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 12/5/2014 8:46 AM
We’re excited to announce our support for another awesome non-profit in Chicago – Pilot Light! We’re honored to be help sponsor and participate in their second annual Feed Your Mind charity event (happening TONIGHT!), which will feature chef tastings from some of Chicago’s best restaurants, a silent auction, great music, and, of course, our fabulous frozen kefir! Even more, we’re looking forward to seeing first-hand how Pilot Light is inspiring school children throughout Chicago to make healthier choices in their daily lives.
While the first-class chefs won’t be cooking with our kefir, we will be on site sampling our deliciously unique frozen kefir bar treats everyone loves. A dessert you can feel good about indulging in, Lifeway Frozen Kefir Bars have just 60 calories and 10 live and active probiotic cultures. They satisfy your sweet tooth, without stretching your waistband.
Date: Friday, December 5, 2014
Time: VIP Early Entry for Tastemaker and VIP guest will begin at 6:00 p.m. The full event for all remaining attendees will kick off at 7:00pm and last until 10:00pm.
Where: Preston Bradley Hall, Chicago Cultural Center at 78 East Washington Street
Dress: Cocktail Attire
All proceeds will benefit Pilot Light and the Chicago schoolchildren they serve. Ji Suk Yi of Windy City Live will emcee the event and Sam Kass, Executive Director of Let's Move! and White House Senior Policy Advisor for Nutrition Policy, will be the guest of honor.
What are you waiting for? You can still grab tickets! Follow @pilotlightchefs on Twitter for updates!
More About Pilot Light
Pilot Light is a not-for-profit organization that aims to empower children with the knowledge, attitudes, and skills they need to have a healthy relationship with food. We develop classroom lessons that harness food as a vehicle to teach Chicago schoolchildren everyday subjects like English, math, social studies and science.
By LifeWayKefir LifeWayKefir on 12/4/2014 1:50 PM
A new Wall Street Journal story is exploring the validity of pet probiotic claims, with companies promoting their products as a way to ease Fido’s chronic digestive troubles and even prevent stress-induced diarrhea in animals during travel. Apparentlynobody likes flying during the holidays.
Pet probiotics typically take the form of powders that can be sprinkled on food, or capsules and chews. Like probiotics for humans, they consist of good-for-your-gut bacteria. But because research on animal-targeted probiotics is still in its infancy, choosing the right strain can be tricky. Also, just as with human-grade probiotics, many products are mislabeled, so it’s tough to know what you’re getting. In a 2011 Canadian Veterinary Journal study
, when researchers looked into 25 popular pet probiotic supplements, 32 percent of them had spelling errors printed on their labels!
But some helpful guidelines can be gleaned from that study, which found that two products out of the 25 studied contained the bacteria they promised and were properly labeled:
- FortiFlora powder by Nestlé Purina PetCare Co. (for cats and dogs)
- Iams Veterinary Formula Prostora Max chews (for dogs)
*Always check with your vet before starting your pet on a probiotic or any medicine.
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By LifeWayKefir LifeWayKefir on 12/2/2014 12:44 PM
“Lifeway has always been such a strong supporter for Charity Miles. And we're thrilled to be partnering with them again for Giving Tuesday,” said Gene Gurkoff, founder and CEO of Charity Miles. “The holidays are about coming together with friends. So it's great to kick off the holidays with a great friend like Lifeway.”
Charity Miles is just one of the many charities and organizations Lifeway supports throughout the year. Below are some of our favorite groups to work with. If you haven’t committed to supporting anyone this year, we encourage you to consider one of the following groups:
Every Mother Counts – Every Mother Counts (EMC) is a non-profit organization dedicated to making pregnancy and childbirth safe for every mother by working to reduce the number of women who die due to complications during pregnancy and childbirth. The agency focuses on education and practical training.
Test 400k – Test400K works to raise awareness, advocate, lobby, and push for innovative new technology to be used in ending the backlog of untested rape kits and make sure communities and law enforcement provide immediate and swift response time to victims of sexual assault going forward. Its goal is to empower healthy and safe communities by ending violence against women and children.
Girl Up – Girl Up’s mission is to give American girls the opportunity to become global leaders by channeling their energy and compassion to raise awareness for and bring attention to some of the world’s most at-risk adolescent girls. They envision a world where all girls, no matter where they live, have the opportunity to become educated, healthy, safe and counted.
Common Threads – Common Threads works to empower children to eat healthy, make sustainable behavior changes, and celebrate culture through food via their family-centric cooking and nutrition programs and curriculum. Furthermore they work to prevent childhood obesity.
Bright Pink – Bright Pink is a national non-profit organization that focuses on the risk reduction and early detection of breast and ovarian cancer in young women through breast health education programs.
Malala Fund – the Malala Fund works to break the cycle of poverty and empower girls through education by advocating for and investing in quality education systems and programs.
UNICEF – UNICEF, the United Nations Children’s Fund, provides long-term humanitarian and developmental assistance to children and mothers in developing countries.
Pilot Light – Pilot Light’s mission is to empower children with the knowledge, attitudes, and skills they need to have a healthy relationship with food. They work with chefs and teachers to develop and implement classroom lessons that integrate food and nutrition into everyday subjects like math, social studies, English and science.
YWCA – according to their mission statement, the YWCA “is dedicated to eliminating racism, empowering women and promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all.”
More about #GivingTuesday
#GivingTuesday, the Tuesday after the American Thanksgiving holiday, is a day devoted to global charitable sponsorship – a day that people globally come together to give back to their communities. The day is devoted to being UN-selfish, and participants are encouraged to post their own #UNselfie to bring awareness to the day.
By LifeWayKefir LifeWayKefir on 11/26/2014 3:25 AM
We hope you’ve enjoyed our Thanksgiving series so far. We’ve had a great time coming up with these recipes and look forward to any feedback you have (and leftovers). Our third and final new Thanksgiving recipes turned out to be the fan favorite in the Lifeway Kitchen. As comes with the end of every meal, we’re finishing this series off with dessert.
What would a thanksgiving feast be without a dessert? Not a feast we want to attend, that’s for sure. At the same time, we value our health (and our waist lines). With that in mind, we came up with a dessert we could feel good about eating, and feel good after eating. We’re calling it our kefir pumpkin quick bread (clever, we know). Instead of being laden with excessive amounts of refined sugar, refined oil and general nonsense, this bread is full of generally good for you ingredients while still being downright tasty.
To keep calories in check, we substituted a stevia for baking blend for the sugar, which has already been reduced from traditional numbers thanks to the use of ripe bananas. Molasses offers an iron boost, and the pumpkin puree adds moisture, even more iron, potassium and fiber. As it’s not overly sweet, it’s good for everyone (and perfect for the next morning). Feel free to add in any additional nuts or seeds to your liking.
Kefir Pumpkin Quick Bread
- 1/2 cup Lifeway Lowfat Plain Kefir (at room temperature)
- 1/2 Tbsp molasses
- 1 cup pumpkin puree
- 2 large ripe bananas
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 eggs (at room temperature)
- 2 Tbsp melted coconut oil
- 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 Tbsp pumpkin pie spice
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 cup stevia baking blend
- Pepitas for garnish
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F with a rack placed near the lower third of the space. Grease a 9 x 5 inch bread pan with non-stick cooking spray or oil. Set it aside.
In a medium bowl, smash the bananas until it reaches a puree texture. Add eggs and whisk until well combined. Add kefir, vanilla, pumpkin, molasses and coconut oil and mix until combined.
In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, sugar, salt and spices. Slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix until combined (careful not to over mix – a few lumps are ok).
Pour batter into the prepared bread pan. Sprinkle the top with pumpkin seeds and additional cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice, if you’d like. Bake for 55-65 minutes. After the first 30 minutes, cover the top with foil to prevent excess browning and burning. After 55 minutes, insert a toothpick into the center of the bread to test for doneness. It should come out clean. If it doesn’t return the pan to the oven and check every five minute until the bread is completely cooked.
Remove the pan for the oven and allow the bread to cool in the pan on a wire rack before removing. Enjoy smothered with butter, whipped cream cheese or spread of your choosing!
By LifeWayKefir LifeWayKefir on 11/25/2014 6:45 AM
Our second Thanksgiving recipe creation is a nutritional powerhouse – Kale Quinoa Salad with Cranberries and Farmers Cheese. So good.
When it comes to Thanksgiving side dishes, most tables are stacked with starchy casseroles, sugary fruit salads and butter-drenched vegetables laced with “cream of something” soup. While they can be absolutely delicious (once again, Green Bean Casserole?), they’re also heavy and leave us feeling fuller than we’d like.
To combat side dish sabotage, we’ve developed a simple kale and quinoa salad. On any regular night, this dish could substitute for a light dinner, as it’s full of complete proteins, healthy fats and complex carbohydrates. Served in smaller portions, it makes a great addition to a Thanksgiving plate for anyone who is watching what they eat.
What We Love About It
What’s not to love? Made with readily available, seasonal ingredients, this salad provides a spectrum of vitamins and minerals.
Kale - Kale contains vitamins A, C, and K and folate. It also contains 3 grams of protein in one cup
Quinoa – quinoa is a plant-based complete protein and is full of fiber, lysine and magnesium
Pomegranate – pomegranate is high in antioxidants and vitamins A and K
Cranberries – cranberries contain antioxidants and are a known anti-inflammatory
Nuts – nuts provide an assortment of protein, fat, vitamins and minerals (they differ per nut)
Lifeway Farmer Cheese - our high protein, low fat, probiotic-rich soft cheese
Kale Quinoa Salad with Cranberry and Orange
- 1/2 cup quinoa
- 1 cup water
- One bunch of Lacinato/Tuscan kale
- Dash of salt
- 3 Tbsp olive oil
- 1½ tsp raw honey (or maple syrup)
- 1½ Tbsp raw apple cider vinegar (or white wine vinegar)
- 1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
- 1 tsp minced shallot
- Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Rinse quinoa with running water until the water runs clear. Transfer rinsed quinoa to a sauce pan with water and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to low. Continue to about 12-15 minutes, or until the water is gone (be careful not to overcook).
Prep the kale by washing and drying it well. Remove the stems and finely dice or chop the kale into bite sized pieces. Place into a large mixing bowl and set aside.
After the quinoa has cooled for five minutes (but is still hot), fluff with a fork and transfer to the bowl with the kale. Mix well and let cool completely. The heat from the quinoa "cooks" the kale, making it more palatable.
In a small blender or food processor, blend the ingredients for the dressing. Pour dressing over kale/quinoa mixture and toss in nuts, pomegranate and dried cranberries. Top with a heaping ¼ cup of Farmer Cheese and mix with a salt and pepper to taste. Alternatively, serve salad into individual bowls and top with dollops of Farmer Cheese.
By LifeWayKefir LifeWayKefir on 11/24/2014 1:06 PM
Thanksgiving week is here and we’re so excited to spend time with our families and chow down on some delicious, healthy, kefir-ized Thanksgiving dishes! We’ve once again been perusing our recipe archive for things to make. We wanted to stretch our culinary skills and incorporate our favorite seasonal ingredients into dishes everyone will love.
Last year, we made a Green Bean Casserole. It was delicious, but a bit heavy (and we know there will be one at every celebration. We love mashed potatoes, but you can’t go wrong with our Farmer Cheese Mashed Potatoes, so we’re not going to mess with it. How about dessert? Sweet Potato kugel, or pumpkin pie? They’re everywhere, and frankly, kind of boring. We want so surprise our guests with dishes they’re not tired of before they reach our table. Can you get behind that?
This week (starting today) we’re going to share with you three brand new kefir-infused recipes for Thanksgiving that we know you’ll love. So when you make your next grocery run, be sure to stock up on Lifeway Kefir (you know you’ll need it for the day after anyway!).
The first new recipe we’re sharing with you today is our version of butternut squash soup. Soup, though not common at the table, is a great addition to any fall meal spread. It’s warm and light and adds a different texture to the meal, making your dining experience all the more interesting.
All varieties of squash are abundant this time of year, but one of our favorites is the butternut. It’s rich in fiber, vitamin A, potassium, and most notably carotenoids, which are shown to protect against heart disease – never a bad thing! The subtly sweet, creamy flesh of the squash is typically paired with sweeter mates, such as apples and cinnamon, but we love the contrast a hot curry powder offers, in addition to the tang of our Lifeway Organic Whole Milk Kefir (you could sub plain lowfat, if whole milk isn’t available in your region).
You can buy canned or boxed butternut squash puree, if you’re short on time, but we definitely recommend roasting your own.
Fall Spicy Butternut Squash Soup
- 2 cups cooked butternut squash
- 1 cup Lifeway Organic Whole Milk Kefir
- 2 tsp olive oil
- 1 heaping Tbsp curry spice (heat to preference)
- 1/4 tsp salt, or to taste
- Basil, extra spices, pepitas and olive oil for garnish
Pre-heat your oven to 375 degrees and place the racks in the middle. Cut the squash in half, scoop out the seeds and cover the cut half with tinfoil .Place the squash skin-side down on a greased baking sheet and roast for roughly an hour (until fork tender). Roast for about an hour or until the squash is tender throughout.
Once the squash has cooled, scoop the flesh into a blender or food. Add the kefir, olive oil, and spices and stir.
Pour the soup into a sauce pan and heat over medium heat until desired temperature is reached. Garnish with more spices. Serve with a light salad or baked bread for a hearty meal, or as part of your holiday celebration!
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By LifeWayKefir LifeWayKefir on 11/21/2014 2:00 PM
Everywhere we turn it seems like one dilapidated and forgotten house, shopping center or road is being torn up and pulled down. In these vacant spaces, seemingly overnight, new structures pop up – structures that are near replicas of their lot’s previous occupant. “Why not just keep what was there and fix it,” we ask ourselves? “Why abandon so much material – create so much waste – when you’re building almost the exact same thing?”
e.a.t. spots is the inaugural social venture created by e.a.t. (education, agriculture and technology), an Illinois-based non-profit that promotes and supports innovation in local food systems. In their own words, “e.a.t promotes new models of food production, processing, sales, and distribution to increase access to local, healthy, sustainable food throughout Chicago.”
Wanting to know more about e.a.t. spots, we reached out to e.a.t. project manager Alex Schultz. She was kind enough to answer some questions for us. According to Alex, e.a.t. spots was a collaborative initiative with StreetWise
– a non-profit that assists with workforce development, and Fresh Picks
, a home food delivery company.
The mission of e.a.t. spots is to increase access to and awareness of healthy, local food – for everyone. More than a food service provider, e.a.t. spots also delivers real, sustainable jobs for those who are seeking work or transitioning in the workforce. There are currently four e.a.t. spots located in downtown Chicago (two of which Lifeway sponsors!), but their ultimate goal is to be in every neighborhood in Chicago.
Lifeway is a proud partner of e.a.t. spots, as our missions naturally fit together. We both support local farmers and suppliers and share the vision of creating nutritious, delicious food products that people can feel good eating and feel better by eating.
Want to know more about e.a.t. spots
? They’re always excited to hear from the community! Visit one of the four e.a.t. spots locations (we suggest the ones on Madison and Wacker or Randolph Street, but we’re a bit bias…) or check out eat-spots.com
. They’re also on Facebook
is the December 2 this year. If you’re looking for a non-profit/charity to support, think about e.a.t. spots!
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By LifeWayKefir LifeWayKefir on 11/20/2014 8:54 PM
Thanksgiving is all about tradition: Stuffing the turkey, playing football with family, watching the Macy’s Parade on TV, sampling all of those delicious sides, unbuckling your belt and relaxing into a food coma. Some of you may have participated in another T-Day tradition – cracking the wishbone. But why do we delight in snapping apart some poor poultry’s collarbone?
According to Mental Floss, the practice was started by an ancient Italian civilization called the Etruscans. The Etruscans were known to idolize chickens – they believed the foul were oracles who could predict the future. Kind of like a cross between Donald Duck and the Long Island Medium. When the birds died or were killed, the wishbone, the bone formed by the fusion of the two clavicles, was dried in the sun in an effort to maintain access to the prophet chicken’s power.
As legend has it, the Romans came along and started snapping the wishbones in two in an effort to spread the love – why pray on one large wishbone when two people can pray on a halfsies? Two people would grab opposing ends and pull; whoever got the bigger piece would see their wish come true.
The tradition requires patience –you can’t just debone a turkey and start a tug of war, as the bone will still be too moist to snap (incidentally, Too Moist to Snap would be an awesome name for a band). But come on, when was the last time you saw someone patient around a roasted bird at supper time?
So if we do come into possession of a wishbone, here are a few of the things we’ll be for this Turkey Day:
- To see a massive blow-up Polly ProBog floating over the streets of New York City.
- To watch as a winning football team douses their coach with an ice-cold cooler full of Lifeway kefir.
- That there’s enough Kefir Pumpkin Pie to go around, and maybe even a little pumpkin pie in a cup.
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By LifeWayKefir LifeWayKefir on 11/20/2014 3:00 PM
Last week, a loyal Lifeway kefir drinker called in requesting a smoothie recipe for his pregnant wife. He had read that drinking kefir was good for women who are pregnant and wanted to ensure she was eating the healthiest foods she could to ensure a healthy baby and a healthy pregnancy.
While a healthy diet is just one factor to consider when pregnant, we were happy to do some digging and for foods commonly recommended for pregnant women, and to develop a smoothie recipe that incorporates them!
Whole Grains – high in soluble and insoluble fiber; enriched varieties also contain folic acid
From our research, we found the following foods recommended most:
Beans – high in fiber and protein, they also contain iron, folate, calcium, and zinc
Eggs – a good source of protein and fat, they’re also high in choline
Salmon – rich in omega-3 fatty acids and a great source of protein and B vitamins
Dark, leafy greens – rich in calcium, protein, folate, vitamins, minerals and fiber – they’re nutritional powerhouses
Colorful berries – full of potassium and a slew of vitamins and minerals necessary for development
Walnuts – a high plant-based source of omega-3s, they’re also good sources of protein and fiber
Low fat kefir – like other low fat dairy, kefir is high in protein and calcium, but it also contains live and active probiotic cultures, which keep momma’s tummy happy and baby healthy
Looking at that list, doesn’t it seem like ANYONE could benefit from drinking a smoothie made from those fabulous ingredients? We’re certainly enjoying the following blend, – pregnant or not!
Pregnancy-Supporting Kefir Smoothie
- 1 cup Lifeway Organic Whole Milk Plain Kefir
- 1 large handful organic spinach
- ½ cup organic frozen mango chunks
- ½ cup organic frozen berries of choice
- ¼ cup walnuts
- 1 Tbsp ground flax seeds
- Water and ice to taste/desired consistency
Put all ingredients into a blender (the higher the power, the better the consistency) and blend until smooth. Enjoy fresh!
Please note, we chose to create this recipe using organic ingredients intentionally, however use your discrection and source where you can. Check out this list of the Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 foods to eat organically and conventionally, where you can.
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