Thursday, January 3, 2013

Ghee Joyful: The Other Side of Butter!

Image courtesy of
I don't know about you but I adore olive oil. I've been known to down a whole baguette in an attempt to wipe up every last bit of oil. If I'm at a restaurant waiting on my food, forget about it. I'll definitely dance with the olive oil until my dinner arrives. No shame. It's good for me, right?

Well, yes and no

For years we've been told to cook with and consume extra virgin olive oil because it's packed with antioxidants and helps to lower cholesterol. While this is definitely true, cooking with extra virgin olive oil  at high temperatures can negate these helpful effects faster than you can say 'olive oil!'. Extra virgin olive oil has a low smoke point (around 320 degrees Fahrenheit). The smoke point is the temperature at which the oil starts to burn. Once that smoke point is reached, oxidation occurs and cancer-causing free radicals begin to form. So essentially, the benefits of olive oil are cancelled out by the formation of these free radicals. Bottom line - olive oil is better consumed cold, perhaps in a salad or as a flavoring tool.

But not to worry, my friends! I come to you bearing a perfect solution for high-heat cooking!

Image courtesy of
It's a little thing called ghee (the 'gh' is pronounced the same way as in 'ghost'). Ghee has been used in Indian Ayurvedic cooking for thousands of years and is essentially clarified butter (butter that's had the water and milk solids boiled off). Ghee is ideal for cooking because it has a smoke point of up to 480 degrees Fahrenheit! It takes a lot of effort to burn your food when cooking with ghee! I should know! I'm notorious for burning my food (possibly because I'm enjoying my glass of wine a little too much while manning the stove)! 

Just like extra virgin olive oil, ghee is extremely high in antioxidants. And because it's a fat source, ghee can help your body absorb and utilize the fat-soluble vitamins such as vitamin A, D, E and K. Ghee has also been credited with the ability to stimulate the digestive system, enhance eyesight and maintain your muscles and tendons. It's even great for minor burns! Just dab some on and you're all set!

And for all my lactose intolerant friends, ghee is virtually lactose-free! You get all the taste of butter without the painful aftermath. Ghee even smells a bit like cheese! In my book, that's a win-win! Also, because most of the moisture has been removed, ghee will last out of the refrigerator for up to 2-3 months as long as it's in an airtight container. Even better though, if you refrigerate it, it will last up to 1 year. Ghee can easily be taken on a road trip or a weekend camping adventure! Leave the cooler at home!

But there's a catch. So listen up. 

Ghee is still a source of saturated fat, so it's best used in moderation. About 1 Tbs. of ghee equals up to 3 Tbs. of oil or butter. If you have high cholesterol, cardiovascular issues or struggle with your weight, it's best to stay away. But if you are generally healthy and aware of your daily fat intake, a little ghee definitely has it's benefits for cooking!

Image courtesy of
As always, your ghee is only as good as the cow it comes from. Make sure you buy ghee that come from a grass-fed cow. You can find ghee on the shelves of Whole Foods or other health food stores.

Give it a try! You might be impressed at how your cooking improves! Smoke alarms be damned!

No comments:

Post a Comment