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Strawberry-Ginger Kefir Shake: Old is New Again

Now that I’ve reached the ripe old age of 29, I can tell you that I’ve seen some trends come and go, and come again. Those colored corduroy pants I used to wear in 7th grade? Totally cool again. Canning? That used to be a necessity in our grandparents’ time, but now it’s gained traction among the hip and cool urban-dwelling folks. Red lipstick? Cool again. Overalls? Not cool yet, but I can feel the trend coming back. In the meantime, you can enjoy the resurrected trend of jean vests (yes, your uncle IS onto something). Anyway, I tend to think of cool in terms of food, fashion, and design, and I find that a key lesson in life is to never throw things out. Ok, that may be a bit over the top. Maybe a better approach is to remember that things you really really love may come back into fashion.

Kefir is something I never thought would be cool again. My mom likes to remind me that I grew up on the stuff and while at first I hated it (it’s tart), I eventually grew to love it. I’ve been drinking kefir since I was a baby, literally. But until recently, I couldn’t tell you the last time I had a glass. Kefir is a fermented dairy product that is packed with tons of vitamins and minerals like Vitamin D, folic acid, calcium, and iron. In Russia, where my family is from, and many other Eastern European countries, it is a diet staple. I had frankly forgotten about kefir and my love of dairy products expanded towards yogurt (which I eat virtually every morning) and cheese. Then I started seeing kefir popping up seemingly everywhere.

Shanna makes homemade kefir (!!!). Lisa made muffins with kefir. David and Luise shared a recipe for a chilled summer soup made with kefir. Then I had lunch at Bar Tartine’s new sandwich bar, which included not one but two menu items made with kefir: a kefir pound cake and a shake made with strawberries and ginger. I watched glasses and glasses of the latter come out of the kitchen, light pink in color and looking quite refreshing. I promptly made a plan in my head to buy a quart of kefir and try to recreate these shakes.

As I mentioned earlier, kefir has a rather tart taste, so unless you want to dump A LOT of sweetener into it, you should expect that your drink won’t be overly sweet. I used some strawberries and a bit of freshly squeezed ginger juice in my kefir, stirred two generous spoonfuls of wildflower honey, and whizzed everything together in a blender. The result was quite delicious and filling. If you prefer your shakes on the sweeter/more indulgent side, you may consider adding more honey to your shake, or trying another sweetener (like maple syrup). Since I have a powerful juicer, juicing the ginger was no problem. If you’re doing it by hand, you can use a zester to zest the ginger, then squeeze the juice out through a fine mesh strainer. Start with just a bit of ginger juice, and add more to taste (you may find the ginger taste to be too overpowering). I have now also made shakes with kefir and bananas, which is great for breakfast (and quite a bit sweeter than this version). I’ve been wondering what kefir would taste like mixed with Nutella.

Especially now that I’m pregnant, I’ve been even more mindful of making sure I get all of the vitamins and minerals my body needs to grow a healthy baby. Reintroducing kefir into my diet seems like a great plan. Have any of your tried kefir (either store-bought or homemade)? Got any fun recipes to share with me? I’d love to know.

Strawberry-Ginger Kefir Shake
inspired by Bar Tartine
*makes 2 shakes

2 cups of plain kefir
1 cup of strawberries, hulled and sliced
1/2 teaspoon of ginger juice (more or less, to taste)
2 tablespoons of honey

Combine all of the ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth. Add more honey, if desired, and blend to combine. Serve chilled.

Musical Pairings: Cat Power – Sun + Strawberry-Ginger Kefir Shake

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Posted by Kasey

Kasey is the food editor and co-founder of Turntable Kitchen. She loves dark chocolate, warm crusty bread, and traveling to new places. She speaks Russian, but does not like vodka.

  • Shannalee T

    Love the look of this shake, Kasey… almost as much as I love that you grew up drinking kefir. Ahead of your time, you were! Also, making a mental note that I would love to go to Bar Tartine someday. Kefir cake on the menu? I swoon.

  • Excellent collection of trends resurrected! I would add my childhood choice to pair tight, stretchy shorts with very large t-shirts, which is back in the form of leggings. πŸ˜‰ Kefir is new to me as of these most recent months, though, and I’m eager to experiment in my kitchen (or via Bar Tartine…). Thanks for the delicious-looking recipe!

  • Nicole

    It IS true that most things come around, again. I remember the last time neon was having a moment and as I was cuffing a pair of pants the other day, I thought to myself, hey, this seems familiar (but different :)). I’ve wondered about kefir, but never really got past the wondering stage. I love the combination of flavors in the shake! I’ll have to move past the first stage and actually buy some πŸ™‚

  • naturallyella

    Surprisingly enough I’ve never had kefir (but Shanna makes it look so good- I’m excited to try her kefir-soaked pizza crust!) I love all the extra goodness it- I think it’s time to give it a try. (oh and I swore to myself in 7th grade that i would never wear skinny jeans…)

  • Thanks, Shanna! I was ahead of my time and I didn’t even know it πŸ˜‰ Your post about making homemade kefir is really phenomenal. You definitely need to make a trip out to SF…and hit up Bar Tartine. The bread, alone, is worth the trip.

  • Thanks, Stacy πŸ™‚ I’m all about leggings these days (preggo lady excuse!). My list of fashion faux-pas from the 90s goes on and on. I’m excited to try kefir in more recipes, too…this is just the beginning πŸ™‚

  • Hahaha! I thought the SAME thing after I bought a pair of neon green pants from Madewell..I was like, “This is so wrong, but so right.” I found a few different brands of kefir at Whole Foods (even already flavored ones). Maybe that would be a good place to start!

  • Shanna has done a lot for kefir in America πŸ™‚ I am intrigued by her kefir-soaked pizza crust as well. And re: the skinny jeans…I used to talk MAD s*** about them. Now, they’re pretty much a staple for me.

  • I’ve never tried kefir either, but now I’ll keep my eyes open for it. I do love a strawberry shake, and this one looks delicious!

  • Oh, this sounds lovely, Kasey — almost like a lassi made with kefir. And, I could agree with you guys more on the musical pairing b/c I’m really enjoying this new album by Cat Power.

  • kickpleat

    I’ve never had kefir and I generally shy away from dairy and fruit drink combos (that’s weird, right?), but I love the tartness and have really gotten into frozen fruit yogurt. So, I think I’ll just have to break down some mental barrier and give this a go. It really does look amazing.

  • Thanks, Jess – it’s worth giving it a try!

  • Yes, it’s quite similar, I would imagine! I’m glad you enjoyed the Musical Pairing as well! Definitely big fans of Cat Power over here πŸ™‚

  • I am actually very particular with my dairy and fruit combos, so I definitely understand! By gosh do I love tart frozen yogurt, though….

  • WithStyleGrace

    Thanks so much for including my muffins! This shake sounds so refreshing. I’m with you, I’m much more cautious about what goes into my body now that I’m pregnant.

  • I am totally into this trend – I put kefir in my pancakes and in soups! I like it because it feels like a great substitute for buttermilk or dairy in general that’s easier on the tummy. It’s funny, too, how easy it is to forget that these things currently enjoying their moment have long histories. And I’m pleased as punch that Bar Tartine’s going there too.

  • Of course! They look delicious – I must try them soon! Eating/drinking stuff like this makes me feel really good about my body πŸ™‚

  • I have yet to start baking with kefir, but it is on my list! I was actually talking to my mom about the differences between buttermilk and kefir and she said that in Russia, they’re basically the same thing. I wonder what the differences are here in the U.S. If you haven’t been to the daytime edition of Bar Tartine, you must! So many delicious choices on the menu!

  • My little brother is getting a degree in nutrition and could go on about kefir for days! I really need to give it another chance.

  • Oh that is so cool! It’s somewhat of an acquired taste, but I think it’s definitely worth trying!

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