Through our classical western upbringings, we both have strong memories of the hydrogenated fat trend... grandmother's spreading “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter” on rye, and in Holland the cooking in Becel margarine. We both didn't like it, loved the taste of butter much better, but came out with the idea that fat is a no no. Until we got educated on the latest nutritional research and began our studies of Ayurveda, we did not have a full understanding of the important role of dietary fat. In India, ghee is recognized as an essential part of a nourished life. Not only is it celebrated for its delicious rich flavor, it is also loaded with nutritional and medicinal qualities, and many psycho-spiritual qualities are attributed to it.
So what is ghee? Ghee is the essence of butter. It is the result of boiling cultured butter, and boiling off milk solids and water, leaving pure butter fat. This makes it a fine food for those who have trouble digesting lactose. Its predominance in saturated fatty acids makes it shelf stable, meaning that it does not need to be refrigerated. If kept clean, it won't go bad, it won't oxidize, oxidation being what makes a fat a threat to the health. Ghee is one of the best high temperature cooking oils because of its 485 degree fahrenheit flash point. Ghee also offers a long list of nutritional benefits. It is comprised of short, medium and long chain fatty acids, contains vitamins A, D, E and K and is the highest natural source of Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA). CLA has anti cancer fighting properties which have attributed to stopping tumor cell growth. Ghee also is a rich source of butyrate, which revives colon cells, supports healthy inflammatory response and has many more positive effects on our bodies. Ghee supports a strong and lean body, increases energy and sexual vitality, lowers cholesterol (even though we know now that it is not cholesterol that causes heart disease, but unhealthy inflammatory response), makes for a strong digestion, and brings calm to body and mind. Ofcourse the ghee is only as good as the milk that it comes from. Poorly nourished cows won't produce rich and nutrient-rich milk, let alone ghee. But it is also true that making ghee out of bad milk will concentrate whatever nutrients there are in this milk and cook off the bad components.
Many people complain about the taste of ghee. This is because its taste changes when it gets older, making it stronger and more pungent. This is not a problem, Ayurveda considers 100 year old ghee to be very medicinal. But it is definitely a taste that not everyone likes. So buy only fresh ghee, from free-range, grass-fed cows, or make it yourself. There are many videos on YouTube that show how to do it.
In India ghee is considered a sacred substance. The Rig Veda (a 3,500 year-old ancient Sanskrit scripture) says:
This is the secret name of ghee:
"Tongue of the gods", "navel of immortality."
We will proclaim the name of ghee;
We will sustain it in this sacrifice by bowing low.
These waves of ghee flow like gazelles before the hunter...
Streams of ghee caress the burning wood.
Agni, the fire, loves them and is satisfied.
It indicates that ghee is superb at nourishing the fires (agni) of digestion, and promotes longevity . Ghee has been used in the Hindu religion and yogic rituals as an offering to feed the Gods. Ayurveda says that ghee increases the memory and intellect, that it counteracts the drying and aging process of the body, reviving the rasa, or mucus membranes in the body. It nourishes the skin, as in a 100 times washed ghee, where the ghee is massaged with water a hundred times, leaving a white fatty substance that is used as a cream. And it is used to bathe the eyes, nourishing the optic nerve. Ayurveda uses it as a carrier for medicine, activating the lipid-soluble properties of the plants, and providing fast penetration through the lipid membranes of the cells, again providing more nourishing and soothing qualities.
Our local ghee company uses butter from Straus Organic Farm - Ancient Organics creates a sacred ritual around the process of making ghee. They play healing chants as the ghee is being made and settling into its jars, soaking up the vibrations of healing.
Finally we offer some beautiful, easy, and nourishing recipes:
Delicious ghee gravy
Place 4-6 ounces of ghee into a pan on medium heat
add in 4 cloves of minced garlic
1 tablespoon of fresh grated turmeric
1 tablespoon of fresh grated ginger
1/4 cup of organic tamari sauce
(simmer this combination until the ghee becomes richly flavored)
Then add your favorite combination of seasonal vegetables
This season, I love adding yams, kale and green beans
Pour this over a warm bed of quinoa
garnish with dried chili pepper flakes and fresh cilantro
(drizzle additional tamari over the top if you desire more flavor)
Anti-inflammatory, nourishing for the mucus membranes and a great support for a pregnant woman.
Boil 1 cup of whole (preferably raw) milk with 1/2 tsp. of turmeric, 1/2 tsp. of cardamom, a few strands of saffron, for 1 minute. Take off the source of heat, and melt 1 tbs. of ghee, and 1 tsp. of raw unfiltered honey into it.
If you have trouble digesting milk, then use almond milk, or oat milk.
With love, by Megan Fleming and Simone de Winter
Over twenty years ago I started practicing yoga. I followed an inner voice while I was lying on the floor after a workout in the gym. I didn't like the gym. I loved yoga. Soon I was taking up to five classes per week. I loved learning to tune into the subtleties of alignment, to feel separate muscle groups and learn how to move them. I loved using my breath to bring my mind all the way with my body and my movement. I wouldn't notice anybody else in class. I learned a lot about my body and how to use yoga to make it feel better.
When I did a teacher training the the whole system of yoga opened up to me. I learned about the different philosophies and how they can bring more control of your mind. So I sat my first meditation retreat. It was very revealing of how the body, mind, and emotions feed into each other, and was not easy. I noticed the deep inner freedom I felt after sitting and watching my impulses for days at a time, instead of following my impulses day after day. I remember sitting outside in the sun, and feeling the sun's rays on my body and hearing the insect wings buzz, and it brought such deep satisfaction.
I loved the increasing subtlety of my "yoga" practice, and the emphasis changed from asana/postures to breathing and meditation.
Then I went to Ayurveda school in 2001, and studied even more ancient Indian science. This time it was the medical side. I learned that anything that we put or allow into our bodies - and that includes any sensorial impression - mental or emotional experience, needs to be digested and properly assimilated, in order to serve us. A healthy digestion makes for good health. I learned that "like increases like", and that "opposites balance". I learned that one man's food and herbal medicine is another's poison. And I learned about the cycles of nature, and that changing your lifestyle in order to flow with those cycles, really makes you feel better.
The ability to tune into subtlety increased again, this time extending to the chemistry of foods in my body, what it feels like to be 'acidic', and how 'vata' feels, and 'pitta' and 'kapha'. And the realization came that everything can be "yoga" practice. That I am not a bad yogi if I don't do any official "practice" during the day, but that if I do what I do with an awareness of how I do it and how it affects me and others, I am always practicing. Ofcourse I can sharpen my intuition, my mind, the tuning into subtlety, of myself and of others, with official practice, so I still do that too, just not as religiously, or maybe dogmatically. And when I practice I'm taking time out of my day to do things, yoga and meditation, to make my body and nervous system feel better. I'm taking good care of myself, I'm practicing preventative medicine.
Over the years I have found that having these ancient Indian practices in my life is empowering more than anything. It's given me a way to return to a balanced state, no matter what life throws at me.
I feel deep gratitude when I walk this path...