Kefir: Yogurt On Steroids!

Kefir-1Yogurt is great, but Kefir is even better! I want as much immune boosting probiotics in my diet as I can get, and drinking Kefir is a tasty way to get those good little bugs in my gut!  I make  a kefir smoothie daily, and serve with breakfast or as an afternoon snack.  It’s one of the easiest and nutritious things I make at home, so there’s absolutely no excuse not to have a kefir smoothie every day, oh and my kids love them!  Let me add, that to get the most potent yogurt or kefir, it is best to make it at home as the beneficial bacteria can be lost through packaging and shelf age.  If you are purchasing your cultured dairy, you want to check the package and make sure it contains “live active bacteria” if not, more than likely you are consuming dead bacteria, and what’s the point in that?  Here’s a quick overview of some of the benefits of kefir, and one of our regular kefir smoothies we do at home.

Facts About Kefir:

  • It’s a perfect balance of yeast and beneficial bacteria
  • Has been shown to Inhibit growth of tumors in lab rats
  • Boosts the immune system
  • Antimicrobial – Kills pathogens such as E. Coli & Salmonella
  • Reduces allergy, asthma & eczema symptoms
  • Aides in digestion
  • Fermentation process breaks down lactose and casein-depending on how long you let the kefir ferment it potentially could be lactose free
  • Contains 30-50 strains of good bacteria – yogurt only has 7-9
  • Builds strong bones-contains Vitamin K2 important nutrient lacking in our diets that aids in placing calcium in the appropriate places in our bodies

Making Kefir:

1-2 T. live kefir grains

4 cups whole milk (do not use UHT pasteurized milk)

Place kefir grains and whole milk in 1 quart Mason jar, cover loosely with lid, clean cloth or coffee filter and rubber band or mason ring. Leave at room temperature for approximately 24 hours, strain to use the grains again and refrigerate the kefir or use immediately.  You may ferment longer depending on how sour you want the taste.  If you see it starting to separate like curds and whey,  it’s okay, just stir and strain, nothing is wrong with it.

Kefir Smoothie

4 cups kefir

2 frozen bananas

10 oz. frozen berries

2 raw organic farm fresh eggs (optional)

¼ cup raw honey, sucanat or 5-10 drops Stevia

2 T. chia seeds

Place all ingredients in blender and blend till smooth.  Make popsicles with any leftovers and the kids really think it’s a treat!

If you need any kefir grains they can be purchased through Cultures for Health, there’s a link below, or try to find some from someone in your community.  Sometimes, people post on Craigslist that they’re giving them away or selling them pretty cheap.  It’s easier but not necessary if you start out with active grains.

For more information:

http://www.kefir.org/kefir_manual.htm

http://www.culturesforhealth.com/milk-kefir-grains-composition-bacteria-yeast

http://www.nourishkefir.co.uk/upload_file/F8.pdf

Seasonal Meal Plans

I recently made a fall menu that I wanted to share, as it has taken a weight off my shoulders, and I hope this easy plan of attack will help you as well.  From the conversations I have with other moms, I know I am not alone in feeling burdened by coming up with a meal plan every day.  As much as I love to cook, I can get worn down by having to make three meals a day just like anyone else.  I could plan, create and thumb through cookbooks all day long if that was my only responsibility, BUT sadly I do have other things I have to do.  So, I needed to free my mind.  And that is exactly what this menu has done for me.

 My Plan of Attack:

1.  Start out by coming up with how many times you would want Mexican, Italian, Indian, Oriental, and Southern . For this stage in my life I needed a no-brainer menu, meaning I wanted a menu full of dinners than I knew my family would eat and ones that I didn’t need a recipe for (except for the Indian ones).   I also brainstormed some of my favorite fall meals in those categories.

2.  Then look at the month and plug in all the times we would do pizza.  (That’s our Friday night tradition – homemade pizza – and I get rewarded with a big glass of red wine.)  The kids look forward to the pizza and I’m sure you can guess what I look forward to after a long week!

3.  My next step was to take care of the rest of the weekends.  Saturdays are easy because it’s my clean out the fridge night.   If we have all been “Clean Plate” members for the week and just don’t have any leftovers then we will have eggs for dinner.  It could be egg burritos, migas, frittata with sautéed vegetables or just whatever we feel like for that evening. For Sundays, I had to think of meals that I could either do in a crock pot or oven that would be ready to eat as soon as we got home from church, because, Lord have mercy, those kids can’t wait even 5 minutes for me to get something on the table.

4.  Now all I have to plug in are my week days.  Start taking out days you are not home for dinner, and looking for days that everyone is home.  Every other Wednesday I don’t have to cook because we get dinner at church, hallelujah!  Mondays and the other Wednesdays are the only nights we don’t have something – so that can be more fun or time-consuming meals.   Alright, I have whittled the month down.  Now all I have to do is fill in the rest of the Tuesdays and Thursdays for the month.  We have soccer practice on those nights so those need to be quick fix meals that can be ready before practice.  Plug those in and I’m done!  That’s my Fall menu.

The Shopping:

Once that was done I approximated how much meat I would need for the month and tried to buy the bulk of my groceries at the beginning of the month.  Each week I look at the upcoming week’s menu and go shopping for whatever fruits and vegetables we may need.  This has saved me time and money!

I plan on repeating this menu for the next three months and then updating it a bit for Winter.  That will probably include a few more soups, stews and seasonal items.  So that’s it.  I hope this helps all you busy moms and/or dads that are trying to feed your families with wholesome meals every day.

The Tate’s Fall Menu

*side note:  I only came up with a dinner menu  because we always eat the leftovers the next day for lunch.  I will keep tuna and lunch meat on hand just to have on the rare occasions when we don’t have any leftovers.  Breakfasts are pretty easy; I just try and make sure I have all the things on hand to make our normal breakfasts which are oatmeal, homemade cereal, eggs, and flour for pancakes, biscuits, bread, etc.

Mon. Pork Loin/Sauerbraten with purple cabbage, green beans & knöedel

Tues. Chicken pasta dish with side veggie/salad

Wed. Mexican casserole (reserve extra taco meat for later in the month) with side veggie/salad

Thurs. Indian (pick recipe out of the cookbook)

Fri. Pizzas/Stromboli/Calzone with salad or Turkish tomato soup

Sat. Leftovers /eggs

Sun. Chicken Soup(Lunch) with side veggie/salad

Mon. Lasagna  & salad /roasted veggies

Tues. Chili/sloppy joes with side veggie/salad

Wed. Dinner provided at church

Thurs. Oriental Stir-fry

Fri. Pizzas/Stromboli/Calzone with salad or Turkish tomato soup

Sat. Leftovers /eggs

Sun. Pot Luck at church (crock pot dish)

Mon. Hamburger with sauerkraut & sweet potato fries

Tues. Black bean soup with toppings and tortilla chips (make extra to freeze)

Wed. Chicken & pasta dish (marsala/cacciatore/corbonara) with side veggie/salad

Thurs. Indian (pick a dish from book)

Fri. Pizzas/Stromboli/Calzone with salad or Turkish tomato soup

Sat. Leftovers /eggs

Sun. South West Roast with beans & rice & side veggie/salad

Mon. White chicken chili with side veggie/salad & cornbread/tortilla chips

Tues. Beef & vegetable Stew with cornbread

Wed. Dinner provided at church

Thurs. Oriental stir-fry (Teriyaki)

Fri. Pizzas/Stromboli/Calzone with salad or Turkish tomato soup

Sat. Leftovers /eggs

Sun. Pinto Beans, cole slaw and cornbread (make extra to freeze)

Mon. Spaghetti & meat sauce with salad and garlic bread (reserve extra sauce for lasagna)

Tues. Taco Soup with taco meat left overs or SW roast left overs

Wed. Fried chicken/steak with mashed potatoes, gravy & veggie

**10 lbs ground beef, 3-5 lbs. pork loin/ eye of round, 1lb. Italian sausage, 1 whole chicken, 8-10 chicken breasts, 2 roasts

 

Free 7 Day Breakfast Meal Plan

It’s time to change breakfast.  I know when most of you out there read this you all cringed or rolled your eyes.  I mean, breakfast is hard.  You are tired, in a hurry, stressed . . . pretty much not an ideal time to cook and not exactly the meal you want to be challenged on.  And sure you’ve heard forEVER how important breakfast is for you.  So, my question is why is this the one meal that everyone still skimps on? Do you not believe the research?  Do you not crash after an hour of eating a bowl of cereal?  If you crash, just imagine how your hard your kids crash at school with a much higher metabolism than you have.  So you need facts?  Well read this, and this and if your still not convinced, this mom has it figured out.  But research alone will not convince you, you must do it and see it with your OWN eyes.

I am about to blow your mind here.  CEREAL IS NOT A GOOD BREAKFAST.  Nope.  Not even Kashi (that was for my sweet friend Lyndi).  It is heavliy processed, full of carbs and sugars and added nutrients (which actually adds another processing step).  As Carrie states here, your body needs protein in the morning.

You can cook a healthy breakfast for your family EVERYDAY in a SHORT amount of time.  It may take you an extra 10 minutes, remember that this precious 10 minutes gives you and your kids hours of better thinking, better focus, better moods and better food choices during the rest of the day.  If teachers are calling you about your child’s behavior or lack of focus, I dare to say a breakfast change may be the answer.

Here are the basics of a good breakfast

1.  Protien ( via eggs, meat)

2.  Good fat ( via nuts, avocado )

3.  good carbs ( veggies, fruit)

Simply4 is starting a 7 day breakfast challenge.  For 7 days commit to no cereal, no pop tarts, no pre-made frozen waffles or pancakes, no donuts and feed your family protein packed REAL food for breakfast.  In 7 days we want you to see the difference in your and your families productivity, energy and mood.  Now, with that said, I will not leave you hanging and lost and wondering how to begin and what to do.  I have made a 7 day breakfast meal plan for you to download complete with daily menus and recipes using some of our favorite and fast breakfast recipes! YOU CAN DO THIS!

To get your free 7 day breakfast meal plan download it here!

7 days.  Thats all.  Come back and tell us how your 7 days went! I think you will find that it really doesn’t take much more time to get a HUGE benefit!