I first learned about kefir a few years ago when my mom and I were shopping at Whole Foods and saw it in the dairy section. She had heard of it…that it was similar to yogurt but drinkable…and that it contained healthy probiotics. At this time I was just starting to learn about the importance of probiotics and having enough healthy flora in the gut, but I am not a huge yogurt fan so I let her purchase it and I passed.
She started mixing it with healthy whole grains and fruit for breakfast and adding it into her fruit smoothies and she soon reported that she noticed a huge improvement in her digestion and how she felt overall.
I still had not tried it, because the idea of drinkable yogurt still did not appeal to me, and I also am not a huge milk fan; so the idea of a yogurt/milk hybrid-type beverage was just not doing it for me.
My mind started to change…
In my own personal journey back to wellness, I learned a lot about probiotic nutrition and the importance of fermented food in keeping the digestive tract working well and keeping the immune system strong. I also became dairy-free (for the most part), and learned to substitute nut milks, nutritional yeast, and other natural non-dairy products into my meals. Since I now had all these dairy-free options, and I was already taking funky-tasting liquid probiotic supplements, I decided that it was time to experiment with making my own kefir.
There are non-dairy kefirs available, but they often contain added sugar (which I also don’t want in my diet) and they are quite pricey. They are also pasteurized, which kills all the “good” bacteria along with the bad, so they do not offer as much of a health benefit as one you would make yourself from a live culture. Plus, I’m all about experimenting with cooking and preparing new foods these days and I figured this would be a good foray into fermented foods.
I purchased a kefir starter kit from Body Ecology and several unsweetened nut milks as well as pure coconut water. I started with a batch of almond milk kefir and coconut water kefir and was pleasantly surprised that it was a success! I gave it to my kids with their breakfast, and they both enjoyed it more than milk (and were relieved that they didn’t have to take the other yucky-tasting probiotic), and I used it as a base for my green smoothies instead of water. I found I enjoyed the extra bit of sweet tartness it added to my smoothie, and my husband (not a smoothie fan at all) even said he could see himself having the smoothie made with the kefir. So I’m going to keep making it and trying out different milks to see what I like best.