You've probably heard of kefir by now, it has deservedly gained a pretty solid reputation as a staple in a health-promoting diet.
Like yogurt, kefir is a cultured dairy product. While both yogurt and kefir provide probiotics -- the good bacteria that keep our digestive tract happy and healthy -- kefir boasts an even more potent dose. On top of its digestion-friendly benefits, it's also a great source of calcium, protein, potassium and B vitamins.
If you're feeling adventurous you can even make your own kefir at home using kefir grains or starter powder and allow it to culture in milk. It has a slightly tart taste, similar to buttermilk so downing a glass isn't for everyone. These kefir lime smoothie pops are a great introduction if you're new to the kefir scene. Pop them in the freezer for a perfect summer snack or enjoy the mixture as a delicious smoothie to start your day.
I also added a layer of my health nut coconut almond granola... cause what's a "pie" without a little crust? You could also take them out of the freezer a few minutes before serving to soften up, and dip them in some graham cracker crumbs for a nice finishing touch.
So, no more excuses! Get on the kefir train and let me know what you think of it! Show me your photos on Instagram and tag @lindsayjangrd with #inthekitchenwLJ to show off your kitchen skills!
Key Lime Kefir Smoothie Pops
Makes 6-8 pops (depending on size of popsicle moulds)- great for a snack
Serves 2 if drinking as a smoothie
- 1/2 cup zero per cent key lime Greek yogurt
- 1/2 cup zero per cent plain Greek yogurt
- 1/2 cup one to two per cent plain kefir
- Juice and zest of two key limes (if you can't find these use half of a regular lime.Taste will be slightly different but still delicious!)
- 1/2 avocado
- 1 banana
- 1 cup spinach, packed
- 1/4 cup granola or graham crumbs ( I used my health nut toasted coconut almond granola)
1. Place all ingredients in a high speed blender. Blend until all ingredient are combined well and you have a smooth smoothie texture.
2. Divide mixture evenly into popsicle moulds, leaving about half an inch to an inch at the top for the granola, depending on how much crunch you want in there.
3. Divide the granola between the popsicles, place the popsicle holders on top and put in the freezer. Freeze four to five hours or overnight until firm.
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Yogurt is a source of probiotics, the live organisms (including healthy bacteria's) that are naturally found in our digestive tracts. These organisms help stem the growth of harmful bacteria and boost our immune systems. But kefir is an even better source of these helpful little guys — three times the source of yogurt, it's thought. 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; this leads to a higher probiotic count in the final product.
Each 175 gram serving of kefir provides about 20 per cent of the daily RDA for calcium, which is important for the health of your bones and teeth. You can replace a regular dairy serving with kefir to get the calcium you need along with the drink's probiotic benefits.
If you aren't sure how to get kefir in your diet — or have to get accustomed to the taste — smoothies are a great way to incorporate this healthy drink into your day. Just use kefir the same way you would milk, soy milk, or other liquids in your favourite smoothie recipe.
If you can't find kefir where you are, or if you're in the mood for a DIY, you can make your own at home. The process is fairly simple: get kefir grains or starter powder, and allow it to culture in milk. The process takes 12 to 48 hours. DIY kefir can then be flavoured, such as with blended fruit or vanilla extract. The book True Brews has recipes for making your own kefir, as well as other fermented drinks.
Know that sleepy, relaxed feeling you get after a big turkey dinner? That's thanks to tryptophan, an amino acid. The same amino acid is found in kefir, which means it actually can have a relaxing effect. Maybe that's where that "good feeling" name originated?
The research on kefir is still limited, but a study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association in 2003 found that kefir improve lactose digestion over milk, with reduced or no symptoms of lactose intolerance. There is some more general research on probiotics showing that they can prevent or treat some digestive problems.
Kefir is a great way to get extra protein in your diet without extra calories. A single serving of plain, non-fat kefir has less than 100 calories, but provides 10.5 grams of protein, which can help you feel fuller without extra fat. Just watch that you're not buying kefir with added sugars, which will up the calorie content.
Kefir is a source of several B vitamins, which are essential for our good health and functioning. It has B12, which is important for your blood and nervous system, and B1, (otherwise is known as thiamine) which is important for helping you withstand stress. Kefir also contains biotin, which is a B vitamin that helps your body use other B vitamins.
Kefiran is a polysaccharide produced by kefir grains, and it might have helpful health benefits. Some research has connected kefiran to reduced cholesterol and blood pressure in lab rats.
Many kefir drinks have added flavours like vanilla or fruit, but watch out for added sugars that add unnecessary calories. If you want to add some flavour to your kefir, to make it more palatable or just because you enjoy it, either look for store brands without added sugars or artificial flavourings or buy plain kefir and add your own flavourings at home.
There are actually two types of kefir: milk kefir and water kefir. Milk kefir is made from dairy (or non-dairy milks like coconut milk) and water kefir is made from, as the name implies, water. Water kefir is a great alternative for people with dairy sensitivities, and its lighter formula can be used for different recipes: for example, the Ontario company Kind Organics makes a mojito-flavoured water kefir that tastes just like a virgin version of the drink.
Phosphorus is the second most abundant mineral is our bodies, and it's also found in kefir in significant quantities. This is good news because phosphorus is needed to help our bodies use carbohydrates and proteins for cell growth and energy. Drink up!
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