Thursday, 18 June 2015

Cultured milk drinks from Bio-tiful Dairy

There are moments, when you see something online and exclaim with joy "What a blast from the past!". I was reading how Natasha Bowes, the founder of Bio-tiful Dairy Ltd couldn't find any familiar Russian milk products in this country and decided to solve the problem by founding her own dairy business. Like Natasha, I grew up in Russia, and have been enjoying kefir and the other cultured milk products as a kid. Cultured dairy drinks are very popular in Russia and Eastern Europe, and are a part and parcel of a healthy lifestyle.
As a student, I remember popping into the shop to buy a loaf of rye bread and a bottle of kefir or riazhenka for my lunch. It costed pennies (or kopecks, to be precise) but was tasty, filling and healthy.
My grandma who used to keep her own cows, always made a variety of fermented milk products including prostokvasha (which is similar to the plain unsweetened yogurt drink).

Kefir has been almost unknown in the British supermarkets until recently, but with the arrival of a big wave of the Eastern Europeans, it is becoming popular. This is a refreshing drink which perks you up. It is fantastic for your digestion (especially if you needed to take the antibiotics) as it helps to maintain a healthy gut microbiota.

I was delighted to discover the Bio-tiful Dairy Ltd which uses authentic natural recipes to create an excellent range of organic cultured milk drinks.
I have tried the produce of Bio-tiful Dairy Ltd, and can say that it is superior. The quality of ingredients and sustainable production process speak for themselves.

Kefir has a very long history. The kefir grains which helped to ferment the milk into the refreshing drink, were kept as a family treasure, and the new brides would bring it to their new home as part of their dowry.
Full of essential vitamins and minerals, this drink is a great source of protein, and is also low in lactose naturally.
It has a distinct tart taste and a texture of a smooth yogurt drink.
Kefir and riazhenka bottles come in two sizes: 500ml for a sharing bottle, and a 250ml which is a full cup size.

Bio-tiful Dairy Ltd

Its typical values are: 58kcal per 100ml or 145kcal for 250ml bottle. It could be a great part of a diet, much better than those diet shakes which have a list of ingredients that reads like Mendeleev's table of elements and taste quite artificial. I say, go for kefir. Much tastier and healthier.
You can also use it in recipes, like, a Russian cold summer soup okroshka, which could be a vegetarian dish or might include meat.
I made a floral vegetarian version of okroshka back in April, when my garden was covered with a carpet of primroses and wild violets. I scattered a handful of flowers on my cold soup, and it looked pretty and tasted lovely too. The ingredients included a cooked carrot, potato, hard boiled eggs, wild garlic leaves and ca ucumber, plus kefir. I have also added a bit of water to get a slightly runnier consistency.

If you are not a vegetarian, you might enjoy a version of okroshka which includes cold ham (or chopped frankfurters). For a full recipe, please visit my older post Okroshka, Russian cold soup.
This is a perfect summer soup. I must pop into the local health shop to buy kefir for this soup, as the weather is just right for enjoying a light cold soup in the garden.

Or be super healthy with a kefir and spirulina smoothie. Just blitz together half a banana, a handful of blueberries, 1/2tsp of spirulina nibs and 2/3 of a standard sized glass of kefir.

Kefir and spirulina smoothie
While kefir is becoming well known on the British shores nowadays, riazhenka is more of a mystery product. As a kid, I absolutely loved it, probably more so than kefir, because it has a sweeter taste and a very distinct flavour.
I am so glad that Natasha decided to leave her high-flying corporate career and fulfill her dream by founding the Bio-tiful Dairy because as far as I know nobody else in the UK produces riazhenka (at least, I haven't come across it).
It's like going back to my childhood for the unforgettable taste of delicious cultured milk drinks.

The taste of riazhenka is acquired via a process of baking the milk before the special live culture of beneficial bacteria is added.
Typical values: 61kcal per 100ml or 153kcal per 250ml portion
Ingredients: organic pasteurised & homogenised whole cows' milk, fermented with live cultures including Bifido bacterium.
It is a delightful refreshing drink, perfect for breakfast, lunch or any time of the day really.

While checking  the nearest stockist, I was very happy to find out that one of the local health shops is stocking Bio-tiful Dairy's products. That is simply marvellous news. Can't wait to buy these excellent dairy drinks locally.
Have you tried Bio-tiful kefir or riazhenka?


Disclosure: I received a selection of dairy products for the purposes of testing and reviewing. All opinions are mine.

Vegetarian kefir-based cold soup okroshka

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