By LifeWayKefir LifeWayKefir on 11/27/2013 12:37 PM
Wrapping up our Thanksgivukkah series, we bring you a mashup fit for your meal’s grand finale. Both Hannukah and Thanksgiving feature a dish that delicately toes the line between dessert and side dish, noodle kugel and sweet potato casserole.
We aren’t sure which cook decided to question the noodle=savory equation, but we are sure glad they did when they made sweet noodle kugel. Our recipe uses plain kefir instead of milk, but Lifeway also makes a traditional Farmers Cheese that would make a great all-natural substitution for cottage cheese in your favorite recipe.
Folks have probably been questioning since its invention why sweet potato casserole, covered in marshmallows, is not on the dessert table, but next to the green beans it remains. For the sake of pie and our love of marshmallows, we decided to keep the sugar and toss the side dish moniker.
Do these sweet side dishes from cross-cultural holidays make as good a match as our Thanksgivukkah algorithm predicts? Absolutely!
From our Lifeway family to yours, Happy Thanksgivukkah!
Sweet Potato Kugel Pie
2 x 10 oz packages lasagna noodles
2 tablespoons butter, softened
16 oz can sweet potato puree
20 oz Lifeway Plain Lowfat Kefir, divided
½ teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons turbinado sugar
2 cups marshmallows, cut in half
Preheat oven to 350°F. Boil lasagna noodles in lightly salted water for about 8 minutes or until they soft but slightly undercooked. Drain but do not rinse. Spread butter in the bottom and along the sides and rim of a round or oval casserole dish.
In a large bowl, whisk together sweet potato puree, 16 oz kefir (use the sweet potato can to measure), eggs, cinnamon, vanilla, salt and maple syrup.
One at a time, fold each lasagna noodle in half, creating a 45° angle and hang the folded end over the edge of the buttered dish. Layer the noodles around the dish, creating a zig-zag pattern around the top.
Stack the remaining noodles on a cutting board and chop into 2 inch wide pieces. Separate the pieces and add to the sweet potato mixture and stir together. Gently pour the mixture into the baking dish, over the noodles.
Pour the remaining kefir into a small bowl and using a pastry brush, paint the kefir onto the edge of the noodle crust. Sprinkle the turbinado sugar onto the edge of the crust.
Bake for 35 minutes, remove from oven and top with marshmallows and bake again for 20 minutes until the marshmallows are light golden brown. Serve warm.
By LifeWayKefir LifeWayKefir on 11/27/2013 5:49 AM
Asking Lifeway to choose which we like more, eating a delicious meal or being healthy and fit, is like asking us to pick our favorite Home Alone movie – impossible! Luckily our kefir is as nice to our taste buds as it is our general health, and we enjoy it every day. Around holidays like Thanksgiving though, there are always indulgent treats to enjoy in the moment, but might make you feel less than stellar the next day. We recommend blasting those sluggish feelings away with a little exercise!
To stay motivated, look up a local Turkey Trot in your community! Generally poultry-free, these runs are a good way to burn off some of the extra Thanksgiving calories and often have awesome sponsors with tasty and fun rewards for your hard work!
Remember to track your miles with the Charity Miles app, too! Lifeway will make a donation to the charity of your choice when you use the app to track your runs through December 17th.
Lifeway recently sponsored the San Diego Bay Wine and Food Festival Fit Foodie Run and greeted finishers with a smiling face and a refreshing sample of kefir!
The San Diego Bay Wine and Food Festival fun didn’t end there. The Grand Tasting featured delicious bites from area restaurateurs, wine makers, and great companies like Lifeway. Between the tiny towers of pork belly and sips of Sauvignon Blancs, Lifeway dished out our probiotic Mango Curry Crunch Sundae to help balance the scales of health.
We've posted a version of this delicious nibble before, but have an even more delightful version to share with you below.
By LifeWayKefir LifeWayKefir on 11/25/2013 9:55 AM
Thanksgivukkah comes but once every 70,000 years or so. Which is why it’s important to celebrate big when the collision of Thanksgiving and Hanukkah arrives! Luckily, all Lifeway Kefir is certified Kosher, so we can continue to enjoy our tangy beverage and reap the much needed benefit of balanced digestion as we undoubtedly go a little overboard on holiday indulgences.
From Challah Stuffing to Pumpkin Kugel, the possibilities for traditional dish mashups are endless! For our first installment we combine Green Bean Casserole with Fried Artichokes. We learned that fried foods (like latkes!) are traditional for Hannukah because the cooking oil represents the small flask of olive oil that burned to light the newly reclaimed temple in Jerusalem for 8 days.
In honor of Hanukkah, we are highlighting the fried onion element of green bean casserole and adding a dash of Jerusalem flavor with artichokes. Our favorite part of green bean casserole is the crispy onions, but the canned kind can be full of dubious preservatives and ingredients, and the can of condensed soup has quite the list of unmentionables as well. This recipes cuts all that out and because it’s a dip, you can really load up on flavor with soy sauce, fish sauce, and the tangy zing of kefir!
Green Bean Dip with Crispy Artichokes and Onions
Green Bean Dip
½ cup canned mushroom stems and pieces, drained
14.5 oz can cut green beans, drained
½ cup Lifeway Lowfat Plain Kefir
4 oz reduced fat cream cheese
Pinch garlic powder
¼ teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1/8 teaspoon fish sauce
2 teaspoons lemon juice
Combine all the ingredients in a food processor and mix on high until smooth. Garnish with fresh green beans if desired and serve with fried onions and artichokes.
Crispy Artichokes and Onions
1 medium onion
2 cups Lifeway Lowfat Plain Kefir
1 cup rice flour
2 teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon garlic powder
2 cups peanut oil
Slice the onion into rings. Clean the artichokes and slice into thin wedges, keeping some of the stem on each piece. (Check out this online tutorial for cleaning artichokes if you’re not familiar!) Immediately cover the artichokes and onions with kefir in a large bowl. Let them soak for about 10 minutes.
While the vegetables are soaking, mix the rice flour, salt, garlic powder, and pepper in a large dish and heat the peanut oil over medium heat (turn it down if it starts smoking).
Remove a handful of onions from the kefir, shake off excess and toss in the rice flour mixture to coat. Shake off excess rice flour and transfer to the hot oil with a slotted spoon or tongs. Cook for about 2 minutes on each side, remove with the slotted spoon and let drain on paper towels. Repeat with remaining onions and artichoke hearts until they are all cooked.
Serve immediately with a lemon wedge and Green Bean Dip.
By LifeWayKefir LifeWayKefir on 11/24/2013 10:52 AM
Since Lifeway’s Thanksgivukkah wouldn’t be complete without kefir, we are keeping kosher and skipping the turkey. Turkey is really only good for making moist stuffing and mayonnaise laden sandwiches the next day anyway, so we’ll indulge vegetarian-style instead and make latkes! These traditional Hannukah fritters are typically served with sour cream or applesauce, but to give it a Thanksgiving twist, ours get a dose of Cranberry Kefir Relish.
This dish was inspired by the recipe made famous by NPR’s Susan Stamberg. Her mother-in-law made this every Thanksgiving and Stamberg enjoyed it and talked about it on air probably every year since NPR’s inception in 1972. Latkes have been around much longer, but for a raw cranberry, horseradish, sour cream and sugar relish, 40 years is a solid run. Traditionally paired with Turkey and all its fixings, this relish is great with latkes, too!
Cranberry Kefir Relish
Makes about 3 cups
2 cups fresh cranberries (picked through to remove any soft ones)
¼ cup honey
1 cup Lifeway Greek Style Kefir
½ cup sour cream
2 tablespoons prepared horseradish
Add cranberries and honey to a food processor and roughly chop. Add the remaining ingredients and blend until smooth. Freeze overnight and let thaw in the refrigerator the day of serving. Serve alongside turkey, or latkes while still a little icy. Or just eat it by the spoonful!
The addition of rice flour makes these latkes extra crispy. AP flour can be substituted and will work well, too.
3 medium potatoes
¼ cup chopped chives
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons rice flour
2/3 cup peanut oil
Grate the potatoes using the large grater of a food processor or box grater. Pour enough oil into a medium/large pan for it to be ½ deep and heat on medium.
In a large mixing bowl, mix egg and chives. Add rice flour, salt, and pepper and mix until fully combined. Add the potatoes (but drain any liquid that has collected) and toss until the potatoes are evenly coated.
Drop a small amount of potato into the oil to test the temperature. It should crisp up fairly quickly, but the oil should not be smoking.
Make the latkes 2-3 at a time, not crowding the pan or the oil will get too cool. Use a fork to scoop about 2 tablespoons of mixture in the pan at a time, pressing down lightly to flatten. Flip after about 3 minutes and cook 3 minutes more until golden brown. Remove with a slotted spatula and drain on paper towels.
Serve immediately with sour cream, applesauce, plain kefir or Cranberry Kefir Relish. Happy Thanksgivukkah!
By LifeWayKefir LifeWayKefir on 11/22/2013 1:37 PM
The health benefits of exercise are abundant. People who exercise tend to have more energy throughout the day, a more positive self image and, most importantly as we enter flu season, have a stronger immune system. Experts recommend a moderate amount of cardio exercise to boost immunity and flush germs out of your system before they make you very ill.
In case you aren’t sold on adding a little walking, jogging, or biking to your weekly routine, Lifeway is sponsoring the Charity Miles App this holiday season to aid victims of Hurricane Haiyan and start Giving Tuesday on December 3rd a little early. When you download the app and enable GPS tracking, you can choose a charity to support and Lifeway will donate to that cause based on the miles you log.
Lifeway wants you to stay healthy no matter how you get moving this winter, so we’ve compiled some helpful tips for keeping your immune system strong and avoiding illness while you exercise.
Be germ conscious at the gym
The gym can be a hot spot for germs, but a few easy habits can help keep you from getting sick.
- Wipe down any shared equipment like treadmills or free weights with disinfectant spray or wipes before and after you use them, and when possible, bring your own supplies like yoga mats and boxing gloves.
- Keep your hands away from your face and wipe off sweat with a clean towel while you’re working out.
- Cover any open cuts or scrapes with a clean bandaid before you workout to keep germs out.
- Wash your hands with soap when you’re done to rinse away any lurking germs.
Take to the streets
Avoid the germs of the gym altogether by hitting the pavement! Remember to stay visible and avoid unsafe areas as the days get shorter if you plan on heading out in the dark. Watch for icy roads as you run, walk, bike, or skate your way to a stronger immune system!
Bend and Stretch
Stretching exercises help engage all your muscles and promote the functioning of your detoxifying organs like your lymph nodes. Try this yoga sequence from Yoga Journal with some easy inversions to push nasty germs out of your respiratory organs. As if we needed more reasons to practice yoga!
Help your body recover with healthy foods
Your body will likely be hungry for a few carbohydrates after a workout for energy, but it will also need protein to rebuild the muscles you’ve exercised. Some people recommend chocolate milk for its healthy balance of protein and carbs, but we are partial to Lifeway Kefir! Check out our recent blog for more details of the benefits of drinking kefir post-workout or grab a pack of our Immunity BioKefir shots to drink alone or add to a smoothie. Lifeway’s 12 live and active cultures may also help boost immunity by building an army of beneficial gut microbes that battle the bad ones like influenza in case some slip by your other precautionary measures!
De-germ your workout clothes
Germs can lurk in your gym clothes and intimate apparel, sometimes even after they’re washed, yikes! Use bleach or bleach alternative to sanitize your threads (most machines don’t have hot enough water to kill all the germs, so stick with more eco-friendly cold water). Or for a chemical free clean, let your clothes hang dry in the sun and the UV rays will eliminate bugs.
Don’t overdo it
Training intensely for rigorous races like marathons or ultra-distance races can be taxing on the mortal human body. If you feel completely wiped out, you’re immune system might be a little tired, too. So make sure you save some energy for your body to fight off infection and to run to the store for more kefir when you’re thirsty! Intense exercise while you’re sick can also have adverse effects on your own body and negative effects on public health if you’re exercising at the gym around others.
By LifeWayKefir LifeWayKefir on 11/22/2013 7:37 AM
Nothing could be easier than pouring a tall glass of Lifeway Kefir for a sweet, refreshing, and healthy dessert (except for taking a swig straight from the bottle!), but during the holidays, it’s nice to make things a little extra fancy. Our recipes for Cranberry Crème Brulee Mousse is still pretty easy, requiring no baking and no heavily processed ingredients. Its rich and decadent enough to please a crowd at a holiday gathering and tart and tangy enough to please the most discerning kefir fans!
No special torch is required with all the delicious crème brulee flavor in our special holiday edition Cranberry Crème Brulee Kefir, but if you want a little of that sugary crunch, we suggest using a crunchy candy like peanut brittle and making a crumb topping to sprinkle on top. If you can’t find our holiday flavors (including Pumpkin Spice and new Eggnog!) ask your friendly dairy manager to bring some in on their next order, or substitute with one of our red berry flavors like Raspberry, Strawberry or Pomegranate.
Cranberry Crème Brulee Kefir Mousse
Makes 6 generous servings
14 oz can all natural cranberry jelly
8 oz lowfat cream cheese, softened at room temperature
½ cup sugar
1 cup whipping cream
1 cup Lifeway Lowfat Cranberry Crème Brulee Kefir
1 cup peanut brittle (optional)
Beat cream cheese until light and fluffy, add cranberry jelly and sugar and beat on high until well combined. In a separate bowl, whip cream and kefir until soft peaks form. Fold whipped cream into cranberry mixture and fold 6 times, so some swirls of cranberry remain.
Spoon into crème brulee dishes and refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight.
Using a food processor, chop the peanut brittle into crumbs. Sprinkle over cheesecakes before serving.
By LifeWayKefir LifeWayKefir on 11/20/2013 5:55 PM
Thanksgiving is almost here! We know if it were up to you, everyone at your Thanksgiving table would be sharing in your daily tradition of a cup of Lowfat Pomegranate Kefir or drizzling a little over their pumpkin pie for a little extra zip, but not everybody is hip to the delicious taste and feel-good-feeling of being a Lifeway Kefir devotee.
That’s why this holiday, we’re making it easy to fall in love with kefir by sharing some probiotic twists on classic Thanksgiving and Hanukkah recipes with the #FallforKefir hashtag on Twitter! Follow @Lifeway_Kefir as we share some old favorites and new twists on recipes from our blog, we hope you can find a way to mix our favorite ingredient with some of your family’s holiday traditions.
Do you use kefir instead of cream in your squash soup like our CEO Julie Smolyansky? Or have you ever replaced buttermilk with kefir in your grandma’s biscuit recipe? We’d like to invite all bakers, cooks, health nuts, foodies and friends to share which recipes make them Fall for Kefir using the #FallforKefir hashtag on Twitter and we’ll select one lucky Tweeter to win a cool hand blender! Perfect for making a Fall Persimmon and Kale Smoothie or chopping up cranberries for your relish!
We also invite all our local friends and visitors in Chicago this weekend to visit us at The Magnificent Mile Lights Festival on November 23rd. This visual stunner of a parade happens every year when the famous shopping promenade in Chicago’s downtown turns on its holiday lights to kick of the gift shopping season. Lifeway will be there sampling some delicious holiday flavors and classic favorites. Stop by and say hi!
By LifeWayKefir LifeWayKefir on 11/18/2013 5:37 AM
Dense and custardy, pumpkin pie can be a little heavy unless you add a generous dollop of whipped cream. And after the palate assaulting smorgasbord of Thanksgiving flavors, ending on a heavy note can be overwhelming, not to mention excessive in calorie count.
The light tang of Lifeway kefir comes to the rescue again! A mashup of the holiday favorite pumpkin pie, the southern delight known as buttermilk pie, and fancy pants soufflé offers a lighter dessert, no whipped cream in sight.
For the sake of tradition, it being Thanksgiving, the crust recipe has its roots in the Advanced Cooking class at Mount Pleasant, Michigan’s West Intermediate School. For generations, disciples of the class' fearless leader Ms. Rubel learned to make thrifty, public school budget-friendly single crust pies and used vegetable shortening instead of real butter. This recipe, however, follows the author’s tradition of veering off recipe to uphold their culinary and dietary standards and uses butter.
While many people will stress not overworking the dough in the last step, this can result in a crumbly mess that is difficult to roll out and droops when par baked. Cutting in the butter by hand, however, ensures that no big messy pieces of butter are left, and keeps the flour from developing chewy gluten chains in the final mixing step. Check out this blog post from Poires au Chocolat for videos and tips on cutting in pastry by hand and get ready for a pastry that is both flaky as a Thanksgiving snowstorm in Mid Michigan and much easier to work with than a group of 8th graders practicing knife skills.
And if you haven’t done it before, making brown butter is also really easy and worth the extra step!
Kefir Pumpkin Pie
For 1 single crust pie
1 ¼ cup AP flour
½ cup (1 stick) salted butter, cut into ¼ in pieces and chilled
½ teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons cold water
Combine flour and salt. Add butter and cut in until mixture resembles coarse sand (none of the pieces should be larger than a pea). Refrigerate for 10 minutes. Add water one tablespoon at a time and toss to coat until the mixture is just moistened (you may not need all the water). Pack the mixture into a ball and knead only twice to bind the dough together. Make a ball then flatten into a ½ in thick disc. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour or overnight.
Roll out dough on a floured surface into a 12 in diameter circle. Transfer to a 9 in pie plate and crimp the edge as desired. Refrigerate again while the oven is preheating to 350°F.
When ready to parbake, pierce the bottom and sides of the crust with a fork, brush the outer edge with egg wash (1 egg yolk and 1 tablespoon water), and cover the entire crust, including edge, with aluminum foil. Fill the crust with pie weights or dried beans and bake for 12-14 minutes, until crust is set, but before it begins to brown. Let cool before adding filling.
Kefir Pumpkin Filling
½ cup (1 stick) salted butter
3 tablespoons AP flour
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
Pinch ground cloves
1 teaspoon salt
3 eggs, separated
2/3 cup raw cane sugar
¾ cup canned pumpkin puree (unsweetened)
1 cup Lifeway Organic Whole Milk Plain Kefir
While the crust cools, turn the oven up to 425°F. Brown the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat until the foaming subsides and the solids turn a medium golden brown color. Let cool.
Separate eggs and whip egg to soft peaks. Whisk together flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon, ginger and cloves in a large mixing bowl. Add egg yolks and vanilla and whip with a whisk until the mixtures turns a pale yellow color. In a separate bowl, whisk together kefir and pumpkin. Mix in the kefir mixture and browned butter in 4 parts, alternating between kefir and butter. Fold in the egg whites and transfer to the cooled, par-baked pie crust. Tent the crust with aluminum foil.
Bake for 15 minutes, then lower the oven temperature to 325°F, remove the aluminum foil and bake for another 35-40 minutes, until the filling just sets and stops jiggling in the center. Let the pie cool on a wire rack and serve at room temperature.
By LifeWayKefir LifeWayKefir on 11/15/2013 9:37 AM
It's the most wonderful time of year again. That's right, the time of year for Lifeway's new holiday kefir flavors! Pumpkin Spice has been making a bright orange splash on grocers' shelves since the beginning of October and now it's time to reveal our newest flavor in the holiday lineup - Eggnog! Watch for it in the dairy case for the next couple of months and check out our other favorite ways to incorporate eggs into your holiday tradition below. You might need another use for all those eggs now that Lifeway is making the (egg-free!) nog for you!
If you’re in the mood for something rich, whip up a little holiday nog. If you’re in the mood for a lighter, more probiotic beverage without all the extra calories, try Lifeway’s new Eggnog Lowfat Kefir! Ours has only 2 grams of fat and is egg and alcohol free.
Speaking of cocktails, egg whites make a lighter, airy delight, no whipped cream in sight. Check out TheKitchn’s tutorial, practice making a few (responsibly), then impress guests at your next intimate holiday gathering with hand-shaken, earth-quakin’ good beverages.
Decorate your tree with painted egg ornaments! Did you know that kefir is a traditional Russian food and painted eggs are a Russian holiday favorite? We found a few with traditional folk designs and a few with some cool cats – how fun! Why wait for Easter to roll out the egg decor?
Cherries make a great summertime treat, but the tart winter berry known as cran will pop quite nicely in the eggy French dessert known as clafoutis. We haven’t tried making clafoutis with kefir instead of cream, but the idea doesn’t sound bad at all. Kick off your baking with this Food Network recipe for cranberry clafoutis and let us know how your substitutions go!
Avocado Egg Boats
Don’t forget about breakfast – or lunch or dinner. For an eggs-tra nutritious breakfast, crack an egg into a half a pitted avocado and bake, scoop and enjoy! Perfect for entertaining out of town holiday guests.
Egg Carton Ornaments
Unless you have a coop full of chickens and need a vessel for their eggs, you’re going to want to think of another way to reuse your egg cartons. Try this Jingle Bell Flower Ornament craft from Better Homes and Gardens. Go green and red this holiday!
By LifeWayKefir LifeWayKefir on 11/12/2013 12:03 PM
As holiday gift giving approaches, we look forward to expressing love and gratitude for our loved ones, our friends and family. What better time of year than the holidays then, to extend our gratitude beyond our social circle. After Black Friday and Cyber Monday take care of our gift-giving shopping lists, Lifeway decided to celebrate ‘Giving Tuesday’ on December 3rd, a day to make charitable donations to causes close to our heart. Tying in our passion for healthy eating and living, Lifeway decided to sponser the Charity Miles app, making a donation for every mile users run, walk or bike during the notoriously sedentary holiday season.
The recent tragedy in the Philippines, however, left 4.5 million people affected by Super Typhoon Haiyan. Driven to move our philanthropic efforts up in the calendar to help those in need, Lifeway decided to sponsor Charity Miles donations to the United Nations World Food Programme early this year, from November 12th through December 17th. When you use this app to track how many miles you walk, run or bike during these five weeks, Lifeway will donate to the World Food Programme for every mile logged.
The World Food Programme is the world's largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide, mobilizing food and logistics supplies and communications equipment to assist the government-led emergency response to Typhoon Haiyan.
Our President and CEO Julie Smolyansky, who is also a member of the United Nations Global Entrepreneurs Council, expressed the motivations behind Lifeway’s decision, “The World Food Programme is tackling the massive logistical problems caused by the storm, as much of the transportation infrastructure was damaged and many supplies will need to be airlifted. The aftermath of the storm is shocking, and we knew we had to do contribute to help provide desperately needed food and equipment supplies to the region.” In addition to the Charity Miles donation, Lifeway is also contributing $20,000 to the United Nations World Food Programme.
To participate in the Charity Miles fundraiser, download the app on your smart phone, select the World Food Programme organization and your phone’s GPS will track your miles as you run, walk, or bike your way to doing good. A few miles of walking a day can help victims of this natural disaster thousands of miles away.
To participate in the Lifeway Foods fundraiser, download the Charity Miles app in the iTunes App Store or Google Play and log every run, walk or bike in the app. Join others supports the Phillippines by using hashtag #GivingTuesday.
This spring, Lifeway and Charity Miles worked together to support The One Fund Boston fundraising initiative benefiting victims of the Boston Marathon bombing tragedy. We were thrilled with how many people participated, showed their support, and did a little good for their own health at the same time!