July 27, 2009
Vegans must generally be very well educated about the needs of the body to ensure they maintain a healthy balance. Actually, everyone today needs to be well-educated considering that the overuse of highly engineered, sugared foods in daily life and the overuse of anti-biotics in the health industry have both become so widespread that a body is hard-pressed to remain in balance without being constantly vigilant about what we allow into our system.
Food has become such a complex issue with the advent of commercial production methods and the widespread, and clearly incompatible-with-life use of chemicals in nearly every place you look. With conditions such as these to deal with, pre and pro-biotics can be major allies in bringing balance to our bodies.
As a long-term raw vegan, (though I do have honey occasionally), I am always on the lookout for the healthiest, most diverse options I can find for nutritional balance – and for pro-biotics, I’ve found that for many reasons, cultured foods are definitely the way to go.
Exploration has brought me to the fortunate discovery of kefir, and water kefir in particular. I’ve known about dairy kefir forever, but only learned of water kefir a few years ago. I’m getting back into it again, and thought I’d share my re-discovery with you.
I’m trying the Body Ecology kefir starter and it’s so far so good, but I can tell that I’ll be returning to the actual kefir grains for daily use. That’s the traditional form they come in and they grow and are shared in the same way Kombucha babies are, which is to say, multiplying in form so that you always have more than enough to share with others. I do think the B.E. starter will be good for traveling though, due to it’s convenience.
Kefir has been used for centuries to culture milk. The grains are a combination of beneficial bacteria and yeasts in a matrix of proteins, lipids, and sugars, which form a symbiotic matrix of translucent grains about the size of rice or barley and resemble miniature cauliflower florets. And, goodness gracious, does it ever have an interesting history thanks to the prophet Mohammad who, it was fun to discover, was quite an interesting guy! For example, according to his entry in Wikipedia, when he was 25 he married a 40 year old highly successful business woman, after she proposed to him! Things have certainly changed in Saudi Arabia, that’s for sure. After reading the tale in the link, one does wonder how Mohammad would feel about the way things are in Islam now…
According to Wikipedia, before he switched vocations, Mohammad was a merchant who traveled between his hometown of Mecca, and the Mediterranean doing business. In his travels he gave, or traded – who knows for sure – kefir grains to people who came from what is now Russia. Thus began the long, unbroken chain of kefir culture throughout the history of the western world. This story elaborates how it came into popular usage and is another absolutely intriguing tale!
So, we all owe many thanks to Mohammad and his beloved wife and especially to Irina (see above link to story), as we use our kefir products. Wow.
To carry on then, into the present, we can now use kefir to culture coconut water to make a vital and healthful beverage. I also made coconut yogurt which will be featured in the next post.
The Body Ecology starter makes it very easy, all you do is empty the packet into a quart of coco water, shake and wait for 3 to 4 days for it to culture. It becomes slightly fizzy and quite tart, like unsweetened yogurt.