Cooking With Kefir
Even if you aren’t already hip to kefir, you’ve probably seen it mentioned in just about every “healthy foods you should be eating” round-up that’s been published this year. Long story short, kefir is an ancient cousin of yogurt, and an excellent source of protein, calcium and beneficial probiotics that balance your body’s ecosystem and support digestive health and immunity.
Folks in Eastern Europe have been making kefir for thousands of years, but kefir didn’t go “mainstream” until 1986 when Lifeway Foods introduced it to the American marketplace. Containing 12 live and active probiotic strains, Lifeway Kefir is 99% lactose-free, gluten-free, and it’s made with artificial hormone-free milk from grass-fed cows.
Maybe you’re already making smoothies with kefir, pouring it over fresh fruit and granola – or drinking it straight out of the glass – but did you know you can also use kefir in your favorite recipes? Save yourself a trip to the store next time a recipe calls for buttermilk, yogurt, mayonnaise or even sour cream – Lifeway Plain Kefir and Greek Style Kefir make excellent substitutes!
In raw applications like dips and dressings, all 12 probiotic strains stay live and active – so you’re not only adding rich, tangy flavor, but you’re also benefitting your digestive and immune systems. When cooked, some of the less-hearty strains will die off, but you’re still cutting fat and calories from your favorite recipes without sacrificing flavor.
Here are a few tips for cooking and baking with kefir, along with a handful of our favorite recipes!
· Use a 1-to-1 ratio when substituting for buttermilk, sour cream and yogurt in a recipe that will be cooked or baked.
· When making dips, substitute ½ the mayonnaise, yogurt or sour cream called for with kefir – we recommend Greek Style Kefir to maintain a thick consistency.
· When substituting for sour cream or yogurt in a dressing recipe, place kefir in the freezer for about 30 minutes before measuring it – this will help to thicken it without adding corn starch or other thickeners. Use a 1-to-1 ratio for substitution.
· Mix kefir with a little powdered sugar to make a quick, tangy glaze for pound cakes, donuts and more – tastes great with fresh orange or lemon zest, too!
4 large avocados
1/2 cup Lifeway Lowfat Plain Kefir
1 tomato, chopped
1/4 cup onion, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tbsp cilantro, chopped
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp chili powder
Peel and pit the avocados. Mash the avocados in a bowl.
Stir in Lifeway Lowfat Plain Kefir. Next, stir in onion, garlic and cilantro. Start with small amounts of sea salt and chili powder to your taste. Then stir in the tomato. Serve with raw veggies, low-fat pita chips or low-fat tortilla chips.
2 Tablespoons canola oil
1 cup diced onion
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 cup thinly-sliced carrots
1/2 cup thinly-sliced celery stalks
28 oz can fire-roasted tomatoes
1 chipotle pepper in 1 teaspoon adobo sauce
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
2 Tablespoons tomato paste
Heat oil over medium heat in a medium-size stockpot. Add onion and a pinch of salt, stirring and cooking until the onions are translucent. (About 5 minutes.)
Add the carrots and celery, and cook for 3 more minutes. Then add the garlic and cook 2 more minutes. Add the tomatoes and bring to a boil. Add the chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, stock, and tomato paste and bring back to a boil.
Cover partially, and simmer on medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and cool for 5 minutes. Use an immersion blender to puree until smooth. (If you don’t have an immersion blender, carefully transfer to a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.)
Whisk in the Kefir until fully incorporated, serve warm.
Pumpkin Kefir Cheesecake
1 1/2 boxes cinnamon graham crackers, crushed
4 tbsp brown sugar
4 tbsp flour
1/2 cup apple juice concentrate
or 1 stick melted butter
1 1/2 cups cream cheese
1/4 cup Lifeway Lowfat Plain Kefir
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
6 tbsp liquid egg substitute
or 6 eggs
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 tsp apple pie spice
3/4 tsp cinnamon
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Combine the crust ingredients in a food processor. Lightly spray a 10-inch springform pan with cooking spray. Evenly distribute crust batter along the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Bake for 20 minutes and leave the oven on.
Using an electric mixer beat cream cheese, kefir, sugar, and vanilla extract until well blended. Add the egg substitute or eggs, and mix well. To the mixing bowl, add pumpkin and spices. Mix well with an electric mixer until the ingredients form one consistency. Pour mixture onto the crust and shake lightly to even the top.
Bake for 1 hour, until firm. Remove from oven and place on a cooling rack. Run a knife along the sides of the pan to loosen the cake. Cool for 30 to 40 minutes in the pan and then remove the sides. Chill in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 hours before serving.
For more kefir recipe ideas visit LifewayKefir.com
Do you have any recipes that include kefir, or any recipes that COULD include kefir by getting creative? Share them with us!