Editor’s Note: Today’s guest post is from Robyn, a newlywed who loves cooking new and healthy meals for her husband. She is a full time Realtor spending all her free time in the kitchen creating new recipes using local, organic ingredients. She writes a travel and whole food blog at www.eatwelltravelmore.com. You can also find her on Facebook.
Milk Kefir is a staple in our house. We drink it daily in our morning smoothies and I love it in place of yogurt on top of fresh fruit. I started to notice we were spending a lot of money buying it each week and kept thinking I needed to start making my own. I ordered grains online really unsure if I knew what I was doing. I was thrilled with how easy making milk kefir was and before I knew it, we were practically swimming in the stuff we had so much!
The low cost and ease of making my own kefir lead me to trying to find creative ways to include more in our daily diet. After receiving an abundance of fresh mint from our CSA, I decided it was time to make some mint ice cream and using kefir seemed like a great way to change it up (and get in more good-for-you probiotics!).
What is Milk Kefir?
Kefir is fermented milk. It looks like liquid yogurt and while it can taste a bit sour on its own it can easily take on the flavor of other ingredients. I love the sourness of kefir and homemade kefir has a cleaner taste to me so I enjoy eating it plain.
Benefits of Milk Kefir
The fermenting process makes milk kefir an easily digestible protein. So much so, many who have lactose intolerance find they can tolerate milk kefir with no problem. But that’s not all! Unlike yogurt, kefir contains not only bacteria but also yeast and is capable of colonizing in the digestive tract. Kefir is known for promoting healthy digestion and is chock full of minerals and essential amino acids.
Including fermented foods in your daily diet, like milk kefir, helps stave off diseases and will help regulate your digestion.
Buying vs. Making Milk Kefir
Like most other things, making kefir lets you control the ingredients and know exactly what you’re getting. Homemade kefir also contains more live and active cultures per cup then store bought. During mass production, kefir manufacturers use starter cultures instead of traditional grains to make their product.
That being said, you can still see the benefits of kefir (including store bought) into your daily diet. We enjoyed store bought for a long time. If its store bought versus nothing I would definitely go for store bought!
What to look for in store bought milk kefir
- Organic: I struggled with this but eventually found an organic option at one of my local stores.
- Whole: when you buy low- fat or fat free they have further processed the kefir and added back in synthetic versions of the vitamins and minerals. Our bodies don’t digest these the same way and you will lose out on many of the benefits of kefir.
- Plain: I have yet to see a flavored version that included any real ingredients. They usually are full of artificial flavors and colorings. Just by adding your own fruit you can easily have a flavored version minus all the yucky chemicals the manufacturers put in disguised as “flavors.”
Mint Chocolate Chip Kefir Ice Cream
1 ½ cups organic whole milk
1 cup fresh mint leaves
1 cup plain kefir
1 cup kefir cream** or organic whipping cream
5 egg yolks
¼ cup maple syrup
¼ cup organic whipping cream
½ cup dark chocolate (cut up or you can use chips)
- In a medium saucepan, combine milk and mint. Bring mixture to a gentle boil, cover and remove pan from heat. Steep mixture for 30 minutes. Strain mixture, discarding the solids & returning the milk to the saucepan, set aside.
- Beat egg yolks & maple syrup on medium-high speed until it thickens & froths up (takes 3-5 mins). Return the milk in the saucepan to a simmer.
- While constantly stirring slowly add half the warm milk to the egg mixture. Once blended add the new mixture to the sauce pan with remaining milk. Stir consistently over low heat until mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon.
- Strain the mixture through a fine mesh strainer into empty bowl, cover & chill in the refrigerator until completely cooled (usually takes 1-2 hours).
- Once cooled stir in the 1 cup of kefir & 1 cup kefir cream (or heavy whipping cream).
- Following the manufacturer’s instructions for your ice cream maker, pour custard in and start freezing.
- While ice cream is working heat up remaining ¼ cup whipping cream. Stir in chocolate until completely melted. Once the ice cream is almost completely done slowly stream in the chocolate mixture and let churn until completely mixed in.
- Transfer to a container, cover and let ice cream freeze further in the freezer before serving.
**If you make your own kefir you can easily make kefir cream by following the same method and using heavy whipping cream in place of milk.
What’s your favorite way to include kefir in your diet? Have you ever tried making your own kefir?