I struggle tremendously with dairy. Most celiacs have some degree of dairy sensitivity or intolerance. For me it’s a love-hate relationship. I love dairy, especially butter, but it hates me (like REALLY hates me).
Occasionally I indulge in the forbidden pint of gluten free ice cream or decadent meal dripping with butter and then have such digestive collateral damage that I’m not tempted to stray from the dairy-free path for at least another month or so.
It’s a double-whammy, right?? Not only is gluten off the menu, but all the delicious dairy-laden items are illicit as well! When I realized dairy just wasn’t in the cards for me, I didn’t accept it gracefully.
I may have had a number of temper tantrums. But, then I did what we celiacs always do—I put on my big-girl panties and began weighing my alternatives.
GHEE, THE NEW BUTTER
In my personal opinion, nothing beats the delicious taste of real butter. I tried cooking with a plethora of substitutes, all of which left me longing for butter.
Then, about 2 years ago I discovered ghee! Where it was hiding, I’ll never know, because now that I’ve found it, it seems so obvious. In fact, it’s venerated in Indian culture.
Ghee is butter without any milk solids/proteins—they’ve been removed through a clarification process. Hence it’s also called “clarified” butter.
One of my favorite things about ghee is that it’s shelf stable—no refrigeration required. So buttering (ghee-ing??) that gluten free toast is super easy as it melts instantaneously.
Ghee also has a high “smoke point” or “flash point” (450 degrees versus butter at 350 degrees), which makes it fantastic for using in the frying pan. I love fried eggs, and when I used butter, I’d get smoky air in the kitchen. Cooking with ghee, I never have that issue.
Many people who cannot abide dairy are totally fine with ghee. Ghee is lactose free and casein free. I have a significant dairy allergy and I’m lactose intolerant, and I eat ghee all the time with no issue.
However, there are some who may struggle with it to some degree. For instance, if you struggle to digest fats it could be a difficult food item for you.
Ghee is also a little on the pricey side, though I wouldn’t call it cost prohibitive unless you go through it very quickly (and if you do, I won’t judge you, I swear). But if the price is off-putting to you, it’s very simple to make.
Organic Valley is the brand I’ve found most readily available. It’s often the only brand I can find in stores and I can usually find it in both the specialty health food stores as well as the regular, large chain grocery stores. Accessibility is always a consideration for me as it’s helpful when I can do the bulk of my shopping in one store.
I also like Organic Valley because they use “absolutely NO antibiotics, synthetic hormones, toxic pesticides, or GMO anything.” Their words, not mine.
So if you went to the store tomorrow you could probably find Organic Valley and you could rest assured you’re buying a quality product.
Now, Organic Valley ghee isn’t labeled gluten free. So, first I called the company and spoke with a very knowledgable person on the phone who was confident there is no gluten in the facility where it is manufactured, nor where it is jarred.
Then, I used my handy dandy Nima sensor to test the parts per million (ppm). Nima will let you know if you have more than 20 ppm of gluten in the item you’re testing. It tested gluten free!