This is our go-to post-nap snack. Both of our children (ages 16 months and 3 1/2 years) LOVE it, and I love that they love it, as it really doesn’t get much healthier (and they love that I love that they love it, because that means I make it more often).
Milk kefir is brimming with beneficial bacteria that not only help balance your gut, but actually stick around and continue working long after this delicious beverage is gone, populating the walls of your digestive tract. Not all probiotic foods do that; as great as yogurt is for gut health, it needs to be eaten regularly for your insides to truly benefit. The specific strains present in any particular batch of kefir are dependent on many factors, including the kind of milk used, length of culture time, and ambient temperature, which is actually a really good thing. You want to introduce as many forms of good bacteria to your gut as possible to experience the most benefits. Variety is the spice of life, no? (Check out this page over at Cultures for Health to see the full list of more than 30 different strains of bacteria and yeast. And go here to buy their dehydrated grains.)
Milk kefir is tangy and slightly effervescent (or very, depending on how long you
forget about it leave it on your kitchen counter.) It is not yogurt, so don’t try to pretend like it is. It is much thinner and more acidic, with no trace of the mild sweetness inherent in a good homemade yogurt. Honestly, I cannot eat (er, drink) it straight- it’s just not my thing (though many people do). However, I find it positively perfect for smoothies, biscuits (used in lieu of regular milk/cream), and soaking grains (especially oats).
When combined with raw honey and fruit, it transforms into something superbly scrumptious. In the summer, I plan on freezing it in popsicle molds to make, well, popsicles. It’s that good – trick your kids into thinking something healthy is a dessert! Or better yet, explain it to them and feel good knowing that they feel good about feeling good. Ahem.
Of course, you can substitute whatever fruit you like and/or have on hand. It would be marvelous with banana, strawberries, and perhaps a spoonful of peanut butter. Peaches and nectarines in the summer, with a few squeezes of lime juice, would be divine! Or even two cups of that Wyman’s smoothie mix from the freezer section of your local supermarket (I think it’s strawberries, blueberries, cherries, and kale) would make it super easy and even healthier. Play with it and enjoy! Your gut (and children, and your children’s guts), will thank you.
Makes 2 2-cup servings
Notes: I always use frozen fruit. The fresh stuff tends to make the smoothie thin and watery, while frozen adds a thick creaminess. Also, I have done half yogurt and half kefir with great results, particulary if you are new to the flavor of kefir.
2 cups milk kefir
1 cup frozen wild blueberries
1 cup frozen chunks of mango
1-2 tablespoons raw honey
Splash pure vanilla extract (about 1/2 teaspoon) (click here to see how to make your own!)
Add all ingredients to your blender.