Lately, probiotic foods have been the subject of interesting research. These work in association with prebiotics, foods rich in insoluble fibres and complex carbohydrates (sweet potatoes, garlic, onions, tomatoes, bananas …), which stimulate the growth of bacteria beneficial to our health. They are part of our microbiome, the group of microorganisms that participate in our biology. Presently, factors such as the consumption of food from intensive, processed agriculture, excessive use of antibiotics, but also the high number of caesarean deliveries and bottle feeding, have negatively interfered with our microbiome. Consequences, therefore, of a life too industrialized, urbanized and medicalized.

As recent research has shown, the impact of intestinal flora on our health is higher than what we had believed up to now: our dear bacteria act not only on behalf of our physical well-being but also on an emotional and psychological level. These microorganisms, however, must be nourished with the right food, otherwise they will eat the lining of the intestines where they live. Yes. They begin, quite literally, to eat us alive, causing an inflammatory response in our body. These bacteria no longer look so dear to you, do they? This is where probiotics come in, they help optimize their functions as long as the appropriate food is provided.

This very moment while I write to you, I have just enjoyed a glass of kefir. This is a functional food, a fermented milk with a slightly acidic flavour and rich in bacteria and yeasts, which some sources report to have appeared in the Caucasus area a very long time ago. It is also a probiotic of high nutritional value with several therapeutic capacities: strengthening the immune system, restoring the intestinal flora, reducing LDL or reducing the risk of cancer.

Until recently my knowledge on this subject was almost none. Knowing that I exercise and eat properly (girls, why do so many of you run from the carbs?…), I could not understand why I was constantly feeling sick. Rhinitis, otitis, pharyngitis, gastroenteritis, three times I was prescribed antibiotics last year and I entered in 2017 twisting in pain. That was until Sara Oliveira, author of the delicious blog Nem acredito que é saudável (“I can not believe it’s healthy”) and also a naturopath, suggested I included probiotics in my diet. That’s how I started drinking half a glass of kefir daily.

Kefir is not sold but donated. The procedure is very simple: for a tablespoon of kefir grains (the ones a friendly stranger with whom you make a date offers you) use up to 500ml of animal milk. Put these grains and milk in a sterilized glass container. Cover with a gauze and the help of an elastic band and allow to rest for 24 hours at room temperature. The next day strain the mixture (not using metal) and drink the liquid. It’s as simple as that. Repeat the process and the grains will reproduce until you have your own colony that also allows you to donate a part.

When I started, I feared I would quickly kill the grains. I remembered the great slaughter of silkworms when I was a child, and I thought they were going to have the same end. So far they are healthy and strong. Actually, the problem at first was getting used to the taste, so I researched recipes that would allow me to incorporate kefir more easily into my diet. Now I’ve gotten used to it and I do not have a hard time drinking a glass every day. The lactose almost completely disappears after the milk is fermented, which helps in its digestion. I was not very happy to reintroduce milk (even if organic) in my shopping list but water kefir does not have as many beneficial properties as this one, so the next step is to try to feed the grains with vegetable milk, which apparently is not Impossible as long as you sporadically immerse them in animal milk to “wake them up”.

That’s how I found and adapted this fantastic recipe for pancakes that I bring to you today and hope you’ll try!

Coconut, peanut butter and kefir pancakes

  • 2 organic eggs at room temperature
  • 2/3 of a cup of kefir milk + a little to serve
  • 1/3 of a cup of peanut butter
  • 1/4 of a cup of coconut meal
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1/4 of a teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon of coconut oil
  • 1 kiwi

Combine all the dry ingredients in a bowl. In another bowl beat the eggs until they are frothy. Add the kefir, the peanut butter and then the dry ingredients, and enwrap all the ingredients together. Let the dough rest for a few minutes.

Heat a small frying pan with coconut oil. Spread well. Put half a ladle of soup in the frying pan and let it cook on one side. Turn and bake the other side. Serve with fruit and a little more kefir on top (take notice: when kefir is subjected to high temperatures it loses some of its properties).

Note: Recipe adapted from Cultures for Health.


This post was originally written in Portuguese. Click here for the Portuguese version.