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Newsletter » Kefir

Newsletter Article Aug. 3/01 - Susan Van Dueck


  1. What is Kefir?

  2. Lactose Intolerance

  3. Benefits of Kefir

  4. Kefir Starter

  5. Where to Buy Kefir

  6. How to Make Kefir

  7. Recipes

What is Kefir?
Kefir is a cultured, enzyme-rich food filled with friendly micro-organisms that help balance your intestinal flora. Similar to yogurt but more nutritious and therapeutic, it supplies complete protein, essential minerals, and valuable B vitamins. In addition:

  • Kefir is inexpensive and easy to make at home.

  • Kefir is very helpful for those suffering from Candidiasis (Yeast problems) and many other health issues. It aids in the restoration of flora after antibiotic treatments.

  • Kids often love kefir, especially with some fruit blended into it.

  • Kefir is a natural tranquilizer and antibiotic.

  • Kefir is a wonderful supplement to the diets of pregnant and nursing women, the elderly, and those with compromised immunity.

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Lactose Intolerance
What if I'm lactose intolerant, don't do dairy or don't digest milk products well - is kefir right for me?

The beneficial yeast and friendly bacteria in the kefir culture consume most of the lactose (or milk sugar). Eat kefir on an empty stomach first thing in the morning before (or for) breakfast and you'll be delighted to find it can be easily digested -- as numerous people who have been lactose intolerant for years have discovered.

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Benefits of Kefir
In addition to beneficial bacteria and yeast, kefir contains minerals and essential amino
acids that help the body with healing and maintenance functions. The complete proteins in kefir are partially digested and therefore more easily utilized by the body. Tryptophan, one of the essential amino acids abundant in kefir, is well known for its relaxing effect on the nervous system. Because kefir also offers an abundance of calcium and magnesium, which are also important minerals for a healthy nervous system, kefir in the diet can have a particularly profound calming effect on the nerves. Kefir's ample supply of phosphorus, the second most abundant mineral in our bodies, helps utilize carbohydrates, fats, and proteins for cell growth, maintenance and energy. Kefir is rich in Vitamin B12, B1, and Vitamin K. It is an excellent source of biotin, a B Vitamin which aids the body's assimilation of other B Vitamins, such as folic acid, pantothenic acid, and B12. The numerous benefits of maintaining adequate B vitamin intake range from regulation of the kidneys, liver and nervous system to helping relieve skin disorders, boost energy and promote longevity.

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The benefits of consuming kefir regularly in the diet are numerous. Easily digested, it cleanses the intestines, provides beneficial bacteria and yeast, vitamins and minerals, and complete proteins. Because kefir is such a balanced and nourishing food, it contributes to a healthy immune system and has been used to help patients suffering from AIDS, chronic fatigue syndrome, herpes, and cancer. Its tranquilizing effect on the nervous system has benefited many who suffer from sleep disorders, depression, and ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder).

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The regular use of kefir can help relieve all intestinal disorders, promote bowel movement, reduce flatulence and create a healthier digestive system. In addition, its cleansing effect on the whole body helps to establish a balanced inner ecosystem for optimum health and longevity. Kefir can also help eliminate unhealthy food cravings by making the body more nourished and balanced. Its excellent nutritional content offers healing and health-maintenance benefits to people in every type of condition.

Kefir Starter
See the Body Ecology website at for ordering kefir starter (different from yogurt starter), and stevia (a safe replacement for sugar which I’ll talk about next time).

Consumer’s Nutrition in the Richmond Centre Mall carries kefir starter by Yogourmet ($3.99 for enough to make 6 litres). Capers also normally carries it or order from Body Ecology (see link above).

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Where to Buy Kefir
I have purchased ready made kefir at Save on Foods at Ironwood Mall in Richmond (Health Food section).

I’m sure Choices or Capers would also carry it. The brand I tried was Liberty certified organic kefir. Fruit flavoured kefir has 14 gm of carbohydrates per 125 ml. Making your own will cut down the carbohydrates considerably. Or buy kefir plain and blend with fruit. If you want extra sweetening, use a little stevia which has minimal carbohydrates. Most health food stores carry liquid or powdered stevia or you can order it order from Body Ecology (see link above). The liquid is great for adding to tea or other beverages. The powder is good for baking. For more interesting information on kefir visit:

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How to Make Kefir
When using Yogourmet kefir starter, 5g of starter is required for 1 litre of milk.

You may also, substitute ˝ cup whipping cream for part of the milk if you’d like a richer end product.

1) Heat 1 litre or 1 quart of whole milk preferably nonhomogenized (I used Avalon Old Fashioned Standard Whole Milk, substituting ˝ cup whipping cream for part of the milk) to 180° F or 82° C. Use a candy thermometer to monitor the temperature. Cool to 73 - 77° F or 23° - 25° C.

2) Dissolve 5g of kefir culture in a small amount of cooled milk and mix back into the main milk.

3) Pour the inoculated milk into a clean glass bowl, wrap in a thick towel to insulate and let stand at room temperature until curd forms. About 24 hours.

4) Refrigerate about 8 hours to stop the process.

5) Stir to liquefy and use plain or blended with fruit. Always store kefir in the fridge.

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Banana-Berry Kefir Muffins

1 3/4 cup organic unbleached white flour
3/8 tsp Stevia extract powder (I used NOW brand)
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 egg
1/2 cup plain kefir
1/3 cup water
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2/3 cup mashed banana (1 large)
3/4 cup chopped raspberries (substitute chopped strawberries or whole blueberries)

Preheat oven to 400° F.

Oil the muffin tins. In a mixing bowl stir together flour, stevia, baking powder and cinnamon. Make a well in the centre for liquid ingredients. In a separate bowl, mix egg, water, kefir, and oil. Add to the flour mixture and beat for a few minutes with hand mixer until well blended. If the mixture is too stiff, add a little more water. Add the fruit and stir until combined. Spoon batter into muffin tins and bake in centre of oven for 20 minutes or until golden. Makes 12. Carbohydrates per muffin = 17gm.

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Kefir Smoothie

Put in blender:

1 Litre (4 C) Plain Kefir
2 cups fresh or frozen organic fruit of your choice
Stevia to taste or a little honey or maple syrup

Be careful with stevia…it is very sweet. Add a little at a time until desired sweetness is achieved. 

Makes about 6 to 8 servings. Carbohydrates per ˝ cup serving using raspberries and stevia = 9.5 gm.

Tip: Don't make a big batch of this with stevia and leave it in the fridge...stevia goes bitter. Mix the stevia in as you are ready to drink.

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