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Kefir: What it is, where to buy it, and why it’s so darn good for us

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Clueless about Kefir? Foodie mama goes back to school to uncover the mystery of the natural probiotic touted as the answer to good gut health for the whole family.

I have dabbled with kefir for a few months, having been given a stash of kefir ‘grains’ from a friend. I did as instructed, attempting to make batches ready for breakfast kefir shakes. But soon after starting my grains died (the grains disappeared) and I rather gave up on the whole exercise. Then Pascale Noel of CHI Balance came along and inspired me to try again! Her 1-hour classes are just what you need to kick start kefir in your kitchen – with a zillion top tips, a goodie bag of equipment you need, some inspiring kid-friendly recipes and the all important grains to take home too.

What is kefir?

Kefir is a fermented dairy ‘yogurt style’ liquid you can make in the comfort of your own kitchen. It contains 47 strands of good bacteria or ‘probiotics’ (as opposed to the 1 or 2 you might find in yogurt). It is made by adding ‘grains’, a live culture of yeast and bacteria to milk reminiscent of cottage cheese, and leaving it to ferment for a few hours. Once strained, the result is tartly flavoured drink with a similar taste and texture to milky yogurt.

The good news is that unlike our other fermented friends kimchi, kombucha and sauerkraut, Kefir is rather more appealing to children, especially when made into some of the recipes below.

Kefir has been made and drunk in certain countries for over 2,000 years, but rather like the now familiar ancient chia seed, some of us have only just cottoned on to it!

Why should we include kefir in our diet?

Healthy bacteria’, ‘gut flora’ and ‘good gut health’ are terms that keep cropping up lately. Keeping levels of good bacteria in the gut high is vital to our health, especially now we live in an age rich in foods that destroy good bacteria – processed foods, sugar and unhealthy fats.

Good bacteria work to destroy ‘bad’ bacteria and keep our immune system in check, our digestion ticking and our overall health and vitality in good condition. More recent studies now suggest that maintaining good gut health is important for children with ADHD and autism. It naturally removes lactose from milk, so is great for those who are lactose intolerant.

Kefir also contains an enzyme that improves assimilation of nutrients and causes a feeling of satiety – so it’s great for those attempting to lose weight. Plus, a growing amount of new research is exploring how our gut flora can influence our mood and stress levels – in both children and adults.

The class is short and easy to follow, but you come away with a clear idea of how to make and keep kefir. We tasted some of her great recipes for kefir hummus, smoothies, guacamole and even a carrot cake kefir!

Recipe: Pascale’s Frozen Fruit Kefir Smoothie

1 cup kefir
1 cup of frozen fruit, such as strawberry, raspberry, mango or blueberry (don’t use citrus, pineapple or kiwi)
sweetener to taste such as honey, maple syrup etc.

Add all the ingredients to a blender and process until smooth. You can change the proportion of the fruits to your own taste. Pour into a glass and serve.

How to sign up for Pascale’s classes:

Pascale’s classes are posted on her Chi Balance Facebook page, or you can email her at [email protected].

Where can I buy kefir?

To get your hands on some kefir grains (you only need a small amount to get started), consider visiting a class like Pascale’s, or join popular Singapore Facebook groups like Fermentation Friends or Water Kefir / Milk Kefir Grains Blessing SGSour Culture is an online shop selling fresh milk kefir grains that offers free delivery islandwide. We’ve also heard you can purchase kefir grains from a local shop called Bushwick Biotech. Not keen on fermenting your own at home? You can purchase kefir products from the likes of iHerb and VitaKids.

Kefir Guacamole and Smoothie images by Janie Blakey / @janieblakey. Lead image and image #2 sourced via Temperando. Image #1 sourced via Pinterest. Image #5 sourced via Little Eco Footprints.

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