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 12/8/2014 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.
By LifeWayKefir LifeWayKefir on 10/21/2014 7:37 AM
We collected quite the bounty of fresh apples while visiting the orchard last weekend and have been dying to bake with them ever since! We know there are quite a few apple recipes located on our blog that we love, but we weren't in the mood for cookies, a smoothie or a big slice of pie when we set off to bake. No, we were feeling doughnuts. Soft, delicious, moist, kefir doughnuts.
Ah, now we’re talking.
We're patting ourselves on the back for these; they are delicious! Warm straight out of the oven sprinkled with cinnamon, or cooled and topped with a dollop of fresh whipped cream and pecans - however you eat them, you'll enjoy them. They were perfect for a quick breakfast and paired excellently with a cup of coffee.
Good thing there are more than enough to go around, right? We bet these would also be delicious with pears and walnuts, or with any of low fat kefir flavors. Adjust to your taste!
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 cup plain Lifeway Plain Low Fat Kefir
1/4 cup cider reduction (recipe below)
1/2 cup sugar
1 large apple, peeled and diced
1/4 cup pecans, chopped
Whipped cream and additional pecans for topping
2 cups apple cider
Heat cider in a medium sauce pan to a boil (be careful not to let it boil over). Reduce heat and let the cider simmer, reducing to ¼ cup. Set aside to cool until thick.
Preheat oven to 350 degree Fahrenheit. Spray a mini doughnut pan with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.
In medium bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
In large bowl, mix together kefir, cider molasses, applesauce and sugar. Add in flour mixture and until combined. DON’T OVER MIX! Fold in apples and pecans.
Spoon batter into mini doughnut pan wells, filling each no more than halfway full (you will have extra batter for extra batches). Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until cooked through. Remove from oven and cool for ten minutes before popping out of the pan. Cool completely before topping, or enjoy warm.
Feel free to make any adjustments or substitutions you see fit. We bet our Lifeway Organic Whole Milk kefir would make these extra creamy, and substituting pear for apple would also be delightful! In place of white sugar, try coconut palm sugar or a stevia for baking blend, if you enjoy the taste.
Fun fact: Apples are loaded with incredible health benefits. Not only does the fiber content help you feel satisfied (and stay fit and trim!), they're full of antioxidants, polyphenols and other vitamins and minerals you need to stay healthy and happy! Learn more about our favorite fall food here.
By LifeWayKefir LifeWayKefir on 10/9/2014 2:53 AM
The 2014 Bank of America Chicago Marathon is this Sunday! Whether you’re a spectator or a participant, the event is definitely one of the highlights of the city. The historic race, which was run for the first time in 1977, is one of the best known American races and draws competitors from around the globe. Even more impressive, it’s one of only six World Marathon Majors. Cool, right?
Not to miss out on such an exciting event for our city, the Lifeway community team will be at the marathon expo on Friday and Saturday, so be sure to stop by and sample some of our delicious, runner-friendly frozen kefir bars and drinkable kefir. We’ll also be handing out coupons and other fun Lifeway swag. Our CEO Julie Smolansky
will also be running the marathon with the Every Mother Counts
team, so be sure to say hello if you see her!
Fun fact: did you know that kefir is an excellent recovery drink? It’s true! According to Runner’s World (and science), kefir is an excellent addition to your post-run routine, thanks to its immune-supporting probiotics and carb to protein ratio! Plus, Lifeway kefir is 99% lactose free, making it super easy to digest. If that’s not enough to get you intrigued, take a look at all of these different flavors, mmm!
If you do happen to be one of the roughly 45,000 participants running this year’s marathon, check out the following race week and day tips to make sure you’re in top form for the big day:
Have a Plan and Know What to Expect
- Communicate with family and friends. Have a post-race meeting place planned out in advance, as there will be thousands of people racing and watching
- Study the map and know the course. While there will be plenty of event staff around to answer questions, knowing where you are and where you’re going offers peace of mind
- Stick to what you know and what you’ve tried. Race week/day is not the time to try out that new energy bar your friends have been talking about.
- Cut down and avoid high fiber and high fat foods a few days before the race to ensure you don’t run into any digestive issues (yet another reason to keep kefir in your diet!)
- Drink plenty of water in the days leading up to the race, as well as while running, to avoid dehydration and support a strong
During the Race
- Pace yourself! The adrenaline and excitement of the day could encourage you to run faster than you intend. Stick to your plan and know when to slow down.
- Don’t worry about the people who are running ahead/faster than you. Once again, stick to your plan and run your race
- Understand and listen to your body. If something hurts or seems off, slow down and find assistance
After the Race
- Celebrate your accomplishment! After weeks of training, take the time to stop and honor your hard work and dedication.
- Hydrate, eat and stretch – the three most important things you can do for your body! There will be treats and snacks provided for runners after the race, so feel free to indulge a bit.
- Take it easy and rest. Don’t plan too many fun activities for the afternoon/evening of the marathon; you’ll likely be fast asleep before sunset
- Nothing says “self love” like a massage or pedicure (hello, runner feet!) Take the few days after the marathon to treat yourself to some much needed pampering.
Runners, do you have any go-to advice for race day?
For more race day and week tips, check out some of the following resources:
By LifeWayKefir LifeWayKefir on 10/8/2014 12:06 AM
We’re experienced our first truly fall-like weather at the Lifeway headquarters last week. The temperature plummeted, the sun disappeared and chilling rain was accompanied by blustery winds for the better portion of the week. It was a stark contrast to the lovely late summer warm spell we had been enjoying, and, needless to say, had our team at a loss. Do we surrender Summer to Fall with complaints and colds, or do we celebrate the changing of the guard in style?
If you guessed, “celebrate,” you’re correct. And what’s celebrating without eating? Not a celebration we want to attend, that’s for sure!
In order to welcome in the cool weather appropriately, we turned to our culinary roots, better known as “our mothers,” for a recipe many of our team enjoyed as children. Syrniki, also known as Russian Cheese Pancakes, were (and are) a childhood/family favorite; we’re excited to share our special recipe for them with you today.
Syrniki served with fresh berry sauce and Ryazhenka
, a traditional-style kefir.
2 large eggs
1 Tbsp sugar (optional)
1/4 teaspoons salt
2 tsp vanilla extract
5 Tbsp flour (whole wheat, all-purpose – your choice) + more for dusting and hands
1/4 teaspoons baking powder
In a large mixing bowl, crumble/break up white cheese with a fork. Add in eggs, sugar, salt and vanilla. Mix well. Add baking soda and flour, mixing until just combined. Batter should be thick. Refrigerate batter for about an hour to thicken more, if desired.
When you’re ready to cook your syrniki, heat a skillet on medium-high and spray with cooking spray. Sprinkle some flour on your working surface and on your hands. Spoon about 1/4 cup of the pancake batter at a time into your hands and form into thick patties roughly two inches in diameter. Add to the hot skillet and cook as you would a pancake (until golden brown on both sides, flipping halfway through cooking). Serve with berry sauce (recipe below) or toppings of your choosing (sour cream, nuts and honey are traditionally used).
1 cup berries (we used a mix of raspberry and blueberry)
1 Tbsp lemon juice + grated zest
2 tsp sugar (to taste)
In a small pot, heat the berries until warm and juices begin to escape. Stir in lemon juice, zest and sugar. Cook, stirring frequently, until bubbly and desired thickness is achieved. Cool slightly before serving with syrniki. Enjoy with a glass of Lifeway Kefir, orange juice or coffee.
What is White Cheese?
Many traditional recipes for syrniki call for cottage cheese or farmer cheese, but we choose to use our Lifeway White Cheese, as it is thicker and the cakes hold together better. It is a cultured soft cheese made from an Old World European recipe. It adds unmistakable flavor and texture to your favorite dishes and recipes. It’s low in fat, cholesterol and calories and it has a distinctive, pleasantly smooth flavor. Lifeway White Cheese is composed primarily of dry curds and has a consistency of feta cheese. Use it as you would feta, as a salad topping, or as a feeling for crepe or pancakes.
By LifeWayKefir LifeWayKefir on 4/24/2014 11:23 AM
Wonder Woman, Batman, The Hulk and Captain America have some competition; a new superhero who goes by the name of Coconut Oil Man.
Honestly, is there anything coconut oil can’t do? A fantastical new health claim pops up every day, with fans claiming the liquid gold can do everything from sooth skin to shed weight to whiten teeth.
Smile brightening: Oil pulling is the hottest trend to hit mouths since Miley Cyrus’ tongue got its own Twitter account. According to the ancient practice, you swish coconut type of oil in your mouth for 10 to 20 minutes a day, with the goal of whitening your teeth and preventing bad breath. Just be sure not to spit it out in your sink; the oil will harden and could clog your pipes.
Tasty baked goods: Coconut oil is extremely heat stable, meaning it tolerates high temperatures well. Use it to stir fry Asian veggies, in fragrant Indian curries, or as a substitute for butter or shortening in muffins, brownies or scones. Beware: It’s solid at room temperature, so you’ll need to melt it down first (you can just set the jar in a bowl of hot water for a few minutes.) Or leave it as a solid and…
Supple skin: …rub it on your elbows, knees and heels to soften your skin. You can also add a few spoonfuls to a hot bath, or smooth a tiny amount over your hair to ease frizz.
Weight loss: Coconut oil has long been on nutritionists’ hit lists, thanks to its higher amounts of saturated fat. But the types of triglycerides it contains are metabolized differently in the body from other saturated fats; they’re typically used for energy rather than stored as fat. An American Journal of Clinical Nutrition study found that women who ate four teaspoons of purified Medium Chain Triglyceride oil (the type of fat found in high concentrations in coconut oil) daily for four months lost twice as much weight as those eating the same amount of olive oil. In fact, Victoria’s Secret model Miranda Kerr has revealed that she consumes four tablespoons of coconut oil every day.
Coconut oil too…oily for you? Lifewat kefir makes a tasty lowfat Coconut Chia Kefir and Tart and Tangy Frozen Coconut Kefir Bars. Feel free to swish.
By LifeWayKefir LifeWayKefir on 2/4/2014 9:18 AM
When we read a story in a recent Saturday Evening Post
about a foodie movement made up of passionate probiotic fans who call themselves the "Demented Fermenters," we had to hear more. Also profiled in the story was natural foods pioneer Sally Fallon Morell, the author of Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook That Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats
In her book, Fallon Morell describes her technique for DIY vegetable fermenting that’s so easy, it will turn anyone into a Demented Fermenter. Haven’t dipped your toes into the sauerkraut pool yet? Try her recipe for Ginger Carrots, then go bolder was you cultivate a taste for these pickled treats:
Homemade Ginger Carrots
4 cups grated carrots, tightly packed
1 T freshly grated ginger
1 T sea salt
4 T whey (if whey is not available, use an extra 1 T salt)
Mix all ingredients in a bowl; pound with a wooden pounder of meat hammer to release juices. Place in a quart-sixed, wide-mouth mason jar, pressing down firmly until juices cover the carrots. (The top of the carrots should be at least one inch below the top of the jar.) Screw lid on tightly and leave on kitchen counter at room temperature for three days, then transfer to the refrigerator.
This method can be replicated with cabbage for sauerkraut. (Use one medium cabbage, cored and shredded, plus 1 T caraway seeds.)
Want to try Fallon Morell’s zingy recipes? We are giving away a copy of Nourishing Traditions! To enter the contest, leave a comment below telling us your favorite pickled veggie, or the pickled veggie you’ve always been too scared to try. We’ll notify the winner by Valentine’s Day.
By LifeWayKefir LifeWayKefir on 1/30/2014 11:53 AM
When Michael Phelps won an incredible eight
gold medals at the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics, people started paying attention to everything from his 12-pack abs to what he ate for breakfast (he was rumored to throw back 12,000 calories a day; a myth he later debunked.) With the 2014 winter Olympics fast approaching, athletes are no doubt searching for the most effective foods to complement their rigorous training schedules.
Read More »
By LifeWayKefir LifeWayKefir on 1/15/2014 1:35 AM
You probably have strong feelings about mayo. Most people either love it or hate it and have a hard time understanding folks in the opposite camp. One thing we may all agree on is that it’s not the healthiest condiment. Whether it’s your favorite indulgence or you haven’t let the stuff touch your lips in decades, you might find a substitute handy as we enter a new year and discover a new you. We’ve gathered some of our favorite mayo alternatives for a side by side comparison on flavor and functionality.
What’s your favorite healthy substitute?
Click here or on the image for a full-size verison.
By LifeWayKefir LifeWayKefir on 10/28/2013 8:24 PM
We recently received the following letter from a hard-working customer:
To whom it may concern,
I have started drinking Kefir for my health and absolutely love it. As I am trying to stick to a strict whole foods diet I only drink the plain and have found it is not only delicious but extremely nutritious. I have one question: as one of the rages right now is to drink chocolate milk after a workout (i.e. the carbs and protein are utilized to help post-workout stress) one thing I have started to do is drink Kefir after my workouts instead of chocolate milk as a post-work out replenishment drink. I do this because of the higher protein content and that it is a 50/50 mix of carbohydrates to protein. And as it is similar to whey protein (but unprocessed) I assume that it is as quickly digested. And that is my question, is there any information available that would help back up my assumption? Or anything that would show the benefits of Kefir as a post-workout replenishment drink? Anything would be greatly appreciated.
Thank you from one satisfied customer,
Well, R, we're glad you wrote!
The reason chocolate milk has been touted for its potential in workout recovery is, as R notes, its mix of protein and carbs - both essential for helping your muscles heal and your body regenerate. Lowfat chocolate milk boasts an ideal 4:1 carbohydrate:protein ratio, which is similar to many commercial recovery beverages. It also has sodium and is a fluid, both of which are known to assist in post-workout recovery.
We asked San Diego-based exercise physiologist Pete McCall for his take on substituting choco milk with kefir and he confirms that yes, drinking plain kefir offers very similar recovery benefits as chocolate milk. McCall points out that, as our customer mentioned, plain lowfat kefir has a 1:1 ratio of carbohydrates to protein. McCall also likes kefir as a workout recovery drink because it’s “relatively easy on the stomach due to the probiotics, and has carbs for energy replacement.”
So what are you waiting for? Go hit the pavement for a nice run and afterward, reward yourself - and your muscles - with a tall, cold glass of kefir!