KEFIR: Eat More Bugs!

Fair warning! I want you to eat more bugs to get healthy.  

Kefir making is my latest wellness habit.  My inspiration came from a friend who shared some of her ancient kefir grains with me, encouraging me to give it a try. However until I did the research for the article, I had no idea of the many ways this fermented food can impact your health.  

A lot of it has to do with bugs.

One big reason making kefir part of your nutrition today, is that we need more bugs in us, not less. And kefir has a lot of bugs, much more than any other cultured dairy based food.   Surprised?  I thought you might be, but the fact is, our ancestors ate a wide variety of various organisms in their diet, as many as a few thousand.  Today we’re doing well if we eat one hundred of these health promoting living organisms.  

Result? We aren’t so healthy.  More than two thirds of us are constipated, overweight and ill.  

Here comes the solution … 

Consuming kefir increases the variety of healthy bugs in our digestive tract.  Kefir is a living culture containing more than 30 microflora (bugs) including Lactococcus lactis subsp. lactis, Streptococcus thermophilus, Lb delbrueckii subsp. bulgaricus, Lb helveticus, Lb casei subsp. pseudoplantarum and Lb brevis, a variety of yeasts, such as Kluyveromyces, Torulopsis, and Saccharomyces, yeast, and acetic acid bacteria among others.  

What I am saying, with all that language is, kefir rocks in the bug-containing world.  It’s exploding with healthy, delicious tasting bugs.  Trust me!

We are lucky to have access to kefir.  It came about by accident.  Kefir making began with the shepherds in the Caucasus Mountains, when the milk they carried with them, in leather pouches hanging off the sides of their horses, would occasionally ferment.  This was a surprising outcome, since the men thought they were carrying milk around with them for their daily meals but what they were drinking was something else entirely.  

Tangy and slightly effervescent, they found it made them feel so good when they drank it, they kept doing it.  Kefir comes from the Turkish word keyif, which means …  "feeling good after eating.”*

Traditional food preparation techniques, particularly fermentation, helped our ancestors get plenty of healthy bacteria in their diet because they understood the value of fermenting foods for preservation.  Remember, there were no refrigerators until as recently as 1911, when General Electric introduced the first version, invented by a French Monk.  Fermentation was both a way of preserving foodstuffs for the coming months and extracting more nutrition from food, in a natural way.  Those shepherds were onto something!

The hard working organisms in kefir cause the milk from either cow, sheep, goat, soy, coconut or plant, to undergo some cool changes.  Kefir grains, essentially a SCOBY (Symbiotic Community of Organisms, Bacteria and Yeast), ferment the milk, making it easier to digest while improving the nutritional profile.  

I’ve been making kefir at home for over 3 years.  I have a good relationship with my grains - that is what the culture is called - because they grow nicely, multiply, and go dormant when I travel.  They ask nothing of me.  I feed them, put them in the cupboard to ferment and take them out when I need them.  Each day I open up my jar of cauliflower-like grains, and am rewarded with a delicious, slightly tangy kefir that I can add to my Eat Clean® recipes.  I load my Membership Program with these recipes - try them out.

Kefir can also assist with weight management, digestion and mental health.  Loaded with easily digestible proteins, vitamins and minerals, kefir is an ideal Eat Clean® food.  It can help move lazy bowels, something I can attest to, because kefir has mild laxative properties.  It can also help to restore gut flora after antibiotic treatment, radiation, chemotherapy and other illnesses.  

The many strains of “bugs” present in kefir help to predigest the abundance of complete proteins in this superfood, making it easier for the body to absorb them.  The amino acid Tryptophan particulalry, is present in high concentrations. It is one of the essential amino acids known for promoting a relaxing effect on the nervous system.  Kefir is a powerful anti-anxiety food, perfect for those among you who feel stressed and anxious - which seems to be just about everybody these days.

Kefir is also high in minerals - calcium, magnesium and phosphorus, necessary to keep your nerves healthy.  We must pay attention to phosphorus because it isa mineral necessary to help us digest and process carbohydrates, fats and proteins.  That is where the weight management effect of kefir comes into play. That and the fact that it curbs cravings!  Eating this food can hep us manage weight more effectively while providing a heavy dose of nutrients and cleaning us out.   

So you see, kefir can deliver loads of good-for-you bugs and nutrients.  Together these amplify your sparkle and shine factor, cleaning and polishing you from the inside out!

I’d love to hear how you make your own kefir?  Share a pic or a recipe.  Comment in the COMMENTS section below.

Find loads of kefir based recipes in my Membership program.

I turn down the volume on diet confusion and dial you in to optimal wellness, your birthright.  Sign up for more Eat Clean® love from me today.  You won’t want to miss out.

Eat Clean® for health and for life!

Tosca Reno

PS.*  Very cool fact … The story of kefir is littered with distinction: a 2,000 year history, a mention by Marco Polo, and, in the 1980s, a symbolic gift exchanged between superpowers at the end of the cold war.

 

NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION:

 (6 oz) serving of milk kefir contains (23):

Protein: 6 grams.

Calcium: 20% of the RDA.

Phosphorus: 20% of the RDA.

Vitamin B12: 14% of the RDA.

Riboflavin (B2): 19% of the RDA.

Magnesium: 5% of the RDA.

A decent amount of vitamin D.

INSTRUCTIONS FOR MAKING MILK KEFIR

1. Transfer the active kefir grains into a large glass jar with up to 4 cups of fresh milk of your choice - soy, coconut, almond, or dairy.

2. Cover with muslin or some kind of clean dry cloth and secure with a rubber band or jar ring.

3. Place in a warm spot, 68°-85°F, to culture overnight.

4. Culture until milk is slightly thickened and aroma is pleasant. This generally takes 24 hours, but can take less time in warmer temperatures, so keep an eye on your grains.

5. After the milk changes texture and culturing is complete, separate the kefir grains from the finished kefir.

6. Place the kefir grains in a new batch of milk.

7. Store the finished kefir in the refrigerator.

OPTIONS FOR REMOVING GRAINS FROM FINISHED MILK KEFIR

Use Your (Clean!) Fingers

As your milk kefir grains grow in size, you may choose to remove the kefir grains by hand. Make sure your hands are very clean and well rinsed, but do not use anti-bacterial soap to avoid contaminating the culture.

Use a Plastic Mesh Strainer

Sometimes milk kefir can be a bit thick. If necessary, you can use a silicone spatula or plastic spoon (in a swirling motion) to help work the kefir through the strainer. Stainless steel can be used if necessary; just be sure it's stainless steel and not a reactive metal.

Resting Your Milk Kefir Grains

If you ever reach a point where you need to take a break from making milk kefir, or you have to go on vacation yourself, there are a few ways you can help your kefir grains go dormant . This includes refrigerating them for shorter breaks or drying them for longer breaks.

In either case, it's important that your grains have been activated and culturing kefir regularly for 3 to 4 weeks before you attempt either of these resting methods.

 

PEANUT BUTTER KEFIR PANCAKES

INGREDIENTS:

• 1/2 cup coconut flour

• 1/4 tsp unrefined salt

• 3/4 tsp aluminum free baking soda

• 4 whole eggs, room temperature

• 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

• 1/3 cup plant based milk of choice, room temperature

• 1/3 cup kefir, room temperature

• 1/3 cup natural peanut butter, stirred well

• Coconut oil for frying

INSTRUCTIONS:

1. In a small bowl, combine dry ingredients. Set aside.

2. In a medium-size bowl, beat eggs until light and frothy. Add remaining wet ingredients and peanut butter; mix with a whisk until completely combined.

3. Add dry ingredients to wet and fold together until just combined. Let batter sit for several minutes while heating a skillet over medium-low heat.

4. Add 2-3 tablespoons of batter to hot pan to make 2- to 3-inch pancakes. Cook pancakes for 3-5 minutes on the first side, or until the batter looks set around the edges.

5. Flip when the cakes appear ready and cook for several more minutes. Repeat with remaining batter.