Gifts That Get Hubbies in Trouble

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I had a comical text conversation with my hubby yesterday.  Although to him, I’m sure it wasn’t comical at the time…..and quite honestly, I’m super thankful he thinks about this!  Such a Sweetie!  But I announced to him that I had found my birthday present for this year (I typically do my own birthday gift shopping, it’s easier for everyone involved, lol)…..but, if you know me at all, I don’t always choose what most people would consider ‘fun’ gifts.  That’s because apparently my idea of fun can be a bit skewed I guess.  😉

I announced to him that I wanted a toaster oven.  But not just any toaster oven……a deluxe, it-can-hold-two-9 x 13-pans-or-two-16″-pizzas toaster oven.  His response was what had me chuckling.  (And never mind the scalloped boarder – I’m a bit new to editing pictures on my phone and I didn’t even know it was there until now, lol.  And yes, I have saved up coins that covered part of the gift….all part of keeping the guilt factor down.)

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I give him tons of credit.  And gratitude.  But I assured him he was safe….I was asking for it after all.  All blame would by on myself!  I love that guy!

Since I’m learning to eat the Trim Healthy Mama way, they offer in their cookbooks many single serve options that are, quite frankly, not as good made in the microwave as they are in the oven.  It’s to no fault of THM, but just the simple fact that things baked in an actual oven taste better to me than things cooked in a microwave.  I LOVE the fact that they include so many single serve recipes in their cookbooks.  This allows me to cook or bake things much more easily without using the big oven, especially with smaller portion sizes.

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Don’t get me wrong, my big oven is great, but…..this is way simpler.  I can bake a whole batch of muffins, a pizza, brownies or reheat leftovers for lunch for me, OR the whole family.  I love that it’s counter height.  And did I mention 9 x 13 pans?  Yes, yes I did.

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So here I am, a bit too excited for a non-too-exciting-to-most gift.  I even made a blog post about it!  How’s that for excited!  Hey, it’s how I roll….er… bake.  🙂

 

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Kefir….it’s what’s for my snack!

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In our family, 50% of us suffer with IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Disease).  And for several years now I’ve been intrigued about kefir and it’s benefits.  Due to this second diagnosis of one of our family members with Ulcerative Colitis, coupled with the fact that a generous Trim Healthy Mama Group Member offered me some of her grains, I decided to take the plunge and jump into making my own.  A quart of kefir at the store was running about $3.99.  I can get a gallon of milk for less than a dollar at my local Walmart.  The time spent on it is so minimal, I really had nothing to loose.

So jump in I did and I’ve not looked back.  My son (the one along with me who has the IBD) has actually deemed it very good and drinks it everyday.  So this was a huge win as he can be a bit picky when it comes to new and healthier versions of things!  At this point, three of the four of us are now daily kefir drinkers!  Double win!

So what exactly IS kefir?  And what benefits does it give us in our daily diets?  Healthline.com defines kefir as:  “…… a cultured, fermented beverage that tastes a great deal like a yogurt drink. It’s made using “starter” grains, just as sourdough bread has a “starter.” This starter is a combination of yeasts, milk proteins, and bacteria. It has a tart, creamy flavor, and it’s loaded with probiotic health benefits.”  Probiotics today are all the rage and many people are taking supplements for this very purpose.  And while supplements can be helpful if you find a reputable brand, kefir can serve this very same purpose with live beneficial bacteria.  But an advantage of kefir is that when you drink it, you are not only drinking the beneficial bacteria, you are also drinking the food the bacteria need to survive longer.  So, there is a greater chance the beneficial bacterial reach your digestive tract alive and ready to help ward off the non-beneficial bacteria that are invading our western-diet-lives.

The article I referred to above is a great overall view of what kefir is and it’s benefits.  Check the entire article out here.  And there are many others to back this up so just do a quick Google search if you’d like more information.

So, how do you make it?  Super Duper Easy let me tell you!

You first need some Kefir grains.  Here is a picture of what kefir grains look like:

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These grains are necessary to fermenting (not souring) the milk into kefir.  They are living organisms that work to ferment the milk into the yogurt-like drink!  Put a couple rounded tablespoons of these into a glass quart jar, top with a couple cups of your choice of cow’s milk, cover with a coffee filter or paper towel and a jar ring, and wait about 24 hours.  It should be placed in a decently warm spot in your home to allow for the fermentation to take place.  Once finished, strain off the milk (with a NON-METAL colander – don’t ever use metal with fermented products), place the grains back into a jar and pour in more milk for the next batch.

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Unstrained Kefir Grains

Now, with what you strained off the grains, you have kefir!  Just like that!  You can drink it plain if you wish but many people like to add a bit of fruit and a little sweetener.  I add a couple tablespoons of mixed frozen berries and 1 tsp of Truvia per batch.  Blend it in my blender and I have a smoothie-like drink that is oh so good for the gut!  I drink anywhere between 1 to 2 cups per day.

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Strained kefir

 

Now, before you blend in your add-in’s, you could also choose to do a double ferment.  This reduces even more of the milk sugar (taking the calorie count down) and gives the bacteria even more time to multiply.  In my home I do this for another 24 hours but depending on your preference you can do it for 5 or more hours.  Place the strained kefir into a clean quart jar, top with a plastic (not metal) lid and let sit in a warm area for your desired amount of time.  Then simply add in your flavors if you wish and you are good to go.  Refrigerate your fermented kefir until gone.

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Jar on left: Kefir grains in milk for first ferment.   Jar on right: Kefir for second ferment.

 

There you have it.  It is so simple.  There are more tips I could give you but I don’t want to overwhelm you with information.  If you are interested in making kefir, let me know and I could provide you with some grains next time mine have multiplied enough to give some away.  At that time, I could also give you further pointers and a detailed step by step process to make fermenting your own kefir successfully!