Friday, January 7, 2011

Try Something New: Kefir

On the prompting of my sister, I picked up a bottle of plain, unsweetened low-fat kefir at Trader Joe's yesterday. I couldn't wait to try it.

What exactly is kefir? It's an easily digestible, cultured yogurt (which can be made from the milk of cow, goats, sheep, rice, soy or coconuts) that is in liquid rather than traditional semi-solid yogurt form. It's loaded with probiotics which are essential for healthy digestive, cardiovascular and immune systems.

Why are probiotics good for us? Our bodies are full of active, beneficial flora that can be thrown out of balance by many factors, antibiotics being a big culprit but an overgrowth of bad yeast caused by too much sugar, processed foods and poor diet in general is another culprit. By regularly enjoying naturally fermented or cultured foods, like yogurt, kefir, grass-fed raw milk and cheese we can bolster the beneficial bacteria in our bodies which can improve our bowel movements, seasonal allergies, yeast infections, reduce gas, reduce the risk of infection from bad bacteria, reduce high cholesterol even help bad breath.

How does it taste? I wasn't home from food shopping but 5 minutes yesterday and I was putting a bit of cereal and pomegranate arils in a bowl and pouring over some kefir. Oh, it's good! It looks just like heavy cream, the texture is similar without having that buttery, oily finish. It's a little tangy with no sourness whatsoever. It's smooth and very creamy. I can't wait to pour some over the first summer blueberries and Georgia peaches this year!

How can you use it? Kefir can be used anywhere you'd use milk or yogurt; in smoothies, over cereal, fruit or granola, as a substitute for buttermilk in recipes, substitute for mayo and sour cream to make healthy, flavorful homemade creamy salad dressings like ranch or blue cheese, summer borscht (can't wait to try this one,) use it in place of heavy cream and milk in an ice cream maker to make a cold, creamy treat, use it in baking recipes (I'm going to try it in Rob's breakfast banana bread this weekend,) added to pureed soups to add richness, and it will make a fantastic post-weight training snack because it's the perfect ration of protein, carbs and fat.

Nutritional breakdown of the Trader Joe's low fat plain kefir I bought yesterday looks like this:

Nutrition Facts

Serving Size: 8 fl. oz. (240 mL)

Amount per Serving
  • Calories 120 Calories from Fat 20
% Daily Value *
  • Total Fat 2.5g 4%
  • Saturated Fat 1.5g 8%
  • Cholesterol 10mg 3%
  • Sodium 125mg 5%
  • Total Carbohydrate 11g 4%
  • Dietary Fiber 3g 12%
  • Sugars 8g
  • Protein 14g 28%
  • Vitamin A10%
  • Vitamin C4%
  • Calcium30%
  • Iron0%
  • Vitamin D25%
Est. Percent of Calories from:
Fat 18.8% Carbs 36.7%
Protein 46.7%

If kefir becomes something that I buy and enjoy on a regular basis then I will try to make my own at some point because I'm always looking for ways to use the wonderful raw milk that I'm so fortunate to have access to.

Have you ever tried kefir? Tell me your experiences and ideas!

Some of these articles are linked throughout my post but if you want to read more about kefir, probiotics and the benefits of naturally fermented foods, click one of the links below...

The Incredible Health Benefits to You of Traditionally Fermented Foods

How Kefir Helps You

In-depth and very scienc-y article all about kefir

Make your own kefir

Make your own coconut kefir


  1. Hi Andra,
    I must confess that I have been a lurker for a while now - I love your blog, and your determination to make wise and healthy choices every day. I have been meaning to introduce myself but I am having a hard time getting myself going with the right choices, and I kept thinking I would wait until I was more "presentable" to present myself to you, whom I admire so much.

    I love kefir - what a wonderful treat it is! Here is a link to my post about it last Feb.
    I like the fruity kefir varieties - raspberry, pomegranate - and I have never tried plain kefir, but I am inspired to try it now.

    I really enjoy your blog - thanks for sharing so much!

    Btw - I live in Marietta - I keep thinking I'll run into you one day on the mountain - only I don't get over there nearly as often as I would like to!

  2. Welcome Lori and hello neighbor! The reason I didn't ever buy kefir before is because I had never seen a plain option, only the fruity ones which seem to have lots of added sugar. I'd rather save up my sugar for a chocolate treat!

    If you ever want to meet for a walk at the mountain, let me know!