For most of my life, I’ve held butter at arm’s length. It’s not part of my cultural food DNA (Asian). As a child, I was lucky enough to be on the receiving end of three home-cooked meals a day. My mother was committed to our nutritional well-being, and, when she cooked, she always used vegetable oils, like peanut and sesame. Baking, however, was another matter. Being health-conscious, she substituted margarine for butter, thinking that she was doing right by limiting our saturated fat intake. (After all, “Avoid heart disease—eat fat-free!” was the battle cry of those strident anti-saturated fat times.)
So, up until a year ago, I almost never cooked with butter—baked, yes; cooked, no. What about toast? (I can hear you ask). I eschew wheat and gluten now, but when I used to eat toast, I slathered it with EVOO (extra-virgin olive oil)—not butter!
Then, I discovered grass-fed butter…
My epiphany: Yes, butter can make it better!
Certainly, grass-fed butter elevates summer squash from good to lip-smacking delectable. Again, I emphasize—only if the butter is from pasture-raised cows. Butter from grass-fed cows is a lovely deep yellow, reflecting a high beta carotene content—never to be confused with the anemic white-yellow hue of commercial butters from grain-fed cows.
Grass-fed butter is nutritionally superior to commercial butter. It is a rich source of important fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, K and K2 and antioxidants, including vitamins A, D, E, K2, beta-carotene and selenium. Grass-fed butter also contains conjugated lineolic acid (CLA), another antioxidant and cancer-fighter type of fat. Research suggests that when adequate CLA is ingested, it can help toward reducing total body fat. Unfortunately, the CLA in milk from conventional feed-lot cows is greatly reduced or non-existent.,
Pregnant women can benefit from grass-fed butter consumption because vitamin A plays an important role in skeletal development, bone formation and the development of sex characteristics. Want to prevent osteoporosis? Consider eating grass-fed butter, rich in vitamins A and D, both of which are needed for the proper absorption of calcium, a synergistic trio necessary for strong bones and teeth. Butter helps keep joints lubricated. And it has anti-cancer properties, particularly, strong anti-tumor effects.
These days, I enjoy grass-fed butter—in moderation. My occasional slice of sprouted toast is generously smeared with grass-fed butter. I bake with grass-fed butter. Now and then, I add butter to certain vegetables. Summer squash is one of them.
In this braised summer squash dish, grass-fed butter lends creamy charm that flavors and tenderizes the squash.
Grass-fed Butter-Braised Summer Squash
2-1/2 to 3 pounds mixed summer squash (zucchini, yellow squash, and zephyr squash), ends trimmed, halved lengthwise, and thinly sliced
2 medium onions (about 1 cup), finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2-3 tablespoons grass-fed butter (such as Kerrygold or Organic Valley Pasture Butter)
1/2 to 3/4 cup homemade chicken broth
2-3 tablespoons fresh herbs (basil, mint or oregano), or mixed herbs
Pink Himalayan salt or Celtic sea salt, to taste
Melt butter in a Dutch oven over medium heat. When butter begins to sizzle (but not smoke), add onions, coating with butter. Reduce heat to low and sauté about 8-10 minutes or until soft. Add garlic slices, stirring 1-2 minutes. Raise heat to medium and add squash, stirring to coat with onions and butter for approximately 2 minutes, or until squash begins to stick to the pan. Add chicken broth. Bring to a gentle boil, then reduce heat to low. Cover squash and simmer about 15 minutes, or until soft and most of the liquid has evaporated (you may need to simmer squash—uncovered—for a few minutes to reduce excess liquid).
Before serving: stir in chopped herbs and sprinkle pink Himalayan salt (or Celtic sea salt) to taste.