If you don’t have ghee in your pantry, you’re missing out.

It’s kind of like butter, only better– actually, it’s clarified butter. Making ghee is very simple. You melt unsalted, organic butter and cook it until it smells like popcorn and takes on a beautiful golden color, all of which takes about 15 minutes. Then you strain out the milk solids that have accumulated at the bottom of the pot and voilà! you have ghee.

What sets it apart from butter, though, is that ghee has medicinal properties and health benefits. Unlike butter, which increases bad cholesterol, ghee’s been shown to lower it. Ghee increases the agni— digestive fire– and improves absorption and assimilation. It also improves memory, strengthens the brain, nourishes ojas— which is similar to immunity power— and pacifies the pitta and vata doshas. It’s also sattvic, meaning it’s a food that promotes inner peace.

Ayurveda has been advocating ghee for thousands of years, but it’s just now becoming trendy in kitchens. Hop on the bandwagon, buy (or better yet make) a jar of ghee, and try it out in these five ways:

1. Use it for cooking.

Ghee has a higher smoke point than butter and most oils, making it more stable and safer for cooking. Use it just as you would oil when sautéing or roasting vegetables.

2. Use it on your toast.

You can use ghee anywhere you would normally use butter. It’s lovely on toast, on pancakes, or drizzled over popcorn. But beware! Ghee is delicious and you might be tempted to be heavy handed with your usage. It’s still a form of fat, and too much ghee can negatively affect cholesterol, so use minimal amounts.

3. Use it as a natural face moisturizer or eye cream.

After washing your face and before bed, dip a spoon into your jar of ghee to take out just the tiniest amount. Either gently rub it around your eyes as an eye cream or massage over your entire face. It’s moistening and relieves dry skin. Plus, it’s aroma alone is very calming.

4. Use it to relieve constipation.

Mix one to two teaspoons of ghee with one cup of milk and gently warm over the stove. Drink before bedtime. Since ghee is lubricating, this makes for a gentle way to relieve constipation. While this remedy works for vata and pitta types, it shouldn’t be used too often for kapha types.

5. Use it to calm anger.

If you’re feeling angry or irritated, gently apply a little bit of ghee to the insides of your nostrils. Because it’s cooling, soothing, and nurturing, it helps to calm the mind with each inhalation.

You can buy ghee at health food stores. Even Trader Joe’s now stocks it, but I recommend opting for an organic ghee. Better yet, make your own!

Reference:

Lad, Vasant. The Complete Book of Ayurvedic Home Remedies. New York: Harmony Books, 1998.

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