good-for-you glossary

Ghee

A teaspoon a day does a body good.

What It Is:

A type of clarified butter that originated in ancient India and is commonly used in South Asian cuisines. Ghee is widely known for its medicinal properties, and in Ayurveda, it is the purest essence of the earth element and is believed to be healing to both mind and body. It is made by simmering local, grass-fed, organic, unsalted butter and allowing the liquid to evaporate, leaving a caramelized substance with a nutty flavor. It is also popular among those who are lactose intolerant because its dairy impurities have been removed.

What It Does:

Ghee is rich in oil-soluble vitamins A,D,E and K, as well as K2 and CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) antioxidants, which have antiviral properties. It is categorized as a healthy fat, like coconut oil, meaning the fatty acids are absorbed directly into the liver and burned as energy. These types of fatty acids also help burn other fats, promoting weight loss (when consumed in moderation), and help sustain healthy microbes in the gastrointestinal tract to promote effective digestion and elimination.

Ghee nourishes all of the tissues in the body, including the nervous system, translating into calm energy and clarity of the mind throughout the day. It also strengthens the immune system and can even be used topically to hydrate dry skin and improve hair growth and thickness, when massaged into the scalp.

How to Take It:

Ghee is the first thing I put in my body every morning. I take one big teaspoon of ghee every morning, melt it on the stove in a pan and drink it out of a cute little ceramic white cup. After I take it, I don't eat anything for 20 minutes, and then I drink a glass of water before eating food. In my kitchen, I only cook with ghee and coconut oil and try to incorporate it into my meals as much as possible. We make French toast, grilled cheese sandwiches, quesadillas and basically anything we can with ghee. You can also heat it at a much higher temperature because it's a highly saturated fat and you don't run the chance of burning any of the milk solids. Sometimes I sneak half a teaspoon of melted ghee into my kids' warm milk because I believe in it so much.

I love the Ayurvedic properties of ghee and so I keep in mind some general rules while I enjoy the amazing flavor. There are seasonal changes to ghee intake. For example, in the summer's heat, I sometimes feel a kind of weakness; increasing ghee intake is beneficial, due to oily diets' ability to maintain internal, cellular balance. I learned that ghee becomes unwholesome when taken with equal part honey and when it is consumed after intake of a cold substance like iced coffee. It's usually not a good idea to eat ghee with protein because it's hard to digest, so I just stick to eating it with some sort of carbohydrate, like a cracker. Lastly, never ever store ghee in a bronze vessel for more than 10 days because of a chemical reaction that will make the ghee go rancid.

You can use ghee while cooking oatmeal, stir fries, soups, quinoa dishes, rice, lentils and veggie sautees. For soups, add ghee to the base (as opposed to olive oil or butter) before cooking the vegetables and adding in seasoning; same goes for stir fries and veggie sautees.

Why I Love It:

My Nana on my dad's side actually taught my mom how to make ghee and she has been cooking with it since I was a little girl, so my sisters and I always used it, not even knowing what it was called or any of the benefits. I buy my ghee from Martha Soffer because she taught me to take ghee every morning. Plus, I trust all of the ingredients and I know she makes it herself. She sells it online so I strongly recommend purchasing it from her, but you can pretty much buy it at any market today. Ghee can be kept on the kitchen shelf, covered and does not need refrigeration.

Photography by Ivan Solis for Kourtney Kardashian