Golden Ghee (dairy free)

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If there is a food that can claim to be made by alchemy, then this is it. Truly a healing superfood, ghee is considered sacred and medicinal in the traditional Hindu system of medicine known as Ayurveda (translated into English as the “science of life”). Most everyone can benefit from it! A pure, clarified oil made from gently heating and clarifying butter, it has been used internally and externally for balance and healing. It is said to bring clarity to the mind and balance to the body. Rebecca Wood has a wonderful article on ghee here. And for even more on its uses and benefits, see here.)

I use ghee for our scrambled eggs in the morning, to add to rice as it cooks, spread on toast, and to use for frying or sautéing as its high-heat point makes it healthy and ideal for this use. It has a rich, complex flavor, buttery yet deeper.
And for those who cannot eat dairy, it is a wonderful oil to use in place of butter. This is primarily how I discovered it, as my children do not tolerate dairy well, so I needed alternatives!

My favorite butter has always been Kerrygold unsalted, from Ireland. Mostly because it’s creamy and yellow, and it tastes delicious! It feels smooth and pure, the way butter should be. It is also cultured, which means it is easier to digest and helpful to our digestive systems, too! And the fact that it comes from cows grazing on the pristine, abundant green grasses of Ireland is key, imbuing it with that deep yellow color.

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I do love buying local as much as I can, but for this butter I make an exception. So this is my butter of choice–available at Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods for around $3 per 8 oz. (two sticks’ worth), and other specialty grocery stores.

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Golden Ghee

2-4 cups of grass-fed unsalted butter (or any amount!)

A heavy sauce pan without lid (I like cast iron with enamel coating or pyrex/glass)

This is a very simple process, though takes a bit of time and patience. I usually make ghee when I’ll be working on other things in the kitchen, like dinner for instance, and I can keep an eye on it until it looks “done.” Done is simply when all the milk solids have either dropped to the bottom or risen to the surface in a kind of white foam that can be easily scooped off with a spoon and discarded. The “trick” is to make sure to get all of the white, milky parts (the milk solids) out of the beautiful, clear, golden butter oil that is left after all of the milk solids have been removed. The milky parts will eventually begin to brown and create a thin crust over the top of the butter oil. The milk solids on the bottom will also begin to brown; just make sure not to let them burn, as this will impart a burnt flavor to the ghee.

Allow the butter to gently simmer on the stove on the lowest heat, either skimming the white foam off the surface and discarding as it simmers, or waiting until the end and gathering it all at once. *Alternately, ghee may be made in the oven: using an oven-proof pot without a lid, place in a 200 or 250 degree oven for anywhere from one to two hours, checking it periodically to make sure it is not burning.

Once you have removed as much of the solids from the top as you can, use a very fine strainer and, if needed, a few layers of cheesecloth or a similar clean straining cloth lining the strainer. Carefully pour the clear golden butter oil through your strainer into a clean glass jar. Fit with a lid and allow to cool.

This can now be kept either in the fridge or not–refrigeration is not required, as the perishable milk parts have been removed.

I can often be found with my nose over a new jar of ghee, taking in deep breaths as I simply smell the delicious aroma. It smells sooo wonderful! And it feels both purifying and invigorating to me for some reason, like having a clean bath and feeling renewed.

Sometimes alchemy can be as simple as the process of simmering one substance to concentrate and extract its true gold.

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Update: I have discovered a new way to filter the ghee that is not only super-easy, but also ensures a dairy-free product. By using an unbleached paper coffee filter in place of the strainer, I have wowed myself with the result! Just fit a coffee filter over a glass jar and fold over the edges a bit, then hold in place and pour your liquid in slowly as this will take more time than the strainer method.

Homemade Tortillas: Four Variations on a Theme…

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My son eats a lot of tortillas. It is an easy way to get him to eat protein–put it in a taco! Add some sliced avocado and ketchup (of course, right??), and he’s got a meal that he will eat and enjoy. Chicken, grilled fish, steak, ground turkey or buffalo–the possibilities are endless. For a vegetarian version, try beans and rice or quinoa, sautéed sprouted tofu with spices, grilled veggies and cheese, you get the picture. I even like these tortillas toasted as snacks, spread with some butter, ghee or coconut oil.

I found a tortilla press from Mexico at a second-hand store for $2, and the kids love to take turns pressing the tortillas flat! My daughter also likes to roll the dough in her hands–she loves the slightly spongy feeling of the dough, with just a bit of spring, and she says it’s ‘bouncy’! We try to keep the dough ball from being played with too much, though; it’s similar to play-dough in consistency and so much fun!

Sometimes I feel like with all the tortillas, we’re eating too much corn, though. Corn is an allergen for some people, as well as highly glycemic (raising your blood sugar levels) and very high in carbohydrates. For those who want or need an alternative to corn tortillas–but still want gluten-free–ground millet and quinoa flours make a wonderful alternative!

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Simple Corn Tortillas

1 cup masa harina flour

Scant 1 cup hot water

1/4 tsp unrefined sea salt

Optional: 1-2 tbsp olive oil or melted coconut oil

In a bowl, mix masa flour and sea salt. Slowly add in the hot water and mix until the dough comes together into a ball. The dough ball should be springy and firm, not too dry or too wet as to be sticky. Add more flour or water if needed to get the right balance and consistency. Then cover with a towel and let sit for about an hour (optional).

Heat an iron skillet, ceramic saute pan, or other type of non-stick skillet on medium-high heat. Make small balls from the dough and either roll out between two pieces of wax paper or, using a tortilla press with wax paper on both surfaces, press out the dough ball into a tortilla shape.

Gently place flattened dough in heated skillet with a pat of melted coconut or olive oil if necessary or desired. Cook for about a minute on each side.

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Millet-Quinoa “Corn” Tortillas
(corn and gluten free)

1/2 cup millet flour

1/2 cup quinoa flour

Scant 1 cup hot water

1/4 tsp unrefined sea salt

Optional: 1-2 tbsp olive oil or melted coconut oil

Follow directions same as above with “Simple Corn Tortillas.”

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Homemade Gluten-Free Sourdough Tortillas

1 cup gluten-free flour (millet, quinoa, buckwheat, rice, teff, amaranth or a combination)

1/2 cup gluten-free sourdough starter (recipe to come)

A scant 1/2 cup hot water

1/4 tsp unrefined sea salt (such as Celtic or Brittany)

Mix all ingredients together in a non-reactive bowl (ceramic, glass, or pottery) until a ball of dough is formed, neither too dry not too sticky. It should be slightly springy and firm. Cover with a towel and set aside for 6 to 24 hours.

After this time you may add in a tablespoon or two of oil (I like olive oil or melted coconut oil or ghee) and mix again to form a ball.

Divide into four parts and roll into small balls. Press or roll flat to desired thickness, either between two pieces of wax paper or in a tortilla press.

Heat a skillet with or without oil, and gently place the flattened dough in to the pan. Cook for about a minute on each side.

Enjoy with your favorite fillings! Or eat by themselves, warm with some melted butter and cinnamon for a treat!

* To make these sweeter, and to counter the sour taste, you may add in some sweetener of choice (honey, stevia, xylitol, coconut palm sugar, maple syrup, etc.), maybe a teaspoon at a time (except in the case of liquid stevia, use a few drops at a time) until the desired taste is reached.

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“Cheesy” Tortilla Flatbreads
(dairy and gluten free)

Take the sourdough tortilla recipe (above) and after the appropriate time spent ‘souring,’ mix the following ingredients into the dough:

• 1/4 cup nutritional yeast flakes

• 2 tbsp dulse or nori flakes (these are seaweed, and optional)

• 2 tbsp dried or fresh chopped parsley

• 1 tbsp onion powder

• 1 tbsp garlic powder

• 2-4 tbsp melted ghee or coconut oil, or olive oil

• 1 tbsp gluten-free tamari (optional)

Combine all ingredients and mix together (a stand mixer works great for this) to make a new dough. Follow same directions as other tortilla recipes, cooking tortillas in a medium-hot skillet with melted ghee or coconut oil until lightly crisped.

These can be cooled and kept in your fridge, then popped into a toaster oven for a tasty snack!

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