6 Surprising Ways to Use Kefir

Kefir is versatile in the kitchen and can be enjoyed in a variety of everyday recipes.

Pronounced "keh-FEAR" , this fermented milk drink is expanding in the yogurt aisle. It has vitamins A and D and calcium in amounts comparable to those in milk, making it a good way to help get your daily recommended servings of dairy. Kefir is brimming with gut-friendly bacteria, which help keep your intestines happy. It's versatile in the kitchen and can be enjoyed in a variety of everyday recipes. Try it these seven ways.

#1: Smoothies

Smoothies are an easy way to start experimenting with kefir. Blend with fruit like bananas, berries and peaches, and flavors like vanilla and cinnamon, or try this tropical-inspired variation with pineapple.

#2: Salad Dressing

Kefir can be used in creamy dressings in place of yogurt, buttermilk or sour cream. Use it in homemade ranch dressing or in a spicy combination of garlic, cayenne and cumin.

#3: Summer Salads

Cut back on calories while getting a healthy dose of tummy-pleasing probiotics by replacing part of the mayo or yogurt in summer favorites like broccoli, pasta and potato salads.

#4: Popsicles

Blend kefir with your favorite fruits and a touch of sweetener like honey or agave, and freeze in ice-pop trays for a delicious frozen treat.

#5: Ice Cream

Substitute kefir for the milk in homemade ice cream or frozen yogurt for a cool, tangy treat. Complement with delicious fruit like strawberries or bananas.

#6: Spreadable Cheese

Strain kefir through cheesecloth or a coffee filter over a bowl overnight to allow the whey to drip out. The result is a thicker, creamier kefir that can be spread on whole-grain bread or crackers. For a creative spin, stir in savory flavors like chives, rosemary or olives, or sweet flavors like strawberries, honey or vanilla extract.

Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, is a registered dietitian and consultant who specializes in food safety and culinary nutrition. She is the author of The Greek Yogurt Kitchen: More Than 130 Delicious, Healthy Recipes for Every Meal of the Day.

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