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Crazy About Kefir


By +Carolyn Richardson on Mar 25, 2011 10:00 AM in Recipes

By Carolyn Richardson

You were looking for the fat-free milk, but something else caught your eye.  Kefir, a sweet and sour beverage found in your grocer's dairy case, may be your next purchase.  Kefir is fermented milk, with the consistency of a drinkable yogurt that is formed by live bacteria acting on yeast and milk or a non-dairy liquid. The live cultures have ‘probiotic’ activity, which when eaten in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit.

Kefir Nutrition

Kefir can be made from a variety of milks, including cow, goat or sheep milk, as well as from rice, soy, almond, or coconut milk.  A particular kefir’s nutritional qualities will depend upon the milk base.  In US grocery stores, most of the kefir is made with cow’s milk.  If it is labeled as “organic”, then it will be free of hormones, antibiotics and pesticide residues. 

Animal milk kefir is rich in protein, calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, B-vitamins, and vitamin K.  Unless a source of sugar or fruit is added, its carbohydrates are entirely from the milk.  When kefir is made with milk that contains fat, it is a good source of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), a fatty acid found in meat and milk that  may improve the body’s lean muscle mass to fat ratio.

Kefir for Your Health

Because kefir contains lots of live microorganisms that help to digest the lactose in milk, kefir is usually well tolerated by people with lactose intolerance.   Kefir’s other health properties arise from its probiotic actions that are specific to the bacterial strain. Certain strains excel in supporting a healthy immune system while others are best for gastrointestinal complaints.  While all kefirs sweeten the system, manufacturers should not make specific health claims unless they can provide citations to published references that support claims for the particular strain used.

Kefir in Your Kitchen

You can drink kefir or use it to make a nutritious smoothie.  (See this recipe for a Blueberry and Flaxseed Smoothie.)  Simply use kefir in recipes as you would yogurt or milk.  For instance, you can add your favorite fruit or to your morning cereal, or as a replacement of buttermilk in your pancake or waffle batter.  You can use kefir to make mashed potatoes, or in bread pudding or as a marinade.  Any recipe that calls for buttermilk will work with kefir.

Buy It or Grow Your Own?

The ancient shepherds of the mountainous regions of Eastern Europe made kefir by fermenting milk in leather pouches, but you can make kefir at home in 12 to 48 hours.  (48 hours will make a thicker, sour kefir, while 12 hours makes a is thinner and sweeter kefir.)  The entire process is fairly simple.  To get started, you will need to decide which variety of kefir to prepare, and purchase kefir grains, the dried combination of yeast, bacteria and milk referred to as a 'kefir culture starter'.  As kefir ferments, it gets sour and fizzy. The temperature determines how quickly the culture works.  Kefir can ferment in the fridge for up to 5 days, but at room temperature during the warm summer months, it's ready in less than 12 hours.  Every batch produces a few more kefir grains, and in time, you’ll have large batch that can be stored with some milk in a jar in the fridge.

But if you’d rather not turn your refrigerator into a lab experiment, most grocers carry kefir in a number of varieties.  To find non-dairy and organic options you may have to visit health food stores like Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s.  If price is a consideration, the starter kits can run anywhere from $11 to $40, while a quart from a grocery store costs similar to a gallon of milk, between $3 and $6 depending on the variety.


Your thoughts....

Do you drink kefir?



Comments


i LOVE kefir!  I make my own & drink it daily! MMMMMMM



Animal milk kefir is rich in unnatural hormones for humans and the protein casein which is very difficult for many to digest and believed to contribute to the accelerated growth off cancer cells in humans.

http://www.suite101.com/content/does-casein-in-dairy-product -promote-cancer-a331757

http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/what-should-you- eat/calcium-and-milk/index.html

Drinking any animal milk product is completely unnatural for humans. Especially adults. There are no other mammals on the planet that drink the milk of another species or drink milk as an adult.

Animal milks are made for the accelerated growth of the mother's baby. If you are looking for healthy sources of fats and proteins the plants on this planet can provide all we need without causing destruction to our health, the environment and cruelty to other beings.



hmm humans have been drinking milk for centuries...



Actually, a lot of lactose-intollerant people can drink kefir. It's a common thing in my country, we produce it here too. I tried it and I can drink a limited amount of it, but a lot does set my intollerancy off. It generally has a much sour taste than the other milk products and is a lot more acidic. We used to get it in the kindergarden as a snack with a piece of "kifli", which is a kids of smaller bread product. I'm not sure if there's an English word for it.



Ignorance is curable. Stupidity is not. Milk is not sourced from a torture-chamber, nor is milk environmentally hazardous. Neither NIH or the FDA have agreed with these sources. It may not be the most healthy choice for everyone, but it is certainly not causing our planetary problems. That is just dramatic. 



Interesting.  I'm not a big fan of "sour", but this may be something to try blending with chocolate protein powder. 



I need to try kefir.  We're acquiring dairy goats and this might be a great way process some of that wonderful, healthy goat milk!



i make smoothies with my kefir. i use it in my chia pudding, make bread, pancakes... in mashed cauliflower.  I make cheese out of it also... it is very versatile & extremely GOOD for you!



oh for those not fond of sour.. add a little honey or sweetener of your chose! mmmmm



Comment Removed

Hey Nina! Do you ever have anything positive to say?



Comment Removed

I have lots of positive things to say. I am very grateful that there are food options available that do not require other beings to suffer (including myself). That there are now commercial products available to satisfy the tastes of people who are seeking substitutes to animal products.

Many people might not like the points I bring up. I don't speak out to piss people off. I speak out to have a voice for those who have no voice. I speak out to inform those who wish to investigate that we have been programmed to believe we can not survive without animal products and that our health is pinned to them. This is absolutely not true as far as I can see.

And the comment about people drinking and consuming dairy products for years... well maybe for about 10,000 but humans have been around for hundreds of thousands of years and did not consume dairy at all.

http://www.onegreenplanet.org/lifestyle/building-strong-bone s-the-vegan-way/

Environmentally dairy is devestating to the environment. All those cows consume alot of feed and water, and produce a lot of poop. Plus the degradation to the land, air and water.

http://www.veganoutreach.org/whyvegan/environment.html

Lastly. Tell me what is the kindness way to take a baby away from a lactating mother?  We enslave and keep animals pregnant - we steal their babies and then steal their milk. And then we kill them when they are no longer useful.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zvkJQNzVEiQ

I live on a road where "local" cows are kept for the consumption of their meat and milk. I drive past it every day and there is nothing kind, or clean, or pleasant about it. 

The only reason why we consume these products is because we were never given a choice.  As an adult we now have a choice to look at the reality of what we do and make responsible decisions that are in line with our ethical beliefs. Not in line with what some industry wants to make us believe. I only ask people to consider the big picture.



I drink plain Kefir every morning in a fruit smoothie. Love it and my smoothie has about 150-200 cal depending on what fruit I put in it that day. Keeps me full all morning!



THANK YOU meowfish!Laughing



What about the fact that most vegans I know look grey. I think I heard that B12  from red meat is the only kind that can be asimilated by the body.



I love my Kefir, and I get my milk from a local dairy, straight from the farm.  The animals are well kept and the farmer grows all the food they eat.  I make my own Kefir.

Kefir is great for you and actually if you read up on it, people who drink Kefir have longer healthier lives because they have a constant source of probotics balancing their gut flora.

Have a blessed day!



I was interested in Kefir, but am not fond of sour-tasting dairy products. I've only recently (past few years) started to eat yogurt for its calcium benefits since I always seem to be low in that area. Kefir has intrigued me though...perhaps I'll try it with some honey one day!

And, I agree with nina and meowfish. I am not vegan, but vegetarian. I do not consider myself ignorant or stupid and am grateful to both Nina and meowfish for posting comments that are sound and informative. Thanks!



As a dairy farm wife, I forgive you for your ignorance. Our cattle are treated with the utmost respect and calves also. The poop, as you say, is recycled back to the land for crop growth -- which you are probably eating in some way!



I have a friend who has extensively studied Mongolian nomads. They make a fermented (alcoholized) milk from their mare's milk and they live a long fruitful life. Their herds are also quite healthy and left to their own devices they fare quite well.

Luckily today there are whole legions of responsible farmers who allow you to visit (and especially love you if you are willing to work).  These farmers are trying to stand firm against inhumane practices.

So there are a lot of responsible choices out there. Just my two cents.

 



B12 is a bacteria. It can be found in fermented foods naturally also and in organic soils and vegetables. Our foods are bleached, irradiated and stripped before we even see them removing many of the nutrients. We can cling to B12 as an excuse not to eat a plant strong diet but most people who eat a Standard American Diet rich in animal products are deficient in many more vitamins and nutrients and fiber.

If we only look at our personal health and don't take in to consideration where our planet is heading or what our human hearts truly feel... where will we be in the end?

It's very difficult to look beyond all the myths we have been told. All I ever ask people to do is consider the alternatives. Just experiment and try them and think about the true source of where your food comes from.

Most people do not want to view or witness another being suffer. Humans by nature are kind at heart and I have great faith that this kindness will blossom and help us regain sanity and ecological health for our planet. PEACE.



I too get raw cows milk from a responsible source.I also make my own kefir.It does have a tendancy to eat you out of house and home. I can't find anyone to share the grains so I eat them. Think og really good for you sour gummy orms!!!!!



OH and I do take a B12 supplement. There's no reason to be unhealthy or unhappy. We can have it all!



Whoops, thats think of relly good for you sour gummy worms.



caroljeanj,  I think I used your cow poop on my veggie garden just this week!  Thanks!  :)

I agree with nina and meowfish, there are great wrongs being done to animals.  We must be careful of our choices and support those that we agree with.

I'm completely against GMO's and if you haven't heard there is a protest this weekend:

http://organicconsumers.org/monsanto/index.cfm

Have a blessed and healthy day!



Original Post by: patti720

hmm humans have been drinking milk for centuries...


Agree



Also agree



Sorry, last comment wasn't meant to be posted Tongue out



I drank a kefir smoothie I found in the grocery store a couple weeks ago...it was ok...not my favorite flavor...lol... but it was ok.  :)  Tasted much like a very strong yogurt I thought.... almost buttermilky?



I love it, love it, love it! As soon as i take the first sip of it, i can feel my body calling out for more! My body knows what's good for it! It's my shopping day treat... i pick up a container of it and start drinking it as soon as i get in the car. lol



I have noticed a lot of comments by militant vegetarians and/or vegans here.  I am a vegetarian myself, however not militant. 

One of the things some vegetarians forget is that plants are also living organisms.  So when arguing about cruelty to other beings, it is inaccurate not to think plants are also other living organisms.  I do not advocate cruelty to animals and have chosen the vegetarian path for health reasons.  However, I do not support militant vegetarianism either.

I do agree with some comments made about dairy products especially dairy products in our industrialized country. 

Everyone should structure their diet according to their dietary needs, body shape, lifestyle, etc, etc.  The vegetarian lifestyle does not suit everyone. 



I wouldn't consider Kefir to be sour, but I don't make my own at home.

I purchase the "Lifeway" brand.  It's 99% lactose free.  The flavored kinds are much tastier than the plain one... and they are so delicious.

Since starting to drink Kefir, my digestion has been completely changed.  I have crohns and I'm lactose intolerant, and I have IBS.  NOT a fun combo.  Since starting to drink Kefir every day, I don't get the debilitating stomach cramps, the diahhrea, any of it.  It has regulated my digestive tract from the probiotics, and I couldn't be happier. 

This stuff is absolutely delicious.  I've turned a lot of people all over the world on to this stuff-- it's well worth the $$. 



Original Post by: bibido

I was interested in Kefir, but am not fond of sour-tasting dairy products. I've only recently (past few years) started to eat yogurt for its calcium benefits since I always seem to be low in that area. Kefir has intrigued me though...perhaps I'll try it with some honey one day!

And, I agree with nina and meowfish. I am not vegan, but vegetarian. I do not consider myself ignorant or stupid and am grateful to both Nina and meowfish for posting comments that are sound and informative. Thanks!


Just buy the flavored kind instead of the plain.  You can get strawberry, pomegranate, blueberry, raspberry, peach, etc.  It's delicious.  It's a lot like yogurt, but better.  :)



Original Post by: cfratrik

Whoops, thats think of relly good for you sour gummy worms.


As we all know we have incisor teeth. this simple fact leads me to believe that I was meant to be an omnivore. I also know that for thousands of years man has had domestic animals for both meat and dairy consumption. I also know in general cattle are well treated. As Nina said she drives by them meaning they are out grazing in an open pasture. What abuse did she happen to see that offended her and lead her to believe they were penned up as she drives by them grazing in open pasture? I hate adamant vegans that admit to taking supplements and eating fortified foods because they know they can not get all of the nutrition they need from a vegetable only based diet. 



Original Post by: ninav

OH and I do take a B12 supplement. There's no reason to be unhealthy or unhappy. We can have it all!


This is what I meant to quote.



Read "the China Study" then talke to me about the healtfullness of milk.



Ok rather than debate milk - the article mentioned that Kefir can also be made from non-dairy sources. I've never seen it from non-dairy sources. Anyone seen it or made it this way?



Love all your comments Nina! I love how people are jumping all over your comments when you seem to be one of the only ones that actually knows what you are talking about.  I think that people find it okay to put vegetarians/vegans down because they must feel guilty for contributing to the needless suffering of animals. The fact is that humans do not need to eat or drink animal products to be healthy. Whatever excuses people come up with to make themselves feel better about their choices are just to ease their guilt. Yes dairy cows suffer. Maybe the few cows that live on small farms are treated well but most people don't get their milk from these farms. If you believe otherwise you are fools. 



Original Post by: ninav

Animal milk kefir is rich in unnatural hormones for humans and the protein casein which is very difficult for many to digest and believed to contribute to the accelerated growth off cancer cells in humans.

http://www.suite101.com/content/does-casein-in-dairy-product -promote-cancer-a331757

http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/what-should-you- eat/calcium-and-milk/index.html

Drinking any animal milk product is completely unnatural for humans. Especially adults. There are no other mammals on the planet that drink the milk of another species or drink milk as an adult.

Animal milks are made for the accelerated growth of the mother's baby. If you are looking for healthy sources of fats and proteins the plants on this planet can provide all we need without causing destruction to our health, the environment and cruelty to other beings.


Ok now lets here from some people who aren't kooks.



I don't drink milk. And not for some Vegan reason but because I don't like milk. I've tried milk substitutes, but I don't like those either. I only use milk when it is called for in a recipe, and that is not very often.

I only just started eating yogurt. Before that I only used Yogurt in smoothies, but now I eat yogurt almost every day. But I still have to add fresh fruit and crispy cereal in order to tolerate the texture of the yogurt.

I've known about Kefir for a while because my friends and some of my family members drink it, but I still haven't tried it. When I do try Kefir, it'll probably be in a smoothie. But I don't see myself going out to buy it any time soon.

I'm open to trying new things, but I don't think I'll go out of my way to buy them unless I know I like it.

And before I get jumped on for not being a Vegan, I want to say that I eat Vegetarian and Vegan meals regularly, at least twice a week. I started eating this way because it is healthier for me, and it is more environmentally friendly. But I do not think I will ever become a vegetarian and I know I'll never become a vegan.

I just wish I could be a Locavore, but in my current situation it is not possible. Hopefully when my fiance and I move out we can work on becoming locavores, but my fiance is a huge meat lover, and I prepare all the meals, so I will continue to make vegetarian, vegan, and omnivore meals.

A tip for people who do want to get people to notice vegetarianism, try not to be so 'in your face' about it. Most people will get defensive and not even hear you out, If you are more gentile about it I think more people would be willing to listen and consider it. But also know that you will not be able to change everyone's minds, and if you can just get people to eat more vegetarian meals (like once a week), it will be better for everyone and the environment. If we can reduce people's dependence on meat a little at a time it'll be better for everyone, and then once people are used to eating less meat, then you can consider helping them become vegetarian if they are interested in it.



You can also buy water kefir grains to make water kefir...good stuff!



Probiotics are good for stomach health and immune system but don't warm it up or cook with it, or it's going to loose it's beneficial effects.

That said I agree with the fact that we should support farms that don't mistreat their animals, the same thing that you guys said for cows goes for chickens. The people that have never heard these informations before should really start watching something different from main stream news cause guess what? They don't want you to know what is really going on... so... get smart people! YAY for all the friends that fight for animals rights and try to conduct a healthy life style!  



I've never seen the Kefir made with non milk products...would love if it were made with coconut milk...but I guess that comes under the heading of "make your own"



I like kefir, and where I come from the African people have been making "Amasi" which is fermented milk, for millenia. They don't drink straight milk. My guess is that lactose intolerance is the basis for this practice.

I believe we are each entitled to our opinions and likes and dislikes, there is room enough still for everyone to co-exist.

 

Peace.

Be kind.

 



Interesting.  Drinking milk is unnatural.  B12 pills are not, I guess.



@ Ninav,

 Several species have been known and used for supplying milk for other animals. Dogs have been used for many differant species of animals.  And baby elephants are usually fed a mixture of goat/sheep and or cow milk.  In the wild differant animals have been known to adopt other species upto and including feeding them. Many different species utilizes the milk of other species, not just humans



Buzz kill.



I love to try new things, and I've seen Kefir on store shelves but didn't know what it was.  I'm really glad to have read this article and also the comments.  I have learned a lot about the product.

I also agree that consumption of milk products is okay in that indigenous peoples have eaten and drank the products produced by the herds of their culture as a way of life probably since time began.  As humans, when faced with a need to survive we have found the healthy ways to do so.

My son's pediatrician made a point many years ago that most of the world does not drink milk, and he pointed out the reasons we should avoid it.  Because he really did make a good point, I researched a bit.  We choose almond milk for our cereal, but still eat ice cream and yogurt.

Perhaps finding that happy balance that is healthful in all aspects of life is a good point to remember here.  Consuming dairy and meat for three square meals a day is more of a learned behavior of our American culture.  But there is nothing wrong with making choices that include plants, animals, dairy, fruit, nuts, etc. 

I feel that whenever I go into a phase of life where I am consumed with only doing "A" or completely avoiding "B" then I am out of balance.  And perhaps this is something that can be translated into our thought processes of entitlement that has created the financial crises, obesity, prevalence of addictions, in today's society.

How about, instead of trying to change minds, we work on changing hearts and learning to balance.

Today I had cereal with almond milk for breakfast.  For lunch I'll probably have a burrito.  Who knows what's for dinner, Chinese food?  Maybe Kefir as a snack?  Frankly, I'm really grateful to live in a time where we have so many options and so many knowledgeable people from whom to glean bits and pieces of information.

Thank you all for contributing to this forum.  I am blessed.



The factory farming problem is very real, but totally avoidable with a little research (that I did for you guys, lucky you!)

If you just can't kick the dairy habit (I am guilty of this with yogurt, kefir, and half-n-half in coffee), but worry about the factory farm industry and want to be sure you are going with a company that treats their animals well and uses natural farming practices, this is a great site: 

http://www.cornucopia.org/dairysurvey/index.html

They have a very rigorous rating systems for dairy farms. I try to stick to the brands that get at least 4 "cows".  The 5 "cow" brands are amazing, with organic farming practices (no hormones or pesticides) and with their cows on pasture day and night, 100% of the time. 

These dairy products can be a bit pricier, but if you aren't consuming a ton I have found it does not impact my food budget that much.  Especially if you save money by cutting out processed junk and shopping local produce sales.

So whether or not consuming dairy products is "natural" (I believe it isn't really, but I do it anyway because that's just the way I roll.)  if you go with the highly rated companies and avoid the bad ones, you at least know you are supporting happy, healthy cows and small community/family farmers. :)



Original Post by: tracyservello

Ignorance is curable. Stupidity is not. Milk is not sourced from a torture-chamber, nor is milk environmentally hazardous. Neither NIH or the FDA have agreed with these sources. It may not be the most healthy choice for everyone, but it is certainly not causing our planetary problems. That is just dramatic. 


For sure milking is far from cruelty - it's enjoyable  for both the milker and milkee.  My lovely Swiss cows enjoyed being milked by hand, and having their backs and heads rubbed.  They would come up to the barn door when it was time.  When I worked in commercial dairies the cows would queue at the door and push their way to the front of the line. calling us to come let them in.

 

 

 

 



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