Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Kefir: A New Love

Most days of the week (well at least half), I recently started a new breakfast routine with kefir at its base. Kefir is a fermented milk drink similar to buttermilk (sounds irresistible already, I know! But seriously, please keep reading because it does get better, I promise) and is a natural source of probiotics with antioxidant properties. It's also a great dairy option for those of us who don't tolerate the lactose in milk so well. Trader Joe's carries both the plain and a strawberry flavored version (which I haven't tried) for around $2.50/quart and Whole Foods has a range available, including organic and goat's milk varieties at, of course, higher prices (around $5). But if I could afford it, I would definitely opt for the organic since it is a dairy product (cows, antibiotics, growth hormones, etc.). One cup has 120 calories, 3g of fiber, and 14g of protein.
Here's my recipe for kefir success (single serving):
1/4 cup (20g) uncooked multi-grain cereal (including oats, rye, barley, wheat) 65 cal
2 T (20g) raw oat groats, pre-soaked* 75 cal
1/2 cup kefir 60 cal
8g raw walnuts, chopped 52 cal
14g dried cherries 50 cal
1 t ground flaxseed 10 cal
a drizzle of (organic) agave nectar** 15 cal
Total calories/serving: 327;
Total fiber: 7g
The night before your anticipation-packed breakfast, soak the cereal, pre-soaked oat groats, and walnuts in the kefir and store in the fridge. Make sure you stir them to mix or the kefir will just sit on the top.
In the morning, the oats will have absorbed the kefir. Add the remaining ingredients, with cinnamon to taste (sometimes I'll throw in some nutmeg or ground ginger if I'm feeling spicy. Stir everything up and enjoy! The combination of these flavors and textures will leave you craving more;)
*Raw oat groats are what rolled-oats are before they're steamed and rolled flat; or steel cut, before cut. Raw, they look like pearl barley, and are available in the bulk section of health food stores or online ( Soak them in water overnight, strain, and store in an air-tight container in the fridge.
**Agave nectar is a liquid sweetener made from the agave plant (like tequila). It has the same number of calories as honey (60/1T) but is sweeter and less thick. It's also really low in the glycemic index compared with other natural sweeteners and is great for baking or sweetening sauces.