Last week we introduced you to our favorite ways to incorporate our kefir into your weekly meal prep routine. From smoothie packs to strained kefir cheese, there are countless places fabulously fermented milk smoothie can make your life easier, tastier and healthier.
While preparing a large portion of your food or meals over the weekend frees up a lot of time during the week (and makes it much easier to commit to healthy, wholesome meals), sometimes recipes, and fridge space, make it necessary to skip the weekend prep and instead rely on what you can do the night before. When that happens, we simply plan to prep a day in advance! Check out our favorite ways to use kefir in your cooking the night before, so you can have tasty, easy meals the next day.
The Night Before
Marinating your choice of protein in kefir is a great way to turn tough, bland cuts into tender, juicy masterpieces. This is thanks to two things: lactic acid and the live and live and active probiotic cultures found in kefir. Both work to break down the proteins in meat, making it softer and easier to digest.
Because lactic acid is only mildly acidic, it works more slowly than other acidic marinades, meaning you’re generally ok letting the meat rest over night or throughout the day. Kefir’s zippy, tangy flavor also works well with fresh herbs and spices to impart fresh flavor, without adding additional fat or calories.
Try it yourself! Our Kefir Marinated Chicken or Shirmp Kababs is a Lifeway Team favorite, but this Kefir Pesto Marinated Chicken is a superstar and perfect for grilling season (which is just around the corner, right?)
Variations of overnight oats and oatmeal in general are everywhere, and we’re big fans of the trend. Oats provide ample fiber, protein and carbohydrates for energy that help us power through cold winter mornings.
Making overnight oats (or any grain, for that matter) with kefir adds extra protein and probiotics, where milk or other liquids fall short. Our favorite recipe for kefir soaked oats is by far our Blueberry and Almond Butter Overnight Oats – a nod to our favorite almond butter and jelly sandwich. Our Plum Overnight Oats are also delicious, if you’re more a fan of stone fruits. Any combination of kefir, oats, fruit and seeds will do!
Soak Grains and Beans
This one is up for a bit of debate, but many cultures have been using fermented foods, such as kefir, to soak grains, bean and seeds to make them easier to digest for centuries.
Some popular cookbooks recommend the practice at all times, but research is still skeptical (and often conflicting) as to whether or not it’s of any benefit. While the verdict is still out, we do know that soaking is the first step in fermenting, and obviously big fans of (almost) all things fermented!
If you’re interested in soaking grains and cereals, like quinoa, millet, amaranth or buckwheat, simply rise and drain the amount you intend to use and cover with cold water and a splash of plain kefir. Stir and allow to soak from 4-8 hours, depending on your needs, and cook as you normally would (cooking time will likely be reduced).
Odds and Ends
Kefir doesn’t just help you save time in the kitchen, it can help you save money, too! If you buy salad dressing, consider making your own (it will likely be more healthy) with one of these recipes. Like vegetable dip? Choose kefir over mayo or sour cream to cut calories and fat, without sacrificing flavor. Use it to spice up a bowl of boring cereal or granola, or mix it into pancake or waffle batter and skip the boxed stuff.