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From Our Freshologists: Kefir – A Yogurt Alternative

Kefir is one of those things that keep showing up on those lists of “superfoods” – the things we’re all supposed to be eating more of. It’s sort of like drinkable yogurt, except a little more sour, and a lot better for you.

But until the last few years, it was both hard to find, and, to be honest, kind of an acquired taste. Here at FRESH, we carry Lifeway kefir, which has brought this ancient drink to the masses by creating easy-to-enjoy flavors like chocolate truffle, pomegranate-blueberry, and even birthday cake.

Basics first, though. Kefir is a fermented dairy product, kind of a cross between buttermilk and thin yogurt. (Don’t get hung up on the fermented part. It adds a tiny touch of carbonation to the texture, but it’s mostly just the production method, and it does not add any form of alcohol to the product.)

Consumed for thousands of years by people in the Caucasus Mountains, where lifespans of 100+ years aren’t uncommon, it’s made by fermenting milk with kefir cultures, sometimes called kefir grains.

Kefir is thought to offer all sorts of health benefits, similar to yogurt but even more extensive. While most yogurts contain one to three types of probiotics, which aid in digestion, kefir has at least 10. It also contains prebiotics, which help probiotics work better. Because it’s fermented, many people who are lactose-intolerant find it easier to digest. Finally, as a dairy product, it’s high in Vitamin D, essential for bone growth and development.

The Lifeway kefirs can be consumed as is, and make a great breakfast drink or quick snack. You can also use it to top oatmeal or other cooked cereal, or substitute it for yogurt or sour cream in recipes like dips, dressings and soups. It’s a natural for smoothies, too. Try this recipe, from the Lifeway website:

Breakfast Blast Smoothie, courtesy of Starfruit Cafe

10 oz Lifeway Lowfat Vanilla Kefir
2 scoops granola
1 scoop almonds
1 frozen banana

Place all the ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth. If it gets too thick, add a tablespoon of water. Pour into a tall glass once blended.