The Healing Magic of Ghee and Herbal Ghee Infusion Recipe

There is pretty much nothing that goes better with bread than butter. A nice slather of the stuff on a crusty piece of fresh baked sourdough can make anyone’s heart swoon. And there’s a reason more than just the nostalgia of it all. Our bodies crave the fat. We crave the nutrients present within fat sources like butter to heal and repair.

I am all for politically incorrect nutrition. Many of our modern culturally indoctrinated ideas support the Man stay in power, including ideas about food. I’m a big advocate for taking charge of your health. That means taking in quality nutrients to support your system, questioning the source of ingredients that go in your body, and finding out more information around any ideas you might hold concerning how you take care of your health.

There have always been a lot of politics and stories within our culture surrounding fat. Fear exists within in our society concerning fat, perpetuated by the beauty myths of our culture, that say we should limit fat within our diet. The thought is: eating fat makes you fat. And God forbid you get some of that cheese onto your thighs! You’ll surely be scorned forever and pushed into an endless sea of cats, knitting needles and late night T.V., while being all alone for sure.

That was a story I told myself while I was a young impressionable teenager. Somehow, it got ingrained into my mind that I had to avoid putting fat in and on my body at all costs, and if I succeeded at being as free of fat as possible people would love me. And so I attempted just that, and lived an obscenely long time in the mental illness of eating disorder. I’d like to say that it came and went, but I struggled silently for close to a decade of my life, driving me out of presence and love into the broken record of self loathing and judgement. Sometimes I wonder how my life would have been different if I let myself enjoy food in peace during all of those years, but I know part of why I am so passionate about food now is because I truly know what it feels like to not be.

The thing which really did bring me out of the intoxication of eating disorder was deepening my yoga practice and learning how to prepare food as a way of expressing myself artistically, which in the process helped my community stay healthy. I started to notice how much joy and fullness came into the lives of those around me by eating a meal we made together, and how I began to heal myself in the process. But all of those years I limited especially fat intake I threw my system completely off balance, and struggled with many health issues that surround dramatically limiting saturated fat and cholesterol. Re-balancing my body meant I had to reintroduce healing fats and nutrient density back into the diet. When I did, I noticed dramatic balancing effects to many aspects of my body, including my memory function, my menstrual cycle, and metabolism as well as mental health and energetic vitality.

Now that I have a deeper understanding of nutrient density and how to re-balance the body using food as a main support, I know how important fat is within that framework. Healthy fats give our bodies the ability to metabolize nutrients. Without fat, our internal systems literally can not function adequately. Cultures around the world have known this for thousands of years, processing fats in delicious and nourishing ways which have been passed down for millennia.

Not all fats are created equal, however. People are becoming more aware of the dangers of trans fats, but even seemingly innocent oils are often unhealthy for the body when not processed correctly, especially when heat is introduced. If the smoke point of an oil is low, as it is for most vegetable oils, and it is used for sauteing, roasting or deep frying, the oil begins to break down, burn and create free radicals. Free radicals are carcinogenic molecules that damage cell membranes, and have been linked to health problems including cancer and numerous inflammatory diseases of the body. Heat can be part of the processing of oil even before it reaches your saute pan. Buy fats which are extra virgin, cold pressed or raw, and avoid oils which are refined or expeller pressed for this reason.

Some nourishing traditional fats to include within your diet are coconut oil, butter, sesame seed oil, olive oil, duck fat, tallow or lard. It is absolutely crucial all of your animal nutrients are from good sources, and the animals were fed non-GMO organic food and were also pasture raised and fed.

People from around the world who eat traditional diets have always known healthy fats are crucial for health, and therefore prepare fats with the utmost care so food support our bodies rather than harm. One of the most meditative and sacred practices of processing fat is making ghee, which comes to us from India. Ghee is not only used in cooking, but is also used in many Ayurvedic healing regimes both topically and internally to help heal the body.

Ghee contains no milk proteins which lower butter’s smoke point, so there is no danger of free radicals developing. Ghee also is free of lactose and casein, which are what some people are intolerant of within dairy products. Ghee helps the body absorb crucial vitamins including A,D,E and K and other minerals from foods. A perfect example of why fat is so important in nutrient absorption is carrot juice. If a person drinks too much, their skin will develop a slight orange hue. This is because there were no fat molecules present to support full absorption of the vitamins present within the carrot.

The great thing about ghee is it is very easy to make, and you can flavor it in all sorts of ways to bring whatever you are preparing it with to a new level of depth and complexity. Whether cooking with it, simply slathering it on bread, or using it to cleanse the body in an Ayurvedic treatment protocol, ghee is well known to be healing and nourishing to the body.

May you continue to heal your body and mind, and use food as your ally in the process.

Infused Ghee

1 pound organic unsalted butter, preferably pasture raised and fed

Spice or herb of choice, See suggestions below.

Infusion Suggestions

Lemon Chive (Zest of 1 lemon and a large handful of chives)

Orange Clove (Zest of 1 orange and 1 tbsp cloves)

Chili Lime (Zest of 1 lime and 3 tbsp dried hot pepper of choice)

Herbal Ghee (Large handful of sage, thyme, rosemary or parsley)

Instructions

Melt the butter in a heavy bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Simmer gently until a foamy layer of butter milk comes to the surface. Keep a low, slow simmer for the next 30-45 minutes, watching the butter carefully to make sure it doesn’t burn. When the butter quiets and no more foam seems to be surfacing, take the butter off of the flame.

Place a fine mesh sieve over a clean jar and put a few layers of cheesecloth over the strainer, if available. Strain the ghee, removing butter milk solids from the butter fat. This is your pure ghee.

To make your infused ghee: Pour the newly formed ghee into a clean saucepan and add your spice, zest, or herb of choice to the pot. Simmer on your stove tops lowest setting for another 30-45 minutes. When the color changes and the solids become darker in hue, turn the flame off. Strain solids from liquid. Let infused ghee cool and store in the refrigerator for up to 6 months, or in the pantry for up to 3 months.

Sage infused ghee at the Fern and Fawn launch party.

All photos within this post taken by Julianna Blizzard.

Elizabeth Gross