Vegan kefir grains

September 16, 2016

Are you including probiotic-rich foods in your diet? Including coconut water kefir, cultured vegetables, and this raw almond milk kefir have helped enormously to rebalance my inner eco-system, and restore my health and vitality. I wrote about many of these ideas in my how to section when I started the site a few years ago. But, it has been remiss of me not to have posted these very important recipes here on the blog. I will share these recipes in the next couple of months.

Those of you who have been following me for a while would be familiar with my life-long battle with candida. You can read more about my personal story here. But, just briefly, I had tried every anti-candida diet known to man, and nothing really worked until I discoved the Body Ecology Diet. I committed to stage 1 of the diet for over a year, and still maintain many of the principles of the protocol in my diet today.

Whilst Scott and I now maintain a vegan alkaline diet as developed by Dr Robert O Young, I still include cultured foods in my diet every day. Dr Young does not recommend fermented foods. However, my personal experience has been that unless I embrace a fully raw alkaline diet, probiotics are needed to keep my digestive tract balanced. We are all individuals, and this is the right balance for me at the moment. So, I consume just a little bit of live, raw probiotic foods every day.

One of my favourite probiotic foods is kefir. This fermented, microbial-rich food has been used as a drink and a tonic for centuries in Eastern European countries and the Middle East. It has become extremely popular in the West too. Kefir is traditionally made with cow's milk or goat’s milk, and widely available in both forms. But, you can purchase or make plant based milk kefir as well. Coconut milk kefir and coconut water kefir is now commercially available at many health food stores, and you can also make kefir from other dairy free milks like soy milk and almond milk.

All kefir has a slightly tart and sour taste similar to yoghurt, and is extremely beneficial to health. Kefir is loaded with good bacteria and essential vitamins, minerals, live enzymes, and amino acids. It also has natural antibiotic and antifungal properties, and helps to fight infection and disease. Kefir also helps to cleanse the endocrine system, flush out the liver, and clean and tone the colon.

Kefir is also a brilliant digestive aid. It helps to line our digestive tract with protective mucous, combats putrefactive bacteria, and helps to destroy parasites, thus reducing gas and bloating. It is just a magic food! But, please remember that kefir is extremely potent and powerful. A small amount a day is all you need. Kefir has a natural, gentle laxative effect and can really get things moving! Too much will have you paying homage to the toilet bowl more times than you would like! Trust me, I've done it! I'll save that story for my coconut water kefir post. Oh My...

Cow's milk and goat's milk kefir is typically made using gelatinous white or yellow “kefir grains”. You can also make water kefir (I will share that recipe in the coming months as well) with water kefir grains. However, to make plant based/dairy free kefir, I find the traditional grains difficult to work with, particularly for those making kefir for the first time. I also prefer not to use them as I don't consume dairy or dairy by-products. But more importantly, these grains are easily contaminated, and it can be challenging to get consistent results and accurately measure the degree of colonization in each batch.

After years of making almond milk kefir, I think the easiest way to get the most consistent results is to add really high quality vegetarian probiotic capsules. Always purchase the kind that are stored in the fridge in the health food store, and keep them cold. All you do is break them open, and add them to your almond milk. This method is also preferable for vegans, and those with severe dairy allergies.

Just a few things to note when making almond milk kefir. Unlike my raw almond milk, where I use a 1:2 or 1:3 ratio of almonds to water, you will want to add some more water to the blender in order to make almond milk kefir. I find a 1:7 or 1:8 cup ratio works the best for me. Just remember not to use a metal spoon to stir the probiotics thorugh the almond milk. This can damage the delicate microbial organisms.

You can get really creative with this kefir. But, I keep it plain and unsweetened. I prefer to add a cup to smoothies and puddings, and then flavour to taste. Either way, give this simple recipe a try and reap the healthy rewards! I will share my favourite almond kefir smoothie recipe tomorrow!

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