Having a delicious salad dressing is a game changer when it comes to building yummy salads and bowls. This zesty and herbaceous kefir salad dressing will quickly become one of your favourite ways to dress up lunch. As a registered dietitian, I often get asked about foods that are beneficial for gut health. Kefir is one of my favourite fermented foods, but people don’t often know what to do with it. This quick and easy dressing is a great way to try it out! Add it to this salmon and spinach salad or with a simple quinoa bowl.
What is kefir?
Kefir is a fermented milk product similar to yogurt, but thinner in consistency. It is used in a variety of ways, but typically as a drink. It has a slight effervescence to it from the fermentation and tastes a bit tart or sour. The tarteness makes it similar to other fermented dairy products like plain yogurt, sour cream, or buttermilk.
Because of it’s tangy taste, kefir makes a great ingredient in ranch-style salad dressings. Most ranch dressing has sour cream in it, which can instead be replaced with kefir like we’ve done in this recipe.
Is kefir a probiotic?
Probiotics are types of good bacteria that contribute to our health in positive ways. In order for something to be classified as a probiotic, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), it must have “live organisms which when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit on the host.” 1 This means that to define a food as a probiotic, it must contain the right type (strain) and amount of bacteria needed to provide a specific health benefit as per the science.
So what about kefir? While kefir does contain LOTS of living bacteria, each brand can be quite different and may not contain enough bacteria or the right strains to meet the formal definition. To add some complexity to the mix, different countries have different regulations on what can classify as a ‘probiotic’. For example, in Canada, you may see kefir labelled as a probiotic because it has adequate amounts of lactobacillus, despite the strains not being classified. However, not ALL kefir will meet the formal definition.
If that’s TLDR (too long didn’t read) – some kefir will be considered a probiotic and some won’t. However as a dietitian I still encourage fermented foods even if they don’t meet the formal definition. Why? Fermented dairy still has health benefits!
Is kefir low FODMAP?
Kefir is low in FODMAPs at a portion of 1 tablespoon and moderate FODMAP at a portion of 3 tablespoons. Therefore, a dressing containing kefir can easily be consumed in low FODMAP portions. This recipe includes 1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) of kefir in total, so having 1/4 of the batch is recommended if you’re following a low FODMAP diet.
NOTE: This recipe is not low FODMAP but can be easily adapted. If you wish to make it low FODMAP, omit the garlic and only using the green tops of chives/scallions. You can also use garlic-infused oil to help add more garlic flavour.
How to Store Kefir Salad Dressing
This dressing will last for 3 days in an airtight container in the refrigerator. I like to store mine in a mason jar so I can easily give it a shake prior to using it. The ingredients do tend to separate, so mix well!
Other Ways to Use Kefir
While this dressing is certainly a favourite, there are a lot of other great ways to use kefir in your diet. Some of my go-to ways of adding this fermented food more often include:
- Adding it to a smoothie – you can even buy vanilla or strawberry kefir for added flavour!
- Use it to replace some of the mayonnaise in cold salads – like pasta salad or tuna salad
- Add it to frozen treats in the summertime – such as popsicles or homemade ice cream
- Drink it as is!
5-Minute Creamy Kefir Salad Dressing
- 1 blender or food precessor
- ½ cup plain kefir
- ½ avocado
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp fresh dill
- 1 tbsp fresh basil
- 2 tbsp scallions or chives *green parts only if making low FODMAP dressing
- 2 cloves garlic *omit if making low FODMAP dressing
- ¼ tsp black pepper
- ¼ tsp salt
- Add all ingredients to a high speed blender or food processor. Blend on high until smooth. Serve immediately or allow to chill 10 minutes prior to adding to your favourite salads!