We love kefir, the fermented beverage traditionally made from cow's milk, and it has become a staple in health diets due to its probiotic content and other health benefits.
But what if you are lactose intolerant, vegan, looking for low-calorie alternatives, or simply dislike the taste of dairy-based drinks?
Luckily, you can have your probiotic rich kefir and maintain your dietary preference thanks to a variety of non-dairy kefir drinks available, each with its unique set of benefits.
Over the years, we've tested countless variations of non-dairy recipes, and here are some of our favorites, with the pros and cons of each.
First, there are the kefirs derived from milk alternatives:
Coconut Milk Kefir
Coconut milk kefir is perhaps the most common non-dairy kefir alternative. Made by fermenting young coconut milk with kefir grains, this drink retains the classic tangy flavor of traditional kefir. It's rich in probiotics and has several health benefits:
- Gut Health: Like traditional kefir, it aids in digestion and helps maintain a healthy balance of gut flora.
- Nutrient-Rich: Coconut milk is a good source of minerals like magnesium, potassium, and phosphorus.
- Lauric Acid: Contains lauric acid, known for its antiviral and antibacterial properties.
Almond Milk Kefir
Almond milk kefir is made by fermenting almond milk with kefir grains. It's a great alternative for those looking for a nut-based probiotic drink. Its benefits include:
- Lower Calorie: Typically lower in calories compared to traditional dairy kefir.
- Vitamin E: High in vitamin E, beneficial for skin health.
- Bone Health: Contains calcium, vital for bone health, though usually less than cow's milk.
Oat Milk Kefir
Oat milk kefir is a newer entrant in the non-dairy kefir market. It is made by fermenting oat milk with kefir grains and provides a unique nutritional profile:
- Fiber: High in soluble fiber, beneficial for digestion and heart health.
- Beta-Glucans: Contains beta-glucans, known for their cholesterol-lowering effects.
- Environmentally Friendly: Oat milk production is more sustainable than many other milk alternatives.
Cashew Milk Kefir
Cashew milk kefir is made by fermenting cashew milk with kefir grains. It's a creamy alternative with several health benefits:
- Healthy Fats: Contains heart-healthy monounsaturated fats.
- Magnesium and Zinc: Good source of these minerals, which are beneficial for immune function and bone health.
- Low in Allergens: Often more tolerable for those with certain nut allergies.
If you're looking for a lighter, even lower calorie and easier drinking option, you should check out water kefir.
Water kefirs are made with a different type of kefir crystal (though similarly a combination of yeast and probiotic cultures) that do not require lactose like their milk kefir grain cousins.
This means water kefir (and of course, our favorite, coconut water kefir) never requires milk or any other animal products during its cultivation or fermentation process. If you follow a vegan diet, this is the best option for you as everything about the process is animal product-free.
Moreover, coconut water kefir specifically has all the benefits of water kefir, with the added hydration and electrolyte replacement of coconut water. Plus, it just tastes awesome.
Here's the rundown:
Coconut Water Kefir
Coconut water kefir is a unique and refreshing non-dairy kefir variant, different from coconut milk kefir. This fermented drink not only has a milder taste compared to its milk-based counterparts but also comes with its own set of health benefits:
- Electrolytes: Coconut water is naturally rich in electrolytes like potassium, making it an excellent drink for hydration.
- Low in Calories: It's significantly lower in calories compared to coconut milk kefir, making it a suitable option for those watching their calorie intake.
- Natural Sugars: Contains natural sugars, providing a gentle sweetness without the need for added sugars.
- Digestive Health: The probiotics in coconut water kefir aid in digestion and help maintain a healthy gut microbiome.
- Vitamins and Minerals: Coconut water is a natural source of various B vitamins and minerals, enhancing the nutritional profile of the kefir.
- Detoxification: Some proponents of coconut water kefir believe it has detoxifying properties, aiding in cleansing the body’s systems.
We love coconut water kefir because we like having a lighter, more hydrating drink, especially after workouts or as a refreshing beverage on hot days. The last thing we want after a long gym session or chasing the kids around the house is a heavy milk-based beverage, and that's where the refreshing, juice-like coconut water kefirs come in.
The mild natural taste profile also makes coconut water kefir easy to flavor in nearly any way you wish. We add tropical juices and botanicals to Cabana Cultures coconut water kefir to add some zest without piling in spoonfuls of sugar or other unhealthy ingredients.
Checkout our product page for more details on the recipe we spent years perfecting.
And feel free to contact us with any questions about non-dairy kefirs. Whether you're shopping for a ready-to-drink option, or are looking to make your own, we are happy to help :)