Please welcome my new contributing writer, Tiana Byers! I’m delighted to have her join me at RealFoodCarolyn.com Tiana is a writer living in Charlotte, NC, and a lover of real food. Since her diagnosis with Hashimoto’s in early 2015, she’s committed herself to an autoimmune-paleo lifestyle. Tiana enjoys trying new recipes, rollerskating, learning about holistic healing, and ballet. Her favorite foodie-treat is dried dates rolled in shredded coconut and her favorite outdoor activity is hikes with her adorable dog.
Summertime is finally here, and what better way to enjoy the season than with fresh fruit smoothies made with milk kefir. What’s kefir, you ask? Kefir is the result of fermenting well sourced, raw milk from pasture raised cows with grains. These “grains” are not true grains in the traditional sense, but rather a mix of proteins, lipids, and sugars that feed the microbes. They make up the symbiotic colony of yeast and bacteria, and facilitate with the fermentation process.
Kefir is a superb real food that can contain 30 to 50 strains of beneficial bacteria and yeast, a wealth of vitamins and minerals, and essential amino acids believed to promote improved gut and immune health. To ensure your milk kefir will be rich with healthy properties, you need to first source raw milk from a pastured cow. Why is this so important? Because the pasteurized milk found in a grocer is void of many healing properties, and may actually irritate your digestive health. Conversely, raw unpasteurized milk can promote excellent digestive health.
When a cow is pasture raised (as nature intended!), its raw milk is a nutrient dense, properly balanced food. A serving of raw grass-fed cow’s milk offers enzymes, vitamins, minerals, essential amino acids, beneficial bacteria, healthy unoxidized cholesterol, an exceptional ratio of Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids, and more. The enzymes encourage proper digestion and breakdown of fat and lactose. The vitamins in well-sourced milk, such as A, D, E, K2 and a variety of B’s, are rich, fat soluble vitamins that promote good absorption of minerals, like calcium. Yum!
If the milk is pasteurized, however, many of these healthy, gut-sustaining properties are destroyed by the high heat threshold of the pasteurization process. This can lead to a weakened immune system, because the extreme temperature of pasteurization changes the makeup of the protein and fat molecules present in milk, to the point where the body may not recognize the milk as a nourishing food and may mount a reaction in response. Over time, this can result in mucus build up, chronic sinusitis, acne, and runny noses in children. Additionally, many instances of irritable bowel syndrome and varying digestive issues are a result of drinking pasteurized, homogenized milk.
To protect your digestive and immune health and prevent chronic issues, ditch the processed, gut irritating milk and instead drink raw milk from pastured cows. Source quality kefir grains from a local foodie, or purchase them online from CulturesForHealth.com. Be sure to do your research to find a farmer or trusted milk source that raises healthy cows. Healthy cows equals a healthy gut, which yields a happy, healthy you!
To make your gut sustaining and immune-supporting milk kefir, follow the process below.
Combine 2 cups of fresh, whole milk with one heaping tablespoon milk kefir grains in a glass jar. Cover loosely.
Keep the milk at room temperature for 12 to 48 hours, stirring occasionally to ensure proper distribution of the grains.
Strain the milk kefir into a clean glass jar. [Carolyn likes this strainer.] Consume immediately, or cover and store in a refrigerator for later use.
Use the milk kefir grains to prepare another batch or store in a small amount of fresh milk, in the refrigerator, for future use.
Use your prepared milk kefir in smoothies, to soak gluten-free grains (if you can tolerate them) or just drink straight. Enjoy! Your digestive and immune systems will thank you for it.
Many thanks to Tiana for this informative post! I’ll chime in with my favorite way to use milk kefir: Combine a frozen banana with two cups prepared milk kefir in a blender. Add 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon and 1 teaspoon molasses. Blend until smooth. Makes 2 servings. YUM! - Carolyn