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Boost Your Healthy Gut Bacteria With This Kefir Blueberry Citrus Smoothie

01/14/2016 03:05 EST | Updated 01/14/2017 05:12 EST

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Smoothies are one of the easiest and fastest ways to get a bunch of healthy foods into a portable and delicious meal or snack. Smoothies are also great place to sneak things in that you may not eat on their own. To create a nutritionally balanced smoothie, use fresh or frozen fruit, dark leafy greens (kale and spinach work great!), seeds such as hemp, chia or flax, a protein source like greek yogurt or skim milk powder, and stick to milk or ice as your liquid, instead of juice (too much sugar!!).

This particular smoothie has a very special ingredient -- kefir (pronounced kee-fir). Kefir has been around for ages, but has only really gained popularity in the grocery stores in the past year or so. Kefir is a thick drink made by fermenting milk with kefir grains composed of lactic acid bacteria, yeast and polysaccharides. The grains culture the milk, infusing it with healthy organisms.

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Health Benefits of Kefir:

Like yogurt, kefir contains probiotics -- beneficial microorganisms that may help support digestive health and prevent the growth of harmful bacteria in the intestines. But kefir contains even more probiotics than yogurt, about three times as much, we think. This is because kefir is made by fermenting milk with 10 to 20 different types of bacteria and yeasts, where yogurt is usually just fermented with a handful of types.

Just like milk, one cup of kefir is a source of protein (~8 g), and provides roughly 30 per cent of our daily needs for calcium and vitamin D, which is important for healthy bones and teeth. Kefir is also a source of several B vitamins, which are essential for good health and functioning.

Although kefir is made from milk, the fermenting process (lactic acid bacteria pre-digest the lactose) makes it nearly lactose-free. People with lactose intolerance can often eat kefir without any symptoms.

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Kefir Blueberry Citrus Smoothie

Ingredients:

1 cup plain kefir (0 or 2% M.F.)

1/2 cup frozen blueberries

1 small navel orange, peeled and cut into chunks

2 tbsp skim milk powder (optional)

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp ground flaxseeds

1 tsp honey, or to taste

Instructions:

Place all ingredients into a blender or use an immersion blender, and blend until smooth.

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