It’s true. Just this morning I put butter on two small slices of Miche to eat along with my soft boiled egg. There is something so magical about eggs, butter, bread and black tea that makes my morning that much better.
I realize that despite fat (good fat) actually being crucial to the functioning of the nervous system and your brain, many people believe that “fat is the enemy” and butter is part of the evil army. That’s true to an extent if you’re talking about saturated fats and trans fats – you know, the stuff in the fast food you’re eating for lunch. Basically, these types of fats are solid at room temperature. They also make your pork roast delicious and should be consumed in moderation – but then again, what shouldn’t be consumed in moderation?
Then there are the “good” fats – monounsaturated and polyunsaturated. Think of these guys as coming from veggies, nuts and fish.
To be perfectly honest, I am not fat-phobic. In fact, when I predominantly consume veggies, proteins and fats, I feel terrific. Also, although I avoid trans fats like the plague, particularly those that are created as a by-product of food processing, saturated fats don’t scare me as much. And this is where butter comes in.
Butter is delicious. That is a fact. It makes everything better, adding flavor and creaminess and oh, the calories! However, it is full of milk solids and it oxidizes really easily, on top of increasing cholesterol. So, I can give myself permission to have butter on bread, but what about cooking?
This is where ghee comes in. What the heck is ghee? It is essentially clarified butter – butter fat without the milk solids and water. If you take butter, and heat it, eventually the solids froth at the top. If you take those away, you are left with ghee. Middle Eastern and Indian communities have been using it for centuries because it is incredibly stable, delicious, and can be stored without refrigeration without spoiling for weeks in an airtight container.
It has a very yummy, toasty, butter-like flavor, but it is significantly better for you. First off, it has a high smoke point. Much higher than most vegetable oils. You know when you mix olive oil and butter to prevent the butter form burning? You don’t have to do that with ghee .
Also, it’s short chain fatty acids are easily metabolized by the body, and lab studies have show that it reduces serum and intestinal cholesterol by triggering the release of biliary lipids. It is good for eye pressure, healthy for nerves and brain (think memory retention), and particularly beneficial for glaucoma patients. It is also responsible for increasing the secretion of stomach acids that help in digestion. Butter, and lots of other oils, slow down this process – this is why, after a restaurant meal, you often feel bloated and heavy. Restaurants often use the cheapest, and hence worst for you, cooking fats. Hello canola oil!
As a butter lover, ghee is my saving grace. I get to enjoy butter’s wonderful flavors without its worst qualities. After all, food should be delicious and tasty, and ghee makes that happen.