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Healthy Ways to Add Kefir to Your Recipes
What Is Kefir?
Most kefir sold in the U.S. is made from cow's milk, but kefir can be made by fermenting any kind of milk (cow, sheep, goat, and even coconut and soy) with kefir "grains," which no, are not actual grains—but they provide the beneficial yeast and bacteria that are so great for your digestive system. Kefir contains several strands of probiotic bacteria, including some not found in yogurt.
Also awesome: Cow's milk kefir is high in protein and calcium and very low in lactose, so people who aren't usually able to tolerate other dairy products may find that their stomachs handle kefir just fine. Health pros recommend plain over flavored varieties to skip drinking added sugar. Ready to try it? Enjoy a glass straight up or use it in one of these smart recipe ideas. (P.S. Here's the real deal with probiotic drinks.)
Chard in Charge
Berry Compote Kefir Parfaits
Dianna Sinni, R.D., L.D., wellness dietitian and food blogger, keeps things simple with this three-ingredient recipe that features mulberries, which add sweetness without extra sugar. "Choose an unsweetened plain kefir, as many flavors have an extra 8 to 10g of added refined sugars per serving," says Sinni. Feel free to mix in your favorite fruit or berry compote and then top with granola for some crunch. Spices can also make things interesting. "You can add ground cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, or a dash of vanilla extract to flavor without all the extra sugar," she says.
Get the recipe: Berry Compote Kefir Parfaits
Meal Makeover Moms' Kitchen
Strawberry Peanut Overnight Oats
Bloggers Liz Weiss, M.S., R.D.N., and Janice Newell Bissex, M.S., R.D.N., love kefir because it contains probiotics, so you know it's great for gut health. Though plain kefir is best in terms of avoiding excess sugar, these overnight oats show how a little flavor can go a long way toward getting your whole family to enjoy a healthy morning meal.
Get the recipe: Strawberry Peanut Overnight Oats
The Lean Green Bean
Wild Blueberry Kefir Smoothie
Because of its consistency, kefir is a no-brainer when it comes to adding protein to smoothies. Just swap it in for milk or yogurt and add whatever other ingredients you usually throw into the blender. Dietitian Lindsay Livingston uses blueberries to mask the green in her spinach smoothie. Even those who say they don't like green smoothies will love this mix.
Get the recipe: Wild Blueberry Kefir Smoothie
Amy Gorin Nutrition
Berry Pistachio Crunch Smoothie Bowl
If kefir is great for smoothies, of course it's equally great in smoothie bowls. Amy Gorin, M.S., R.D.N., says kefir offers a delicious way to work probiotics into your day along with bone-building calcium and filling protein. Her crunch berry smoothie bowl recipe also includes "fiber-containing berries and banana, as well as several healthy toppings—including pistachios, which offer healthy fat, protein, and fiber to help keep you full and satisfied," says Gorin.
Get the recipe: Berry Pistachio Crunch Smoothie Bowl
Food, Pleasure & Health
Mango Cardamom Kefir Lassi
Lassi is a refreshing yogurt drink from Southeast Asia served with meals to enhance digestion. Registered dietitian Dixya Bhattarai jazzes hers up with mango and cardamom when she needs a break from the morning smoothie routine.
Get the recipe: Mango Cardamom Kefir Lassi
Kefir is also great paired with oats, like in this recipe for bircher oatmeal. Regan Jones, R.D., swaps in kefir for milk and adds chia seeds for some prebiotic fiber to nourish those probiotic bacteria in the kefir. (Try these other six ways to sneak more fiber into your diet.)
Get the recipe: Probiotic-Packed Bircher Oatmeal