A few weeks ago on Intstagram I shared that I have been making my own almond milk kefir and a few people asked me to write a post about how I make it.
I am a fan of eating probiotics because they do wonders for you gut. A few months ago I tried adding dairy based lactose-free kefir in to my diet and to be honest it constipated me in the worst way. Because of that I began to research dairy-free kefir alternatives and came across The Cultured Food Life blog which is a wealth of information.
I was and still am shocked at how easy it is to make kefir if you follow a few key steps and avoid using anything metal. When I first started making kefir my results were hit and miss and I couldn’t figure out why until I realized that I was either stirring the mixture with one of my metal chopsticks or using mason jars with metal lids…I later learned that using metal is a no no because the kefir culture reacts poorly to it.
In order to avoid metal lids I ordered THESE jars from The Jar Store (such good prices) and haven’t had a problem since, though I will say that pouring the kefir out of these jars can be a little messy (live and learn).
(IMAGE 1) Pour 4 cups non-dairy milk (I use almond milk) into your glass vessel along with 1 packet of freeze dried Kefir starter (like THISone) and 1 tsp of sugar. Since we are not using dairy based milk that contains sugars, you need to add some, but don’t worry about any extra carbs because the culture will eat the sugar. Stir using a wooden or plastic spoon.
(IMAGE 2) Place the lid on the vessel and allow it to sit on the counter for 12-24 hours until it looks like image 2. How long it takes for the kefir to mature will depend on how warm it is, etc. Once the kefir is done place it in the fridge.
(IMAGE 3) This is what the kefir looks like after it has been in the fridge for a day (it thoroughly disgusts my kids!).
(IMAGE 4) Stir-up the kefir and you are good to go. I use it mostly in smoothies, but have also used it in my homemade protein bars.
It is really simple to make more kefir. When you have about 1/2c of kefir remaining, add 1 tsp of sugar, 4 cups of non-dairy milk, and leave it out on the counter again. It will take a few hours more for the kefir to cure since it started out cold from having been in the refrigerator. I can make kefir this way 5-6 more times before starting the process all over again with a new packet of freeze dried starter.
I have used several brands of yogurt/kefir starter and they all have worked well.
I am interested in trying to make kefir with real kefir grainsbecause once you have those you can use them indefinitely.
Ready for the quick and dirty lesson on macros and IIFYM?
Macro is short for macronutrient and macronutrient refers to the big three; carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. Foods are generally categorized by the macronutrient they contain the most which is why rice is generally referred to as a carbohydrate even though it also contains protein and fat.
You may also have heard of micronutrients which are the vitamins and minerals that are essential to maintain health. Our bodies require these to run at optimal levels.
IIFYM is an acronym for “If It Fits Your Macros.” IIFYM is a lifestyle that has been embraced by many in the fitness industry…many of whom previously spent years restricting their diets (myself included) to foods they considered “clean” (whole foods aka “bro” foods such as sweet potato, tilapia, asparagus, etc.). The IIFYM revolution has opened many of our eyes to the fact that as long as you eat your set macros for the day (specific grams of Carbs, Protein, and Fat tailored to your particular needs), you can eat those macros ANY WAY YOU CHOOSE. For years it was widely believed that in order to get lean and obtain those elusive abs you needed to eat all whole foods and eliminate treats.
Those of us in the IIFYM community are proving time and time again that you can achieve health with balance. Confession time… For years I have eaten those clean foods and deprived myself of treats only to decide to allow myself a treat now and then and with that first bite I would CRACK and an all out treat fest would ensue. Trust me, you would be shocked by the flood gates that would open. It was as if I couldn’t stop myself. After these treat fests my body would scream at me and to say I felt awful (both physically and mentally) would be an understatement. These food fests as I call them would make me so disappointed in myself.
Then IIFYM came into my life. Suddenly I was able to fit a treat in if I craved it and do so guilt-free. The mental freedom that this brought me was nothing short of amazing. Knowing that I could technically have a treat when I wanted one took away the “all or nothing” mentality that previously led to my food fests while following my restrictive lifestyle.
I stumbled upon this lifestyle by chance when looking something up on the web. I honestly can’t even recall how it happened. Somehow I was directed to Corina Nielsen’s blog, live fit, and THIS particular post which led me to Layne Norton‘s vlogs and countless hours of research. The idea of finally achieving balance while simultaneously remaining fit was so appealing to me. My IIFYM searches led me to multiple Instagram pages and I again stumbled upon a gem, Katie Ringley aka katiesfitscript. I decided to hire Katie (yep Nutrition Coaches hire their own coaches too) to help me navigate this new world of Macros and IIFYM and I am so glad I did. I started my own mostly fitness-based Instagram page (fitquestmom) and continue to gain inspiration from those I follow. Trust me when I say that following people you respect and that inspire you helps keep that fire stoked within to hit those workouts hard!
That being said, 90 percent of my food still would be considered bro foods because that is what I truly like to eat and what makes me feel the best (gotta get those micronutrients in). I am now more fit than ever and the flexibility this lifestyle has afforded me is so freeing.
I am such a believer that I went back to school and earned another nutrition certification so I can help others achieve the health and balance I have finally found. I am now an ISSA Fitness Nutrition Specialist and have been helping clients learn this simple and maintainable lifestyle.
My client, Gracie, was able to achieve the results you see below in just 9 weeks and I have to tell you they were 10 weeks when she was traveling for work, working CRAZY hours, and experiencing a truckload of personal stress.
In her own words:
“I have started another part of my path in life. Instead of just trying to ‘lose weight’ my focus is on being the healthiest person I know my body wants to be. I am working with such a great, positive, supportive, loving woman! @fitquestmom has put me through a nutrition program. I am coming up on 10 weeks now and this is my progress so far. I am very thrilled by my results due to the fact that I am doing it healthy this time. Counting macros is everything! And patience is another. You must have this…health is not a race but a lifestyle…Diet is almost what got me to this point…my workouts have now picked up again finally (due to an old injury acting up from time to time). I am so happy that I have made it this far, but I know I still want to achieve excellence in myself.
Before I started the program I told Gretchen why I wanted to do this, ‘I want to wake-up every morning and look in the mirror and be happy in my own skin.’ I can finally say that is where I am right now and I am overjoyed! I feel comfortable with myself again. I can’t wait to see where the next 12 weeks takes me. So thank you for standing strong beside me @fitquestmom, I really couldn;t have done it without you. XO.”
I truly love helping people learn how to eat and how to create a lifestyle that is healthy and easy to maintain. I want my clients to learn how to eat in a way where they can go out to eat, live their lives, and not be stuck with a Tupperware kind of life. Through macro counting my clients are able to lean out while eating as many calories as possible. The popular diets out there ruin our metabolisms through constant restriction, super low calories, and FEAR of carbs. I love bringing people back into the world of eating carbs while simultaneously leaning out.
One thing I stress is that if you are looking to lose 10 pounds in the next 2 weeks, my programs and approach to IIFYM is not for you. As I mentioned before, I like my clients to achieve results while eating as many calories as possible, so it oftentimes can take a few weeks for us to find the sweet spot where my client is eating a satisfying amount while simultaneously leaning out. My programs are not cookie cutter and are tailored to the individual.
Does IIFYM only work for those who are fitness minded? No, of course not. Achieving the lean and toned look is done most efficiently while following IIFYM along with lifting weights, but it doesn’t have the happen that way. I calculate your macros based on your activity levels, how much you have been eating, and a multitude of other factors. IIFYM is for anyone and everyone.
The IIFYM lifestyle does require you to track your food (I use MyFitnessPal) and if that doesn’t appeal to you, then IIFYM is not for you. I also weigh my food when I am at home, but quite honestly once you have been doing that for a few months you get REALLY good at guesstimating the amount you are eating which makes it really easy for me to keep track of my food when eating out. Once you get through that initial learning curve you are home free.
If you are interested in trying to calculate macros on your own, here is a general IIFYM calculator. When you work with a coach, they take much more into account when planning your specific macros, but this is a good place to start.
In my next post I will go into detail with regards to how MyFitnessPal works and how you can use it to track your macros.
P.S. If you are interested in seeing what I eat on a daily basis, feel free to send me a “friend request” on MyFitnessPal. My username is gretchentseng.
"The diet that helps to reduce weight in the short run needs to be the same diet that creates and maintains health in the long run."
~T. Colin Campbell
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