This kefir-based smoothie is satisfying, thick, and packed with fruit and protein.
Smoothies are one of life's simple pleasures.
They instantly transport me to the feeling of beach lounging or poolside chilling. Easy and yet decadent.
I'll never be the kind of person who wants to drink every meal for convenience — what an awful life. But I am down for a filling smoothie, especially if it's on the healthy side.
Enter this kefir-based smoothie.
Strawberry and banana are the classic smoothie dynamic duo. And protein powder is an obvious choice for many.
But what the hell is kefir?! And why should you try it?
What is Kefir?
Kefir is a fermented milk drink.
It's not dissimilar from yogurt, but it's made with kefir grains and is popular for its probiotics.
This recipe relies on Lifeway's Vanilla Lowfat Kefir.
The company describes their products as "a tart and tangy cultured milk smoothie that is high in protein, calcium, and vitamin D."
And they were kind enough to give us this recipe to share with you.
To drill more into the specifics though, we talked to Lifeway Food’s Registered Dietitian Caroline Margolis to answer some commom questions.
What Does Kefir Taste Like?
Margolis: "Plain kefir has a slightly tart and tangy taste and creamy consistency.
Our flavored varieties are lightly sweetened, with only 8 grams of sugar per serving."
Are Kefir Smoothies Good for You?
Margolis: "Kefir is the perfect base and vehicle for creamy, healthy and delicious smoothies.
When combined with fruits, vegetables, oats, seeds and nut butters, for example, the probiotics in the kefir work with the prebiotics found naturally in those ingredients to become a symbiotic smoothie.
Prebiotics provide fuel for probiotics, which produce important compounds that play an important role in regulating immunity and keeping our gut healthy."
What Are the Health Benefits of Kefir?
Margolis: "Kefir is a probiotic powerhouse filled with essential nutrients important for everyday health, including building and maintaining muscle, energy and a healthy weight.
The probiotics in kefir may help maintain a healthy and balanced gut which supports our immune system, digestive health, and mood.
Research has also found that kefir’s probiotics and beneficial peptides may help prevent and reduce inflammation in the body to decrease the risk of various diseases, including psychological and neurological diseases, autoimmune diseases, and cardiovascular disease."
What Are Probiotics and Why Should I Care About Them?
Margolis: "Probiotics are good bacteria.
They are live microorganisms similar to the ones already living in the gut and may offer health benefits when consumed in adequate amounts.
Eating fermented foods that contain live and active probiotic cultures such as kefir can help support the microbiome by replenishing the good bacteria and balancing the gut.
Probiotics found in kefir have not only offer digestive and immune support to keep inflammation at bay, but they also keep harmful microorganisms in check with its antimicrobial properties and microbiome balance support, and aid in nutrient absorption."
Is It Okay to Drink Kefir Every Day?
Margolis: "Not only is it okay, but it is also recommended.
Consuming kefir helps support the gut microbiome by replenishing the good bacteria and providing diversity to the gut microbiome.
Recent research, including a 2021 study published in Cell, shows that eating fermented foods such as kefir daily is linked to an increase in microbiome diversity and a decrease in inflammation."
Is Kefir Better for You Than Greek Yogurt?
Margolis: "Both Greek yogurt and kefir play a role in a healthy diet, as both are important sources of vitamins, minerals and protein.
Kefir, however, has at least double the amount of probiotics, giving it a slight edge in the gut health department, and also contains vitamin D, something most Greek yogurts do not have."
Thank you to Registered Dietician Caroline Margolis for answering these questions for us!
To make this recipe, you will need:
- 1 cup Vanilla Lowfat Kefir
- 1 cup frozen sliced strawberries
- 1/2 banana
- 1 Tbsp almond butter
- 1 scoop protein powder of choice
You will also need a high-powdered blender.
(Hopefully we don't need to mention you'll need measuring cups and something to pour this into as well.)
Kefir contains cultured milk and needs to be refrigerated.
If your strawberries aren't already sliced, you'll want to add more than a cup to get the proper amount.
You could also consider thawing the strawberries in water and then cutting them, particularly if your blender can't handle them whole (most can).
This recipe is courtesy of kefir-maker Lifeway and is based on their specific Vanilla Lowfat Kefir product.
You could certainly use a different kefir product, but we can't vouch for the taste, so just experiment.
The protein powder is optional — I didn't have any on hand, and this still tasted delicious! But obviously that impacts the nutritional value of the drink.
If you love this recipe, you could also play around with different fruit additions.
What Does The Smoothie Taste Like?
This recipe produces a smoothie with the thickness of a milkshake.
To me, that's the dream. Too often my homemade smoothies are more watery than I'd like.
The kefir gives it some ample thickness, aided by the banana.
The fruit cuts some of the tangy taste you'd get from drinking the kefir directly.
The result is a smooth, mellow drink that is satisfying and filling!
I had a bag of frozen strawberries and mangoes so tried it with both fruits and loved it.
Another Kefir Smoothie Option
Consider other recipes from Lifeway Kefir too, such as their honey protein banana bread smoothie.
Here are the ingredients:
- 1 cup frozen banana
- 1 scoop vanilla protein powder
- 2 Tbsp. raw almond butter
- 1/3 cup gluten free oats
- 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
- 1 cup Vanilla Whole Milk Kefir
- 1 tbsp. raw honey
- Optional toppings: fresh banana, cinnamon, raw honey, dark chocolate chips
To prepare it, add all the ingredients — except the toppings! — in a high speed blender and blend until smooth.
Then top with one of the above suggestions, if you wish.
This recipe is also provided courtesy of Lifeway.