By LifeWayKefir LifeWayKefir on 4/22/2014 11:35 AM
In honor of Earth Day, we invited Amy Haddon, Vice President of Marketing & Communications for Renewable Choice Energy to author this guest post. We are pleased to work with Renewable Choice Energy to get our company a little more green and spread the word on how Renewable Energy Credits help make the world a better place.
For the past eight years, Lifeway Foods has purchased renewable energy from our team at Renewable Choice Energy. This partnership has enabled Lifeway to continue its longstanding commitment to environmental stewardship and corporate social responsibility.
But just how does this partnership work? Lifeway buys what are known as renewable energy credits, or RECs, from Renewable Choice to offset the environmental impact of its purchased electricity. Lifeway purchases enough RECs to offset 100% of the electricity used to produce its products, an ambitious commitment that helps the company avoid over 3.7 million pounds of carbon dioxide pollution annually. This reduction has the same impact as planting 44,034 tree seedlings and growing them for ten years, or removing 362 cars from the road for a full year.
RECs are how green power is tracked and traded in North America. While businesses are implementing onsite renewable energy production in increasing numbers, it is still cost- and operationally-prohibitive for many companies to do so. The alternative is to purchase RECs, which are produced at the same time clean energy is in a one-to-one ratio. While the clean energy itself gets blended into the power mix that we call the “grid,” along with electricity from carbon-based sources like coal and natural gas, the RECs become a tradable commodity that represent the environmental benefits of the clean energy produced. RECs are the standard and accepted way for companies without onsite clean energy options to help neutralize their carbon footprint, and are recognized (and used) by environmental agencies, including the U.S. EPA.
Because Lifeway purchases RECs to offset 100% of its grid electricity consumption, the company can make the claim that it is 100% wind powered. The RECs that are purchased by Lifeway are tracked, certified, and retired by Green-e® Energy, the leading renewable energy certifier in the U.S., which ensures that no other company can claim the environmental benefits attached to Lifeway’s RECs.
Purchasing RECs also helps to stimulate the development of a vital clean energy industry. The use of RECs provides financial feasibility for renewable energy facilities and their development. Voluntary purchasers like Lifeway have helped to significantly grow U.S. renewable energy in the past decade, keeping energy production here in the U.S., promoting job growth, and helping to reduce air pollution, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and ecosystem degradation.
Alongside its green power purchase, Lifeway has undertaken additional steps as a leader in voluntary environmental action, including the use of local ingredients and biodegradable or recyclable packaging materials, both of which further contribute to a reduction in GHG emissions.
We’ve been a proud partner of Lifeway Foods and look forward to continuing to work together toward solutions for a cleaner, more sustainable environment. Happy Earth Day from all of us at Renewable Choice!
You can read more about the partnership between Renewable Choice and Lifeway here.
By LifeWayKefir LifeWayKefir on 4/21/2014 8:00 AM
When it comes to our fans, there’s room for everyone in the Lifeway family. But when it comes to the ingredients we use in our kefir, Lifeway is pretty picky. Our milk is crème de la crème of the Midwest, our flavorings and colorings our all-natural, our cultures are live & active & abundant, and our sweetener is a minimally processed cane sugar. We’ve recently added a pinch of pectin, a natural stabilizer, to the mix to keep things smooth throughout the seasons, so we thought a quick spotlight on pectin was in order for our fans.
With our commitment to keeping things natural and unprocessed, comes some natural variation in our non-homogenized milk, and in turn our kefir, as the seasons change. In the summer, cows in our Midwest region eat more fresh grass which adds more water to their diet and results in thinner milk and thinner kefir. In the winter, the extra thick milk can lead to extra kefir lumps.
This can be upsetting. Kefir is supposed to be thick, luscious, creamy, and smooth! You let us know on Facebook, Twitter, via email, on the phone, and with one sky written message over Lake Michigan, and we listened. We went on a mission to find a natural way to make kefir thick and delicious all year round. In came pectin to save the day!
The pectin in our kefir is a flavorless fiber derived from citrus fruits, added in a very small amount that doesn’t affect the nutritional profile. It will help to stabilize the kefir to avoid major lumping (but will still leave a few lumps for good measure), and thicken it a little when the consistency of our milk supply fluctuates.
We think you will notice a pleasant upgrade in the quality and texture of our signature drink and hope that you are enjoying this little tweak to our formula as much as we are!
Just remember, you’re not off the hook when it comes to shaking! The milk solids and pectin may settle at the bottom and a vigorous shake will keep your kefir and your biceps in great shape.
By LifeWayKefir LifeWayKefir on 4/17/2014 7:30 AM
With Earth Day dawning on April 22, people everywhere will be celebrating the awesome power of one big bad mother: Mother Earth. We’re big fans of ME here at Lifeway – that’s why we package our kefir in BPA-free bottles made from recycled materials, the labels on our bottles are treated with EcoPure (an additive that allows the label to break down in compost) and our Starfruit frozen kefir stores use biodegradable utensils and unbleached, 100% recycled napkins.
If Mother Nature cooperates, the weather will be nice and sunny on her birthday, offering families the chance to head outdoors and turn Earth Day into a fun learning activity. Check out some of these ideas for celebrating with everyone’s favorite planet:
Read outside: Grab a picnic blanket and some books and read to or with your kids with the sun shining on your backs.
Take a (family) hike: Make everyones you’ve got sunscreen, hats and snacks (ProBugs, maybe?) and visit some local trails, a nearby wooded park, or, if you’re a city-dweller, attempt an urban hike and explore a new part of your hometown.
Paint on rocks: Some darker types of cement and stone turn dark when wet, which lends itself to this cool kind of “painting.” All you need are paintbrushes and water. Be sure to snap a pic before the artwork disappears! (Source)
Visit a local recycling plant, the start recyling: If your family still lives in the dinosaur age and hasn’t started recycling, now is the perfect time. Visit a local plant for inspiration, then set up bins at home, clearly labeled “Plastic,” “Paper” and “Aluminum.” They’ll enjoy sorting through their garbage, knowing it will be reborn as something special.
Make it a Disney adventure: Rent the Disney adventure, Earth, and host a screening for all the neighborhood kids. (Parents will love this “epic story of adventure, starring some of the most magnificent and courageous creatures alive,” too.)
By LifeWayKefir LifeWayKefir on 4/11/2014 10:42 AM
Things are getting a little greener in Lifeway world. Our offices in Illinois are finally seeing some spring flowers emerge from the ground after a long winter. Our new Cucumber Veggie Kefir is getting rave reviews from green fiends across the nation.
We thought we’d celebrate with a green smoothie in a classic warm weather flavor. Strawberry Kiwi is one of our favorite classic combos and it’s not just for Gushers anymore! Our ProBugs Blast come in an awesome Strawberry Kiwi Comet flavor that you can use as a base for this smoothie for an extra kick of flavor. For an extra dose of green goodness, fresh spinach gives this smoothie a boost of antioxidants, fiber, and a bright springy hue!
Strawberry Kiwi Spinach Smoothie
1 cup Lifeway Organic Lowfat Plain Kefir
½ cup fresh spinach
1 tablespoon honey
4 ice cubes
Cut the kiwi in half and scoop the flesh out of the skin and into a blender. Remove the tops from the strawberries and add the berries to the blender. Add kefir, spinach, and honey and blend until smooth. Add ice and blend a few seconds more.
By LifeWayKefir LifeWayKefir on 4/9/2014 11:02 AM
Your kitchen cupboard wasn’t the only thing growing dust bunnies this past winter. All that time spent curled up on the couch, indulging in comfort food while donning elastic waist sweatpants catches up with you, and come Springtime, your gut could use a good cleaning out. We’re not promoting extreme “cleaning” methods, like colonics or juice fasts, but more gentle, sustainable clean-up efforts.
Spring cleaning tool #1? Probiotics. These good bacteria keep things smoothly moving through your GI tract (think of gunky winter snow melting in the April sun, rather than creating a muddy eyesore on the side of the road.)
Some other here-comes-the-sun clean-up methods, gathered from around the web:
Go green: "Raw, steamed, sautéed , chopped, shredded—no matter how you eat them, they have lots of nutrients that will help make your skin glow, rid your body of toxins, and rev up your immune system," says board-certified health coach Arielle Fierman. "They're loaded with fiber and phytonutrients to help your organs do their best work. My favorites include frozen spinach blended in a smoothie for breakfast, hummus and veggies wrapped in a collard greens for lunch, and kale sautéed with coconut oil and sea salt as a side dish for dinner." - Glamour.com
Get your sweat on: "Choose an exercise that you love—dance, stretch class, biking, swimming—and do it just for 20 to 30 minutes per day,” Fierman suggests. “Sign up for a group class or pre-pay so you don’t have an excuse not to go. Pack your workout clothes with you when you go to work—or better yet, wear your workout tank under a cute blazer and you'll be half ready to hit the gym later on." - Glamour.com
Try meatless Mondays: Some health experts believe that meat and dairy products create an acidic environment within the body, paving the way to disease. Vegetables are considered more alkalinizing: Try plant-based foods like leafy greens, broccoli and asparagus. - Care2.com
Head outside: According to naturopathic physician Kim McQueen, “Sunlight converts cholesterol in the skin to vitamin D. It’s difficult to get enough of the right sun exposure (especially in the winter) to provide the body with adequate vitamin D. Vitamin D is fat-soluble and best consumed as supplements or through foods like eggs, salmon and soy.” - Huffington Post
By LifeWayKefir LifeWayKefir on 4/4/2014 3:21 PM
Lifeway recently debuted its frozen kefir across the Atlantic in the UK, and our new international kick is extending beyond the freezer aisle – we sponsored Girl Up London, a UK charity event, and are hosting a Russian mentee in Fortune Magazine, Vital Voices, and the US State Department’s mentorship program for global entrepreneurs.
Girl Up London was a big success! The voices of women refugees from Ethiopia were loud and clear, raising awareness for the difficult issues women face in tragic political circumstances. Our CEO Julie Smolyansky met with Mr. Ziauddin Yousafzai who refused to clip his daughter Malala’s wings and allowed her to protest the Taliban for girls’ rights to education. Other women came to support the Girl Up cause and enjoy a scoop of Lifeway Frozen Kefir, like Disney’s High School Musical star Monique Coleman.
Back at Lifeway headquarters in weird, wonderful Niles, IL, we are hosting Zhanna Sharipova, a marketing professional from Moscow who came to the US for a little business entrepreneurship inspiration exchange with our CEO Julie Smolyansky and her team. Kicking off her two week stay with a cocktail party in downtown Chicago, Ms. Sharipova is touring all of Lifeway’s kefir-riffic facilities and even squeezing in a little fun, like the Chicago Cubs’ Wrigley Field Opening Day baseball game!
By LifeWayKefir LifeWayKefir on 4/2/2014 8:37 AM
Leaders in philanthropy, business, and government are gathering this week in Chicago for the 2014 #WomenLeading Philanthropy Symposium, part of Chicago’s newly proclaimed Women’s Philanthropy Week, March 30th – April 4th. Lifeway’s CEO Julie Smolyansky is proud to attend the symposium, representing the growing faction of female leaders who are dedicated to integrating philanthropy into running a successful business.
The timing of the event falls perfectly in line with Lifeway’s participation in Fortune Magazine, Vital Voices, and the US State Department’s mentorship program for global entrepreneurs. Lifeway is happy to host Zhanna Sharipova, one of Russia’s top business women to shadow our own fearless leader, Ms. Smolyansky. We are proud to show Ms. Sharipova the support Chicago gives to women leading in business and philanthropy at this week’s event.
The focus of this year’s symposium will be reflection and a survey of what has already been done in regards to increasing the representation of women in business and how that has effected philanthropic pursuits. To start out, Mayor Rahm Emmanuel’s office has collected a few facts on where we stand:
Ø The Nonprofit Times annual list of the Top 50 Power & Influence in the Nonprofit World included 23 women in 2013.
Ø Nonprofits with a female CEO averaged 50% female representation on boards. Nonprofits with male CEO averaged 37% female representation on boards.
-2012 Board Source Nonprofit Governance Index
Ø In nearly every income group, women give more than men even though women will live longer than their spouses, are likely to make less money over their lifetimes, and are likely to spend less time in the workforce than men.
-Women Give 2010 and 2012, http://www.philanthropy.iupui.edu/womengive
Ø In 2007, annual company charitable contributions were 28 times higher in companies with gender diverse boardrooms. Fortune 500 companies with 3 or more Women Board Directors allocated $27.1 million versus $969,000 in companies with zero women directors.
-Soares, Marquis, and Lee (2011), “Gender and Corporate Social Responsibility: It’s a Matter of Sustainability,” http://www.catalyst.org/knowledge/gender-and-corporate-social-responsibility-its-matter-sustainability
Ø The 2014 Forbes list of the world’s billionaires includes 7 women in the top 50.
By LifeWayKefir LifeWayKefir on 4/1/2014 12:30 AM
This light and simple lunch is loaded with fiber and protein from garbanzos (aka chickpeas) and a healthy dose of fruits and veggies mixed in. Using half kefir and half mayo for your dressing gives your salad a light coating of flavor, without all the fat. Plus opening a can of chickpeas is way easier than preparing chicken breast from scratch. We think that having the first five letter in common also makes chickpeas a perfect substitute in your chicken salad sandwich.
Chickpea Salad Sandwich
1 ½ cups chick peas, drained
½ cup celery, diced
½ cup red grapes, halved
2 tablespoons Lifeway Lowfat Plain Kefir
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
¼ teaspoon salt
Pinch black pepper
Mash the chickpeas lightly with a fork in a large bowl, leaving about half the chickpeas whole. Add celery and grapes. In a separate bowl, whisk together kefir, mayo, salt and pepper. Pour the dressing over the chickpea mixture and stir to combine. Serve on bread, in a pita, or over mixed greens for a delicious light meal!
By LifeWayKefir LifeWayKefir on 3/26/2014 9:00 AM
When we heard about the amazing opportunity for the kids of America to represent their state at the White House “State Dinner” and showcase their amazing cooking skills, we knew we had to share the news! Below are some details about the Epicurious 2014 Healthy Lunch Time Meal Challenge and a few recipe suggestions for inspiration.
If you are the parent of a budding chef between the ages of 8 and 12, you’re invited to work together and send in your child’s original lunch recipe inspired by the USDA’s MyPlate. You and your child could win a trip to Washington, D.C., and you may have the opportunity to represent your state at the Kids’ “State Dinner,” hosted by Mrs. Obama at the White House.
Your recipe should be:
Veggies and fruits should make up half of your recipe, and be sure to also include low-fat dairy, whole grains, and lean protein
Keep it fresh, simple, and yummy
We want your own creative dish, not one from a published source
No fancy ingredients needed
Tell us the story of how you came to make this dish
Entry Period: March 5–April 5, 2014
Winners Notified: June 2014
Trip to Washington, D.C., and opportunity to attend Kids’ “State Dinner”: July/August 2014
½ cup kefir
2 cups chopped veggies
· Green beans
· Tomato, etc
¼ t Salt
¼ t pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
Cheese (parmesan, cheddar, gruyere)
Salad with kefir ranch dressing
2 cups Mixed greens
¼ cup Lifeway Lowfat Plain Kefir
1 tablespoon olive oil
Herbs of your choice
Preheat oven to 375. Whisk together eggs, kefir, veggies, salt and pepper. Heat a large, oven proof skillet on the stovetop to medium and coat the bottom with oil. Pour in egg mixture and stir as the mixture sets, keeping the bottom of the pan coated with egg. When it starts to set in the middle, transfer to the oven and bake for 5 minutes. Sprinkle cheese on top and bake for 5 minutes more to melt the cheese and fully cook the eggs.
To make the salad dressing, whisk together kefir, a pinch each of the herbs of your choice, salt and pepper.
Serve frittata with a green salad and kefir dressing.
Breakfast for lunch
Kefir pancake sandwiches with fruit
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups Lifeway Plain Lowfat Kefir
1 cup puree (banana, pumpkin, squash, carrot etc)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs, lightly beaten
Nut butter (peanut, almond, sunflower seed)
Thinly Sliced fruit (apples, bananas, strawberries, etc)
Honey or maple syrup
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt.
In a separate bowl, combine kefir, puree, vanilla extract, and eggs. Add to dry mixture and mix just until moistened.
Pre-heat griddle or skillet over medium-low heat. Lightly grease griddle and spoon batter on.
When tiny bubbles appear on the top of the pancake, flip over and continue cooking: 2-3 minutes each side.
Spread with nut butter, fresh fruit, and syrup and stack a second pancake on top of sandwich. Serve with kefir smoothie and fruit salad.
Here's the footage from last year's Kids' State Dinner...
By LifeWayKefir LifeWayKefir on 3/25/2014 7:37 AM
The Partnership for a Healthier America just released its 2013 progress report
, and the results are good enough to inspire jumping jacks. Dedicated to helping ensure a health young generation, with a focus on solving the childhood obesity epidemic, the PHA unites leaders from the public, private and nonprofit sectors, led by honorary chair First Lady Michelle Obama, responsible for spearheading theLet’s Move!
campaign. Among the highlights of this year’s PHA report:
- After rising for decades, the obesity rate among low-income preschoolers has finally started to level off; 18 states are actually demonstrating small declines.
- 70,000 children in daycare are now eating healthier meals
- More than 370 new grocery stores have opened up food deserts (neighborhoods with low access to nutritious, affordable food).
- The Sesame Workshop and the Produce Marketing Association teamed up with PHA, pledging to use Elmo to help promote fresh fruit and vegetable consumption among kids. (“Elmo loves artichokes!”)
- About 400 hospitals have joined the PHA’s Hospital Healthy Food Initiative, delivering produce- and grain-packed hospital meals to more than 40 million patients.
- Last year, Let’s Move! Active Schools was launched in collaboration with Nike, Reebok and Kaiser Permanente, training and encouraging parents, teachers, and community leaders to build more physical activity into their students’ day.
But it’s not all sunshine and daisies: Childhood obesity rates still rose in three states and remained stagnant in 20 others. One in five African-American preschoolers and one in six Hispanic children are obese or overweight, making them more likely to become obese adults with a heightened risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and a host of other dangerous medical conditions.
Lifeway is dedicated to keeping America's kiddos thriving. The "good bug" probiotics in our kefir may even help fend off obesity later in life: a Britiish Journal of Nutrition study found that pregnant women who consumed probiotic supplements may reduce their offspring's chances of becoming obese as adults by reducing moms' chances of having gestational diabetes. And research also shows that peppering your day with dairy (milk, kefir, yogurt, cheese) can help you keep tabs on your weight.
We salute the PHA for all of their hard work - let's keep moving and eating well, America!