Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Update on the Kefir Situation

It turns out that I really, really like dairy kefir. I love its sour tang (like plain yogurt), it's thick, rich texture, its brilliant white color, and the sizz of the carbonation on my tongue. I could drink dairy kefir like water and eat coconut oil like ice cream. Husband and Joseph also like dairy kefir, but they like to add a little fruit nectar to it to make it a little sweeter.

My dad, on the other hand, described dairy kefir as "part mucilage with a touch of gum paste." Descriptive but not complimentary. And he likes yogurt. So, obviously, dairy kefir is not everyone's cup of tea.

The bad part is that drinking dairy kefir like water and eating coconut oil like ice cream (which I don't do, by the way--either one--despite the temptation) is that it creates a diet very high in calories. I already eat a crappy diet, so even insanely healthy foods like dairy kefir and coconut oil can't overcome that. Also, just because a little is good for you doesn't mean a lot is better, which is true of so many things in life.

So here are some tips to drinking dairy kefir, assuming you like it enough to develop a taste for it:

1. It's better cold. Also, it gets a little more fizzy as it sits in the fridge.
2. Initially, it can cause some uncomfortable gas and bloating as the happy little microbes you've introduced into your gut start chomping away on your high-carb diet. While a diet made up mostly of plants and small amounts of meat protein is much better for you, in my opinion, many people who drink kefir tend to veer toward a high-protein diet because they feel less bloated at first. My remedy: start small by drinking four ounces of kefir in the morning and four ounces right before bed. Or less, if that still gives you discomfort. Then work your way up as you also start including more plants in your diet. Sian found she had instantaneous gas and bloating when she started drinking it, even though she liked the taste.
3. The grains multiply quickly, so either increase the amount of milk you're feeding them, divide them into multiple containers, or start giving away your extras. You need about a teaspoon of grains for, roughly, four cups of milk. When the grains multiply too much, your milk will still ferment, but it won't get fizzy. My grains started producing so much kefir we had it coming out our ears, so I had to let the grains go dormant in the fridge for a bit while we caught up. I pulled them out and did a ferment and they've woken up just fine after several days in the fridge.
4. Remember that even though the grains are eating the lactose in the milk, they aren't making it any less calorific. A couple glasses of dairy kefir each day could add 300 calories to your daily count. While I don't believe in counting calories if you're eating a healthy diet, 300 calories does do damage if you aren't eating a healthy diet.

So, to solve the "I love kefir and how it makes me feel but I don't love the calories part," I just bought some water kefir grains. I've got them feeding on sugar water right now because they were dormant in the lady's fridge from whom I bought them, but in a few days, I should be able to give you a report on how virtually calorie-free water kefir tastes.

Last note: it's pronounced "keh-fear'", not "kee'-fir." Sadly, most people pronounce it "kee'-fir," but there's not much you can do about that. It's just that I always see a picture of Kiefer Sutherland in my mind's eye, and while that isn't entirely unpleasant, I think ke-fir' sounds much more exotic and drinkable.

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