Try-It Tuesday: Ghee
Tuesday, January 10, 2012
LifeTime WeightLoss in Cindi Lockhart, Healthy Cooking, butter, healthy fats

Written by Cindi Lockhart, RD, Weight Loss Coaching Program Manager

A common question I get when discussing dairy free alternatives is “What is ghee?”  So, I thought I would take some time to explain it more in depth for inquiring minds.  We will first look at what it is, what it’s health benefits are, and how to use it at home. 

What is Ghee?

Ghee is a form of clarified butter, originating from Southern Asia and traditionally used in Indian cuisine.   The clarification process involves cooking butter until the water and milk solids can be removed, which breaks down the lactose sugar and removes the casein solids making it a “dairy alternative”.  The Ghee end-product solidifies into a semi-soft spread that can be stored for an extended length of time in the pantry in an air-tight container – it doesn’t need to be refrigerated.   The actual taste, texture, and color of Ghee depends on the type of butter used in the recipe, preferably organic or grass-fed whole milk options.  There are 14 grams of fat per Tablespoon, the same as any other fat or oil.  There are several recipes and YouTube videos (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DVJaqaf7BoE) that can take you through the in-home process of making Ghee, but for those of you not as patient in the kitchen (like me), you can purchase it as well in many local health food stores. 

Health Benefits of Ghee:

With the removal of both lactose and casein during the clarification process, Ghee is an appropriate butter substitute for those who have a dairy sensitivity or lactose intolerance.    Ghee is also sodium free, so it is beneficial for anyone requiring a sodium-restricted diet.  According to Ayurvedic medicine, Ghee is one of the best oils to use due to its stimulating effect on the digestive system and boost to one’s immunity.  Ghee contains CLA (conjugated linoleic acid), especially when it is made with butter from grass-fed cows, which assists with weight loss as it acts as a natural fat burner for our body.

How and When to use Ghee:

The smoke point of Ghee is much higher than other fats (482°), so it works great in sautéing as well as in general cooking and baking.  Its smooth consistency also works great to melt over hot vegetables or potatoes. 

TIP:  If you are out to eat at an Indian restaurant and the menu calls for Ghee, make sure it is made from cow’s milk vs. vegetable oil as the oil option has been hydrogenated and may contain trans fat, which has been shown to increase one’s risk of several health conditions.

Share thoughts and ask questions below. 

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