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September 30, 2015

Kefir & the Creamy Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

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The value of the micro-organisms that call our gut home is under intense research. Strong links have already been made between our microbiota, our immune system and our state of mental health – with much more to come.

Our immune system can be over or under active. An over active immune system can lead to autoimmune affects like allergies and a host of autoimmune conditions like celiac disease, type 1 diabetes and multiple sclerosis. An under active immune system can let pathogens make us sick or allow cancers to grow instead of nipping them in the bud. With autoimmune conditions, allergies, cancer and mental health concerns on the rise, the motivation to find out how we can work with our microbiota is strong.

How all of these ‘good guys’ play a role in keeping us healthy is a fascinating subject that has scientists around the world united in suggesting our microbiota are much like another body organ. There are actually more cells in your body that aren’t human than ones that are. If you are interested in reading up on the latest research, check out ‘The Good Gut’ by Justin and Erica Sonnenburg.

How do you build a plentiful microbiota? Well, you expose yourself to a variety of probiotic bacteria and you take care of them by consuming lots of the fibre that these little guys like to eat. There is more to it than that, but, not really.

What is Kefir? Traditionally, Kefir is a fermented cow, goat or sheep milk beverage. The milk is fermented using Kefir ‘grains’ which are bacteria and yeasts (not grains at all). The milk tastes similar to yogurt but is a drinkable beverage and contains closer to 30 different kinds of probiotics and yeasts.

Thick with spices, this drink recipe is much different than your typical fruit smoothie. Here we have lots of vitamin A and fibre from the pumpkin and antioxidants and powerful superfood additions from the concentrated spices. The Kefir bacteria may help to keep the nasty bacteria from multiplying in your body and is a good source of calcium, protein and B-vitamins as well as enzymes. These enzymes, in combination with the bacteria that have digested most of the lactose in the milk, improve digestibly and even those with issues digesting lactose may be able to enjoy Kefir without any troubles.

At Amaranth we have a variety of Kefir options from goat and cow’s milk. If you would like to take a try at making your own, we also have the cultures to get you started. Kefir cultures can also be used to make other fermented beverages that do not contain any dairy at all.

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Pumpkin Pie Kefir Smoothie

Makes one large or two small glasses of smoothie (start slowly if you are new to Kefir)

1 cup Kefir (plain, unsweetened)

1/2 cup pumpkin puree (Farmer’s Market brand pumpkin puree is organic and the can is BPA free, or feel free to roast your own!)

5 ice cubes

1 tsp cinnamon and 1 tsp ground or fresh ginger (our spices are non-irradiated leaving them full of nutrients)

TBSP maple syrup

1 scoop of vanilla flavoured protein powder (we used Phd Diet Whey – the grass-fed protein of the Ironman races, but you can use your favourite whey or vegan protein variety)

Put it all in the blender and blend until smooth. If you want to add in any powerful extras, bee pollen, chia seeds, turmeric, lucuma, hemp hearts or maca would work well with the flavour profile. Enjoy!

Recipe and post by Amy Buckman, Community Ambassador, Amaranth Stores

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