Fat is your friend, but it has to be the right fat. In fact, every cell in your body needs fat (but this isn't a post about how awesome and essential fats are for your body, like for all cell membranes and for energy!). People are often terrified of saturated fat, but when saturated fat is obtained from healthy sources in moderation, like grass-fed butter and coconut oil, it provides the body much-needed fuel and helps with blood sugar stability. Let's talk about the amazing, delicious, golden fat called Ghee.
The fats of butter (from which ghee is made of), is saturated almost as much as other animal fats, but it differs in other ways, such as the length of the carbon chains. The short chain fatty acids in found in butter and coconut oil, 'burn' better in the body than longer chain fatty acids, and are easy to digest. When the watery part is removed so that only the clear fat is used (clarified), the result is an excellent cooking fat that is doesn't scorch like whole butter, and is suitable for high temperature cooking! The clarification of butter by heating it until the water-soluble part can be removed, does eliminate most of the perishable parts that butter would have alone - making it stable for long periods without refrigeration (I still keep mine in the fridge to keep it longer), and if it is properly prepared, will retain almost all the nutrition value of the butter it was made from! The fats in butter are stable to light, heat and oxygen, so they don't go rancid as quickly as other fats. When you clarify butter, you are also removing the casein and lactose, so many people who are lactose intolerant can eat ghee!
In Eastern cultures where ghee is popular (think India), is it believed that ghee has the ability to take on and to magnify the properties on which is is combined, and it is said to not only make food more nutritious, but is used in the preparation of many natural medicines.
When it comes to ghee making (instructions below), you're end product is only as good as what you're starting with. Scientific research is beginning to show that animals raised on a plant-based, grassy diet tend to have fats that are much healthier for the human body (omega 3's). Grass fed animals also has higher concentrations of conjugated linolenic acids, which are fatty acids known to decrease cancer risk and may help maintain a healthy weight. When you make ghee, the butter flavour is greatly condensed, and is strong - so you want the best tasting ingredient as well, to make the best end product!
The more natural yellow the butter, the better it is for you (so watch for added colours as well)! You'll also be getting Vitamin A, E and K with grass fed butter. Other perks of using grass fed butter include anti-inflammatory effects, energy boosting and appetite suppressing MCTs (medium chain triglycerides), anti-cancer properties and cholesterol (which is actually a very vital part of your body....in fact, it's so important your body can manufacture it's own!) If you find organic, grass fed butter, it will be well worth the investment - but just buy the best, unsalted butter that you can afford. You can buy pre-made ghee, but as usual, home-made is better, and you can control the quality of the input to get the best output. (And you can also brag to your friends and family that you make your own ghee!)
To make ghee, put a pound of unsalted butter in a saucepan until it boils. If you get white foam of milk solids on the top, just skim that off and compost. As the butter continues to boil, watch the oily portion to see when it becomes clear, and watch the sediment on the bottom - you're looking for it to turn a golden brown. When all the water is evaporated, the sound of the cooking will change from one of boiling, to one of frying and the bubbling will stop. When only the clear, hissing oil and the golden sediment remain, you have your ghee! Remove it from the heat before it scorches! Strain through some cheesecloth, and keep in a glass or metal container (small mason jars work perfect!) Keep on the counter or in the fridge. I use ghee for all my sautéing - from eggs to veggies to fish! You can even use the sediment you strained out for a treat on your veggies.
Healthy fat is essentially to a healthy lifestyle. Stick to Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Coconut Oil, Avocado Oil and of course, butter and ghee (organic, grass fed preferred). Throw away all your margarines and vegetable oils - they really serve no purpose in your body...and we'll soon talk why!
Are you going to try to make your own ghee? Make sure to post a picture and tag me with your beautiful results #GivePeasAChance