Cooking with Kefir + Recipe for Cranberry Bread

November 25, 2019

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Last week, I attended an invitation-only wellness product launch for Lifeway‘s new plant-based probiotic drinks, Plantiful. Alongside a handful of lifestyle and food bloggers, we did some Pilates, tried the new Plantiful drink, ate a delicious breakfast and heard from the Lifeway CEO and President Julie Smolyansky. (BTW, she has an incredible story about the history of her family’s kefir business.)

Lifeway plant-based probiotic drink launch event

Lifeway wellness event

Disclosure: I received free samples of Lifeway’s products and a copy of the cookbook mentioned in this post. I was not compensated for my time or for the recipe that I created and am sharing in this post.

I knew about kefir and Lifeway long before this event. My kids have a long history with the kids’ probiotic pouch, ProBugs. (They love that stuff. Seriously.) I knew kefir was good for the gut, helping to boost the “good bugs” in the GI tract. I drink it occasionally. I recommend it to clients with GI distress. But, I guess I hadn’t really thought about incorporating it more into my cooking and baking. And, that is changing. And this is why…

Benefits of Kefir

Kefir contains a host of nutrients like protein, calcium, phosphorous, vitamin B12 and even a little vitamin D. This smooth and creamy cultured beverage has been around for centuries, perhaps as far back as two thousand years ago. And thanks to the probiotic starter, or Mother Culture, that is added to milk to start fermentation, kefir contains 12 beneficial probiotic strains.

  • Promotes a healthy gut — the “good bacteria” in kefir help to boost a healthy gut and digestive system
  • Bolsters immune system — since approximately 70-80% of our immune cells are located in the gut, healthy gut bacteria boosts the immune system
  • Boosts bone health — one serving of kefir contains calcium and a little vitamin D, both of which are essential for healthy bones
  • Helps increase protein intake — kefir is a complete vegetarian protein, which helps to maintain muscle and may help keep us feeling fuller longer
  • About 99% lactose-free — specially-fermented kefir ensures that this calcium-rich drink is 99% lactose-free and tolerated by many people with lactose intolerance

With Lifeway CEO and President, Julie Smolyansky

Cooking with Kefir

As I learned last week, kefir makes a perfect dairy stand-in for milk in recipes. In addition to making delicious and protein-rich smoothies, kefir can be used to make creamy salad dressings and soups, add fluffiness pancakes and muffins, make creamy overnight oatmeal, stand-in for sour cream and tenderize meat, poultry and fish. Kefir is also great to cook with. While the heat from cooking does result in a loss of some probiotics, kefir can be used in baking and cooking. In fact, I updated one of my most popular recipes, Orange Cranberry Candied Ginger Quick Bread, to include kefir. The result? A more protein- and calcium-rich bread: Cranberry-Ginger Kefir Bread. Delicious, moist and a perfect companion to my morning coffee or tea.

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PLEASE SHARE: Do you use kefir in your cooking? If so, please share some of your favorite recipes. I’d love to hear from you!