Kefir: Not Your Average Superfood

Spinach, blueberries, acai, kale… it is probable that when these specific fruits and vegetables are acknowledged, we unconsciously identify them as Superfoods. A Superfood, in basic terms, is a food that contains numerous nutrients and vitamins that are positive contributors to a persons overall health. All Superfoods deserve ample recognition for the powerful benefits they offer to the human body, but there are some that fail to receive as much recognition as others.

Consider Kefir, for example. According to Joe Leech in his article “What is Kefir and Why Is It So Good for you?” on ecowatch.com, Kefir is a fermented milk beverage, typically made from either cow or goat milk. As for how it is made, Leech explains that Kefir grains, which are essentially cultures of yeast and lactic acid bacteria, are added to a milk base. After a 24 hour period, the solution transforms into Kefir due to the multiplication of microorganisms in the grains and a fermentation of the sugar in the milk, and once the Kefir grains are removed from the mixture, it is ready to drink.

The term Kefir is derived from the Turkish word Keyif which translates as ‘feeling good after eating’, and the product itself comes from parts of Eastern Europe and Southwest Asia.

Its taste is similar to yogurt, though Kefir is runnier in its consistency, and it has a slightly sour taste. It also has far more probiotics than yogurt as a result of its many microorganisms, and a 6 oz. serving contains 6 grams of protein, calcium, phosphorus, Vitamin B12, magnesium, as well as a healthy dose of Vitamin D.

Kefir furthermore makes a great alternative to yogurt in terms of its probiotic benefits because of its ability to be tolerated by people who are unable to consume lactose. Lactose is a sugar commonly found in dairy-based foods such as yogurt, cow’s milk and goat’s milk. Despite Kefir’s base being composed of animal milk, it is significantly lower in lactose levels than traditional milk because of its containment of lactic acid bacteria. During its fermentation process, Kefir turns natural lactose sugar into lactic acid, meaning Kefir is much lower in its lactose levels than regular cow or goat milk.

Better yet, Kefir can be made with coconut water, or even fruit juice, meaning it is possible to develop a version of this Superfood that is 100% dairy free.

Kefir and Kefir grains are available in many grocers and health food stores, but it is simple to make at home as well. To make your own Kefir at home, simply add 1-2 tablespoons of Kefir grains to a small jar. Keep in mind that the higher amount of grains you use, the quicker the Kefir will culture. Next, add 2 cups of milk, either goat or cow, or if you are making a dairy-free version, 2 cups of either coconut water of fruit juice to the jar containing the Kefir grains. You want to avoid filling the jar right to the brim, so leave approximately 1 inch of room at the top of the jar. Put the lid on the jar, ensuring it is tight so the fermentation process occurs properly, and allow the solution to sit for a minimum of 12 hours at room temperature. Once the mixture begins to look clumpy, it is ready to drink. Simply strain the liquid from the jar and move it to another container or jar, keeping such liquid refrigerated when not being consumed. As for the
Kefir grains you strained? Use them in your next batch of Kefir, and just repeat the process all over again.

That’s it! An incredibly simple, incredibly nutritious probiotic you can make in the comfort of your home. What more could you ask for?

 

 

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