By LifeWayKefir LifeWayKefir on 12/19/2014 1:24 PM
Holiday shopping can be hard, so we put together a Lifeway-approved list of gifts for everyone in your life. From fitness gadgets and trendy clothes to gifts that give back, we’ve compiled a list of gifts to give (almost) everyone in your life.
As a health food company, we’re all over the latest and greatest trends and movements in the nutrition industry, but nothing makes us happier than supporting our local economy. For the friend or family member in your life who’s committed to healthy living, consider purchasing a subscription for them to a local co-op farm/store or a CSA. It’ll be good for their body and your community!
The Edge Bluetooth Wireless Headset is the perfect gift for the runner, cyclist, gym junkie or overall active person in your life. This bad boy makes it possible for you to listen to music AND answer phone calls, without hassle. Two pairs for us, please.
For a gift that gives back while keeping you looking great, grab some of these trendy tees. They support one of our favorite non-profits, Every Mother Counts, who receives 40 percent of the proceeds from purchase. Ladies, find your fithere. Gentlemen, yours are here.
Doodle with dimension with the 3Doodler – a 3D pen that allows you to draw solid, stable structures 3D. Gadget lovers fall into many categories, ranging from over the top to highly effective. This 3D pen falls somewhere in between.
For the person in your life who is always seeking the next adventure, a hammock and sleeping pad are perfect gifts. Less bulky and cumbersome than a tent, these portable beds are perfect for the great outdoors, or the great back yard.
The One Who Has it All
What do you think? What’s the best gift you’ve been given? How about the worst?
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By LifeWayKefir LifeWayKefir on 12/18/2014 1:14 PM
With Christmas approaching, mistletoe kissing is about to hit its yearly high. But before you snog a stranger, consider this: A study in the journal Microbiome recently discovered that up to 80 million bacteria are transferred during a 10 second kiss.
Fa la la la la, la la la EWWWWW.
In this study - which actually sounds way more fun that the kind which require participants to get injected with Ebola particles – 21 couples in the Netherlands were asked to fill out questionnaires about their kissing behavior, including how often they shared open-mouth kisses. Then one member of every couple drank a probiotic beverage containing specific types of bacteria, such asBifidobacteria and Lactobacillus. After an intimate kiss with their partner, researchers collected saliva samples. The finding: The amount of probiotic bacteria in the receiver's saliva increased threefold.
In other words, you are what your partner eats.
Science-minded individuals looking to recreate this experiment at home can try the following:
- Grab a bottle of your favorite Lifeway kefir.
- No need to worry about whether you have bad breath; the good bacteria in kefir can help keep odor-causing bacteria at bay.
- Play Rock, Paper, Scissors; the winner gets to take a long swig of kefir.
- Stand beneath the mistletoe.
- Kiss. Hear angels sing.
- Keep kissing, maybe for 20 minutes or so. Because it’s the holidays.
- Congratulations! Both of you may now enjoy your extra probiotics.
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By LifeWayKefir LifeWayKefir on 12/18/2014 12:05 PM
Eating well at work can be challenging. During the cold winter months, fresh fruit is out of season, holiday deadlines approach, and tempting baked treats flood break rooms without remorse. Think about it: you’re at your desk, you’re working hard, and you’re hungry. What will you reach for? Why, you’ll reach for that bon-bon, of course! Unless, that is, you’ve prepared ahead of time.
Healthy eating at your desk doesn’t have to be hard. In fact, it can be extremely easy! We’ve put together four/recipes that vary in degree of difficulty and preparation (perhaps by immediacy of hunger as well). Each contains a Lifeway Kefir product, so you can be sure you’re getting a healthy dose of satiating protein with each, along with tummy-taming probiotics. They also come together easily, are portable, and are delicious. Here’s to healthy holidays!
Difficulty Level: Easy
Kefir White Bean Dip with Cracker or Crudites
15 oz can great northern white beans, drained and rinsed
¼ cup Lifeway Lowfat Plain Kefir
3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Combine all ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning. Serve with crackers or veggie sticks. Make it fancy: add some flair with different spices! Try cumin, paprika, Cayenne pepper, garlic or tahini. For a sweeter dip, substitute peanut butter for the olive oil and use Lifeway Raspberry Lowfat Kefir. Serve with sliced fruit.
Difficulty Level: Easier
Kefir with Granola, Fruit and Nuts
8 oz Lifeway Kefir, flavor of choice2 Tbsp granolaHandful of dried or fresh fruitOptional: chopped nuts or seeds
Pour the kefir into a bowl and top with a handful of fruit, granola and optional nuts/seeds. Stir and devour. Make it fancy: sprinkle the top with a healthy shake of cinnamon and a drizzle of honey.
Difficulty Level: Easiest
Farmer Cheese and Crackers
There are two options here: either spread the cheese on the cracker and enjoy, or spoon the cheese into a small bowl or cup and scoop with crackers. Chew fully before swallowing. Make it fancy: find a spice that complements the crackers (pepper, curry, garlic, etc.) and sprinkle it onto the cheese before spreading/scooping.
Bonus Level: No Effort or Planning Involved Whatsoever
Ok, so a little effort and planning are involved. You have to remember to bring them and you have to open them, but that’s it! All three of these Lifeway products are high in calcium, protein, vitamin D and healthy probiotics!
Do you have a waist-saving snack strategy that helps you avoid the vending machine?
What are your go-to office snacks?
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By LifeWayKefir LifeWayKefir on 12/17/2014 1:37 PM
The Lifeway family is committed to giving back and supporting our community. Every year we choose a different agency or group to sponsor that has a direct impact on the city of Chicago and the Greater Chicago area. This year we collaborated with the Wood Family Foundation’s Pitch In Mentoring Program
Just recently launched, Pitch In
is an after-school mentoring program that aims to provide families with the real and committed guidance they need to ensure and secure all opportunities that are waiting for their child. Lifeway collected employee donations to purchase gifts and fulfill the holiday wish lists of underserved children in the Lawndale community.
I consider myself lucky to be a part of a program like Pitch In,” Amy N. Wright, Executive Director of the Wood Family Foundation, said. “The experiences that we share with our kids will stay with them from years to come.”
We’re excited and honored to be on board with Pitch In and support the efforts from the program’s implementation. We look forward to seeing the growth and progress each student makes over the course of the next few years.
For more information about how you can support the Pitch In program, or to become a mentor, visit their website here
. For updates and more on all of the Wood Family Foundation’s programs and efforts, visit their News site here
By LifeWayKefir LifeWayKefir on 12/16/2014 12:10 PM
Sufganiyot, also called sufganiyah, are a traditional dessert eaten during Hanukkah. Deep-fried and topped with sugar, they’re round, sugar-coated doughnuts filled with different flavors of jelly. They're also high in fat and sugar, meaning we have to be careful when we eat them (careful not to eat all of them, that is).
Like most doughnuts, sufganiyot are typically made with milk and deep-fried in oil. Understanding that buttermilk can often be substituted for milk, we couldn’t resist coming up with our own kefir-ized version. Ever mindful of our belts, we used our Lifeway Lowfat Plain Kefir in place of buttermilk and skipped the fryer all together (muffin tins are super handy). A few less than ideal attempts later, we’ve come up with an excellent recipe that we're excited to share with you today!
While sufganiyot are most often filled with red jam, they don’t have to be (especially if they're small, like ours). Whether you enjoy a different flavor of jam, prefer a creamy cheese, or go straight for chocolate, these kefir-ized treats are sure to be a staple at your holiday table for years to come. If you’re in need of filling inspiration, consider some of the following:
- Farmer Cheese, raisins and mixed chopped nuts/seeds (with a dash of salt!)
- Mashed banana and fudge
- Homemade lemon curd and crushed almonds
- Hazelnut butter and crushed pretzels
- Chunky nut butter and shaved dark chocolate
- Marzipan and chocolate sauce
- Dulce de leche
- Crushed pineapple, shredded coconut and coconut crème
Baked Sufganiyot - Baked Jelly Doughnuts
1 large egg, at room temperature
1/4 cup butter, at room temp, + 2 Tbsp butter, melted (for rolling)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups bread flour
2 tsp baking power
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup sugar + 1/2 cup sugar (for rolling, if filling with jam)
Filling of choice (see above)
Lightly grease a mini muffin tin with cooking spray and preheat your oven to 350° F. In a bowl, sift the flour with the baking powder and salt. Set aside.
In a large bowl, beat the eggs, butter, vanilla extract and the sugar together until creamy.
To the wet mixture, add one third of the kefir, followed by one third of the flour, mixing until combined before moving on. Continue alternating between the kefir and flour until everything is incorporated. Let the batter rest for about five minutes.
After the batter rests, spoon about one tablespoon of the mixture into each mini muffin cup. Bake for 9-11 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean (may vary by type of oven). Remove from the pan immediately to cool.
While the sufganiyot are cooking, set out two bowls – one with the remaining sugar and one with the melted butter. When the sufganiyot are no longer hot, dip the tops in the butter, followed by the sugar. Set aside on a cool surface or wire rack to dry and set.
After the they're are completely cooled and the sugar is set, poke a hole in the bottom of each sufganiyot. Using a pastry bag or plastic bag with a pastry tip, pipe/squeeze the filling, careful not to over fill. If the filling is chunky, try using a larger pastry tip. Alternatively, you can slice them open and spread your filling on each half. Enjoy with a glass of kefir or coffee!
Store on the counter in an air-tight container.
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By LifeWayKefir LifeWayKefir on 12/15/2014 7:37 AM
Nothing could be easier than pouring a tall glass of Lifeway Kefir for a refreshing, and healthy dessert (except for taking a swig straight from the bottle!), but during the holidays, it’s nice to make things a little extra fancy. Fancy doesn't have to equal complicated or time consumig, though! Our recipe for Cranberry Crème Brulee Mousse requires no baking and contains no heavily processed ingredients. It has a tart and tangy flavor that will please the most discerning kefir fan, yet remains sweet, rich and decadent - it's sure to please a crowd.
No special torch is required with all the delicious crème brulee flavor in our special holiday edition Cranberry Crème Brulee Kefir. If you'd l ike a sweet crunch, we suggest using a hard candy like peanut brittle and making a crumb topping to sprinkle on top. If you can’t find our holiday flavors (including Pumpkin Spice and new Eggnog!) ask your friendly dairy manager to bring some in on their next order, or substitute with one of our red berry flavors like Raspberry, Strawberry or Pomegranate.
Cranberry Crème Brulee Kefir Mousse
Makes 6 generous servings
Beat cream cheese until light and fluffy. Add cranberry jelly and sugar and beat on high until well combined. In a separate bowl, whip cream and kefir until soft peaks form (it helps to start with a chilled bowl). Add whipped cream into cranberry mixture and fold six times, so swirls of cranberry remain.
Spoon into crème brulee dishes and refrigerate for 2 hours before serving to set, or overnight. Sprinkle with peanut brittle topping (below), if desired.
Optional Peanut Brittle Topping: Using a food processor, chop the peanut brittle into crumbs.
By LifeWayKefir LifeWayKefir on 12/12/2014 8:37 AM
Are the cold temps, short days and countless holiday commitments leaving you uninspired at the end of the day? We’ve been there! This time of year, it can be an achievement just to put the laundry away. But don’t head for the frozen food section just yet – a healthy, comforting and delicious meal can be brought together in just a few steps! Yes, pasta has once again come to the rescue.
Pasta is often considered a “no-no” for calorie-conscious eaters, but it doesn’t have to be shunned completely. When eaten in moderation, it makes an energizing meal that keeps your hunger at bay for hours (and is perfect fuel for snow ball fights and sledding). Not only is our recipe filling, it’s also full of fiber and probiotics, thanks for the surprise inclusion of our Lifeway Lowfat Plain Kefir. Even more, it’s packed with immune system super starts in the forms of vitamins A, C and B6!
This recipe can easily be doubled (as long as you have a pot large enough!) to feed a crowd, or keep as leftovers throughout the week. If you don’t have the vegetables called for on hand, feel free to substitute with anything seasonal you have. We’ve tried it with mixed bell peppers, broccoli, summer squash and mushrooms – all are delicious! Any pasta will work, too. We recommend one that has crevices to pick up and hold the chunky sauce.
Penne with Vegetables and Kefir Tomato Sauce
1 lbs. gluten-free penne pasta
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 small zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced 1/2 inch thick
1/2 large asparagus bunch, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 yellow onion, diced
1-2 teaspoons red pepper flakes + extra for garnish
1 28-ounce can high-quality crushed tomatoes
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, for garnish
Fresh basil, for garnish
Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F and bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
Toss the zucchini and asparagus with 1 Tbsp olive oil. Place onto a rimmed baking sheet, season with salt and pepper. Roast until tender – about 20 minutes.
Heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil in a medium/large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the diced onion and sauté for 3-4 minutes. Add the minced garlic and red pepper and cook for one minute, careful not to burn the garlic. Add the crushed tomatoes and turn the heat down to a simmer. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 15-20 minutes, or until it reaches the thickness you desire.
While the sauce is simmering, cook your pasta according to directions for al dente. When the pasta is finished cooking, drain it and give it a quick rinse. Shake the colander well to remove as much water as pasta before adding the pasta to the sauce. Add the roasted vegetables and toss to combine. Stir in basil.
Before plating, mix in your kefir. It's important to make sure the kefir doesn't get too hot, otherwise all of the probiotics will die. Divide the dish among bowls and top with grated Parmesan cheese, basil and red pepper flakes to taste. Enjoy with a fresh salad and crusty French bread covered in Farmer Cheese for a vitamin and probiotic-rich meal that’s as comforting as it is easy to make.
That’s it; it’s super simple! What do you think, will you give it a try? Let us know how you like it and if you customize it (we bet our Greek Style kefir would make the sauce extra creamy and indulgent).
By LifeWayKefir LifeWayKefir on 12/11/2014 11:37 AM
Days are getting shorter, temperatures are dropping and invitations are flooding in left and right. Clearly, the holiday season is in full swing! With the rise in cheer and celebration also comes the rise in aches, pains and overall weariness – cold season is also here.
Oh, the dreaded cold! The saboteur of festive fun for generations, he’s a sneaky one that isn’t picky about his victims. Young, old, merry or naughty, staying safe from a winter cold requires some effort and planning, but it doesn’t have to be hard. Read on for our top tips for how to keep your immune system strong and your mood lifted during the holidays.
Mind the Mouthful
It’s baking season and everyone loves a good cookie, (or doughnut, cake, pie…you get the picture), but the abundance of home baked treats and sweets isn’t an excuse to indulge until you bulge. Not only will you feel worse physically if you overdo it, you’ll also be more susceptible to catching the flu. Nobody wants that.
Along with limiting the holiday foods you eat, make sure you load up on immunity-boosting foods – foods high in vitamin D, vitamin A, vitamin C, protein and probiotics. These foods include kefir, fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Make sure you include them with every meal.
Commit to Fit
Between work, school, holiday parties and the occasional blizzard, it can be difficult to squeeze in a sweat session at the gym. Countless studies however, show that exercise strengthens your immune system, enhances your mood and increases energy – all good things you could use a little more of during the holidays, right?
Admittedly, between in-laws, school/work functions and the (what feel like) sub-zero temperatures, carving out an hour or two from your day is a daunting task. If you’re struggling to find time to get you heart rate up, pen it into your calendar and treat it like a commitment (don’t be afraid to say ‘no’ to an after work invite if it interferes with your “you” time). If you’re tight for time, try squeezing in a quick workout during your lunch break, or get up earlier in the morning and start your day off with a run or walk. You’ll enjoy the extra burst of energy all day and no longer need to worry about it!
Calm Your Mind
The holidays are arguable the LEAST relaxing time of the year for many people. Between shopping, traveling, school, work, family and the ever-growing list of commitments, suggesting “doing nothing” for mental and physical health seems sort of silly, but it’s true! The more you demand of your body, the more time you need to spend repairing your body.
Set aside some time for yourself every day to relax – it doesn’t matter if it’s the morning or the evening. Find a calming activity, such as reading, meditating, stretching, or even taking a hot bath – whatever works for you! If nothing else, be sure you’re getting adequate sleep. You’ll definitely notice if you’re not (and so will everyone around you).
The Take Away
Staying healthy during the holidays doesn’t have to take a lot of time, but it does take some planning. Our advice? Keep it simple and keep it routine. For the Lifeway team, our healthy holiday season routine comes down to three steps: we drink kefir, we move our bodies, and we take naps. Easy peasey!
What are your tips for making sure you and your family remain healthy during the holiday season?
By LifeWayKefir LifeWayKefir on 12/9/2014 7:17 AM
Have you ever been in a pinch to pull together a dish for a last minute gathering? We certainly have! In fact, one of our Lifeway team members needed a dessert for an after work gathering just a few days ago. Instead of running to the grocery store to buy a box of generic cookies, we looked throughout our cupboards and our blog archive for something we could throw together quickly that would satisfy everyone!
This past March we came up with a delicious recipe for peanut butter kefir pie jars. With only a few staple ingredients (Lifeway Kefir, peanut butter, graham crackers and chocolate sauce) and a handful of steps, it’s the perfect solution for your spontaneous dessert needs. Feel free to substitute any cookie or sweet cracker you have the crumbles, if you don’t have any graham crackers. The recipe also doubles (or triples) very well, and can be made into smaller servings to feed a crowd.
Probiotic Peanut Butter Kefir Cups
* if you only have Lowfat Plain kefir, use that and add 2 tsp of vanilla extract and 1-2 packets of sweetener
In a large, cold bowl, whisk together peanut butter and kefir, adding kefir ¼ cup at a time. (Tip: whisk the peanut butter separately until smooth – it is much easier to incorporate that way). Place the bowl in the refrigerator chill until ready to serve.
When ready to serve, divide the chocolate crumbs into four small mason jars. Spoon the kefir peanut butter mixture equally into the four jars and drizzle the top with chocolate sauce to garnish. Feel free to add mint leaves or extra crumbs to garnish as well. That’s it - it’s easy as pie.
These pie jars are delicious! We can’t wait to make them again and experiment with the crumb base (mmm, vanilla wafers!). Do you have a go-to, “in a pinch” recipe that you can share?
By LifeWayKefir LifeWayKefir on 12/8/2014 10:58 AM
Lifeway kefir is a tart and tangy milk smoothie that contains live and active probiotic cultures – beneficial bacteria and enzymes that provide a myriad of health benefits. It’s perfect with breakfast, as a light snack, and is an excellent recovery drink after athletic activity. In short, it has a place in your day, every day!
If you read our blog on a regular basis, you know we could go on for days discussing why kefir is our favorite food, so we’ll keep today’s post short. Below are our nine of our top reasons to include kefir in your daily routine.
9 Reasons to Drink Kefir
Probiotics are healthy, beneficial microorganisms such as bacteria or yeast found in the digestive tract.
The probiotics in kefir support a healthy gut, where 70-80% of the cells that make up the immune system are located.
Protein, abundant in kefir, increases satiety and reduces hunger cravings throughout the day.
Kefir contains Alpha Hydroxy Acid (AHA), a popular ingredient in skin care products.
The live and active probiotic cultures found in kefir may help support digestion.
An 8 oz serving of Lifeway lowfat kefir contains 11 grams of natural protein.
Kefir’s probiotic cultures break down milk sugars, which supports lactose digestion.
Kefir is loaded with tryptophan, the amino acid that helps raise the levels of serotonin in your brain.
A serving of Lifeway kefir provides roughly one third of your daily calcium needs.
If you would like to more know about Lifeway kefir, its health benefits or how it’s made, please visit our Frequently Asked Questions page.Frequently Asked Questions page.