Kefir is relatively new to me. In fact, being mostly vegan for the past several years, the whole idea of consuming any dairy at all is new. I've been trying lately to eat for better health, and an honest look at my health showed that there is definitely room for improvement. The vegan diet was not giving me the vibrant feeling it once did. That is, in large part, due to heavy phytic acid build up from unsoaked/unsprouted grains, but that is a post for another time. In this post, I want to focus on kefir and its many health benefits.
Recently, I picked up a copy of Cultured Food Life by Donna Schwenk at my local library and began reading about kefir.
I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in fermented foods. It's loaded with information without being too technical, and makes DIY cultures fun and approachable.
Fermented foods are powerful aids for improving health in general, and for that reason I have been making home brewed kombucha for my family. (It's easy to culture from a store-bought bottle.)
However, according to the book, fermented foods are much more effective when the different types are consumed together. The huge list of potential benefits kefir can have convinced me to try it, in addition to my kombucha, and see for myself.
I can say without a doubt that I feel pretty great since kefir entered my life.
The taste is that of yogurt, but stronger, with a more pronounced tang. The texture is like a thin yogurt.
It took me some getting used-to, and I still don't drink it straight, but it is perfect as an ingredient.
At first glance, it looked kind of weird on the shelf when I found it at a local health food place; it had separated and had clear liquid on top; but I quickly got over my unnecessary squeamishness, because separation means that it was not homogenized (and thus, minimally processed).
I was thrilled to see that it also was organic, grass fed and raw. (There are benefits known only to raw dairy that are lost with pasteurization.)
Being so whole and unprocessed naturally provides the maximum amount of health benefits.
Originally this was going to be just a typical all-fruit smoothie for breakfast, but I was hungry and feeling the need for something with a little more heft. I wanted to get some kefir culture in me and thought the flavor of it would be well concealed within the berry-orange mixture. It worked!
The perfect breakfast or post-workout drink.
This recipe makes a lot, maybe five servings, but it's so delicious I didn't have much trouble consuming most of it! (I did have some help.)
Any extra berry mixture could be frozen; it would make excellent sorbet or ice pops.
Strawberry-Orange Kefir Smoothie
1 (16 oz.) package strawberries, about 2 cups
1 cup ice
1/2 cup kefir per drink
Wash & trim berries; slice in half. Place
in blender. Juice the oranges and add juice to berries.
Puree briefly until some chunks still remain.
Add ice to berry mixture; blend until frothy, just until no ice chunks remain.
To serve, pour mixture into 8 oz. glasses, filling half way.
Top each glass with 1/2 cup kefir.
Stir until combined and enjoy!
An original recipe from http://anyfig.blogspot.com/ :)