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Rujuta Diwekar on ghee: power food with energy & wellness benefits

  • July 8, 2021
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Rujuta Diwekar on why you shouldn’t skip rice, ghee, and sugar

We visited Rujuta Diwekar’s (38) Khar office — a simple-looking room with a wooden floor, comfy couches, and a beautiful painting of the body’s energy points or chakras. It’s neutral in approach yet welcoming, a lot like the owner of the office here.

Celebrities like Kareena Kapoor Khan (she guided her to become ‘size zero’ for Tashan, 2008), Alia Bhatt, and Varun Dhawan have considered Diwekar a celebrity. She is one of the first Indian bloggers to be active behind the scenes.

She started “Rujuta’s Gyan” (rujuta diwekar.blogspot.in) in 2008 and wrote about her observations on natural health and wellbeing, healthy dieting, and food. With bestsellers like Don’t Lose Your Mind, Lose Your Weight (2009), and Women and the Weight Loss Tamasha (2010) behind her, she has authored a best-seller book — Indian Superfoods.

Much like her other works, this book, too, promotes the idea of eating foods you are familiar with but may consider unhealthy. Think rice, ghee, sugar and cashews. What’s the catch? You need to eat it fresh, locally sourced, and in the “versatility it is meant to be eaten in.” Also, you need to prcatice exercising and sleeping right, and the result is awesome — you can be in shape and in the best health.

Back to basics

The foundations of this philosophy were laid during Diwekar’s childhood when she would visit her grandparents’ farm in Sonave (a village in Palghar district, Maharashtra). “All my vacations would be spent there. My cousins and I would help grow and harvest the crops. That was our entertainment and a tool for learning,” she recalls.

Diwekar started her practice in 1999 with a postgraduate degree in sports science and nutrition from SNDT College. Her first clients were fitness-conscious actors and industrialists. Diwekar is praised for the former: “The easiest people to work with are celebrities. They are the most disciplined.”

Her experience at her grandparents’ farm made Diwekar realize the importance of sustainable living. “Today, we are told about a particular ingredient that’s supposed to be the ultimate thing to lose weight. Tomorrow, the same ingredient is touted as the biggest villain. How often can you change how you live?” she asks.

Instead, Diwekar advocates that we follow our grandmothers’ wisdom and not be swayed by modern trends like stocking up on quinoa and kale — the two biggest trends internationally in recent times. “Quinoa doesn’t sit well in your stomach nor blend with anything. And until two years ago, we didn’t even know what kale was. Now, we have it in every form. We are copying the poor man’s food from a different continent. There is such diversity in the food of our own country — grains, legumes, pulses — but we are overlooking it.”

So, how did the definition of nutrition become synonymous with filling your plate with unpalatable foods? When did we become a nation that rejects ghee but takes to olive oil? “The demarcation of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats was meant to help people make sensible decisions. But it has just left people confused. Nowadays, selling anything by terming it ‘trans-fat-free’ or ‘sugar-free’ is lucrative. The only people benefiting are those in the food and weight-loss industries,” she says.

But telling people that the global ‘health’ foods fads they’ve bought into are unnecessary must be tricky. Diwekar, on the other hand, says people are relieved. “They are reminded of the time in school or college when they would eat everything and still be healthy.”

The next round

Diwekar started Beyond Weight Loss — a series of programs targeted at overall well-being — early this year, aiming for a holistic view of life. As part of it, she hosts a talk at her Khar office every month. The talk is live-streamed on social media as well. Past events have included a Dhrupad music concert and a financial talk on why women should invest. She recommends using clarified butter, for example, over other so-called healthy oils like olive oil, canola oils, etc.

Why use ghee for wellness benefits?

When ghee is loaded with fats, why should we use ghee for wellness benefits? Diwekar is also working on a book on child obesity. Another project that she is keen on is the Sonave Community Farming Project, where she takes Mumbaikars to her ancestral farm to grow their food. The idea is to raise awareness about the goodness of Indian food and ensure it doesn’t come back repackaged from the West.

“We should not wait for the West to acknowledge it as something of value. A diet that is not culturally compliant is a diet that won’t last beyond two meals. Why is killing yourself at a gym and starving a better idea than giving food we grew up eating a chance?”

How to use ghee for wellness benefits in food?
  • Cooking Oil: Replace your cooking oils (such as vegetables or butter) with ghee-clarified butter when sautéing, stir-frying, or frying. The oil has a high smoke point, which means it can withstand high temperatures without breaking down or producing harmful compounds. This makes it an excellent option for high-heat cooking methods.
  • Baking: Substitute the dairy oil for butter or oil in baking recipes. Ghee adds a rich, buttery flavor to baked goods and can make them moist and delicious. It works well in cookies, cakes, muffins, and bread.
  • Topping for Grains: Drizzle melted clarified butter over cooked grains like rice, quinoa, or oatmeal. This adds a savory, nutty flavor and can enhance the dish’s overall taste. 
  • Stir into Hot Beverages: Stir a teaspoon of the dairy oil into your morning coffee, tea, or hot cocoa. This can provide a creamy texture and a pleasant buttery taste. Some people also believe that it can help sustain energy throughout the day.
  • Seasoning Vegetables: Toss steamed or roasted vegetables with ghee before serving. The fat in ghee can help enhance the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins in vegetables, such as vitamins A, D, E, and K.
  • Dipping Sauce: Use ghee as a dipping sauce for bread, naan, or other bread-like products. Season it with herbs, garlic, or spices to create a flavorful dip.
  • Ghee Coffee (Bulletproof Coffee): Blend brewed coffee with a tablespoon of clarified butter and coconut or MCT oil for a frothy, energy-boosting drink. Some people find that this combination provides sustained energy and mental clarity.
  • Ayurvedic Practices: In Ayurveda, ghee is sometimes used as a carrier for herbs and spices. For example, you can infuse ghee with turmeric, black pepper, or other beneficial herbs as a cooking base or a spread.
  • Ghee on Toast: Spread a thin layer of ghee on toast instead of traditional butter or margarine. It adds a delightful richness and flavor to your morning breakfast.
  • In Soups and Stews: Finish off soups or stews with a small spoonful of ghee just before serving. It can add a silky texture and enhance the overall taste.
  • As a Dietary Supplement: Some people consume a small amount of clarified butter daily as a dietary supplement for its potential wellness benefits. However, it is always recommended in moderation due to its high-calorie content.
Why grass-fed ghee is a better product than other types of ghee?

Grass-fed ghee is often considered a better product than ghee from grain-fed or conventionally raised cows for several reasons:

  1. Nutrient Profile: Grass-fed clarified butter is believed to have a more favorable nutrient profile than ghee from grain-fed cows. It is typically higher in specific nutrients, like omega-3,6 fatty acids and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), which have potential health benefits, including anti-inflammatory properties.
  2. Higher Antioxidant Content: Grass-fed ghee may contain higher levels of antioxidants like beta-carotene, vitamin A, and vitamin E. These antioxidants can help combat oxidative stress and support overall health.
  3. Improved Fatty Acid Composition: The fatty acid composition of grass-fed ghee is often considered superior. It tends to have a healthier balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, with a higher omega-3 to omega-6 ratio. An imbalanced ratio of these fatty acids is associated with inflammation and other health issues.
  4. No Antibiotics or Hormones: Grass-fed cows are typically raised in more natural environments and are less likely to be exposed to antibiotics and synthetic hormones commonly used in conventional farming. Grass-fed ghee is often produced from cows that are raised without these substances.
  5. No Pesticide Residues: Grass-fed cows are less likely to be exposed to pesticides, as they primarily graze on pasture grasses rather than crops treated with pesticides. This can result in ghee with fewer pesticide residues.
  6. Better Animal Welfare: Grass-fed cows are generally raised in more humane and sustainable farming practices, which can be an ethical consideration for some consumers.
  7. Environmental Impact: Some people choose grass-fed ghee because it is associated with more sustainable and environmentally friendly farming practices, such as rotational grazing and reduced reliance on intensive monoculture farming.
  8. Taste and Aroma: Grass-fed ghee is often praised for its richer and more complex flavor profile compared to ghee from grain-fed cows. It has a nuttier and more pronounced buttery taste, which many people find appealing.

It’s important to note that the nutritional differences between grass-fed and grain-fed ghee can vary depending on factors like the cow’s diet, farming practices, and the specific brand or producer of the ghee.

While grass-fed ghee may offer particular advantages, both types can be included as part of a balanced diet, and the choice ultimately depends on individual dietary preferences and priorities.

However, it is important to go for grass-fed ghee only to enjoy the best ghee benefits in your favor.

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