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Posts Tagged ‘Kefir’

Herbal Super-Foods Smoothie

Makes 3 ½ cups

Berries, homemade kefir, and an abundance of locally-grown and organic super-foods – it’s my favorite way to start the day!

1 ½ cups high-quality kefir

2 large egg yolks, from pastured hens (optional)

1 tablespoon local, organic bee pollen

1 tablespoon roasted dandelion root powder, see cooks note

1 ½ teaspoons nettle powder, see cooks note

1 cup frozen strawberries

1 cup frozen blueberries

1 large, fair-trade, organic banana

3 tablespoons organic flax meal (freshly ground flax seeds)

3 tablespoons organic, extra-virgin coconut oil

In the pitcher of a blender combine the kefir, optional egg yolks, bee pollen, nettle powder, and roasted dandelion powder. Blend on low until the powders are fully incorporated. Add the strawberries, blueberries, banana, and flax meal. Pulse on high until the fruit is fully incorporated. You may need to scrape down the sides of the pitcher and push the fruit towards the blade.

In a small saucepan, over low heat, warm  the coconut oil until just melted, about 1 minute. With the blender running on low, slowly pour the coconut oil into the pitcher. Blend until the oil is fully incorporated, about one minute. Serve immediately or store tightly covered in the refrigerator for up to one day.

Cooks note:

Dandelion root can be harvested from your backyard or garden and roasted quite readily. However, it is nearly impossible to grind into a fine powder without industrial grinding equipment. For this smoothie I recommend purchasing organic, ground, roasted dandelion from a reputable herb purveyor (like The Herb Shoppe in Portland and Brooklyn or Mountain Rose Herbs online).

Gathering wild stinging nettles and drying them at home is simple and quite rewarding (if you’re into it!). The best way to learn is always from someone else who has knowledge of the herb. Otherwise, purchase organic nettle leaf from a reputable herb purveyor (like The Herb Shoppe or Mountain Rose Herbs) or purchase wildcrafted nettles in the market and dry them at home. Grind dried nettle leaf in a clean coffee grinder until it is reduced to powder, about 30-60 seconds.

Click here for my Kefir Recipe.

This recipe was shared at the Real Food Forager’s Fat Tuesday blog carnival, at Simply Sugar & Gluten-Free’s Slightly Indulgent Tuesday, at Kelly the Kitchen Kop’s Real Food Wednesday, at Mind, Body, and Sole’s Wildcrafting Wednesday, and at Recipe Lion’s Favorite Spring Recipe Share.

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Kefir Sauerkraut

Makes about 1 quart

Dairy kefir grains can be used to make quick and consistently delicious cultured sauerkraut. The kefir grains act as a starter culture for the cabbage, the ‘kraut ferments for just 2-3 days, and the results are predictable: tangy, crunchy, and palate pleasing. To preserve the probiotic content, heat raw, cultured sauerkraut to no more than 110 degrees F. Serve as a garnish to savory dishes like baked beans, vegetable or lentil salads, roasted meats, or stir-fries. This recipe is inspired by Dom’s Kefirkraut recipe.

1 medium sized white cabbage

1 tablespoon unrefined sea salt

1 tablespoon dairy kefir grains, well rinsed (see cooks notes)

clean (well, spring, or filtered) water

Prepare a half-gallon (or one-gallon) wide-mouth glass jar by washing it in hot soapy water (use soap, not detergent). Remove any wilted or discolored outer leaves on the cabbage. Discard them. Peel off one crisp outer leaf. Trim it one-inch larger than the diameter of the jar. Set it aside to be used later as a cover for the sauerkraut.

Use a chef’s knife to half, core, and thinly slice the cabbage. Place one quarter of the sliced cabbage in a large bowl. Sprinkle with one quarter of the salt. Use a large wooden pestle, kraut pounder, or the flat end of a meat hammer to bruise the cabbage leaves. When the vegetables have been thoroughly bruised, add another quarter of the cabbage. Sprinkle with another quarter of the salt. Repeat the bruising process with the remaining cabbage and salt.

Place one half of the kefir grains in the bottom of the prepared jar. Add one half of the cabbage. Press down firmly with your pestle, pounder, or hammer. Evenly compact the cabbage within the jar. Add the remaining kefir grains. Then add the remaining cabbage. Again, press down to evenly compact the mixture. Cover the shredded cabbage with the reserved cabbage leaf. Tuck the edges of the leaf into the sides of the jar. Add a weight heavy enough to hold the cover leaf in place (see cooks notes). Add enough water to cover the top of the sauerkraut by one inch. Cover the top of the jar with a cloth or paper towel. Secure the cover tightly with a rubber band or string.

Store at room temperature (about 65-75 degrees F) until the kraut smells and tastes pleasingly tangy, about 2-3 days. Skim any foam that rises to the top during the fermentation period. If the liquid evaporates, add water to keep the sauerkraut covered by one inch.

Store tightly covered in the refrigerator. The taste of kefir kraut is stable for two weeks. After 2 weeks of storage it becomes increasingly, though pleasantly, tart. Eat within one month.

Cooks notes:

To prepare kefir grains for making sauerkraut rinse them in water until it runs clear. No traces of milk should remain.

If it fits through the opening in the sauerkraut jar, a pint-sized mason jar, filled with water, and capped tightly may be used as the weight. To use a stone as a weight for fermentation, select one that is non-porous, relatively heavy and flat, and fits easily through the mouth of your fermentation jar. Scrub the stone with hot soapy water. Then, sanitize it by dropping it into a pan of boiling water for 2 minutes (alternately, drop the stone into the silverware tray of the dishwasher and sanitize it with the next load of dishes).

Read more about Making Kefir

Read more about why Fermented Beverages are Homemade Probiotics and Multi-Vitamins

This recipe was shared on Fat-Tuesdays, Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays,  Hearth & Soul Hop, Real Food Wednesday, and at the Probiotic Food Challenge.

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Considering their array of health benefits, it’s no wonder people are looking for ways to introduce fermented foods into their diets. Basic fermentation involves creating conditions where beneficial bacteria (probiotics) thrive. It may sound complex, but it is actually simple and rewarding. While the list of fermented foods is quite long, I especially treasure three quick, easy to prepare, and highly nutritious beverages: kombucha tea, kefir, and beet kvass.

Fermented foods undergo many seemingly miraculous changes. They are transformed into their most digestible forms. (For example, the milk sugar lactose is converted into the more easily digested lactic -acid[1]. )Vitamins are created (commonly the B-vitamins 1, 2, 3, and 6, and folic acid[2]). Powerful enzymes that aid in digestion and absorption are preserved when ferments are eaten raw[3]. Additionally, the live bacteria in raw fermented foods help establish a healthy balance of microorganisms within the gut[4].

Although these feel-good bacteria are the latest buzz, they are also among the oldest of man’s benefactors. Prior to modern refrigeration and canning, peoples around the world relied upon the nutritional quality of long stored fermented foods. Now in the post-modern era we understand that our optimal nutrition still depends upon these tiny creatures.

I rely on beverages like kombucha tea, kefir, and beet kvass as daily supplements to my diet- as probiotics and multi-vitamins. They require no special meal planning because they can be consumed along with meals or between meals as a snack. I regularly incorporate them into other foods like ranch dressing made with kefir and soups garnished with beet kvass. When fermented foods are easy to prepare and convenient to eat I find that including them in my diet is a joy rather than a chore!

This was shared on Real Food Wednesday and at the Probiotic Food Challenge.


[1]Sandor Katz, Wild Fermentation: The Flavor Nutrition and Craft of Live-Culture Foods (White River Junction: Chelsea Green, 2003.) (p. 6)

[2] Katz 6 Sandor Katz, Wild Fermentation: The Flavor Nutrition and Craft of Live-Culture Foods (White River Junction: Chelsea Green, 2003.) (p. 6)

[3] Sally Fallon-Morell Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats (Washington: New Trends, 2001) (p. 47)

[4] Sally Fallon-Morell Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats (Washington: New Trends, 2001) (p. 89)

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Kefir Recipe

Kefir

Makes about one quart

Simple and forgiving kefir is one of the most ancient and prized cultured milks. It’s made with a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast (s.c.o.b.y) commonly called a kefir grain (though it isn’t a grain). Kefir grains thrive and reproduce in raw milk from cows and goats (and other traditional dairy animals!). Excess kefir grains can be used to culture a variety of foods. My favorites are coconut milk kefir, grape juice kefir, and kefir-kraut.

1 quart high quality milk, non-homogenized and not ultra-pasteurized

1 tablespoon active kefir grains (see cooks note)

In a one-quart glass canning jar combine the milk and kefir grains. Cover with a cloth or paper towel. Secure the cover tightly with a string or rubber band. Store at room temperature. Kefir is ready when it has thickened slightly and become pleasingly tart, about 1-4 days. Check twice daily by stirring with a wooden spoon and tasting.

Use a non-reactive strainer (or clean fingers) to separate the kefir grains from the finished kefir. Store in a tightly covered glass jar in the refrigerator. Place a sheet of wax paper underneath the lid. (The paper prevents the acidic kefir from contacting the lid.) The flavor remains stable for up to one week.  As the kefir is stored longer the flavor becomes increasingly tart. Store for up to two weeks.

The grains can be used to make additional batches. Store kefir grains for up to one month, covered in milk, in a tightly sealed jar in the refrigerator. Longer storage requires re-activation (see cooks note).

Kefir may be served alone, sweetened with maple syrup, or used in fruit smoothies.

Cooks Note:

Long-stored kefir grains may need to be re-activated. To re-activate 1 tablespoon of grains place them in a small jar and cover with ¼ to ½ cup milk. Cover with a cloth or paper towel. Secure the cover tightly with a string or rubber band. Store at room temperature until the milk separates into solid curds and liquid whey. Strain out the grains. Discard the curds and whey. Repeat a second time. The kefir grains are now active and ready for use.

This was shared at the Probiotic Foods Challenge.

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