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Welcome to Kefir Kommunity! This is your one-stop-shop for nutrition news from around the blogosphere. If it’s got to do with kefir or probiotics, chances are, it’s here. But you’ll also find cutting edge information, articles and links to stories about all things health – from workout trends to cool food science research, delicious recipe suggestions to expert Q & As. We love to share our passion for what we do with the best customers in the world, while offering you exclusive info on special events, deals, promotions and all sorts of other happenings at Lifeway HQ and beyond. We encourage  you to tap into the power of Kefir Kommunity’s blog by reaching out to us or fellow kefir fans with comments or questions. So make yourself at home, pull up a chair and stay a while. We promise to treat you right. 
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12 Days to a Better 2012
12 Days to a Better 2012

Julie's Take on 12 Days to a Better 2012

By Julie Smolyansky on 2/2/2012 2:44 PM
Two weeks ago we challenged you to drink Lifeway Kefir every day with the promise that you would feel better. Along the way, we have offered up healthy lifestyle tips and recipes for you and your family. The team at Lifeway asked me to contribute a post for the end of this challenge.   
Losing weight is a top resolution every year – but studies show that more than half of people who make resolutions break them within six months. I think in part this is due to all the marketing by companies promising a quick fix. “Eat this and you will lose weight!” “Drink this and shed those pounds!” “Buy this and you too can look like this!” But in real life, no one looks like those images! So we can never achieve the unrealistic goals we set for ourselves, and when we don’t, we feel like we failed. Just last week I came across this spoof about Photoshop, it’s a funny video but the message is serious.

Frankly, I’m angry - just like we all should be! I’m sick of hearing about girls on diets as young as six years old. Recently Katya Zharkova, a size 12 “plus” size model stood side-by-side embracing a traditional model, and the image was shocking. She went on to state that most runway models meet the Body Maxx Index criteria for anorexia. On the other side of the pendulum, we have an obesity epidemic in this country - both children and adults overweight to the point that we have a health crisis on our hands. It is apparent to me that we have forgotten how to nourish our body and souls. We have lost our consciousness.

I stopped dieting, obsessing over fat and calories, and even buying fashion magazines when I was pregnant with my first daughter. I wanted to protect my children against comparing themselves to society’s brand of beauty and feeling bad about themselves. Instead of being victims to the diet industry, we focus on being a healthy family. We eat healthy and organic as often as possible; we stay active, and we contribute to our society. In other words, we live consciously and with intent.

We don’t call food “good” or “bad” - it’s all just food. We shop our farmers market every few days for local and in-season fruits and veggies, and we certainly get our fair share of probiotics and kefir daily. My partner Jason and I have been known to bike over 100 miles around the city in one week with our kids hitched on the back. I’ve trained for six marathons along Lake Michigan over the last 10 years – and I pushed a stroller along in two of them.

There’s still room for the occasional cupcake! I would even go so far as to dub my family a “family of cupcake connoisseurs,” and I personally love a Vosges truffle with my evening glass of red wine. (Dark chocolate and red wine - both loaded with antioxidants!) Instead of thinking of all the things you can’t eat while on your diet, try thinking of all the wonderful things you can add to your LIFE – even if in moderation.

How you eat does matter – but not in a calorie-counting sense. When you put wholesome, real food into your body - with ingredients you understand and can pronounce - you feel better! Eat 21-35 colorful, conscious meals and snacks over the week - loaded with fresh fruits, veggies, fish, grains and healthy dairy like kefir – and you’ll feel good (inside and out.) You’ll have more energy, and your skin will glow. You’ll even notice a difference in how you spend your time, your money, and your focus. Living your life with purpose and intent will lead to more quality time with people you love, and more time to be creative. Less time in front of the TV and on Facebook, and more time enjoying your Facebook friends in real life!

To quote my favorite artist Eddie Vedder, “I know I was born and I know that I'll die. The in between is mine. I am mine.” Own that “in between” and make it great; make it intentional.

This year I resolved to empower and inspire as many people as I possibly could. I hope to use this space to do that every now and then. I want to hear about how your life changed when healthy eating became second nature to you! Did you start a new community project? Did you reconnect with lost friends? Twelve days isn’t enough time to make lasting lifestyle shifts, but it’s a good start. Twelve days will turn into 12 weeks, and 12 weeks into 12 months of conscious living and by then, you’ll be well on your way to changing your life and maybe changing the world. Collective consciousness has a ripple effect and I can’t wait to hear what you have done with yours.

Here are some of my family��s staple pantry items to get you started. Do a big round of produce washing and chopping, or buy them pre-chopped so they’re ready to eat when you want them!

  • Watermelon
  • Mangoes
  • Tomatoes
  • Cucumbers
  • Strawberries
  • Carrots
  • Jicama
  • Oatmeal
  • Almonds
  • Coconut Water
  • Lifeway Kefir & ProBugs
  • Granola
  • Cheese
  • Sliced turkey
  • Tuna Salmon
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Whole wheat breads and tortillas
  • Eggs
  • Peanut Butter

5 Step Dessert Makeover with Honey Nut Kefir Panna Cotta

By LifeWayKefir LifeWayKefir on 2/2/2012 12:00 PM
We’re almost at the end of our 12 day journey to feeling better in 2012, and we hope you’re ready to celebrate! But what’s a celebration without dessert? Just because you’re trying to eat more nutritious foods doesn’t mean you have to kiss your sweet tooth good bye. Check out these quick tips for making smarter dessert choices, plus an amazing recipe for Honey Nut Panna Cotta from Chef Sandy Bierlein of Sweet Sandy B’s. Check out the end of this post for a chance to win one of our yummy recommendations for free!
Sweet tips:
  1. Try fruit! Don’t look at us that way, we know you aren’t going to replace your beloved chocolate cake with an apple. Get creative and grill some pineapple or banana slices. The caramelized sugar elevates lowly, healthy fruit to a sweet, warm dessert you’ll love.
  2. Let them eat cake! Top low-fat angel food cake slices with fresh berries, drizzle on some chocolate sauce for a special treat.
  3. Two words: frozen kefir. With all the probiotic benefits of our drinkable Kefir, Lifeway Frozen Kefir is a tasty, low-calorie treat. Plus it's gluten-free and 99% lactose-free, so just about anyone can enjoy it!
  4. Cheat! (Sometimes.) Rather than doing dessert every day, pick one or two days a week to indulge. You’ll look forward to “ice cream Friday” or “chocolate cake” Sunday all week, and you won’t feel like you’re denying yourself.
  5. Pull a switch-a-roo. Replace up to ½ the fat (butter or oil) in your baking recipes with mashed bananas, apple sauce or other pureed fruits.
Still in the mood for something sweet? Check out our dessert recipes, and this Honey Nut Panna Cotta (made with kefir!) from Sweet Sandy B.

Panna cottta ingredients:
  • 1 ¼ cups almond milk
  • pinch of sea salt
  • ¾ cup plain Lifeway Kefir
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 1 ½ tsp brown sugar
  • 1 scraped vanilla bean or 5 grams vanilla paste
  • 2 gelatin sheets
For the topping:
  • ½ cup salted almond slivers
  • ¼ cup honey
  1. In a medium saucepan, over low-to-medium heat, combine 1 cup of almond milk with sea salt, honey, brown sugar and vanilla. Be careful not to boil the mixture, just heat it until small bubbles form at the sides of the pot.
  2. In a separate bowl, combine remaining ¼ cup almond milk with kefir and set aside.
  3. Soak gelatin sheets in cold water for 5-10 minutes until they are soft.
  4. Once the almond milk and honey mixture is heated, remove it from heat and add the softened gelatin. Stir until the gelatin has dissolved.Add the Kefir mix to the warm almond milk mix, stir to combine.
  5. Place the pot in ice bath for about 10 minutes, stirring often until the mixture starts to thicken.
  6. Pour into 4 ramekins- or any small dishes you like and place in refrigerator to set up for at least 3 hours.
To serve:

Warm the ¼ cup honey over low heat or for a few seconds in the microwave. Stir in the salted almond slivers.
Remove the panna cotta from the ramekins and top with the warm honey and almond topping poured over the top.

Want to check out our delicious Frozen Kefir? Look for it at Whole Foods, Wegmans, Kroger Natural Markets and other retailers - or, leave us a comment below about your favorite way to satisfy a sweet tooth. Be sure to enter your email address when you do (don't worry, it won't be public) because we're going to choose 10 people who comment to receive a coupon to try our Frozen Kefir for free! Winners will be contacted via email tomorrow.

A Rice Cake-Free Guide to Smarter Snacking

By LifeWayKefir LifeWayKefir on 2/1/2012 9:14 AM
“Snack” is not a dirty word, especially when you make smart choices. Whether you go for salty snacks or sweet treats we have quick, easy and kid-friendly ideas to help keep your family on a healthy plan – and don’t worry, this list is 100% rice cake free.

Snack Bar - Aldwych, London - Neon signs

Salty Snacks
As with any snack, keep your portion size in check. Avoid snacking right out of the bag, or mindlessly munching while you’re watching TV or on the computer.

  • For a salty, crunchy snack with 30% less fat than traditional deep-fried chips, try taro chips. They’re high in fiber, plus they contain vitamin E.
  • Sweet potato chips offer lots of vitamin A and manganese in every flavorful, crunchy bite.
  • Pretzels offer a tasty chip alternative. Look for brands that don’t contain artificial sweeteners (many do!) and, if possible, try and find a whole wheat version.
  • Olives are an all-natural savory snack. Wrap a few in foil and roast with a sprig of rosemary for a flavorful, low-calorie salt fix.
  • Try dipping fresh veggies like carrots or sliced red peppers in a seasoned dip like kefir guacamole or roasted garlic dip made with tangy farmers cheese.
Sweet Treats
Keep in mind these are snacks, not dessert! (That’s coming up in another post.)

  • Try a small bowl of low calorie cereal or granola with skim milk or Lifeway Lowfat Kefir to take the edge off your sweet tooth without the sugar crash.
  • Hard candies are a long-lasting way to get your sugar fix without indulging in too many calories. Look for low-sugar or naturally sweetened versions.
  • Dark chocolate can satisfy your cravings plus offer a boost of antioxidants. Keep one or two pieces in your desk drawer for chocolate emergencies.
  • Don’t forget fruit! If you don’t think an apple is snack enough for a sweet tooth you’ve obviously never paired green apple slices with creamy peanut butter!
  • Never underestimate the appetite-curbing powers of a hot drink. Try a flavorful tea like chai with honey or fat-free hot cocoa.
Snack smarter with our money-saving coupons for Lifeway Kefir and Frozen Kefir. Click here to print them at home!

Healthy Tips For Dining Out

By LifeWayKefir LifeWayKefir on 1/31/2012 12:18 PM
It’s relatively easy to make smart food choices in the comfort of your own home – if you don’t have junk food in your cupboards you can’t exactly park it on the couch with your hand in a bag of cheesy puffs, can you? But what about when you’re dining out? Whether it’s a business lunch, a hot date or just dinner with the kids, dining out can be absolute sabotage to a healthy eating plan. With a few tips you can visit your favorite restaurants without derailing the healthy habits you’ve worked so hard to form, we promise!

Galaxy Diner
Portion Control – If nothing else, beware the curse of the gigantic portion! Restaurant portions tend to be 2-3 times larger than what you’d eat at home, so fight your urge to clean your plate! This doesn’t mean starving or wasting food, though – try these tips:
  • Skip the big entrée and order an appetizer and side salad
  • Start with a salad or cup of soup and split an entrée with your dining companion
  • Ask for a to-go box as soon as your entrée arrives, pack half of it away for tomorrow’s lunch
  • Start small and slow – order a small dish and let it settle, only order more food if you’re still hungry
  • Try the kid’s menu – smaller portions, smaller prices

Avoid Extra Fat and Sodium – Restaurant foods tend to be high in both. You can avoid a salt and fat overkill without too much hassle with these rules of thumb:
  • Foods that are pickled, smoked or served in broth tend to be salty
  • Take it easy on the cocktail sauce, teryaki and soy sauce
  • No fried foods. Seriously.
  • Just say no to extra cheese on anything
  • Opt for a vinaigrette on your salad, and ask them to hold the cheese and croutons
Eat, Eat, Eat! – Now that you have an idea what to say no to, here are a few things you should say yes to. After all, dining out is a treat – it should be fun!
  • Vegetables! Whenever it’s an option, opt for a side of steamed veggies over French fries.
  • Words to look for: grilled, broiled, roasted, steamed
  • Huevos rancheros! This Mexican take on breakfast is high in fiber and protein making it a smart option any time of day.
  • Thin crust pizza with extra sauce and half the cheese – try to stop at two slices, though
  • Opt for salsa or mustard on your burger over mayo
  • Let your food settle before you order dessert – if you want something sweet, try sorbet or fresh fruit. Maybe you could ask your favorite restaurant to offer frozen kefir?

How is the 12 day challenge treating you? Stay tuned for some smart snacking tips tomorrow!

Time For Yourself - A Beginner's Guide to Yoga

By LifeWayKefir LifeWayKefir on 1/30/2012 8:29 AM
Today’s post comes to us from Flo C. Sheffield, a yoga teacher at Active Sol Yoga in Atlanta, GA. Flo believes in the benefit of a daily yoga and meditation practice in order to maintain a peaceful, happy life. 

You’ve probably heard a lot about yoga – but what is it, really? Well, first let’s discuss what yoga isn’t. Yoga is not a religion. Yoga is a philosophy that can be plugged into any type of religion or no religion at all. With its roots in India, yoga is influenced in many ways by Hinduism, so it can be spiritual without being religious. Each Yoga pose is known as an “asana” which means “to take seat.” And each Asana has a sanskrit name typically translated into an English variation here in the west. 

But Yoga is more than just asanas. “It is my main form of physical exercise, my spiritual practice, my job, and how I met my partner and mother of my child,” says Chris Cuevas, Yoga Experience Director for the
Wanderlust Festival.

Beyond the asanas we also use the breath, which is known as Pranayama. Many of us hold our breath when we are stressed, or we breathe very shallow in our chests and do not use our full lung capacity. In the yoga practice you will begin to see how important watching your breath is. So, a good rounded yoga practice incorporates more than just the physical practice, but the breath and meditation practices as well.

When talking to people interested in trying yoga they typically come up with two reasons they don’t want to try a class: 1) They’ve never done it before and don’t know where to begin and 2) lack of time.

I do recommend finding a good teacher to help you with your breathing, alignment and to answer your questions – but many people have found DVDs and books helpful when they’re crunched for time. Ask any teacher and they will tell you, “Doing a little yoga daily is better than doing a lot of yoga once or twice a week.” Through practice, your body will get stronger and more flexible - but an added bonus is that your mind will become a little quieter.

Chris Cuevas says, “I love the connection you develop with your teacher and the other students, the stillness and quiet in the room where all you hear is the sound of breathing and the whisper of the teacher. Each practice is a moving prayer and meditation and it’s a total workout! You leave feeling rinsed out and energized.”

Tips for starting a home practice:

Step one: Creating a space. Obviously you will need a place to practice. Here are a few tips on choosing a good place:

  • Designate an area in your home solely for your practice. It can be in a bedroom, guest room, or living room. Many prefer to have a door so they can close the room off from their animals, children or partners. This ensures you will not be interrupted.
  •  Make sure you have a wall nearby. If you have difficulty with balance or want to get creative with your practice; the best prop is a wall, and every home has them!
  • Yoga mat- you can pick up a mat practically anywhere these days. My first mat was from a large department store. I still have that little pink foam mat as a reminder of how good it was to me for many years! But, if you can’t get your hands on a mat you can use a large towel. However, it won’t work as well because they tend to bunch and move around a lot.
  • Props- you can get things like straps, blocks and blankets. Really this is a personal call so do a little research on this before you spend tons of money on items you don’t need. I made my own yoga straps and eye pillows.

Step two: Designate a time. I know many of us are over booked. But, I promise if you make a commitment to yourself for just 10-15 minutes each day, your body will begin crave this time. Personally, I am a morning yoga person. If I don’t get it in before work I will come up with 1,000 excuses to skip over it in the evening. I know this about myself. So ask yourself, “When can I pencil in just 10-15 minutes each day that I know I can truly stick to?” Once you have that set put a reminder on your phone, ipod, whatever you want. Just stick to it!

So now you have a place to practice and your schedule is set. What do you do next?

Really, yoga is about checking in and seeing what is tight or sore today. I like to get on my mat, sit for a moment with my eyes closed and take 3 deep breaths. Then I scan my body to see what’s going on today. Are my hips tight, does my back seem stiff, are my shoulders up around my ears and so on. Then I tend to work my practice around what needs attention.

I realize that when you start out this is not the easiest thing to do. So I’ve done some prep work for you! Here are some simple poses you can start with.  Use this as a guide, and make modifications however you’d like. I’ve provided the Sanskrit name of each asana and English name as well. Take some time to look up the postures online. Yoga Journal online is a wonderful resource for looking up postures. Plus, there are many books out there. One book that covers practically all yoga postures is “Light on Yoga” by B.K.S. Iyengar.  

Beginner Poses
  • Adho Mukha Svanasana: Downward-facing dog. From Tabletop position (see above,) begin to curl your toes under and push your hips to the ceiling. You may need to walk your feet in towards your hands a bit. This typically looks like an inverted V. In Downward facing dog take 5-10 breaths. You can bend one knee then the other as you warm up your hamstrings. This is a great stretch to do daily. If you have a dog, you’ve seen that they do this after a long nap.
  • Balasana: Childs pose. From downward facing dog slowly drop to your knees. So once again if you have knee issues grab that towel or blanket. Roll the towel up place behind the knees to create space in your knee joints. Once set up appropriately begin to drop your hips to your heels and move your chest to the floor, eventually resting your forehead. Sometimes keeping your knees wide helps for your chest to reach the floor. Take 10 breaths here.
  • Savasana: Corpse pose aka final resting pose. This is a relaxing way to end each practice, you should never skip this pose. While lying on your back, take your legs out the width of your mat. Place your palms by your sides face up so that your shoulders roll down your back. Relax your neck and gently close your eyes. From here just breathe. Feel your breath come into your body and leave your body. Try not to create a “to do” list while in this posture. Try to be on your mat with your breath for a minimum of 2-3 minutes. Music can help with this post, it’s nice to listen to an instrumental piece that is about 3 minutes long to time your savasana for you. Feel any tension in your body melt. And breathe, breathe, breathe. After your 2-3 minutes, roll to your right side hugging your knees then gently push yourself back to a seated position. It is ideal to end practice the way you began with 3 deep breaths.
  • Siddhasana: Sit comfortably on a blanket or block (make sure your hips are higher than your knees.) Take 3 deep breaths in and out through your nose.
  • Siddhasana with side bend: Inhale bringing both arms overhead. Exhale and drop your right fingertips to the floor next to your right hip as you reach your left arm towards the right. You will feel a deep stretch on the left side of the body. Stay here for 2-3 breaths then repeat by inhaling both arms overhead and dropping your left fingertips to the floor next your left hip while reaching the right arm over towards the left.
  • Marjaryasana and Bitilasana: Cat and Cow pose. Come to all fours on your mat. Make sure your shoulders are over your wrists and hips are over your knees. Inhaling, gaze up while rolling the shoulders down the back and your hips move up as well as you being to take a tiny backbend. On the exhale tuck your chin to your chest and hollow out your belly. Pushing the floor away and rounding your spine. Keep going for 4 more breaths. Inhaling your open your chest and exhaling you round your spine. End in a nice flat back position, this is known as “tabletop."
  • Adho Mukha Svanasana: Downward-facing dog. From Tabletop position (see above,) begin to curl your toes under and push your hips to the ceiling. You may need to walk your feet in towards your hands a bit. This typically looks like an inverted V. In Downward facing dog take 5-10 breaths. You can bend one knee then the other as you warm up your hamstrings. This is a great stretch to do daily. If you have a dog, you’ve seen that they do this after a long nap.
  • Balasana: Childs pose. From downward facing dog slowly drop to your knees. So once again if you have knee issues grab that towel or blanket. Roll the towel up place behind the knees to create space in your knee joints. Once set up appropriately begin to drop your hips to your heels and move your chest to the floor, eventually resting your forehead. Sometimes keeping your knees wide helps for your chest to reach the floor. Take 10 breaths here.
  • Savasana: Corpse pose aka final resting pose. This is a relaxing way to end each practice, you should never skip this pose. While lying on your back, take your legs out the width of your mat. Place your palms by your sides face up so that your shoulders roll down your back. Relax your neck and gently close your eyes. From here just breathe. Feel your breath come into your body and leave your body. Try not to create a “to do” list while in this posture. Try to be on your mat with your breath for a minimum of 2-3 minutes. Music can help with this post, it’s nice to listen to an instrumental piece that is about 3 minutes long to time your savasana for you. Feel any tension in your body melt. And breathe, breathe, breathe. After your 2-3 minutes, roll to your right side hugging your knees then gently push yourself back to a seated position. It is ideal to end practice the way you began with 3 deep breaths.

After you do these practices for a week or so begin to explore and incorporate other postures into the sequence. I hope this will help you to find time for yourself in 2012

Photos courtesy of Flo Sheffield and The Wonderlust Festival.

Making the Most of Family Dinners

By LifeWayKefir LifeWayKefir on 1/29/2012 11:00 AM
We know, it sounds like a scene straight out of a science fiction movie. Nowadays, families can barely get it together to gather ‘round the table and break bread together. Research out of The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse found that fewer than half of all American families eat dinner together five to seven nights a week.

Vintage Picture of Children Sitting Down at a Table about to Eat a Meal, Boys, Girl, Woman

That’s unfortunate on a number of fronts. Family therapist Carleton Kendrick Ed.M., LCSW, author of Take Out Your Nose Ring, Honey, We’re Going to Grandma’s!, describes nightly family dinners as “the single most powerful daily dose of family love, connection, encouragement and stability.”  Not only does sitting down to chicken cacciatore help strengthen the bond between parents and children, “it establishes a ritual that children come to depend on as part of their supportive family structure and support system -- the one place they may receive daily, unconditional love, support and appreciation.”

And get a taste of these benefits: Research consistently shows that regular family dinners reduce kids’ risk of binge-drinking, drug use, running away from home, and more. A recent study in Pediatrics also suggested that preschool-aged children enjoy a lower risk for obesity if they regularly eat supper with their family.

DO: Play “Roses and Thorns”

Every night at dinner in the White House, the First Family plays a game called “Roses and Thorns,” where everyone takes a turn reporting the day’s roses – the good events — and the thorns — the bad ones. Experts believe such a ritual can help restore a sense of balance to your family while promoting bonding in a fun, casual way. Even better: Research shows that expressing gratitude can boost mood, so maybe your angsty preteen won’t act so cranky.

DON’T: Allow cell phones

Institute a “No phones allowed” law, both at home and when dining out. But you and any other adults will have to follow the rule, too. You’ll set a stellar example and teach your kids that dinner time is family time.

DON’T: Ask the Same Old Questions

Asking, “How was your day at school?” is boooring. Soon enough, your kids will start tuning you out. Instead, try telling them a little bit about your day (“Guess who I bumped into at lunch?”) and see how they respond.

DON’T: Make Them Clean Their Plates

One out of three US children is already overweight or obese; forcing your kids to eat every morsel off their plates can push them in that direction. It also teaches them to ignore their internal fullness gauge, setting them up for portion control problems later in life.

*Some of this information originally appeared on in a slideshow written by Lifeway blogger Leslie Goldman.

Look Better, Feel Better - Five Beautiful Foods

By LifeWayKefir LifeWayKefir on 1/28/2012 11:00 AM
Don’t tell your hairstylist we said this, but you don’t need expensive creams or fancy tools to look great. With all the tips you’ve been picking up so far, you’re going to be the picture of health and confidence in no time, so here are a few ideas for eating and drinking your way to luscious locks, clear skin and strong, healthy nails.


1.      Walnuts – Think about it, have you ever seen an ugly squirrel? All kidding aside, walnuts contain an important Omega-3 fatty acid called alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) that helps to keep your skin moist and supple. Just a half ounce of walnuts contains all the ALA you need in a day. That same fatty acid nourishes your hair for shiny locks! (Not a walnut fan? Olive oil contains a similar essential fatty acid!)

2.       Eggs – An excellent source of protein, eggs also contain biotin and vitamin B-12 for healthy hair and skin. You can also make a pretty neat facial using only one egg!

3.       Kefir – This super-powered cousin of yogurt is an excellent source of protein and calcium for strong, beautiful hair, teeth, fingernails and more! Lifeway Kefir’s 12 live and active cultures also balance your body’s eco-system, so you feel as good as you look. Check out our other kefir beauty secrets here!

4.       Berries – Blackberries, blueberries and strawberries have the highest "total antioxidant capacity" of any foods! Eating these juicy wonders translates into beautiful skin because of their ability to protect skin cells from damage, like that caused by sun exposure. If you’re not “berry” excited by berries, artichokes, prunes and pecans also have lots of antioxidants.

5.       Water – Are you starting to get the feeling that drinking plenty of water is a good idea? Staying hydrated effects every part of your body inside and out. Water plays a key role in distributing nutrients throughout your body, which translates to healthy hair, strong nails and clear skin.

Do you have a beauty secret to share? Leave a comment, we’d love to read it! And don't forget to sign up for our money-saving coupons so you can stay beautiful on a budget.

Five Healthy Lunch Breaks

By LifeWayKefir LifeWayKefir on 1/23/2012 11:43 AM
American author and nutritionist Adelle Davis said, “Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper.” We’ve already covered the royal breakfast, so let’s move on to some healthy lunch tips fit for a prince.
Just like breakfast, your lunch should be a balance of carbs and low-fat protein for energy. We’re going to focus on brown-bag lunches, but obviously you can use these tips away from the office and all week end, too.

Sandwich Roast Beef & Gomashio

1. Smart Sandwiches – It’s easy to make every bite pack a nutritious punch. Load up your fillings on whole grain bread, pita or tortillas. Add a protein like sliced eggs, tuna, low-fat cheese or tempeh (fermented soy beans – they’re tastier than they sound!) Add some color (not to mention nutrients) with baby spinach, shredded carrots, sliced tomatoes, sprouts, etc. Instead of fat-and-calorie-heavy mayonnaise, try a smear of kefir guacamole

 2. Leftovers – The easiest way to pack a cheap, healthy lunch is to make a great dinner the night before and pack up your leftovers! Add some sliced veggies and shredded cheese to last night’s taco ingredients for today’s taco salad. Roll up last night’s stir fry or beans and rice in a large, raw kale leaf and slice to make leftover “sushi.”

 3. From the Freezer – We’re not talking Salisbury steak, although if that’s what you’re into we have a few tips to find a healthy version. Instead, we suggest cooking up a few big batches of soup, chili, or even farmer cheese lasagna during the week end, portioning them out and then freezing them. Grab a frozen meal on your way to work, and heat it up for a quick healthy, homemade lunch each day. If you do end up grabbing something from the freezer section, look for a meal low in fat and calories with at least 3 grams of fiber. Make sure it’s a good source of protein, and that it has fewer than 600 milligrams of sodium. 

4. Exciting Salads – Don’t get stuck in an iceberg lettuce and ranch dressing rut. Spice up your salads with flavorful greens like baby spinach, and peppery arugula. Throw in some basil leaves for an extra kick. Mix in some bitter greens like radicchio, endive, or escarole, and layer on the textures with dried fruit, seeds and ripe olives. Try a scoop of quinoa, hot or cold for a nutritional boost. Check out our salad recipes for even more ideas!

 5. So Long to Soda – Your average 20oz soda contains 250 empty calories and is equivalent to eating about 17 teaspoons of straight sugar! Before you switch to diet soda, which still contains acids that can damage your teeth and stomach, try chopping up fresh fruit and freezing it with water in an ice cube tray. Toss a few in a glass of sparkling water for a fruity, bubbly beverage. We like strawberries, lemons and watermelon – or try cucumber for a less-sweet hint of flavor.

Need a caffeine-free energy boost? Check out yesterday’s post!

What's your favorite healthy lunch? Tell us in the comments below - we'll choose the 10 that make us the hungriest to recieve coupons for free kefir tomorrow, 1/27! (Be sure to enter your email address so we can get your shippnig info! Don't worry, your email address won't be displayed.) 

Eight Caffeine-Free Energy Boosts

By LifeWayKefir LifeWayKefir on 1/23/2012 11:35 AM
We love coffee as much as the next guy, don’t get us wrong. We did, after all, bring Cappuccino Kefir into the world (although that is technically decaf.) But for a long-lasting boost of energy without the caffeine withdrawals, we have a few other suggestions. Check out these eight caffeine-free energy boosts!

1. Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah or kee-NOH-uh) is a super nutritious seed that tastes like a grain. High in protein, and higher in calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, copper, manganese, iron, and zinc than wheat, it offers a boost of energy with every bite. Eat it in the morning with almonds and honey, just like oatmeal, or cook it with chicken or veggie stock and serve it for dinner in place of rice. Left over quinoa topped with veggie chili is one of our favorite high-fiber, high-protein lunches, too!

2. Lentils are another high-fiber, high-protein food that will keep you going without caffeine jitters. Unlike beans, dry lentils don’t require pre-soaking, so they’re ready to eat in under a half hour. Try them cold with fresh chopped veggies and a vinegar dressing for lunch, or serve them hot, mixed with rice for a power-packed dinner.

3. Herbs and spices can offer a quick pick-me-up any time of day. Add fresh ginger or garlic to your meal to help with digestion and perhaps to even keep your heart healthy. If you’ve ever had issues with digestion you know how sluggish that can make you feel – and the pep in your step you gain when those issues go away! Do some research on other herbs and spices and you’ll find that tasty accents like cinnamon and oregano can help do everything from lower blood pressure to combat Candida (yeast,) all of which can make you feel more energetic.

4. Kefir ranks high on our list of energy-boosting foods, which shouldn’t come as a big surprise. With 12 live and active cultures in every serving, kefir supports a healthy digestive system and boosts immunity. Try it in the morning with fresh fruit, over granola, or straight up and you might even find yourself skipping your daily latte all together. For a boost in the afternoon, try our Frozen Kefir – all the benefits of Kefir fabulously frozen.

5. Water might seem like a no-brainer, but so many people aren’t drinking enough! A nice cold glass of water can really wake you up and make you feel refreshed when you’re feeling sluggish. If you’re at work, you’ll get the added benefit of getting up and stretching your legs as you make your way to the water cooler.

6. Lavender – forget stop and smell the roses, the scent of lavender has been proven to boost alertness. If you can’t light a candle at work, try keeping a sachet of lavender in your drawer. Similarly, the scent of citrus can also give you a boost. Keep grapefruit-scented lotion on hand for a caffeine-free eye opener whenever you need it.

7. Light exercise can go a long way to strengthen your heart and increase your energy. If you don’t have time to hit the gym first thing in the morning, try taking short breaks throughout your day to stand up and stretch. Take the long way to the water cooler or the rest room. An after-work walk around the block might be just the thing you need to muster the energy to make dinner and help the kids with their homework.

8. Laugh more. Laughter isn’t just the best medicine; it’s also a great kick start for a sleepy brain. Make a point of looking up your favorite comedian on YouTube, subscribe to a daily joke email list, or exchange text messages with your funniest uncle every day. Not only will a good laugh stimulate your mind, but you look cute when you smile!

Still drinking your kefir every day as part of our 12 day challenge? What are your other favorite energy-boosting tips?

Five Quick, Healthy Breakfast Ideas

By LifeWayKefir LifeWayKefir on 1/23/2012 11:02 AM
Any kindergartner will tell you that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Unfortunately many busy people opt to skip this essential meal. Nutrition experts agree, however, that people who skip breakfast are more likely to have problems with metabolism, concentration and weight control.

Here are 5 ideas for quick-and-healthy breakfasts that won’t make your mouth sad.
1. Good ‘ol Oatmeal
Oatmeal is high in fiber and low in fat so it keeps you feeling full while offering up heart smart carbs to keep your energy up all morning. But beware – not all oatmeal is created equal! Lots of instant and fast food versions have added sugars and preservatives.
Try preparing steel-cut oats in a slow cooker over night or in a rice cooker while you shower and get dressed. Alternatively, look for instant oatmeal in “original” or “regular” flavor – it should have about 100 calories per serving and you should be able to pronounce everything on the ingredients list. Add a touch of natural sweetener like maple syrup or honey, a dash of cinnamon or cardamom, and your favorite chopped nuts for a protein boost.
2. Bring on the Bagels
Bagels get a bad rap for being high calorie and high carb, but there are ways to enjoy a toasty treat without breaking any healthy habits. If you’re a die-hard bagel fan, switch from plain to whole wheat to make your morning bagel more nutritionally beneficial. If you’re open to change, try a whole wheat English muffin, which contains less than half the calories of its bagel counterpart.
In place of cream cheese, try topping your bagel or English muffin with protein-packed hummus with some spinach and tomato, or almond butter with sliced bananas. Or, try a schmear of Farmer Cheese – it’s low in fat, cholesterol and calories and it comes in several varieties so you can avoid bagel boredom.
3. Kefir and Granola
Well you had to know that was coming! Our own personal bias aside, though, kefir is a smart way to start your day because it offers a boost of probiotics for digestive health and immunity. It’s also an excellent source of calcium and protein, and paired with your favorite granola or fresh fruit it will keep you going until lunchtime!

Lifeway Kefir is available in several flavors, and in whole milk, low-fat, non-fat and organic varieties, just to name a few.
4. Green Smoothies
Green smoothies are the Chuck Norris of breakfast drinks. Packed with nutrients, they roundhouse kick your system into action. If the idea of throwing a handful of kale into your banana berry smoothie doesn’t appeal to you, check out our Organic Green Kefir. With 10 green vegetables and green tea inside, it also contains 80mg of plant-based Polyphenols, powerful antioxidants that may be effective in neutralizing free radicals while protecting the body and supporting the immune system. And like all Lifeway Kefir, Green Kefir is packed with 10 powerful probiotic cultures and loaded with vitamins, protein, calcium, and folic acid.

Drink it straight up, or if you like your smoothies a little sweeter, throw it in the blender with your favorite frozen fruit.
5. Scrambled Eggs or Tofu
Whichever your preference, a quick egg or tofu scramble is a tasty way to get your protein first thing in the morning. Try tossing last night’s leftovers into the mix for extra nutrients and flavor. Ever had Brussels sprouts in your eggs? You haven’t lived until you have! Experiment with different spices and easy-to-prepare veggies and you can visit a different part of the globe every morning while you read the daily news.
Check out our breakfast recipes for even more ideas!
How do you incorporate Lifeway Kefir into your morning routine? Email your answers to - the first 25 people to respond will win coupons for free product! (Be sure to include your shipping address in case you win!) All coupons have been claimed. Thanks for participating!

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