Tuesday, December 6, 2011

the post where you might decide I'm weird....

.....you know, because I'm growing bacteria in my closet. 

I have to laugh at myself, because BOY does this blog have major ADD. 

A post with ice cream yesterday (cream! sugar! egg yolks!), and a post on kefir (probably one of the most beneficial things you could put into your body) today.

So I'm a little all over the place......oh well.

What is kefir anyway? 
Well it's fermented milk.....and simply put, it's like yogurt on steroids. 
As you probably know, yogurt contains millions of tiny little probiotics--bacteria that is GOOD for you, and that your body needs to live in peace and harmony. 

Take it from someone who knows the benefits of probiotics- I have been on ANTIbiotics on and off for the last 3 years (and we are talking some super human doses of antibiotics), and let me tell you--that stuff messes you up. 
So I have always taken large amounts of probiotics in the pill form, we are yogurt lovers around here (sometimes I even make my own), but it was just these last few months that I've discovered the endless list of benefits that kefir provides. 

Kefir contains different strains of bacteria than yogurt does--and much more of it. 
It also contains yeast cultures, which your body also needs to thrive. 

Just a few of the many benefits:
-it provides healthy bacteria and yeast, vitamins, minerals, essential amino acids, and complete proteins that your body just loves.
-it helps build up your immune system (super important for me since I've been dealing with Lyme!), but this can benefit everyone!
And I found THIS amazing list of benefits (so I think it basically helps with just about everything. I wonder if it can fix the hole in the o-zone?)

Making it is very (very!) simple. 
The frist thing you have to do it find your kefir grains.
It's easiest if you can find someone who is making their kefir(this is what I did)--the grains grow with each batch (are you totally weirded out yet?) so if you're making it you will always have grains to spare. 
If not, I know there are places online that you can order them from....just let google be your guide.

This is what the grains look like:
weird, right? 
All you do is simply add your grains (a few TBS) to a clean jar and fill it with milk (see below).
Cover with a paper towel so it can "breathe" (still weird) and secure with a rubber band.
kefir3 copy
Find a room temperature place where it can sit undisturbed so it can work it's bacterial magic. 
I put mine on a top shelf in the cupboard.

My first batch took about 3 days--the grains had been dormant in water (they don't do anything unless they are in milk) for a while, so it took them a bit to get going. 
My next batch took a little over 24 hours (this is the norm)
You can add a little more time if you want it a bit more sour.

So how do you know when it's done? 
It's thicker than milk, but not as thick as yogurt. 
Your grains will have grown (they'll be on top), and well, you can smell it. 
Let's not lie, it smells pretty sour.

Now you're going to pour it through a strainer (remember no metal) to catch the grains, and then pour your kefir into a pitcher and refrigerate. 
You can use your grains to start your next batch, or put them into a jar of water to keep them dormant until you need them again.

So what do you do with this stuff?
I've heard that some people drink it plain.....but I am not going to ask you to do that. 
For the last 3 months we've become smoothie addicts! 
This stuff blends perfectly in with fruit and veggies so it tastes delicious, and you get all the awesome health benefits of the kefir.
We have a smoothie for breakfast, or after school, every single day. 
Here is one of the many combinations we like:
kefirsmoothie copy
Mixed Berry and Kefir Smoothie
(amounts are estimates.....really I'm just dumping stuff in)
makes 3-4 smoothies

add to blender:
2 cups frozen mixed berries
2 bananas
1-2 cup kefir, depending on how thick you like your smoothies
2-3 mandarin oranges (or 1 orange, or o.j.)
small handful raw rolled oats
small handful almonds
small handful ground flax seed
cup of chopped spinach/kale


more on kefir 
and a good step by step photo tutorial here

I found several websites getting very technical about exact amounts of milk, temperatures, etc, but mine turned out just fine following these very basic instructions from my sis-in-law, who gave me the grains.

If this is something you are even a little bit interested--please give it a try! 
Without getting into all the gory details, let me just promise you that my tummy has never been happier after we've added this to our daily diet. 

If you are interested in kefir, but don't feel like being the weirdo who makes it in her closet, you can buy kefir in health food stores.....but that's not as fun, is it?

I dare you to try it.

ps. I'm curious to know what you put in your smoothies?!


susanne @ tall pine nest said...

I love kefir, but I don't know anyone who is currently growing/making it! I've always wanted to start. This may be the motivation I need! I eat greek yogurt everyday so I may as well do kefir!

summer said...

sheena you are awesome again!! probiotics may be my favorite word EVER. and your kefir making is making me way too excited!! yaaay bacteria!

have you ever tried kombucha? mmmmmm!

ps. if anyone is interested, there are a few (looks like trusty) sources of kefir grains on etsy that i've had my eye on for awhile!

Velvet said...

Hi! A friend of mine grows kefir, but it looked really weird to me haha. But I promise to ask her about the grains and the whole method next time I see her.

Thanks for your awesome blog sheena!

kami said...

Kefir is amazing! Unfortunately my hubby just fed our kids the grains, hehe (he poured from the wrong jar) so I am out of grains. Picking more up soon though.

You know the really cool thing about kefir vs. yogurt? The probiotics from kefir actually go in an RE-colonize the bacteria in your gut and heal the lining! Super cool. I love how therapeutic it is to the body.

You're not weird, or if you are, at least you're not the only weirdo out there (ie - me!). :)

Kasey said...

You are SO right about antibiotics MESSSING you up. Word.

I'm excited to try this. One of my friends (who I don't see very often) makes her own, so maybe I can get some grains from her.

I made a kale and spinach (+ fruit and yogurt) smoothie 3 days in a row this week, and I swear I feel healthier already!

A Beautiful Life said...

i had never heard of this, and it seems interesting to me, we're big yogurt eaters around here (and i eat greek yogurt everyday almost) so this could be interesting!
smoothie-i eat everyday as well: mixed berries/spinach/plain greek yogurt/banana, sometimes peaches or pineapple thrown in, flax seed. :)
** and a fave snack/dessert at night is plain greek yogurt, frozen blueberries, and drizzle honey...let the blueberries thaw just a bit and it's soooo delish!**

Heather said...

My mother in law is OBSESSED with Kefir. I've tried it, but it's just not my thing. I think it's wonderful though. I think I can't handle it because I was just barely pregnant when my MIL had me try it. My senses were just a tad over the edge, so ever since then I just can't. I think it's such a good thing though, wish I could bring myself to use it. Maybe I'll give it another shot.

Melissa said...

I am a huge pro-biotic fan(atic)... I've been drinking kefir off and on for a couple years now but have never made it. The concept kind of reminds me of kombucha, which I used to make, except the "grains" are called a "mother". Which, if you think kefir is "weird", try growing/ making kombucha.. Haha! Anyway, I'm assuming with kefir it's the same deal.
I'll definitely be putting kefir on my "to make" list!

Jacquelyn said...

thanks...very very informative...I'm going to try this for sure...and a smoothie is a delicious breakfast or snack between lunch and dinner...I have 25lbs of organic blueberries in my freezer waiting to be used in various ways :)

kassidi bridge said...

Can't wait to try this. We LOVE kefir! We have also been crazy smoothie addicts lately. We're obsessed with green smoothies! My kids love them! I completely pack the whole blender with spinach, kale, arugula and water and blend it down. Then add: banana, pear, apple, berry mix, flax oil, and agave. Sometimes we do two bananas or two pears. We've been digging pears lately.

kelseyadame said...

I absolutely LOVE your blog, I can't even tell you how many times I have laughed out loud from your quirky remarks and captions. You are hilarious! Though I must say, this really does sound terrible... but then again so does anything that is healthy! I can't figure out if it's the look of the "kefir" or just the fact you said it's bacteria growing in your closet!

Claire said...

Thank you for this! I've been hearing whisperings of kefir around the blogging world but had no idea what it was. Good to know its great benefits!

whitneyingram said...

Oh boy, I just don't know about this...

Darcy said...

I've always just bought strawberry flavored kefir from the store (which is tasty enought to drink straight), but I always thought it was just thin yogurt. Thank you for enlightening me on all the added benefits of kefir!!! I am definitely going to have to make this...sounds sooo easy.....and begin my daily smoothies again. Sheena, you rock!

Karen P said...

You are awesome. Your yogurt making post was totally eye opening, and now I'm making a gallon of yogurt every week, saving a ton of money and my kids are loving it.
I've always wondered what kefir is and now I'm on a hunt to find kefir grains.

Snake said...

Come up to Logan and bring some grains (when Rob's not freaking out about school)!

Melissa said...

Is it sour tasting? And when it's in the smoothie, can you tell it's in there? I am a picky eater. But I am on a get healthier, lose weight kick right now. What brand blender do you use? Thanks a bunch!!
(next time you visit Sacramento, I'd LOVE a family photo shoot.)

Katie said...

LOVE smoothies... i put 1 cup of oj, 1 cup-ish of frozen fruit, 1 banana, and 2 handfuls of spinach.


twinsontherun said...

So where can I get the grains? I live in the Salt Lake valley...do you know of anywhere?

Zizi said...

Kefir is an everyday dairy in Hungary. It's very common to make your own kefir at home. So nothing is weird about you or your habit! :) Especially from my point of view!

Zizi said...

In my opinion fruit and dairy shouldn't be mixed at the same time.

Sugar (in fruits) digestion is in the intestine. If they are eaten alone they are not held in the stomach for a long time. When eaten with protein they are held up in the stomach for a prolonged period, awaiting the digestion of the protein. While thus waiting they undergo fermentation.

SHARM said...

This sounds and looks great.. I have not add greens to my smoothie I am going to give it a try... Thank you so much for sharing...

abi porter said...

you need to try bee pollen in your smoothies! you should be able to find it at a health food store.. very unique taste and great benefits.

Cooking Rookie said...

Great post! I am actually one of the weirdos who drink their kefir plain, but I am very curious to try it in smoothies.
I recently "discovered" (by mistake, of course) another way to make kefir, using milk and buttermilk, in 4:1 proportion. Mix them together in a large pot, let rest on the counter for 24 hours, then place on stove top on a super low heat for an hour, until it "almost" curdles. Then you spoon the thicker parts into a cheesecloth-lined strainer to make quark and you're left with.. kefir :-). Your method seems simpler, but I don't have those special magic grains :-(.
And I absolutely love your photography!

mimi charmante said...

Thank you my friend - sourcing grains right away as I can't wait to try this! We started probiotics yesterday and this sounds like a great way to do the same thing~

Kimmie said...

I have been making yogurt now for the past 9 months and I LOVE IT!!

I am looking forward to getting the holidays behind us and trying out your Kefir recipe. Sounds delicious. We are a Kefir loving family, but it is pretty expensive and is hard to find in many stores. SO excited to try this out and have yet one more thing that is made from scratch that we enjoy in our home.

Our smoothies are usually all green...they usually consist of spinach/kale or swiss chard, pineapple, grapes/oranges, celery, slice of cabbage, slice of lemon or lime, ice and whatever other fruit/veggies we decide to add in. They are absolutely delicious and we usually enjoy a smoothie each day during the summer. We also make yummy smoothies blended with fresh fruit and homemade yogurt and a sprinkling of flax seed. Here is a link to all of my different smoothie concoctions we enjoy at our house: http://pinkcookieswithsprinkles.blogspot.com/search/label/smoothies

Thanks for always inspiring us with your FUN personality and adventurous spirit. I thought I was the only crazy one that liked to try things. It's a breath of fresh air to know you!! Hope your holidays are happy and joyful!

Anonymous said...

pinned this. i love your blog! :)

10a said...

I got my kefir grains in the mail this morning and they're 'brewing' now, exiting!

Also made my third batch of yoghurt yesterday following your how-to (without thermometer even, just add the spoons of yoghurt (straight from the pot) as soon as you can keep your (clean ;-) finger in the cooling yoghurt) and LOVE the taste of it.

Thank you so much for inspiring!!

Amber T said...

Oh thank you for this post!

My mom, Chris M, is also my next door neighbor so I have reaped the benefits of the growing kefir in her kitchen!

It is beyond delicious (I love the grains and wish they'd grow faster) and I'm going to try and incorporate them into more of my dishes! Technically I think kefir could make cupcakes health food! :)

Kasey said...

I've been staring at my box of kefir grains for 2 weeks now. Time to get going.

We are love, love, LOVING kale and spinach in our smoothies.

Favorite smoothie is:
8 oz OJ or water
1 scoop vanilla protein powder (or yogurt)
1 cup spinach
1 cup kale
1 cup frozen mango
1 cup frozen strawberries
1 frozen banana
1 handful flax seeds