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Ghee, a form of clarified butter, is an ancient Ayurvedic food and medicine.By: Sophie Leaver
Yoga teacher & wellbeing expert
The translucent golden liquid has long been a staple in Indian cuisine, and is now being recognised around the world for its rich nutrient profile, rich flavour and versatility.
Ghee is made by slowly heating unsalted butter and letting it boil until the water vaporizes. Once the bubbling stops, three layers remain: whey protein, liquid fat, and casein particles. The skin of whey protein is then removed, and the fat is poured off, leaving the clarified butter. Ghee does not require refrigeration, and can be stored easily for a long time. A superior organic ghee product will have been derived from grass fed cows. This means that ghee is only prepared when cows are naturally grazing from spring into fall when grasses are growing rapidly.
Ayurvedic wisdom has hailed ghee as the ultimate cooking oil, with powerful healing properties. The importance of a wholesome, healthy and balanced diet is a central focus in Ayurvedic philosophy. There is huge importance placed on sattvic foods that create equilibrium in the body and mind. Ghee is considered one of the most sattvic food sources, which are said to promote positivity, growth and the expansion of consciousness. As a sweet, soft, and oily food source, Ghee is considered to be an excellent pacifier of aggravated doshas in the body. Ghee is also recognised for its capacity to stimulate agni (the digestive fire). Traditionally, ghee would be fried with herbs and spices, taking on their property and diffusing them throughout the cooking. It also provides a soothing and cooling effect, which offsets any irritants from chillies or spices.
Ghee is rich in fat-soluble vitamins A, D and K2. It also contains high levels of CLA, an anti-oxidant with anti-viral properties when organically sourced from grass-fed cows. The process for creating ghee removes most of the lactose, as well as the protein casein that some people are sensitive to. Ghee is rich in medium chain fatty acids, which are absorbed directly to the liver and burnt as energy, meaning it can be used a consistent energy source for athletes. Energy from this type of fat can also be used to help break down other fat sources in the body, and can be helpful for those aiming to lose weight.
Removing the milk solids and water means that ghee has a higher smoke point. This makes it useful for frying, roasting, sautéing, or deep-frying at high heats, without breaking down into free radicals like other oils do. Its nutty flavour allows it complement a range of cooking, including vegetables, meats, stir-fries, curries, and even baking. It can also be used on toast as a substitute to your normal butter or margarine, in salad dressings and marinades. Ghee is all fat and has a characteristically strong flavour so you will not need as much when cooking with it. As a general rule, use a tablespoon of this edible fat for every four tablespoons of butter or other oils like coconut oil or olive oil.
Ghee can also be used as a natural beauty tool. Consuming ghee regularly provides your body with a healthy source of natural fats that can help create glowing, radiant skin. It can also be applied as a nourishing balm for chapped lips, or applied to dry hair to improve its shine and texture.
Ghee is an amazing supplement for anyone wanting to experiment with super foods, increase healthy fats in their diet, or follow the Paleo philosophy.
Ghee is nutritious, tasty, and easy to use. It boasts a wide range of health benefits, and when incorporated into your diet in moderation, can help transform the way you look and feel.