For years, I was all about avoiding dietary fat. After all, I was a Nutrition & Food Science major in the early 1990s, when “no-fat, high-carb” was king. Sure, I gorged on frozen yogurt and bagels, but hey: They were low-fat! It became almost like a game: How could I minimize my daily fat intake? And I wasn’t the only one — after all, it was the decade of olestra, the laboratory-concocted fat substitute that promised zero calories and zero fat. As long as it meant ingesting no fat, who cared if it caused some anal leakage?
Not surprisingly, my low-fat lifestyle didn’t yield better health — nor was eating hyper-processed, cardboard-flavored food particularly satisfying. When I finally went Paleo, it was a relief to finally embrace healthy fats again.
But what exactly are healthy fats?
Follow the jump to read more!
Certainly, vegetable oils — canola, soybean, corn, and the like — are NOT healthy fats, despite being marketed as “heart healthy.” Sure, they make cooking easy because they don’t add off-note odors or flavors to your food, they’re already liquid, and they generally have high smoke points (meaning they can be heated to higher temperatures before smoking and discoloring). And they’re cheap. But they’re poison. Read more about the evils of vegetable oil here.
Instead, check out Whole9’s Shopping List for Omnivores for your best choices of cooking fats. They include animal fats, clarified butter, ghee, coconut oil, and extra virgin olive oil — provided the animal-derived fats are pastured or 100% grass-fed and organic.
I use ‘em all, albeit for different purposes, given their individual pros and cons. Extra virgin olive oil’s fantastic for mixing up salad dressings, drizzling over cooked vegetables, or slow ‘n low braising — but its low smoke point means that olive oil’s not ideal for high-heat cooking. Plus, the beneficial phenols and vitamin E in olive oil break down with heat exposure.
Animal fats like duck fat, tallow, and lard are wonderful, but quality sources aren’t always easy to find. And although I use coconut oil a lot, the coconut essence can be jarring in certain dishes with subtle flavor profiles.
By process of elimination, the most versatile and accessible of all Whole30 cooking fats is…GHEE!
Never heard of it? Ghee’s a type of clarified butter that’s commonly used in Indian cuisine. Unlike regular old clarified butter, ghee is cooked until the milk solids are caramelized before being strained out, imparting the fat with a robust, nutty taste. Ghee has a super-high smoke point (close to 500°F), and is incredibly stable — even at room temperature. If you want to read more about why ghee’s a-OK with Melissa and Dallas, click on this link.
I love ghee and use it all the time. It’s now my go-to fat for cooking vegetables: I just toss ’em in melted ghee and pop them in a hot oven until they’re toasty and tender. I sear off steaks in cast iron skillets slicked with shimmering ghee. For a quick flavor-packed dish, I stir-fry ground meat and chopped veggies in spiced ghee. And that’s just scratching the surface, people.
Best of all, ghee’s not hard to make. If you have organic, grass fed butter, you can clarify it using my recipe/step-by-step tutorial over here.
Still, high-quality, pastured, grass fed butter isn’t necessarily the easiest ingredient to find.
To kick off this round of the Whole30®, I’m hosting a giveaway of my favorite ghee on the market, Pure Indian Foods Organic Ghee!
Pure Indians Foods is the only Whole30-approved ghee because it’s the best one you can buy. The fine folks at Pure Indian Foods make their organic ghee with milk obtained only during spring and fall, when the cows are out to pasture eating rapidly growing fresh green grass. This type of milk is high in fat-soluble vitamins and contains naturally occurring Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA).
Besides their wonderful plain and spiced ghee, Pure Indian Foods just launched the world’s first Grass-fed and Certified Organic Cultured Ghee. This delicious ghee is based on the age-old and time-honored practice of culturing the cream before churning it into butter and then clarifying it into ghee.
In case you need it spelled out: All varieties of Pure Indian Foods Ghee are made with milk obtained from 100% grass-fed, pastured cows raised in a certified organic manner.
And just so you know, I’m not getting paid to hawk Pure Indian Foods. I give them my own hard-earned cash because I believe in their quality and integrity. I sought out owner Sandeep Agarwal at the Wise Traditions Conference last November and pestered him to sponsor a giveaway, and he generously offered to provide a huge prize AND a discount to all my readers.
What’s up for grabs for the winner?
- 3 jars of 14 oz. of Grassfed Organic Ghee (retail value $53.85)
- 3 jars of 14 oz. of Grassfed Organic Cultured Ghee (retail value $71.85)
- 1 Assorted Sampler Pack containing one 3.9 oz. jar of each of their six Herbal/Spice infused ghee flavors (retail value $49.95)
As always, I’m keeping the sweepstakes entry rules drop-dead simple:
(UPDATE: The contest is OVAH! Congrats to Tracy E. from Hawaii!)
(Sadly, Tumblr — which hosts my site — restricts this contest to U.S. residents over the age of 18. Apologies to my super-incredible international readers!)
And don’t be bummed if you’re not the winner, because we’re all winners! Remember how I mentioned a discount code earlier? From now until 1/15/2013, you can receive $10 off any order over $35 at Pure Indian Foods. Just use the discount code PALEO-GHEE when checking out.
Happy New Year!
Looking for more recipe ideas? Head on over to my Recipe Index. You’ll also find exclusive recipes on my iPad® app, and in my cookbook, Nom Nom Paleo: Food for Humans (Andrews McMeel, December 2013)!