Today I get the pleasant task of featuring a wonderful piece by an equally wonderful person. Certainly, the topic of health is prevalent in society today and families are no different. Curious about probiotics and how to “sneak them in”? Check out this information and these tips from Jennifer:
The Probiotic Bandwagon
Keeping a family healthy can be a full time job! In recent years, the use of probiotics to keep a healthy immune system and gut has taken the world by storm. Seems there are advertisements and products touting their probiotic ingredients everywhere.
Probiotics are truly essential to a healthy life, but most probiotic rich recipes and foods are not top on young children’s (and husbands’) playlists. This leaves most mothers wondering how to provide this important dietary component for their family. Most rush out and purchase high-price probiotic supplements with additives and sugar. No family needs more of those!
Here are three creative ways that I add probiotics to my family’s diet without making them groan!
The Milk Kefir Collection
Milk kefir is an ancient drink that is teaming with nutrition and probiotics. If you have never drank it, think of a very sour yogurt that is thin enough to drink. It is most definitely an acquired taste, and I have to admit one that my family has refused to acquire.
That doesn’t stop me from routinely fermenting some in small batches. Why? Although, no one will drink straight kefir, they will all eat the other foods it helps to make. Three favorites are served on a regular basis in this house!
Homemade Overnight Cream Cheese Spread
This is an all time treat. The kefir produces more and more grains each time it is fermented. After awhile, I began to wonder what to do with all these extra grains. Of course, I chose to experiment with a new recipe. I hate to waste anything, so I needed a way to use up my extra grains.
I found a recipe for turning yogurt into a soft cheese, then had an epiphany! What if I used the extra grains to ferment the yogurt further and make a tangy cheese to use in place of cream cheese? The plan worked. So well, that my children now bed me to make cream cheese on a regular basis.
32 oz Plain Whole Milk Greek Yogurt
2-3 TBSP milk kefir grains
2 TBSP raw honey (optional)
1 TBSP cinnamon (optional)
Line a large colander with cheese cloth or a thin tea towel. Place colander into a large bowl. Pour yogurt into colander and stir in kefir grains. Cover with a light towel and let sit overnight in a warm spot.
In the morning, the whey will have drained out of the yogurt and left behind a thick, spreadable cheese. Add honey and cinnamon and serve on slices of toasted, whole grain bread. A delicious and hearty breakfast to keep them going. Yogurt cheese can be fermented up to 24 hours depending on desired tanginess. This can be used in place of cream cheese in any recipe.
Creamy Kefir Cheese
While we are on the topic of cheese, I must share my all time favorite probiotic recipe. Kefir cheese is simple kefir that has been fermented long enough to turn all of the milk into thick curds.
Kefir cheese can be used in place of ricotta in any recipe. (By the way, traditional, homemade ricotta is also a probiotic rich cheese–but that’s another article.) It can also be blended with herbs and spices to make a delightful soft cheese spread appetizer.
We use this cheese in desserts, lasagna, ziti, and so many other creamy delicacies. It is my favorite because I am lactose intolerant and miss cheese so much. However, kefir consumes the lactose in the fermentation process so I can enjoy as much of this delight as I please!
Fermentation times will depend upon how many grains are used and the ambient temperature. Once the kefir is solid and begins to separate from the whey, the cheese is ready to eat.
Some uses include:
- Cheesecake–kefir cheese and fermented, yogurt cream cheese
- Cannoli filling
- Herbed cheese spread
- Ziti or lasagna filling
- Cottage cheese replacement in recipes
Cooking the kefir will kill off many of the probiotics, however ingestion of even dead probiotics is beneficial to gut health.
Water Kefir, The Bubbly Answer to Probiotic Needs
Milk kefir is not the only kefir available. A lesser known cousin, that is just as nutritious, is made with simply water and sugar. We ferment water kefir on a daily basis. I can honestly say that it makes a difference in our overall health when we drink it consistently.
Water kefir can be used to make iced tea, lemonade, or other cold drinks. It can also be fermented a second time to make a sparkly treat that rivals any soda out there. We are not fizzy drink lovers, so the first ferment is fine for us. This truly is one of the easiest ways to give a family probiotics on a daily basis.
½ gallon warm water
⅓ cup water kefir grains
¼ cup raw sugar
Stir sugar into water and add in grains. Cover and let ferment for 24-36 hours. Grains will bubble up when it is ready. Strain out grains, rinse, and repeat.
The water kefir has very little taste and can easily be flavored to suit any taste. Adding some vanilla extract make a delightful beverage that can rival any cream soda! This was a family favorite until the price of vanilla went sky high!
Fermented Oatmeal, Not The Average Hot Cereal
When most people hear fermented foods, they conjure up images of sauerkraut and other strong tasting foods. However, fermenting can also make foods sweeter. Fermenting oatmeal also makes it easier to digest.
Fermented oatmeal begins with soaking oats (overnight to 24 hours) and then quick cooking them. However, the fermentation doesn’t stop there. Oatmeal can be further fermented for a couple of days by just leaving it covered on the counter and heating it as needed.
The oatmeal will not be sour, but sweet. My kids gobble it up for days–if it lasts that long!
For each cup of oats to be cooked (I usually make 5 cups at a time):
1 cup rolled or steel cut oats
1 cup water
1.5 tsp apple cider vinegar (with mother)
Soak 7-24 hours. Then pour into pot. Add 1 cup water and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil and then cook for 5 mins. Portion into bowls and top with seeds, nuts, fruit, milk, spices, or honey. Keep leftover oatmeal in pot, covered to ferment further. Heat as needed.
This oatmeal not only has probiotics from fermenting, but a good dose of probiotics, the nutrients needed to feed healthy gut bacteria.
What probiotics has your family tried?
Jennifer is a social media and content manager for Global Learn Day. She also manages her own content marketing and copywriting business, as well as her Veils and Vocations blog. When Jennifer isn’t tapping away at her laptop, she homeschools her four children. Jennifer enjoys researching all the best ways to keep her family healthy and experimenting with new recipes she finds online. Jennifer and her husband still live in their beautiful hometown in the scenic Northeast where there are always plenty of weather changes to keep life interesting!
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