DAN! and GFCF: Gee, It's Ghee!

Friday, May 2, 2008

About the acronyms: DAN! stands for Defeat Autism Now! and it's a controversial treatment for autism. I don't give much of a hoot about the controversy; I know that in the case of 5-year-old Grandson Devon the DAN! protocol has helped incredibly. Yes, it's anecdotal -- but there had been no progress until the experiment of removing gluten and milk from his diet resulted in almost instantaneous progress many months ago. So this anecdote in this case says it's doggone well worth the experiment, folks.

GFCF is what the diet change is called, and it stands for gluten-free, casein-free. And, boy, is it fun shopping for groceries when you're trying to follow that protocol! All those good-for-you multi-grain "healthy" cereals and breads are off-limits for starters. My beloved Cornell Bread recipe is entirely based on what GFCF diets can't have: nonfat dry milk, wheat germ, and soy flour.

Oh, yes, that's the third torment. Even GFCF cookbooks seem to shovel in the soy. And, in Devon's case, anecdotal though it is, diet restrictions include soy -- at least for the time being.

But there was a development yesterday that I haven't seen in any of the (admittedly limited) hunts I've made on bookstore shelves and online. Daughter Valerie mentioned that Devon loves it when his meals are prepared with Ghee but, she added, it was expensive. But, I replied, Ghee is just clarified butter! See "remove gluten and milk" in that first paragraph! Ak!

Yes, it is -- but, in clarifying the butter, you remove the casein! Didn't see that in the GFCF cookbooks I checked -- at least one of which kept using "non-dairy margarine" as a butter substitute. (Ik.)

Heck, clarifying butter is easy; I used to do it in preparing meals where I wanted the butter without the low smoking point. Commercially available Ghee is apparently hard to find and expensive when you locate it. But butter? It's in every refrigerator case. And Ghee has lots of advantages; you can even keep it at room temperature for a month or so without its going rancid.

To clarify butter, you bring it to a boil at medium while stirring (keep an eye on it; you don't want to burn it). Skim off the foam -- and keep skimming it, This process takes about 7 minutes, at which point, the butter will be golden and you'll have skimmed all the froth. You can let it cool a bit. Then carefully pour it through fine mesh (like a fine strainer or three layers of cheesecloth) into Pyrex or similar dish, leaving the brown solid residue in the bottom of the pan. Store the Ghee in an airtight container -- but it'll keep OK at room temperature. And then you can use it in GFCF food preparation: no soy, no need to avoid butter in recipes.

And a final tip (which a friend told me this morning, when I shared the Ghee anecdote): In a lot of baking, you can try substituting applesauce -- measure for measure -- for oil or shortening in recipes that call for it. As opposed to Ghee, I haven't tried that for myself. Just saying.


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