Kefir

Made by fermenting milk with beneficial probiotic bacteria, kefir (keh-FEER) is often called the champagne of yogurts because of its sparkling mouth feel.

Kefir

Nutrition Notes

Kefir is a yogurt-like beverage made from milk thats been fermented with mixture of 10 to 20 different types of probiotic bacteria and yeasts. As a result, kefir is an excellent source of probiotic cultures, delivering typically three times the amount found in yogurt.

Probioitc bacteria promote a barrier against germs and viruses, keep bowel function regular, produce vitamins B6, B12 and K2, help absorb minerals and communicate with cells to keep us healthy in other ways.

Kefir also contains galacto-oligosaccharides, non-digestible carbohydrates that act as prebiotics. Once consumed, prebiotics make their way to the colon where they fule the growth of beneficial probiotic bacteria.

Kefir is also low in calories, high in protein and rich in calcium and, if fortified, vitamin D. And it's a good source of B vitamins, magnesium and potassium.

Nutrition information for 3/4 cup (175 ml) unsweetened kefir, 1% MF

Calories 75
Protein 8 g
Carbohydrate 13 g
Fat 2 g
Vitamin B12 0.5 mcg
Folate 23 mcg
Vitamin D 180 IU
Calcium 250 mg
Magnesium 21 mg
Potassium 287 mg

Varieties

Kefir can be made from a variety of liquids. Traditional kefir uses cow's, goat's or sheep's milk. Like yogurt,  kefir can be made from full fat, partly skimmed or non-fat milk.

Kefir comes in natural or added fruit flavors. Fruit flavored varieties are higher in calories and are a source of added sugars.

Buying

Kefir is readily available in grocery stores. To cut added sugars, choose plain unflavoured kefir.

"Ripe" kefir has the tangiest flavor. Look for a container that has a slight bulge in the aluminum seal. This bulge, known as the Champangsky Effect, is caused by a pocket of carbon dioxide gas that's produced when the kefir has been perfectly fermented. The gas is released when seal is broken.

Storing

Kefir should be stored in the refrigerator at 4 C. Be mindful of the "best before" date to enjoy the kefir while it's still at its best quality.

Preparing

Kefir is easy to make at home once you've obtained "starter" cultured kefir grains. (You can order starter kefir grains online.)

Simply add one teaspoon of kefir grains to one cup of milk in a clean glass jar. Cover loosely and store at room temperature, out of direct sunlight, for 24 hours. Strain out the grains (but save them for making another batch of kefir) and your kefir is ready to drink!

For thicker kefir, let the mixture ferment for up to 36 hours. Kefir grains can stored in the refrigerator and reused for several batches of fresh kefir.

Eating

Kefir is a slightly effervescent beverage that has a tart, slightly sour taste. You can drink it, pour it over cereal and granola, or blend it with fruit to make a smoothie. Kefir can be substituted for yogurt in many dishes.

Keep in mind heat kills the beneficial bacteria; avoid cooking probiotic kefir at high temperatures.

Health Ways to Enjoy

Breakfast

  • Make a probiotic-packed smoothie by blending a banana, frozen berries and one cup of plain kefir.
  • Pour plain kefir over muesli or granola instead of milk or almond milk.
  • Pour 3/4 cup of plain kefir over 1/3 cup of raw large-flake oats.  Let sit for 10 to 15 minutes.  Then, top with fresh berries, toasted unsweetened coconut and enjoy.  Add a drizzle of honey or maple syrup if you like.
  • Serve kefir "juice" with your breakfast by mixing one-half a cup of plain kefir with half a cup of pure fruit juice.
  • Use kefir instead of buttermilk in your favorite pancake or waffle recipe.

Lunch

  • Add probioitc cultures to your salad greens by tossing them with a light and refreshing kefir salad dressing.
  • Stir 1/4 cup of plain kefir into a bowl of butternut squash soup. Enjoy with a sandwich made with toasted sourdough bread made with kefir.

Dinner

  • Spoon thickened kefir on top of a baked potato insead of sour cream. Sprinkle with chives and season with freshly ground black pepper.
  • Serve thickened kefir with perogies instead of sour cream.
  • Top a savoury stew with creamy kefir. Serve with a slice of whole wheat crusty bread.
  • For a tender steak, marinate your choicest cut in one-half cup of kefir overnight. Season to taste and grill.

Snacks

  • Pour chilled kefir over sweet concord grapes. Top with toasted almonds and enjoy!
  • For malt kefir, mix one tablespoon of Ovaltine, a milk flavoring powder made from barley malt, cocoa and whey protein.
  • Drink 3/4 cup of kefir straight up with a piece of fresh fruit or a small homemade whole grain muffin.
  • Dip fresh, sliced up fruit into a sweet and tangy thickened kefir with a touch of honey stirred in.  

Desserts

  • Mix a half cup of cold, refreshing kefir with one tablespoon of maple syrup and half a shredded apple. Top with few crushed pecan nuts and enjoy this sweet and nutritious treat!
  • Blend a mango, a few strawberries and a peach together with one cup of plain kefir. Freeze in a Popsicle mold and enjoy as an alternative to frozen yogurt.

More Information

http://users.sa.chariot.net.au/~dna/kefirpage.htm

http://www.liberte.qc.ca/en/page.ch2?uid=Kefir22

Did you know?

  • Kefir can be made from soy milk, rice milk or even sugar water.
  • Longer fermentation time increases the folate content of kefir.
  • In the olden days, Russians would make kefir in skin bags that where hung near a doorway. The movement of the door would keep the kefir grains and milk will mixed.