Kefir

Kefir in a cup

Kefir has become a staple drink in our family.

I was first introduced to milk kefir last August by a dear friend who passed me some of her milk kefir grains. She showed me how to brew the kefir and pointed out some useful kefir sites.

The first time I tasted kefir, I fell in love. So did Sweet Man and the kids. Kefir has a tangy flavour but the kids didn’t seem to notice or be bothered by the sour taste. We drank it as it was, chilled and plain. As a two year old, Piglet downed his portion with tremendous gusto and I wish I’d taken a photo of his thick milk kefir moustache!

I now drink milk kefir three times daily and the rest of the family consume at least one cup each.

Kefir is rich in protein, calcium, fiber and is a powerful natural probiotic – 10 probiotic strains! Research has shown it helps lower cholesterol levels and keeps the gut healthy. Drinking kefir has helped to strengthen our immunity and we have noticed that it improves our digestion and regulates our appetites too. I drank kefir during pregnancy as it was great not only for me but also for the baby. I am so glad our kids love kefir, even plain kefir, as it has so many health benefits for children.

If you want to know more about the benefits of kefir, check out the National Kefir Association. For lots of in-depth information on kefir, visit Dom’s kefir site. (He is the absolute Guru of kefir. You’ll know why, when you read his site.)

After Roo was born, I continued brewing our milk kefir every 24 hours for the first few days during my confinement. After a week, I decided I needed a break because, well, life is full as it is with a newborn and three other kids! I stored my kefir grains in the fridge following Dom’s instructions.

Two weeks later I was ready to resume kefir brewing again. My kefir baby was still alive and active and I was glad it took no time at all to produce the same results as before.

I embarked on a new way of drinking milk kefir quite by chance. It happened when I had to take a second break from kefir, when Roo was 8 weeks old and I had to go on a 2-week course of antibiotics as a precaution against infection, a risk when you have retained placenta remnants. Kefir is slightly alcoholic and so I couldn’t consume it while taking the antibiotic I was prescribed.

Nevertheless I continued brewing kefir everyday and gradually accumulated 3 jars of kefir in our fridge. I then had an idea of using our excess kefir to make a banana milk kefir smoothie. This is how I did it:

BANANA MILK KEFIR SMOOTHIE

Ingredients:

800ml milk kefir

4 bananas

1 tbsp honey

Method:

Put all the ingredients into a blender. Give the mixture a good whiz. Serve chilled, either as is, or with a sprinkle of cinnamon powder on top. If you wedge a slice of orange or lemon on the edge of the glass, you are guaranteed to get lots of oohs and aahs from admiring little ones.

Banana milk kefir smoothie was a raging hit from the first sip. It has a lovely fizzy zing. The moment he tasted it, Lamb proclaimed I was “The Best Mama in the World”. It can’t get easier than that!

Lately, we tried adding freshly squeezed orange juice and love the results.

There are other natural flavours we want to try, so this week I’ll be making mango kefir smoothies and we might try a honeydew version soon after.

Have you tried milk kefir yet? It just might revolutionize your life!

 

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Homemade yogurt cheese

Homemade yogurt cheese is so easy to make. As with all things homemade, it’s also extremely satisfying knowing that our little punks can eat a yummy spread, free of emulsifiers, thickeners or conditioning agents.

You won’t sweat a bit with this one, I promise. Minimal effort, minimal cost!

I made this yogurt cheese following this idiot-proof recipe.

(I’m a dunce in the kitchen, that’s why. Working on it!)

Basically, I used my own homemade natural yogurt that had firmed up nicely, after sitting in the fridge for 48 hours. I found that using unchilled yogurt directly out of the yogurt maker doesn’t work as it’s too runny.

Pour 700ml natural yogurt into a cheese cloth, folded 12 times. (I started with the cloth folded 8 times, but found 12 times to be more effective in keeping the curds in.)

Tie up the corners with a rubber band. Attach a hook and hang in the fridge for 24 hours over a glass or ceramic bowl (to strain out the whey).

Warning! This curious sight is bound to attract pokes by wee fingers.
Warning! This curious sight is bound to attract pokes by wee fingers.

Voila! Yogurt cheese.

The longer the yogurt is left to strain in the cheesecloth, the firmer the result
The longer the yogurt is left to strain in the cheesecloth, the firmer the result

Add salt to taste and mix thoroughly.

Serve on a homemade cheddar biscuit and top with Italian seasoning. Or paprika, if you feel naughty.

A perfect snack for my ravenous brood
A perfect snack for my ravenous brood

 

Enjoy, my friends.

And kiss goodbye to store-bought cream cheese!

(Total cost using 700ml homemade yogurt: RM2.00. Yields 220g yogurt cheese.)

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