what?
One of the most popular ways to incorporate ghee into your life is by simply cooking with it. It is a much healthier alternative to most cooking oils and works great for sauteeing, as it has a higher smoke point than most oils. Many people use it as a spread on their morning toast or bagel in replacement of traditional butter. Speaking of replacing butter, ghee works great in baking recipes that call for butter; you’ll almost always get lighter desserts this way!
The moisturizing benefits of ghee help make it a special skincare ingredient that can be applied topically all over the body. Be careful though – a little goes a long way! In India, people traditionally use ghee to massage their bodies before a hot shower! Leaves the skin supple and hydrated.
A more modern use of ghee is adding a spoonful into your daily cup of coffee for a calming and nourishing addition. Ghee helps cut down the acidity in coffee and reduces the inflammation in the body that coffee often causes. It also introduces omega-3 fatty acids into your coffee, which are the healthy and much-needed kinds of fat. Did you know Omega-3s may help lower the risk of depression, heart disease, dementia, and arthritis? All in all, the addition of ghee helps create a more neutralized beverage that is better for gut health.
Health Benefits of Ghee
Ghee is considered a powerful superfood with health-boosting properties for all age groups and the benefits have a positive effect on nearly all systems of the body. Several Ayurvedic practitioners believe ghee to be such a potent health tonic that they recommend introducing it to newborns in small doses early in their life to help jumpstart nourishment that is vital in developing the brain and nervous system.
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Did you know that saturated fats aren’t as bad as the media makes it seem? Actually, it’s quite vital for brain health. Ghee is one of the best and healthiest sources of saturated fats. The nerves and neurons (fibers and cells that transmit information to the rest of the body) are coated in a protective layer called the myelin sheath, which helps transmit information efficiently to other areas. This myelin sheath is largely made up of saturated fats…like those found in ghee!
Additionally, saturated fats are the building blocks of brain cells. I mean, has anyone ever said a lack of brain cells is a good thing? Certainly not! Interestingly, one of nature’s richest sources of saturated fat comes from human breast milk! It makes sense why medical professionals advocate for new mamas to breastfeed for the first several months of a newborn’s life.
Do you now see why ghee plays a major factor in brain health?
Lactose insensitivity? Ghee is a favorite amongst those who cannot tolerate lactose because the process of making ghee removes the lactose (milk solids) by about 99%. With that said, ghee still comes from a dairy base so those with a more serious lactose allergy should consult a physician before consuming, or start in small portions to see how the body reacts.
Vitamins, Minerals, and Nutrients
Ghee is also very potent in the following:
- Vitamin A – Very important for eyes, skin, hair, and immune health.
- Vitamin E – One of the most powerful and vital antioxidants in the body! Vitamin E is also known to reduce pigmentation and scars; no wonder people use it on their skin!
- Vitamin K2 – Essential for healthy bones and heart.
- Cholesterol – Although often looked at as a negative, cholesterol is actually vital for hormone production, brain function, and overall good health. However, we are talking about the “good” cholesterol, also known as “high-density lipoprotein” (HDL). The “bad” kind of cholesterol is referred to as “low-density lipoprotein” (LDL).
Mind, Body, and Spirit
Of all the benefits of ghee, the most exciting and interesting is that it provides a rich dose of Ojas. In Ayurvedic philosophy, the word ojas typically translates to “vitality” or “life force.” We all possess ojas naturally in our lives, however, factors such as stress, age, and poor nutrition tend to deplete us of our energy over time. Ghee is a building food that resupplies our bodies with that energy and life-force. It is that food that gives us a boost of spirit; kind of like what coffee and exercise do for us!
Ghee is a special superfood that gives you the best of all worlds: it’s deeply rejuvenating, powerfully health-boosting and has out-of-this-world flavor! Don’t wait, implement ghee into your daily routine today!
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