There's a slight nip in the air and the temperatures are hardly rising above 15 degrees C. Autumn's around the corner. Each year at around this time of year I feel rather melancholic - saying goodbye to Summer in favor for colder days is never easy for me. Being down with a flu at the moment does not brighten up the situation either.
Having said that, Autumn does have it's up sides too. I enjoy the turning of the leaves and the wonderful oranges, yellows and browns that Autumn brings with it. Even in terms of food Autumn brings along great produce like pumpkins, apples and pears. So, I am sure there will be a lot of exciting stuff going on here at WFLH this Autumn.
Being a bit under the weather my appetite is not too hot right now so I have been relying on my blender and a variety of different liquids, fruit and vegetable to keep me going. One brilliant creation I concocted this week was a drink made out of Kefir with passion fruit and orange. Refreshing and healthy, so I figured to share this for my own entry to Liquid Dreams, the theme to this month's Monthly Mingle.
Kefir (kee-fer) also known as kewra, talai, mudu kekiya is basically a cultured, enzyme-rich food filled with friendly micro-organisms that help balance the "inner ecosystem" to maintain optimal health and strengthen immunity. It's origins date back many centuries ago, in the Northern Caucasus Mountains located in the former Soviet Union.
The word kefir is said to be derived from the Turkish word keif, which loosely translates to "feel good". This is for the obvious increase in a sense of well-being experienced by drinking kefir regularly.
Kefir is prepared by culturing cow, goat, or sheep's milk with kefir grains, which are not to be mistaken for cereal grains. Kefir can best be described as a sort of sparkling yogurt in liquid form, with its own distinct and deliciously mild, naturally sweet, yet tangy flavor—with a refreshing hint of natural carbonation. Its unique taste and almost supernatural reputation as a longevity drink is probably why people all over Europe are making kefir their beverage of choice. In Germany over the years Kefir has gained popularity to immense extents and many mixed drinks and shakes are available at the supermarket containing this superfood.
Kefir has many reputed health benefits. It has antibiotic and antifungal properties. It's been used in the treatment of a variety of conditions, including metabolic disorders, atherosclerosis, and allergies, tuberculosis, cancer, poor digestion, osteoporosis, hypertension, HIV and heart disease.
In addition to beneficial bacteria and yeast, kefir also contains many vitamins, minerals, amino acids and enzymes. In particular it contains calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, B2 and B12, vitamin K, vitamin A and vitamin D. Tryptophan, one of the essential amino acids abundant in kefir, is well known for its relaxing effect on the nervous system. Because kefir also has an abundance of calcium and magnesium, also important minerals for a healthy nervous system, kefir in the diet can have a particularly calming effect on the nerves.
The abundance of enzymes brings more health benefits, especially to lactose intolerant people, many of whom can tolerate kefir without difficulty, as long as the kefir is raw and not cooked (cooking destroys the enzymes).
Kefir can be easily prepared at home, just as it has been done over many centuries. Fresh, non-pasteurised or pasteurised full-cream, low fat or non-fat milk is poured into a clean suitable container with the addition of kefir grains. Any fresh milk-type available can be used to make kefir. The contents are left to stand at room temperature for approximately 24 hours. The cultured-milk is strained in order to separate the kefir grains from the liquid-kefir. The grains are then added to more fresh milk, and the process is simply repeated. This simple procedure can be performed on an indefinite basis as kefir grains last forever.
The strained liquid-kefir may either be consumed fresh, refrigerated for later use, or ripened at room temperature over a period of days. The ripening process is useful for individuals who wish to reduce lactose in their kefir. Ripening improves overall flavor, increases specific vitamins of the B group, while carbon dioxide and alcohol content is increased also.
I have been following the instructions here to make my own Kefir at home.
Kefir starter kit.
Further information on Wikipedia
Where to find Kefir (UK & USA).
2 passion fruits - pulp and seeds only
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon lime juice
200 ml freshly squeezed orange juice
200 ml kefir
Place all the ingredients in a blender and whizz for at least a minute until smooth. If you find it too thick add some more orange juice.
Using a fine meshed strainer, strain the kefir into glasses.
You know the feeling you get after you have done something especially good for your body, like a good workout, it tingles and feels rejuvenated. That is the description I can give you after drinking this Kefir shake. Taste wise it is fruity and tangy with just a little hint of yeast not at all unpleasant.
This is also a brilliant drink for breakfasts for those who are unable to eat solid food in the morning. If you want to get rid of a few extra pounds, you will find, drinking kefir/buttermilk shakes also will help you get to your ideal weight. More about getting rids of the extra summer pounds in Helene's great article Meal frequency and calorie intake.
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