Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Why you should consider eating Kefir

I am not by any means, a health-food fanatic. I do strive to feed my family nutritiously and put great effort into purchasing vitamin rich whole foods over highly-processed convenience ones, but I also have a slight addiction to ice-cream. Our grocery budget does not afford me the luxury of shopping at Whole Foods, but I've found that if I am diligent in planning and avoiding impulse buys, I can stretch our budget to include organic produce, milk, and meat, which are the most important items to me. I make a green smoothie for the family 4-5 times a week that is packed with spinach, kale, romaine, or a variety of other greens, fruits, wheat germ, flax, chia seeds, and occasionally yogurt. Knowing that we've all started our day loading up on fruits and veggies makes me not worry when I occasionally make the kids Kraft Mac n' Cheese (because there is no substitute) for lunch or give them a pack of fruit snacks after their nap. I think kids should be allowed to be kids, and kids enjoy pizza, and chicken nuggets, and special treats every now and again. I want to teach my kids to enjoy eating healthy and to be aware of making food choices that fuel their bodies, but I've never wanted to be obsessive about it.

So when I learn about a new "superfood" that has so many great benefits for our bodies, I do my best to start incorporating it into our diets and take another baby step closer to improving the health of my family. A month ago, I started researching the wonders of kefir grains and how power-packed with health these little nuggets are. They are anti-allergenic, naturally antibiotic, anti-inflammatory, cholesterol lowering, digestion aiding, skin clearing, hair thickening, immune-boosting, sleep enhancing, toxin reducing, .....and the list goes on and on.  When placed in milk and left for 24 hours at room temperature, kefir grains start to reproduce and create a creamy, tart, yogurt-like substance that is loaded with probiotic cultures 10X more potent than traditional or even greek yogurts. And the best part is, once you strain the grains from the cream, you can place them right back in new milk and they will continue to produce fresh and creamy milk kefir for you every single day, for as long as you keep them. So once you buy the grains, which are not at all expensive, you are set because they are self-sustaining.

I have been mixing our fresh kefir into smoothies for 3 weeks now and have experimented with substituting it for plain yogurt in salad dressings, pancakes, milkshakes, and sauces. I admit it is a little on the tart side and I don't prefer to eat it plain, but once you mix in with other things, it is delicious. This morning I made the kids a "monkey" smoothie with 2 bananas, ice, almond milk, 2 cups of kefir, raw peanut butter, and a bit of chocolate syrup and they were singing my praises for making them a "milkshake" for breakfast.

And although its only been 3 weeks, we have avoided any kind of illness in our home, despite some nasty bugs going around and plenty of exposure with Eli in school this year. I am attributing this to the boost in our immune systems thanks to the kefir, and am hopeful that we will remain healthy throughout the rest of the winter.

Now I dare you to go and research it for yourself and consider whether this superfood might be a good addition to your families diet!

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