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For the past week or so (as part of my new skin care regimen, based on the recommendation of this book) I have been drinking warm milk (or maybe half and half diluted with a little water because I didn’t have any milk) with a teaspoon of ghee at night before bed.  I also add a pinch of turmeric and the whole thing is just golden and lovely.

Ghee (a staple in Indian cooking and similar to clarified butter) is butter that has been heated until the water is cooked off, the milk protein (or casein), lactose and other milk solids sink to the bottom, some impurities rise to the top to be skimmed off, and the milk solids are strained out, leaving pure, golden, beautiful, delicious ghee.

According to a 16th c. Ayrvedic text,  “Ghee is sweet in taste and cooling in energy, rejuvenating, good for the eyes and vision, kindles digestionbestows luster and beauty, enhances memory and stamina, increases intellect, promotes longevity, is an aphrodisiac and protects the body from various diseases” (quoted from here).

HEALTH BENEFITS:

* anti-inflammatory

*alkaline-forming

* stimulates the digestive system and may promote weight loss

* “lubricates connective tissues and promotes flexibility”

* said to help brain function and assist in mental health

* promotes healthy glow in the skin

* highly recommended for women during pregnancy (though of course please check with your physician or a qualified nutritionist first)

* helps to heal burns

* contains conjugated linoleic acid, a powerful antioxidant

*Ghee will last indefinitely stored at room temperature (if kept in an airtight container and moisture-free), and its beneficial properties grow better with age– up to 100 years, according to one article I read.

*Its chemical structure withstands very high temperatures– over 400 F– which makes it ideal for cooking.

HOW TO MAKE, AND USES

I just bought mine at the store, but if you want to make your own it’s very easy.  You will need unsalted (preferably organic) butter and some cheesecloth or clean dishtowel.  Here’s a video that will teach you how, and some good written instructions here.  You can use ghee just about anywhere you would use other cooking oils– you can sautee vegetables in it, roast potatoes in it, etc. (I don’t think you can replace butter with ghee in baking, though!)

THE BEAUTY OF FAT

So yes, ghee is very high in fat, but this stuff actually will help you to lose weight if taken with moderation.  Here’s an interesting article about what happened when Indians stopped eating ghee and Americans stopped eating butter (the link includes a video showing how to make ghee).  And another interesting article on the nutritional benefits  of regular butter. This is a heated topic in nutritional circles, and again, I am not a microbiologist or nutritionist or chemist. But I also drink half and half with melted (basically) butter at night, and I haven’t gained an ounce of weight. I mean, if you eat a pound of ghee a day you might be in trouble, but a heaping teaspoon in some milk is not a problem.

Sources:

The Yoga Journal

The Health Benefits of Cooking with Ghee

Agriculture Society

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