Fermented Foods Spotlight: Feel Good With Kefir + free kefir grains

The lack of fermented foods and probiotics in the diet can be a factor in a multitude of health ailments including digestive turmoil including bloating and gas, irritable bowel syndrome, constipation, diarrhea, candida, vaginal infections, urinary tract infection, obesity and autoimmune disease.  The Standard American Diet (SAD) is very low in fermented “live” cultured foods.  Many Americans are suffering from preventable ailments and digestive upset, pain and inflammation that can all be helped by regularly eating fermented foods rich in probiotics — a good form of bacteria that has been known to aid with several health issues and provide benefits to the human body.  

dairy kefir grains

dairy kefir grains

Fermented foods include sauerkraut, Korean kimchi, yogurt, cottage cheese, whey, kefir, aged cheese, kombucha, pickled vegetables, natto, miso, tempeh, fermented yofu, and soy sauce. Fermented, “live” foods full of probiotics have been around since the beginning of humankind.  Our ancestors have traditionally reaped the benefits of fermented foods centuries upon centuries, unlike most people today whose diets lack in  good bacteria and are paying the price with poor digestive health.

kefir_jarMy client, “Tee” knows the importance of eating fermented foods and wanted to share with you this article about kefir — a fermented beverage made using milk and kefir grains.  Kefir is truly a superfood — rich in calcium and good bacteria which works to keep you regular and in tip-top digestive shape.

I personally enjoy making my own kefir using Organic Pastures Whole Raw Milk. If raw milk is not an option, use organic to avoid antibiotics, pesticides, and chemicals.  I generally enjoy kefir in my morning post-workout protein shakes — kefir is also tasty on its own — sour and tang similar to yogurt.

Take a read at Tee’s kefir article below for an educational dose of the topic including why homemade kefir is superior to store-bought.  If you are inspired to try your hand at making your own kefir, check out the attachment at the bottom of the article.  ANNNNDDDDD I have extra kefir grains to give to you free so that you can get you started (Bay Area residents only).  Just contact me if you are interested and are local.  

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Feel Good with Kefir

Kefir is pronounced Ke-Feer’, means “feel good” in Turkish. It is a complete protein and is high in minerals and vitamins, especially the B vitamins. This rings true to my experience of drinking kefir. It makes me feel great!

Kefir is a cultured-milk beverage (think buttermilk with benefits) which originated in the Caucasus Mountains of Central Asia. The tribal folks of this region consume the nutritious beverage in large quantities and are known for living long, healthy lives.

Kefir has a creamy consistency, and a sour refreshing taste, with a subtle aroma of fresh yeast. Well cultured kefir also has the slightest hint of a naturally effervescent, zesty tang.

Homemade kefir contains up to 35 strains of good bacteria and yeast (as opposed to yogurt, which contains just a handful). Bottled kefir purchased at the store may contain up to 10 strains, but often includes unwanted additives such as sugar. Kefir, therefore, is best when it’s homemade.

Traditional, authentic kefir is prepared by culturing fresh milk with Kefir grains. Kefir grains are not cereal grains.  They are called grains because of their granular structure and appearance. Kefir grains are the natural-starter for a batch of kefir, just as yogurt starts fresh yogurt or sourdough starter is used to mix fresh sourdough.

kefir grainsA kefir grain is a mixture of protein, amino acids, fats and soluble-polysaccharides (complex carbohydrates). Kefiran, the viscous substance that encases the “grain” is a unique polysaccharide with many health-promoting virtues of its own.

Traditional kefir is easily prepared at home. Fresh, non-pasteurized or pasteurized full-cream, full fat, low fat or non-fat milk is put in a clean glass container with the addition of a smaller portion of kefir grains. The contents are left at room temperature for about 24 hours. The resulting cultured-milk is strained in order to separate the kefir grains from the liquid kefir. The grains are added to fresh milk to repeat the process for the next batch. This procedure can be performed on an indefinite basis. Live kefir grains last forever unlike the powdered kefir starter that can be purchased on-line or at health food stores and fails after several batches. If you tire of making kefir, the grains can be stored for months in the refrigerator in a container with fresh milk.

Kefir can be consumed fresh, refrigerated for later use, or further fermented at room temperature over a period of days. The fermenting process is helpful for individuals who want to reduce lactose in their kefir. Ripening also improves overall flavor, thickens the kefir and produces a zestier tangy beverage. I love it best when it’s cold and has been in the refrigerator for several days.  An added benefit to making kefir is the production of whey, a highly nutritious, protein-rich, muscle building food that has many uses.

Kefir grains increase in overall volume, numbers, and weight as the grains consume fresh milk. In order to prevent overcrowding of kefir grains and to maintain a good grain-to-milk ratio you need to remove a portion of kefir grains from the batch periodically. The extra grains are a welcome gift to family members, or friends who want to make their own delicious and nutritious kefir. 

Attachment:  How to make kefir (pdf)

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Interested in making your own kefir?  Contact me to receive free kefir grains  (Due to the potential issues that may occur with mailing kefir grains, I am only able to extend this offer to local Bay Area residents.)  

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Avocado Apple Yogurt with Cinnamon and Walnuts [Dairy-Free]

Like a fruit basket full of lemons, avocados have become a staple food in my kitchen.  They taste so good and are so versatile — you can add them to smoothies, top soups, salads, sandwiches and burgers, mash into guacamole and pair with carrots and celery, eat as a quick snack with lemon juice and olive oil or make into a delectable  tangy yogurt.

If avocados are not yet part of your regular diet, then you are missing out.  Full of heart healthy monounsaturated fats, avocados can be your best friend in your fat loss mission — especially melting the stubborn flab around the waist.  Avocados fight inflammation and can improve the body’s absorption of fat-soluble nutrients such as vitamin A – vital for respiratory, vision, and digestive health.  As mentioned in this earlier post, avocados are wonderful for beautiful skin.

“In this single delectable fruit are combined the protein of meat, the fat of butter, the vitamins and minerals of green vegetables, the flavor of nuts, a six course dinner.”

This Avocado Apple Yogurt offers a rich, tangy and semi-sweet flavor.  The texture is smooth and creamy.  One spoonful will sketch a smile onto your face.  Top with cinnamon and walnuts for subtle sweet spice and a bit of crunch.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 medium apple
  • 1 chilled ripe avocado, skin and pit removed
  • 4 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon Bragg apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon walnuts, chopped (pecans or almonds are just as good)
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

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avocado yogurt ingredients

Instructions
1) Remove seeds from apple. Keeping skin on, chop into small pieces.

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2) Combine the grated apple, chilled avocado, vinegar, and extra virgin olive oil in a food processor and process until smooth.

Avocado Yogurt in Processor

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3) Pour the yogurt into a bowl, sprinkle the cinnamon and nuts on top and serve immediately.

Avocado apple yogurt with cinnamon and walnuts

spoon full of avocado apple yogurt

Serves 1-2. 

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