Saturday, June 12, 2010

Good Feeling, indeed!

OH MY G-D THERE'S A BIG HOT BALL OF LIGHT IN THE SKY!! What the hell is that thing?! It reminds me of something I've seen before, long ago, but I can't quite remember what...

I looked it up, and it is SUNNY today! For the first time in what feels like ages. Yesterday was rainy and chilly, and out of nowhere today it's bright and sunny with a high of 81. Keith left for another work trip this morning, so I was up before dawn to make him biscuits for the road, and he dropped me off at the Tik-Tok Cafe so I could get a bit of writing done. I was there just over two hours before I'd had all the coffee I could handle, and then I started out on a nice hour-long walk home.

The sun came out as I was walking - it was a chill morning - but once I lost the hoodie it was a really pleasant walk. It was great to see everyone out and about for once. A man was washing his truck, kids were running around, lots of people were out gardening. And that's what I'm on my way out to do, too.

But first I had to fortify, and I did that with a kefir smoothie. I've gotten really into kefir lately; the name comes from the Turkish word for "good feeling," which is appropriate because it does always seem to elevate my mood for a bit. It originated centuries ago in the Caucasus, where shepherds would carry milk in leather bags with kefir grains to culture and preserve it; the cultured drink is still popular in Eastern Europe.

Kefir is incredibly easy to make as the cultures do all the work. I just stir the kefir grains (which are colonies of beneficial bacteria and yeasts glued together in the proteins and other stuff that they make) into some raw milk and leave it sitting out on the counter for a day or two, giving it a quick swirl every so often, and then I strain the grains out and let the kefir finish ripening in the fridge for another day.

It has a sharp taste, kind of like yogurt but sharper and better, and it's not thick like yogurt - it's more like buttermilk, but with a better flavor. It's even better for you than regular milk, since the kefir grains convert the lactose into folic acid and other nutrients, and that conversion of the lactose aids digestion and loads the body up with antioxidants. Kefir may also lower blood pressure, reduce cholesterol levels, and boost the immune system.

But even more important, it's tasty, especially when sweetened with a little raw honey (woohoo, more nutrients!) and fruit. I like to add peanut butter to mine too, just to boost the protein and heart-healthy fats. Sometimes I add flaxmeal to make it even more nutritious. It's really hard to believe that something this healthy can be so delicious; a smoothie of kefir, peanut butter, banana, and honey (in the picture above) tastes more like dessert than breakfast, but without all those funky-feeling refined sugars. It just makes you feel good all through, especially when you're sipping it by the window as you bask in all that glorious, uh... what's that word? Oh yeah! Sunshine!

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