People are always asking me for “baby steps” to a whole foods diet/eating clean (whatever you want to call it). I’ve blogged about this in the past.
Recommending baby steps is one of the hardest thing for me because 1-I didn’t do it that way (which doesn’t mean it can’t be done…I know!) and 2-I think it’s super hard to break the addiction to fake foods while continuing to eat them (they’re intentionally engineered that way and I’m not making this up to try to woo you over – see for yourself – and see for yourself).
OK. Now that we’ve got that out of the way, Imma share a little something that has been huge for us in eating a straight-up whole foods diet and I think it’s completely reasonable as a “baby step” for those of you who have some willingness but aren’t “all in” just yet.
It’s kefir cheese dip. Plus veggies for dipping.
If you’ll go back to my post on building a healthy meal you’ll see that were you to eat this as a meal, it only falls short in the protein category (although it’s probably not completely devoid of protein because it’s unlikely that all of the whey strains out). But the micronutrient value in this is a total home run, especially with the veggies! And let’s me real, we’re aiming for “overall” balance. Not every meal will be perfectly balanced.
Back to the kefir cheese because I do realize there’s a chance you don’t even know what it is. I briefly made mention of kefir in my “weird foods” post because it’s a superfood. The probiotics it contains is what makes it a superfood. And if you make it with exceptionally high quality milk, BONUS!
Kefir and kefir cheese are slightly different though. Kefir is fermented milk resulting in lots of beneficial bacteria & yeast minus the lactose (yes, the lactose is converted to good bacteria & yeast!). Kefir is protein (whey) and fat (curds, or cheese), so if you strain off the whey (don’t throw it away!), you are left with cheese!!
(Note: this is a GREAT website, obviously – since I’ve linked to it three times already! – with lots of info about fermentation!)
To the cheese, I add lots of different flavorings such as fresh, crushed garlic & dried herbs or other seasonings like preserved lime & cumin or minced hot peppers. The list goes on…
Always keeping a container of cut veggies in the fridge is a must, even if you never make kefir cheese. But, really…why wouldn’t you?!
Disclaimer: I’ve known a few people who have not tolerated kefir well. If you do not tolerate diary protein, you may still tolerate kefir cheese because most, if not all, of the protein (whey) is strained off. If you do not tolerate dairy fat, only non-dairy kefir (which I did not cover in this post), is an option for you. It seems for some folks though, that the yeast is problematic. For most people, the yeast in kefir is beneficial but everyone’s different. Possibly if you have a systemic yeast issue or an allergy, you may be one of those who doesn’t tolerate it. But for most people, kefir is absolutely worth a try!