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This amazing article on kefir recipes and how kefir’s introduction of probiotics benefits the body was written by Nicole, a holistic nutritionist with a strong belief that it is possible for everyone to discover how good their body is designed to feel. Nicole works in partnership with her clients to achieve a lifestyle that is both balanced, fulfilling and nourishing. Go check out her fantastic blog with healthy recipes, or follow her on Facebook!


If I asked you to name some foods that have the potential to improve your gut health, you would probably name some probiotic foods, like yogurt. What a lot of people don’t know about yogurt, however, is that its effects on gut flora aren’t as strong as we tend to believe. You see, while yogurt does contain probiotics, the effect of these probiotics benefits the gut much less than one might imagine.

Are The Benefits of Yogurt Overhyped?

Yogurt contains what is known as ‘transient bacteria’ (you can think of them like visitors); these bacteria facilitate the digestive process and are eventually evacuated from the body. While these are beneficial for keeping the digestive system clean and for providing a source of food for the friendly bacteria that call your gut home, the probiotics in yogurt do not actually populate the gut [1][2].

While yogurt can be a real blessing for regular bathroom trips, you will only ever benefit from yogurt as long as you eat it very often, as yogurt only contains transient types of bacteria!

Kefir: The Better Yogurt

It’s time to meet the ‘Better Yogurt’’ – a cultured food that contains more than 5 times the amount of probiotic strains that are found in yogurt. This fermented food also colonizes in the gut, so it improves gut health by staying in the body!

You know what I’m talking about.

KEFIR.

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Keh-feer, kee-fur, or kef-fur. It doesn’t really matter how you say it, as long as you include it in your diet!

All forms of kefir are made with a starter known as ‘kefir grains’. But don’t worry – these aren’t real grains; they just look like it. These ‘grains’ are actually made up of healthy bacteria and yeast, and every granule of these probiotics benefits the gut significantly!

While you can make kefir with both water and milk, this article will focus on the milk-based version to provide you with a creamy, dreamy yogurt alternative.

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It can be used in the same ways as our regular ‘curdled milk’ –  pair kefir with some powerhouse granola, add it to smoothies, top your favorite pancakes with it or incorporate kefir in your salad dressings or dipping sauces.

The Benefits of Kefir

Why are we into fermentation again & how does fermentation benefit us? (In other words – why should I spend time making or using this?)

The magical art of food preservation has been practiced for thousands of years (it’s not just a new ‘trend’). The simple and natural process of lacto-fermentation encourages bacteria to feed on sugar/starch, thereby creating lactic acid, and this process can be used to preserve foods and beverages to extend shelf life (which is why it was so popular thousands of years ago). This fermentation process also creates beneficial enzymes, b-vitamins, minerals, omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants and various strains of probiotics.

Fermentation has many benefits, but the main thing to remember is that lactic acid promotes the growth of unique and healthy intestinal flora. This strain of probiotics benefits gut health significantly and strengthens the immune system!

While many of the nutrients found in kefir will depend on what type of milk is used, a 1-cup (250 ml) portion of whole milk kefir typically contains [3]:

Calories: 150 kcal

Carbohydrates: 12 grams

Protein: 10 grams

Fat: 8 grams (around 60% saturated)

Calcium: 300 milligrams (30% DV)

Vitamin D: 100 IU (25% DV)

Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin): .2 milligrams (19% DV)

Vitamin B12: 0.4 micrograms (16% DV)

Potassium: 263 mg (8%)

Vitamin A: 500 IU (10% V)

Vitamin C: 3.6 milligrams (7% DV)

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Consuming fermented foods and beverages like kefir on a daily basis is an easy and delicious way to get enough whole-food probiotics for gut health – and supplement your daily intake of essential nutrients.

Kefir’s powerful strain of probiotics benefits the body by [3][4]:

  • Improving gut flora and digestion
  • Strengthening immune support
  • Strengthening bone-building
  • Reducing symptoms of IBS
  • Reducing allergy & asthma
  • Reducing inflammation
  • Reducing symptoms of lactose intolerance
  • Improving skin health
  • Helping the body reach & maintain a healthy weight
  • Helping the body’s detoxification processes

Recipe: Dairy Milk Kefir

Total Time: 3-7 days to activate new grains, then 1-2 days per batch

Prep Time: 5 minutes per batch

Makes: 4 cups of milk kefir every 24-48 hours!

Ingredients:

  • 1 packet of dehydrated milk kefir grains (or you can find fresh milk grains from friends, family or online)
  • 9 cups of pasture-raised, pasteurized whole milk (get more as needed – see below)
  • 1 glass mason jar (or similar container)
  • 1 Eco-friendly unbleached coffee filter (or cloth)
  • 1 Rubber band
  • 1 Non-metal strainer (plastic or other non-reactive material)

Instructions – How to activate kefir grains:

  1. Pour 1 cup of milk into the glass mason jar (or a similar container). Empty the entire packet of dehydrated milk kefir grains into the milk. Stir.
  2. Cover the jar with a coffee filter or cloth, and secure with a rubber band.
  3. Place the jar in a warm spot that is between 68° and 85°F for the next 8 hours.
  4. Check the milk every hour for the next 16 hours. Is the milk thickening or changing texture slightly?
    1. If yes, strain out the grains. Then place the grains and ½ cups of fresh milk in the mason jar (or similar container). Cover and culture as before.
    2. If no, leave the jar as is. If the milk does not thicken or change texture within the 16 hours, strain out the grains and place them with 1 cup of fresh milk in the mason jar (or similar container). Cover and culture as before, and repeat step 4 until the mixture in the jar does thicken or change texture.

Note:

  • Activation usually takes 3-7 days. By following the steps above, the size of your batch will increase in ½ cup increments, up to a total batch size of 9 cups. Your grains are activated!
  • At any stage of activation, if the milk smells and tastes pleasant, you can drink it or cook with it. Otherwise, remove the grains from it and discard it.

Instructions – How to make milk kefir:

  1. Strain the grains and clean the mason jar. Transfer the kefir grains to a clean glass mason jar with 4 cups of fresh milk.
  2. Cover the jar with a coffee filter or cloth, and secure with a rubber band.
  3. Place the jar in a warm spot that is between 68° and 85°F, to culture.
  4. Culture until the milk is slightly thickened and the aroma is pleasant. This generally takes 24 hours, but may take less.
  5. Immediately following step 4, separate the kefir grains from the finished kefir. Then place the kefir grains in a new batch of milk, like in step 1.
  6. Store the finished kefir in the refrigerator.

Note:

  • Choose the best milk available to you! Your milk should preferably be pasture-raised, organic, non-homogenized or local. Instead of cow’s milk, you can also use goat, buffalo or sheep’s milk. See the next recipe for coconut milk kefir.
  • Milk kefir grains are hungry-living critters! Check them often and move them to fresh milk as soon as you see a texture change, or you risk off flavors and starved grains.
  • Find the complete Q&A to making milk kefir here.

Recipe: Coconut Milk Kefir

Ingredients:

  • 2-4 tablespoons of activated milk kefir grains (see notes above)
  • 4 cups of unsweetened, full-fat coconut milk (in BPA-free cans)

Instructions:

  1. Place the milk kefir grains and the coconut milk in a glass mason jar (or similar container).
  2. Cover the jar with a coffee filter or cheesecloth and secured with a rubber band.
  3. Place the jar in a warm spot that is between 68° and 85°F. Culture for at least 12 hours, and up to 24 hours. After 12 hours, start tasting the kefir until it reaches your desired consistency and level of fermentation.
  4. Immediately following step 4, separate the kefir grains from the finished kefir. Place the kefir grains in a new batch of coconut milk, like in step 1.
  5. Store the fermented coconut milk kefir in the refrigerator until you drink it.

Notes:

  • Milk kefir grains may take a few batches to adjust to the coconut milk and may not make the desired consistency or taste until then.
  • An adjustment period isn’t uncommon whenever kefir grains are switched from one type of milk to another (cow to goat, pasteurized to raw, dairy to coconut, etc.).
  • Milk kefir grains can be cultured in coconut milk, but should be revitalized in dairy milk for 24 hours once every few batches.

How to Make: Totally Vegan Milk Kefir

This option is completely dairy-free.

Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup finished water kefir (not water kefir grains)
  • 4 cups coconut milk

Instructions:

  1. Add ¼ cup of water kefir to a clean glass mason jar with 4 cups of coconut milk.
  2. Place the jar in a warm spot that is between 68° and 85°F. Culture for at least 12 hours, and up to 24 hours. After 12 hours, start tasting the kefir until it reaches your desired consistency and level of fermentation.
  3. Immediately following step 4, separate the water kefir grains from the finished kefir. Place the kefir grains in a new batch of coconut milk, like in step 1.
  4. Store the fermented coconut milk kefir in the refrigerator until you drink it.

BE Vibrant.

[1] Kefir vs. Yogurt

http://www.kefir.net/kefir-vs-yogurt/

[2] Resident vs. Transient Strains – what’s the deal?

http://www.genuinehealth.com/resident-vs-transient-strains/#.We-u0ltSyUk

[3] 7 Kefir Benefits, Plus Nutrition Facts & How to Make

Dr. Josh Axe and Eric Zielinski – https://draxe.com/kefir-benefits/

[4] What Is Kefir and It’s 16 Health Benefits? Better Than Probiotic Yogurt!

https://www.authoritydiet.com/what-kefir-health-benefits-better-yogurt/

 

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Holisticole
Holistic Nutritionist
Nicole Eckert is a Holistic Nutritionist and the Owner + Founder of Holisticole. On her holistic living blog: holisticole.com - you can find amazing clean-eating recipes, informative blog posts and online programs.
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