Are you and your kids getting your probiotics this winter? If you’re not drinking kefir – or cooking with it – you’re missing a great opportunity.
Kefir is a cultured dairy product that’s been made for thousands of years. It’s kind of like a slightly thick milk, with a tangy, yogurt-like taste. Kefir is rich in probiotics, the “good” bacteria known to help digestion and prevent colds, as well as vitamins, minerals, and protein. It’s also easy to digest, even for people with lactose intolerance. If you can work it into your diet every day, it’s an easy and tasty way to get your body (and gut) in good health.
Our friends at the California-based Redwood Hill Farm and Green Valley Organics recently sent us some kefir, and of course we immediately gravitated toward the flavored kind to drink for breakfast and put in smoothies (We tried Redwood Hill’s Pineapple Orange Mango and Green Valley’s Strawberry Pomegranate Acai.) But what we hadn’t realized was just how good the plain kind is, and how versatile and useful it is in cooking and baking.
One great example of this is ranch dressing. How many kids use ranch dressing as their go-to dip and/or vehicle for eating vegetables? Of course you can dump it out of a bottle, or you can make it with buttermilk and mayonnaise or sour cream, but if you’re really clever you can make ranch dressing with kefir and then let them enjoy all of those nutritional benefits without even noticing.
Kefir Ranch Dressing
1 cup plain kefir
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt (add more if you want a thicker, more dip-like consistency)
1 T. olive oil
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 tsp. salt
Dash black ground pepper
1 sprig parsley leaves, very finely chopped
In a medium bowl, whisk together the kefir, yogurt, and olive oil (add more yogurt if you want a thicker, dip-like consistency. Stir in the garlic powder, salt, pepper, and parsley leaves. Cover and let sit in the refrigerator for two hours, or until the flavors are set. Serve over a salad, as a dip, or in a sandwich. Serves 8.
Like the idea of cooking with kefir? You can find all sorts of great ideas here and here. In fact, our next holiday project is going to be these lemon kefir cookies. Shhh…Don’t tell the kids they’re good for them…