Apple-cinnamon-flaxseed kefir: Is kefir the new super food??!

Powering up on probiotics: With the media spotlight on the microbiome, and “friendly bacteria”, as discussed in my post  from October 30th, probiotics are quickly emerging as the new buzz word in health related conversations everywhere. So what exactly are probiotics? The most commonly accepted definition of probiotics comes from a joint FAO/WHO panel: “Live microorganisms that, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host”.

Apple-cinnamon-flax seed kefir. © Copyright, Sangeeta Pradhan, RD, LDN, CDE.

Apple-cinnamon-flax seed kefir. © Copyright, Sangeeta Pradhan, RD, LDN, CDE.

Move over, yogurt!: As many of you might know, yogurt is a popular source of probiotics, but a more recent entry into the probiotic market place is another fermented product called kefir. Kefir is made by adding kefir “grains” to milk, triggering a form of fermentation that is characteristic of this drink. Many experts believe that kefir is more potent than yogurt as it has several different strains of bacteria as well as yeasts that may not be found in yogurt. Emerging research indicates that diverse varieties of friendly bacteria in our digestive tract are associated with improved gut health.

The white, cauliflower like formation shown in the spoon are the kefir "grains". © Copyright November 2015, Sangeeta Pradhan, RD, LDN, CDE

The white, cauliflower like formation shown in the spoon are the kefir “grains”. © Copyright November 2015, Sangeeta Pradhan, RD, LDN, CDE

Kefir may be well tolerated by those with lactose intolerance as the bacteria in kefir predigest the sugar lactose found in milk, allowing improved tolerance. Tarter than yogurt, kefir has a bubbly, effervescent texture and typically ferments in less than 12-24 hours in the warmer months, but may take up to 36 hours during cooler months.

The recipe featured below is very simple to make, but packs a hefty probiotic punch given the diverse variety of “good bacteria” that go to work for you. Literally!

Apple-cinnamon-flaxseed kefir

Yield: approximately 2, 1.25 cup servings

Kefir is fermented milk made by adding Kefir

Kefir is fermented milk made by adding Kefir “grains” to milk and is a potent probiotic. It  has a bubbly, frothy texture as noted here.  © Copyright November 2015, Sangeeta Pradhan, RD, LDN, CDE.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups kefir*
  • 1 small apple, peeled and diced, approximately 1/2 cup
  • 1 tsp freshly ground flaxseed (You can use a spice or coffee mill to grind the flaxseed as shown in figure 1)
  • pinch of cinnamon powder or pumpkin spice
Figure 1. © Copyright, Sangeeta Pradhan, RD, LDN, CDE.

Figure 1. © Copyright, Sangeeta Pradhan, RD, LDN, CDE.

Method:

  1. Blend all the above ingredients in the jar of an electric blender until combined.
  2. Serve cold.

*Kefir is now available at grocery stores. I used a “home-grown” kefir culture that was offered to me by a friend, but you may substitute low-fat, plain yogurt with live and active cultures instead, if kefir itself is not readily available.

A Registered Dietitian’s tip:

Flaxseeds are a great source of alpha linolenic acid, a precursor of the all-important omega-3 fatty acids, and is associated with reduced risk of clots forming in the arteries. Flaxseeds also contain phytochemicals called lignans that have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. There are some studies that show that lignans may lower the risk of breast cancer as well. 2 tablespoons of flaxseed provides about 4 grams of fiber which may help lower cholesterol by binding it in the gut and subsequently excreting it from the body.

Why grind flaxseed: It is recommended that you grind flaxseed rather than consume it whole. This is because the seeds are somewhat hard and hence your body has a hard time digesting them, which is why they are likely to come out whole. Grinding the seeds converts them into a form that is easily digested and absorbed by the body, thus providing you with all the associated health benefits. You can grind flaxseed and sprinkle it on dry cereals, salads, stir into hot cereals or incorporate into baked goods.

So is Kefir the new super food or drink?? : Find out in my next post on this very crucial topic…

I would also like to suggest that you might want to read my previous post that gives an introduction and quick overview of how our diet and environment influence the bacteria in our gut. In turn, this invisible microbial community can profoundly influence our health. In the next post, we will review the correct criteria for picking probiotic foods, (read as “not get deceived by hype and selling gimmicks”), which species of bacteria are the most beneficial to health, what are prebiotics, and why are they such an integral part of a healthy diet. And much, much more…so stay tuned..

In the meantime if you have any thoughts or comments, I would love to hear them! Have a great week!

© Copyright November 2015, Sangeeta Pradhan, RD, LDN, CDE

© Copyright November 2015, Sangeeta Pradhan, RD, LDN, CDE

Disclaimer: This blog is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice. Please consult your doctor or registered dietitian for recommendations tailored for your unique needs.
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About Sangeeta Pradhan RD, CDE

Hi there! Welcome to my blog! If you are confused with all the conflicting messages you get bombarded with every day on carbs, fats, proteins, gluten and anything you can think of related to nutrition, look no further! The purpose of my blog is to cut through all this clutter, utilizing scientific, evidence based guidelines to help you, the consumer, navigate the complex, dietary landscape, and thus empower you to make informed decisions.
This entry was posted in Beverages, Digestive health, Get cooking and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to Apple-cinnamon-flaxseed kefir: Is kefir the new super food??!

  1. I have a small cup of kefir every day. Many questions! Is my 1/4 to 1/2 a day enough to make any difference? I usually buy it, but sometimes make it from a starter. Does it matter if the milk is ultra- pasteurized? Does the milk have to be heated, even if it is pasteurized? Your recipe looks good. Cheers —

    Liked by 1 person

  2. For probiotics to exert their intended effects, they must survive the trip down the GI tract and must be able to resist heat and acidic environments. I would suggest buying the freshest yogurt or kefir available as the bacterial content (with a few exceptions) may dwindle as the product sits on the shelf.
    Heat kills bacteria, but since kefir, yogurt and other probiotic containing drinks are not heated before serving, they constitute one of the more reliable sources of probiotics.
    I could be wrong, but it would seem to me that it should not matter if the milk is ultra-pasteurized because the starter culture from the kefir will “inoculate the milk” with several different strains of live bacteria. About 8 oz of yogurt or 4 oz of Kefir a day is recommended by experts. Next post on this topic will explore more details.
    As with all supplements or while introducing new foods, please check with your doctor first. Probiotics should be used with caution, and under medical supervision only in individuals with weak immune systems or those who are critically ill. Hope this helps!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Julia,
    Forgot to mention that I just add cold milk straight out of the refrigerator to the kefir starter culture from the previous batch. I do not heat the milk and have been getting great results with my home made kefir every time. Take care.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. jpennerzook says:

    I’ve wanted to add Kefir to my diet for some time. This may be the final push I need. Besides, your recipe looks delicious. Thanks, Sangeeta!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. My pleasure! So glad you are going to incorporate the kefir. Let me know how it turns out. Warm regards:)

    Liked by 1 person

  6. This is a awesome recipe. Thanks for writing and sharing it. If somebody wants some grains just follow the link http://kefirkitchen.com/product/natural-milk-kefir-grains/

    Liked by 1 person

  7. You are welcome! Thank you for providing this link so my readers and fellow bloggers can follow the trail if they wish to do so.
    I would like to mention as an FYI for my readers that I am not affiliated with kefirkitchen in any way:)

    Like

  8. jpennerzook says:

    Sangeeta, I just had a serving of this delicious Kefir recipe. It won’t be the last time! 😊 Thanks again!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Julia,
    So glad you liked it! Thank you so much for letting me know. Still working on the sequel to my gut instinct article…hope to post soon. Have an awesome Thanksgiving:))

    Liked by 1 person

  10. jpennerzook says:

    Thanks so much and I wish you the same.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Rob Alberts says:

    Long time ago I ate Kefir.
    Nowadays I eat different types of yoghurt.
    On probiotics I am still looking for more information on this subject.

    Love to read this blogpost!

    Kind regards,

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Hi Rob,

    Thank you very much for the feedback. Please refer to my post on “What’s your gut instinct?”, for a primer on the gut bacteria, and the extraordinary ways by which they can impact our health. I am currently working on the sequel to this post. There is tons of info to sort through, but hoping to post soon, so do stay tuned. Let me know if the posts help you, as your input in turn would be very helpful.

    Regards,
    Sangeeta

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Sangeeta, thanks for following me. I’m glad you did because your blog is impressive. I’m an RN and happy to find a knowledgeable dietician. And I have a question – I’m lactose intolerant – so would this kefir work with almond milk? Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. You are more than welcome! That’s a great question. I have not tried making kefir with almond milk, but I consistently make it with lactaid milk, with excellent results! The illustrated pictures of home made kefir are from lactaid milk as a matter of fact. If you are able to tolerate lactaid milk, I would recommend using it. Also bear in mind that the bacterial fermentation itself converts the lactose into a form that is more easily digested by the body. My other concern with almond milk is that it is not an equivalent substitution to regular milk, as its protein content is significantly lower. Hope this helps. Cheers! 😊

    Like

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