Think of kefir as a supercharged version of yogurt, offering a similar flavor and uses, but significantly enhanced with an increased variety and quantity of gut-friendly probiotics. These “friendly” bacteria can help with everything from enhancing absorption of nutrients from the food you eat and easing digestive problems to bolstering the immune system. These good bacteria help fight and crowd out the bad bacteria potentially present in the gut. Here are four more fantastic health benefits kefir has to offer.
Uses for Kefir
Aside from being a stand-alone beverage, kefir can also be added to various types of recipes such as smoothies and breakfast bowls. Try it as a substitute for cream in chilled soups, blend kefir with fruit as a snack, or make ice pops. Remember high heat can destroy probiotics, so always aim to use kefir in uncooked contexts.
For those who are avoiding dairy, fear not: non-dairy varieties, like this coconut cashew kefir, is available.
What To Do With Kefir Grains
As people make kefir, they make large amounts of kefir grains. These can be split so that you can get some from a friend or give some to a friend If you are using kefir grains that are in clumps, strain them out and put into milk to renew for a few days or into the next batch.
Make Your Own
Superior to commercial kefir, homemade kefir is easy and fun to make using a starter culture, such as this one.
You can use cow, goat, coconut, yak, or other types of milk. Dairy products can be pasteurized, raw, skim, 2%, or whole milk. For someone who is extremely sensitive, you can even make kefir from water. Use one quart of water, ⅓ cup of organic brown sugar, and 1 tsp of molasses along with ¼ cup of kefir grains.
Coconut Cashew Kefir
I N G R E D I E N T S
1 Tbsp kefir grains
1 can coconut milk
½ cup cashews
2 cups water
1 Tbsp maple syrup
Pinch of salt
D I R E C T I O N S
Put the cashews, water, salt, and maple syrup in a blender and blend until the cashews are completely demolished. Add coconut milk and blend. Pour liquid into a one-quart glass jar. Add the kefir grains. Let sit 12 to 24 hours until it sours. Eat immediately or put into your refrigerator for up to one week.
Kelly Harrington, MS, RDN
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist for Healthy Goods
Recipe by Liz Lipski, PhD, CCN, CNS, LDN; The Institute for Functional Medicine