By LifeWayKefir LifeWayKefir on 2/12/2013 12:51 PM
Fat Tuesday is here – the last day for those observing the Lenten season to eat rich, fatty foods before fasting begins. If you found yourself unprepared this year and were unable to snag a King Cake at your local store, don’t sweat it. Grab a bottle of Lifeway Kefir and follow this recipe, adapted from one by Burt Wolf. Traditionally, the lucky few who get a trinket in their slice – a plastic baby, a bean or an almond – are supposed to have good luck for the rest of the year. For the Dough:
- 1/2 cup Lifeway Kefir, plain
- 1 envelope active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 3 cups all-purpose flour, plus up to 1/2 cup more if necessary
- 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
- 4 large eggs
- Zest of 1 lemon, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
For the Filling:
- 2 tablespoons butter, melted
- 1/3 cup light brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 1 large dried bean or whole almond
For the Decorative Icing:
- 2 cups confectioners' sugar
- 2-3 tablespoons water
- Green, yellow, red, and blue colored sugar
To make the dough: Gently heat the kefir in a small saucepan to 105-110 degrees F. Pour the kefir into a bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the surface, and add a teaspoon of the sugar and a tablespoon of the flour. Stir to combine, and let the yeast absorb the kefir before whisking. Set aside to proof for about 10 minutes.
In a heavy-duty mixer, cream together 11 tablespoons of the butter and the remaining sugar until light and fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the yeast mixture and mix for 1 minute. Add one egg and mix thoroughly; follow with a third of the flour. Repeat with the remaining eggs and flour. Add the lemon zest and salt, and continue to mix on low speed for 8 to 9 minutes, until the dough is smooth, shiny, and elastic, and pulls away from the side of the bowl. If very soft, add up to 1/2 cup of flour. Scrape the dough from the mixing bowl and knead lightly to form a ball. Butter a medium-size bowl with the remaining tablespoon of softened butter. Transfer the dough to the bowl and turn it in the bowl to coat with the butter. Cover with plastic and set in a warm spot to proof for 1 hour, or until doubled in bulk.
After an hour, turn the dough out of the bowl, punch it down, and knead lightly to form into a ball. Put the dough back in the bowl, covered, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or for up to 24 hours.
To form the cake: flour a clean work space and roll the dough into a 20-x-10-inch rectangle, keeping the thickness consistent throughout. If the edges get thin, trim them to keep consistent. Cut the dough lengthwise into 3 strips. Paint each strip of dough with the melted butter, leaving a 1/2-inch border clean along the length of each of the strips. (Reserve any leftover butter for brushing on the cake before baking.) Sprinkle the butter with the brown sugar and cinnamon.
Line a baking sheet with parchment. Fold each strip over, lengthwise and toward the clean edges, to enclose the cinnamon and sugar, and pinch the seam to seal the dough closed. Braid the 3 ropelike pieces together. Transfer the braid to the baking sheet, and form the braid into a wreath by pressing the ends together. Cover with a towel, and set aside to proof for 40 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Brush the cake with the reserved melted butter, and bake for 20 minutes, until golden brown. Tent the cake with foil and continue baking for 25 minutes. Keeping the cake on the baking sheet, cool on a rack. After the cake has cooled, carefully tuck the bean or almond into the underside of the cake.
To make the icing: Whisk the confectioners' sugar with the water in a medium saucepan and heat very gently to dissolve the sugar. Spread the icing over the cooled cake, and sprinkle the top with colored sugar.
Note: be very careful not to swallow the bean or the almond. Be especially careful with children.
By LifeWayKefir LifeWayKefir on 2/11/2013 12:08 PM
Are you ready for some seriously sexy chocolates? With dark chocolate, almond butter and a touch of tangy kefir, these rich truffles come together in a snap. Give them to the one you love, even if the one you love most is you!
Adapted from a recipe by The Fitness Freak.
- 1/3 cup dark chocolate chopped
- 1/4 cup Lifeway Lowfat Kefir, plain
- 4 Tbs finely ground toasted almonds plus more for rolling
- 2 Tbs unsalted almond butter
- 2 Tbs raw agave nectar
- 1 Tbs unsweetened cocoa powder plus more for rolling
- 1 pinch sea salt
Melt the dark chocolate in a double boiler, then remove from heat and set aside.
In a food processor, blend together the kefir, ground almonds, almond butter, agave nectar, cocoa powder and salt. Add the melted chocolate and blend that in, too.
Transfer the mixture into a shallow, sealable container and refrigerate until firm (1-2 hours).
Prepare your rolling ingredients - ground almonds or cocoa powder. Place the ingredients into small bowls.
Use a measuring spoon to scoop some truffle mixture -1 or 1 & 1/2 tsp to make nice, bite-sized truffles. Gently roll the mixture between your palms to form a ball, then roll in your almonds, cocoa powder, or whatever you're using.
Refrigerate in a single layer in a sealable container, and remove from the fridge for about a half hour prior to serving.
By LifeWayKefir LifeWayKefir on 2/8/2013 9:53 AM
When she's not advocating for maternal health care, speaking at the Library of Congress, or running marathons, our energetic CEO Julie Smolyansky gets quite creative in the kitchen! This time she's whipped up a kid-friendly dressing/dip that lends it's tangy, lightly sweet flavor to fresh fruit, leafy greens like kale and spinach, and just about anything else you can think of dipping or dressing! Like all of Julie's original recipes, this one had to meet the approval of her girls, Leah and Misha before it made it's way to our blog!
- 1/3 cup Lifeway Kefir, Plain
- 2 Tbs lemon juice
- 1 Tbs honey
- 1/2 tsp curry powder
- Dash of ground cinnamon
Whisk the ingredients together and enjoy!
By LifeWayKefir LifeWayKefir on 2/6/2013 12:35 PM
When we spotted this fresh take on layered dip from Food Network we hightailed it into the kitchen and got to work adding our special probiotic touch. White beans might sound like a strange addition, but they thicken this dip beautifully while kicking in a little protein and fiber. Greek Layered Dip
Serves: 4 cups
- 1 seedless cucumber
- Kosher salt
- 1 cup Lifeway Lowfat Kefir, Plain
- 1 cup canned white beans, drained & rinsed
- 4 oz crumbled feta cheese (or Lifeway Farmer Cheese)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint, plus more for garnish
- fresh black pepper
- 2 plum tomatoes, diced
- 1 small red onion, diced
- 1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives
- Pita bread, cut vegetables or root vegetable chips for serving
Using a box cutter, grate the cucumber into a bowl. Toss with 1/4 tsp salt and transfer to a colander and set in the sink for 10 minutes. While that sits, use a food processor or blender to puree the white beans. Mix the beans with the kefir and set aside.
Gently squeeze out the extra water out of the cucumber and transfer to a large bowl. Add the kefir/bean mixture, feta, garlic and 1/4 cup chopped mint, 1/4 tsp salt and black pepper and stir to combine. Transfer to a serving bowl.
In another bowl, toss together the tomatoes, red onion, olives and remaining mint. Sprinkle this over the cucumber mixture.
By LifeWayKefir LifeWayKefir on 2/4/2013 10:00 AM
We just had to kefir-ize this recipe from Taste of Home - the name alone was worth it. If you like guacamole, but want a low-fat alternative - or even if you're just looking for ways to eat more broccoli - this is an easy, yummy way to do it! Broccomole Dip
Makes 6 servings
- 2 cups chopped fresh broccoli, cooked & chilled
- 1/4 cup Lifeway Lowfat Kefir, Plain
- 1-2 Tbs finely chopped onion
- 1 Tbs fat-free mayo or Fresh Made sour cream
- 2-3 Tbs lemon juice
- 1/4 - 1/2 tsp chili powder
- fresh veggies or tortilla chips for serving
In a food processor, combine all of the ingredients except for the chips or fresh veggies. Refrigerate for a few hours, or overnight, to allow the flavors to develop. Serve chilled.
By Julie Smolyansky on 1/31/2013 4:41 PM
by Julie Smolyansky
Last week I had the honor and privilege of attending the second inauguration of President Barack Obama. You could feel the electricity in the air as the President’s supporters celebrated a long, hard-fought battle and a recommitment to job creation, equal rights and health care.
The three-day celebration actually started in O’Hare Airport where I bumped into Senator Dick Durbin. We chatted about kefir, of course, as it was on the menu at the constituent coffee he was set to host on Tuesday. We parted ways with the agreement that I would share Lifeway Foods’ story, and our mission to provide America with healthy foods at the Library of Congress.
Lifeway’s story was particularly significant as I listened to President Obama’s Inaugural address:
“Our journey is not complete until we find a better way to welcome the striving, hopeful immigrants who still see America as a land of opportunity, until bright young students and engineers are enlisted in our workforce rather than expelled from our country.”
I was born in a country where there was no democracy, and even today, freedom is limited and leadership changes don’t always come peacefully. Could my parents have imagined when I was a little girl in Kiev that I would one day stand before the leader of the free world as he spoke out for women, for immigrants and for marriage equality?
It was a historical series of days, but it wasn’t all so serious. I watched Katie Perry and Stevie Wonder perform, among many others, and took part in some genuine, Chicago blues thanks to Buddy Guy at Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s after-party. How cute were Sasha and Malia taking selfies with their cell phones and giving their dad kisses in front of the whole free world? And Michelle’s new bangs? I love them.
Speaking of the First Lady, I’m a huge supporter of her Let’s Move initiative, and Lifeway was proud to offer our healthy low-fat kefir to event attendees as well as to the hungry crowds throughout Capitol Hill. We were giving out kefir at the Generation Now Party organized by OurTime.org, the Illinois State Society Gala and, as I mentioned, we provided kefir for the constituent coffee hosted by Dick Durbin. We also had our guerilla marketing wonder team of Joe and Megan canvassing the city with kefir – the perfect pick-me-up for a busy weekend.
The First Lady’s program is perfectly aligned with our aspirations as a company, and I believe that educating Americans about healthy food choices will help us achieve another goal the President addressed in his Inaugural speech - reducing the cost of health care. Lifeway has always advocated for safe and healthy communities from the inside-out, which includes responsible gun control.
“Our journey is not complete until all our children, from the streets of Detroit to the hills of Appalachia to the quiet lanes of Newtown, know that they are cared for, and cherished, and always safe from harm.”
As a female CEO, and mother of two little girls, I was particularly moved by the President’s commitment to gender quality. I believe when women have equal voices in policy making we will live in a healthier and safer world.
“For our journey is not complete until our wives, our mothers, and daughters can earn a living equal to their efforts. Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law–for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well.”
Regardless of our political orientation, an inauguration is a chance for a new beginning. It’s a chance for us to work together to transform America into a land of equal opportunities – no matter where you were born, who you love, or what gender you are.
By LifeWayKefir LifeWayKefir on 1/31/2013 4:23 PM
Sunday is nearly here. For some, it’s the event of the year – the beer, the commercials, the head trauma! But for many, it’s just “meh.” Maybe some of the players’ unsavory activities have turned you off, maybe you’re tired of the boy’s club mentality, or hey – maybe you’re just not a fan. Whatever your reason for not tuning into the game of the year, there’s no need to go into hiding come Sunday. We have five ideas for alternative activities to the big game:
- Commercial Break – Sports shmorts, most years the commercials are the most interesting thing. Entertain yourself with some of Lifeway’s Russian commercials instead. They’re just as funny and weird, but they’re 100% free of bikini-clad women.
- Make it Count – If your conscious keeps you from tuning in this year, turn the negative into a positive and spend this Sunday volunteering. There are lots of great sites like iParticipate to help you find volunteer opportunities to help hungry people, women, children, and animals in need in your area.
- Don’t Starve – If you hate the game, but love the snacks you’re in luck. We have lots of yummy snack recipes that taste just as good when you eat them while reading a book as they do in front of the TV. Try our Buffalo Chicken Dip, Guacamole & Spinach Dip, Shrimp Rangoon or Spinach Quesadilla for One!
- You Go, Girl – If you love the sport of football, but wish it was more female-friendly you’re in luck! Spend this Sunday catching up on all the women’s tackle football action with the Women’s Football Alliance. These ladies leave the Lingerie Football League in the dust.
- Enjoy the Silence – Take advantage of the fact that most people will be huddled around the television this Sunday. Have dinner at a normally-busy restaurant, chances are you won’t need a reservation. Get a haircut, or a massage – there’s no wait!
By LifeWayKefir LifeWayKefir on 1/30/2013 11:00 AM
Our friend Stephanie from The Science of Eating
is back with another healthy spin on a classic party food. Lifeway Farmers Cheese and Helios Nonfat Kefir keep the fat and calories in check without compromising on flavor! Serves 4, 3 per person.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Grease the cups of a muffin pan, and place 1 won ton wrapper in each cup.
Add everything to a mixing bowl and stir until well combined.
Fill each cup by dropping in a large spoonful of the mixture, and repeat until all are filled.
Bake 20-25 minutes or until centers are firm and bubbly.
Allow to cool for 5 minutes then serve.
Nutritional facts per serving:
By LifeWayKefir LifeWayKefir on 1/29/2013 9:18 AM
At Lifeway Foods, we believe beauty radiates from within. When you feel amazing, you look amazing - and we all know that drinking kefir makes you feel amazing. But sometimes even with our gorgeous insides, we need to pamper our outsides. Want to know our CEO Julie Smolyansky's secret to super soft skin? Why, it's kefir, of course! Check out Julie's recipe for a skin-softening mask you can make at home.DIY Softening Kefir Mask
Kefir contains gentle alpha hydroxy acids (in the form of lactic acid) that helps to break up dead skin cells so new cells can emerge. Combined with exfoliating oats and pore-tightening lemon juice, this simple kefir mask is an easy way to treat your skin.
- 2 Tbs Lifeway Kefir
- 2 Tbs whole oats
- 1 Tbs fresh lemon juice
Mix all of the ingredients together and let the mixture stand for 1 hour.
Tie back your hair, and use your fingertips to gently apply the mixture to your face. sit back and relax, apply freshly sliced cucumbers to your eyes for a little extra soothing.
Wait 5-10 minutes, then rinse the mixture from your face. Walk around making everyone in your house tough your face - it's that soft.
By LifeWayKefir LifeWayKefir on 1/28/2013 12:24 PM
"Women are leading the decline in dieting," according to NPD's chief food industry analyst Harry Balzer. In a recent article published by NPR, the numbers seem to indicate that fewer people are reporting that they are on diets than in previous years.
In one survey, fewer than 1 in 4 people agreed that being thin is more attractive than being heavy, compared with the 55% who agreed with that statement in 1985. So it’s possible that we, as Americans, are moving away from the beauty standards that have been in place for decades.
Another theory about the decline in dieting Americans comes down to semantics. Americans seem to be taking steps to eat healthier, but simply choose not to call this choice a “diet.”
According to Madelyn Fernstrom of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, "The newer thinking is personal empowerment for change, and making small changes over time that are doable for the individual."
This modern focus on healthy living as opposed to weight loss is a step in the right direction, in our opinion. Lifeway CEO Julie Smolyansky is also on board with the anti-diet, pro-healthy eating movement, saying, “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.”
Looking for tips for getting on board with a healthy lifestyle? Check out our tips for smart snacks, healthy breakfasts, all-natural cold remedies and more here!