Kefir // 3 Ways to Use it!
When I was visiting my cousin’s farm in New York I started reading a book on his shelf called, “The Art of Fermentation” by Sandor Ellix Katz. The introduction alone was a gripping read and I will definitely be buying this book, once I’m in one place for longer!
It talked not only about how to ferment, but why to eat fermented foods. The benefits go far beyond a better feeling gut (although that is reason enough). The gut is often called our second brain and it can determine a lot about how we feel, both physically and psychologically. The probiotics, which are good bacteria, found naturally in fermented foods offer a plethora of benefits like helping digestion and keeping your immune system strong. There are brain and mood benefits too! Here are a few articles in addition to the book: bbcgoodfood & harvard health.
Since reading the book, I’m focused on getting more fermented foods into my life. For me this has meant kimchi, yogurt, miso, kombucha and kefir!
What is Kefir?
According to bbc goodfood, “Kefir is a cultured, fermented milk drink, originally from the mountainous region that divides Asia and Europe.” It is similar to yogurt – but thinner in consistency, making it more of a drink.” It’s made by taking kefir grains, which are actually gelatinous beads of bacteria and yeast, and combining them with milk. The bacteria break down the lactose in the milk and… science, fermentation, science… you have kefir!
Can you make kefir at home?
Yeah! And supposedly it’s really easy. I did try it and ended up having gross warm milk to throw away, but I think that one’s on me. What happened is this: I didn’t do my research and saw a kefir packet at a bio store and bought it. I put it in some milk and hoped for the best, based on the packet’s instructions. Who knows what I actually bought, but it definitely wasn’t kefir grains. If you want to make it at home, do a little research and make sure you are buying actual kefir grains!
Making things is rewarding and awesome, however, sometimes we love supporting people who are total experts at the things we are not. Buying kefir, for me right now, is like that. I recommend sticking with plain kefir. If you are used to flavored yogurts this will be a change, but I promise your tastes will adjust! Plus, I mostly use kefir in savory things, in which case, a raspberry kefir just won’t do.
Kefir: 3 ways to use it
1: Classic yogurt and granola
Yes, I meant to say yogurt! Not only can kefir get tannngy and fizzy, but it’s also very liquidy, so I prefer thickening it up when eating it with granola.
The unofficial recipe: Scoop a little yogurt into the bowl, pour some kefir on top and stir it with a spoon. Add the desired amount of granola. Enjoy!
2: The easiest sauce or dressing
I can’t even remember when I invented this sauce, but we use it so much it’s just called the kefir sauce. This sauce is awesome on quinoa bowls, but I’ve also used it on fish tacos (use lime instead of lemon), and taco salad (throw in some cilantro). I’ll workshop the name and make an official recipe, but until then use this!
The unofficial recipe: Mix kefir, lemon juice, garlic powder, salt and pepper all to taste.
2.5: Wait this might be even easier!
The unofficial recipe: Kefir and pesto. Mix.
Again, I’ll work on a real recipe, but this is really what I do. It’s SO GOOD. This is a creation I happily discovered when I realized I needed a quick sauce for a protein bowl. I’ve since used it to top oven baked veggies like carrots and to dress salads. It gives a dish that amazing pesto flavor while extending the life of my pesto. Maybe you don’t hoard pesto like I do, but making it homemade gives me an appreciation for its gold-like value. Adding the kefir makes it creamy, zippy and probiotic-y.
Yes! I put kefir in guacamole. Again, part probiotics part resourcefulness here because good avocados are precious. If it’s just two people, I make a mean “one avocado guac”. I stretch the single avocado with kefir, yogurt and chopped tomatoes. Don’t add too much kefir to this one or you’ll end up with another sauce like the two above…which actually sounds like a great idea at some point! No unofficial recipe here since a lot of it boils down to the size and firmness of the avocado, plus personal preference!
Dairy Free? There are some dairy free kefir alternatives! It looks like almond and coconut milk are the two most common. I have never seen them in the grocery, but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist. Let me know if you find any.
Keep those guts healthy and eat fermented foods! ??