The first time I heard kefir referred to as the 'Champagne of dairy,' I definitely laughed it off as a marketing ploy. That was before I had tried it. Now, I'm totally on board with the hype. It really is a delicious drinkable yogurt that makes everything feel fancier since it's oh-so-slightly effervescent. Kefir is great straight out of the bottle, adding yogurty tang and lots of richness to a smoothie.
But come summer, you need more: when it's time to leave behind the bags of frozen berries and bananas and make exceptionally tasty fresh fruit smoothies, you gotta chill it down. No one likes a warm smoothie, but water-based ice cubes dilute the flavor of your drink. Frozen kefir cubes should be your go-to.
Kefir cubes, made by—you guessed it—pouring kefir into ice cube trays and freezing, give these drinks have a thick, creamy more milkshake-like texture and help them rate much higher on the cold-and-refreshing scale. A quick plea: please do choose full-fat plain kefir to make your frozen cubes. Lower fat kefir will yield an icier and less flavorful result.
These simple smoothies burst with the flavors of ripe summer fruit at its best, with the tart frozen kefir as a foil.
Raspberry Mint Kefir Smoothie
Start with the bright flavor of fresh raspberries and tangy kefir sweetened with just a touch of honey, then add cooling fresh mint to tie everything together, and you've got yourself a pretty nice start to the day. Because this smoothie is just lightly sweetened with honey, all the delicious tartness from both the raspberries and kefir really shines through. If you're growing mint in your garden, you've got to try this drink.
Blueberry Ginger Smoothie
A former coworker once passed along a pie recipe to me that had blueberries with a hint of ginger. There was some marginalia in the recipe that read "really good!" and it really was! Ever since then, I've been smitten with with the combination of sweet blueberries and the spicy kick of ginger. Using fresh ginger here rather than dried ground ginger really gives it some extra punch, and using fresh berries instead of frozen adds a range of bright, tart, tangy, sweet, and rich flavors. Even though you're blending, it's best to grate the ginger first to ensure no super-potent ginger chunks end up in the finished product.
Peach Basil Kefir Smoothie
I had this great panzanella last summer that combined peaches and basil. Ok, in the height of summer there's not much that basil isn't great with, but the sweet-and-savory peach and basil pairing really is special. By first making a quick puree of ripe, juicy peaches right in blender, you have all the liquid you'll need for the smoothie, and tons of fragrant peach flavor. Adding fresh green basil to the mix lends a layer of complexity to this sophisticated version of peaches and cream.