By LifeWayKefir LifeWayKefir on 12/5/2012 8:46 AM
Believe it or not, this isn't Lifeway's first foray into pudding. Years ago, we actually made a product called It's Pudding! Yes, even Lifeway strikes out occasionally. We're always looking to create exciting new products for everyone to enjoy. We've all tried and failed before, but we won't let that discourage our kefir-based innovation! In the past year alone we've introduced some real winners. Among them, Frozen ProBugs Push-Ups
, Greek Froyo
and Coconut Chia Kefir
Maybe the world just wasn't ready for a wholesome pudding yet, or maybe the name lead to too many "who's on first" scenarios with buyers:
"We have a fabulous new product, It's Pudding."
"Great, what's it called?"
"Fantastic, but what's the name?"
Either way, It's Pudding! is only a memory, but you can make this healthy chia pudding at home. Chia, which you can also find in our new Coconut-Chia Kefir
, not only thickens the kefir, but it also gives it a tapioca-like texture, perfect for the holidays.
Cranberry Crème Brulee Kefir Chia Pudding
- 1 cup Lifeway Cranberry Crème Brulee Kefir
- 1 banana, mashed
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- ½ cup dried, sweetened cranberries
- 2 Tbs chia seeds
In a food processor or blender, blend kefir, banana and vanilla. Stir in cranberries and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight.
Pumpkin Spice Kefir Chia Pudding
- 2 cups Lifeway Pumpkin Spice Kefir
- 2 Tbs maple syrup
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- ¼ tsp ground ginger
- ¼ tsp allspice
- Pinch nutmeg
- ¼ cup chia seeds
Mix together all ingredients and refrigerate overnight.
By LifeWayKefir LifeWayKefir on 12/4/2012 3:58 PM
The New Year is right around the corner and Stephanie from The Science of Eating is back with another Healthy Holiday recipe! This smoothie makes a great snack - or mix one up as part of a healthy breakfast!
Cranberries aren’t just a staple during the holidays; they’re also a superfood that you should consume all year round. Cranberries offer vitamin C and fiber, at only 45 calories per cup, they are loaded with disease-fighting antioxidants. Because of these antioxidants, cranberries boost the immune system and help to ward off winter illnesses.
As if the health benefits you receive from the cranberries aren't enough, Lifeway Cranberry Creme Brulee Kefir takes this smoothie recipe to a whole new level! The probiotics in Lifeway Kefir can also support the immune system and aid gastrointestinal health.
1 Cup Silk Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk
1 Cup frozen cranberries
2 Tbsp. milled flaxseed
1 Scoop VPX: Zero Carb SRO Whey Protein
2 Tsp. Stevia In The Raw
Place everything in a blender or use a hand or immersion blender, and blend until creamy. Serves 2.
By LifeWayKefir LifeWayKefir on 12/4/2012 9:25 AM
Today’s Healthy Holiday recipe comes from Stephanie Schuh of The Science of Eating. Stephanie find lots of ways to incorporate kefir into delicious, nutritious dishes – including these deviled eggs that are anything but devilish. Here’s what she has to say about this low-fat, low-calorie holiday dish:
Omega-3 eggs are created by feeding hens a special diet containing plant material, grains, flaxseed and even seaweed. These fatty acids are crucial to our bodies since we have no way to produce them ourselves. They are very important for good health and offer effects to lower blood pressure, decrease triglyceride levels, improve heart health, lower risk for heart attacks, lower risk of blood clots and inflammation
Anytime we can boost our immune system with probiotics, we help protect ourselves from many common-day chronic ailments, as they can begin in the digestive system. Lactobacillus acidophilus, present in Lifeway Kefir products, is probably the strongest of the probiotics, and is a natural antibiotic protecting against the pathogens in the food we eat, the air we breathe, and the things we come in contact with.
Not-So Deviled Eggs
- 6 hard boiled Omega-3 eggs, cut in half
- 1 & 1/2 Tbsp. Helios Non-fat Kefir
- 1 Tbsp. Nasoya Nayonaise
- 1 Tsp. yellow mustard
- 1 & 1/2 Tsp. Braggs Apple Cider Vinegar
- 2 Tsp. onion powder, or more to taste
- 2 Tsp. garlic powder, or more to taste
- Sea Salt to taste
- Paprika and parsley, for garnish
Remove yolks from eggs and place egg white halves on a serving plate.
In a mixing bowl add egg yolks, Nayonaise, kefir, mustard, vinegar, salt, onion & garlic powder and whip with an electric mixer until there are no lumps and the yolks are creamy.
Place the mixture in a small pastry bag with a decorative star tip, and fill the egg halves.
Top with a sprinkle of paprika and parsley and serve.
Nutritional Facts: (Per Egg Half)
- 33.5 Calories
- 2g Fat
- .05g Carbs
- 3g Protein
By LifeWayKefir LifeWayKefir on 11/30/2012 12:12 PM
If you enjoyed our Easy Thanksgiving recipe series
, we think you'll love our Healthy Holiday recipes! Inspired by our family favorite holiday recipes ranging from potato latkes to creme brulee, we're puting a healthy spin on some festive foods.
We're starting with a gingery donut that's baked, not fried. With just a touch of butter, we've replaced most of the fat with lowfat kefir - giving these a fluffy, muffin-like texture that's yummy for breakfast or dessert. Gingerbread Kefir Donuts
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tsp ground ginger
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp ground cardamom
- 1/4 tsp ground clove
- 1/4 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
- 1 Tbs butter, melted & cooled
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 3/4 cup Lifeway Gingerbread Kefir
- 1 tsp vanilla
Preheat your oven to 325 degrees and grease two donut pans. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, ginger, cardamom and clove. In a smaller bowl, whisk together the sugars, butter, eggs, Kefir and vanilla. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry just until mixed.
Fill each cavity 2/3 full and bake for about 8 minutes or until the tops spring back when lightly touched.
If desired, top each unbaked donut with a sprinkle of chopped nuts. When cool, drizzle with a mixture consisting of: 2 Tbs melted butter, 2 Tb maple syrup and ¼ cup confectioners’ sugar.
Alternatively, dunk each cooled donut into melted white chocolate and decorate with holiday sprinkles.
By LifeWayKefir LifeWayKefir on 11/29/2012 11:27 AM
With Hanukah just around the corner, we’re feeling very Jewish here at Lifeway Foods. We’ve polished our menorahs, are cooking up some tasty latke recipes (to be debuted soon on this very blog) and have been walking up to complete strangers with entire rotisserie chickens in hand and saying things like, “Oy, you look thin. You should eat!”
All kidding aside, our company is extremely proud of its Jewish heritage, and we were reminded of this when our CEO Julie Smolyansky was recently honored at a Jewish United Fund
event titled “Secrets of Remarkable Jewish Women.” Presented by JUF’s Women’s Board, Julie kicked off an inspirational night as she shared her personal, professional and Jewish accomplishments. Two other phenomenal women were also honored: Hedy M. Ratner, founder and co-president of the Women’s Business Development Center - the largest, oldest and most comprehensive women’s business assistance center in the country, and Abbie Weisberg, CEO and Executive Director of Keshet, a state-of- the-art non-profit organization that provides community-based educational, recreational, and vocational programs for children, teens and young adults with varying and multiple developmental disabilities.
Referring to herself (and eliciting laughs from the audience) as “A Triple Threat: I am a Soviet immigrant. I am a woman. And I am Jewish,” Julie spoke of coming from a long line of survivors and a strong lineage of females and of survivors. Read on to learn more about her family’s incredible history:
World War II: Nazis storm the village where Julie’s paternal grandmother Olga lived. Olga’s parents instruct her to run into the forest with her younger brother and hide until it’s safe, then board a train to another town. Olga and her brother survive; her parents are murdered on the spot.
Around the same time, in a distant village, Julie’s maternal grandmother, a Ukrainian Orthodox woman named Galina, takes two Jewish children into her home and raises them as her own, helping them escape death.
1972: Olga’s son (and future Lifeway founder) Michael Smolyansky and Galina’s daughter, Ludmila, meet in the USSR. Michael is a smart, savvy engineer; Ludmila, a self-taught bookkeeper who can spot a great idea miles away. Michael is able to track down some very fashionable go-go boots for his sweetheart using certain “Black Market connections” when the rest of the Soviet Union is sporting gray drab everything. The two fall in love.
May 1975: Ludmila gives birth to Julie, future Lifeway CEO. Julie’s parents dream of coming to the United States for the freedom to live, to pursue their liberties and to prosper. Meanwhile, in the US, in part due to the advocacy work of the Jewish United Fund demanding the release of Soviet Jews, President Nixon strikes a deal with the USSR; through a small slit in the Iron Curtain, the Smolyanskys board a train in May 1976, leaving all they knew - family, friends, everything - for a new life in America.
August 4, 1976: The family arrives at O'Hare International Airport with $116 dollars in their pocket and are met by a kind representative from the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS), escorted to a motel, given vouchers for food and receive help finding a small apartment to call home. They are one of just 48 Russian Jewish families settled by HIAS that year. Michael begins taking English classes, learns how to craft a resume and finds a job as an engineer. On the side, he digs through Chicago allies to find broken electronics, repairing and selling them for a few dollars. Meanwhile, Ludmila picks up English by watching soap operas like General Hospital and One Life to Live.
1978: Ludmila quickly realizes that American food is quite different from Russian food. Recognizing the mass exodus of Soviet Jews coming to the US, she spotted an opportunity to start her own business. At 28, with all the money that she and Michael have saved in their first two years in America, she opens Chicago’s first Russian delicatessen. Eventually, she becomes an importer and distributor of Russian food from around the world. Ludmila’s deli becomes Ground Zero for all new Soviet Jews living in Chicago – people come for conversation, advice, company, and a taste of home.
1985: Michael and Ludmila attend a trade show in Germany. Thirsty for a taste of his childhood, Michael stops in a German grocery store and purchases three bottles of kefir. He says to his wife, "In America, we have everything…but we don't have Kefir." “Well,” Ludmila replies, "you’re an engineer; you know how to build plants and machinery. I am in the food business. You make the kefir and I will sell the kefir." Six months later, Lifeway Foods is incorporated.
1987: Michael takes Lifeway public, the first company to go public by a Russian immigrant.
1997: Unhappy with her emotionally grueling and often physically dangerous work as a social worker, Julie joins the family business (at this point doing about $5 million in annual sales) doing data entry. Within two weeks, she is obsessed with her family’s product - selling kefir, marketing kefir, writing copy for press releases, advertising. Within a year, she is promoted to Sales and Marketing Director.
June 9, 2002: Michael Smolyansky passes away suddenly and unexpectedly of a heart attack.
June 10, 2002: Julie is voted in as CEO and president of Lifeway. At age 27, she becomes the youngest female CEO of a publicly traded company. No one on her team of 20 employees – mostly older men – believes she can handle the position; NASDAQ halts trading on their stock because shareholders are panicking and dumping stock at any price.
Lifeway is now a $100 million company, up more than 800% from the $12 million company we were 10 years ago when Julie assumed the reigns. Oh, and NASDAQ? The ones who halted trading when she assumed the role of CEO? They invited the Smolyanskys to Manhattan to ring the opening bell in May of 2011.
By LifeWayKefir LifeWayKefir on 11/27/2012 10:58 AM
We took a break from our routine last night and volunteered along with some folks from Common Threads
at Jordan Community School here in Chicago. You may remember Common Threads from past blogs
where we’ve covered our work with the organization - but for new readers, Common Threads is an organization that was co-founded by celebrity chef Art Smith
with the goal of teaching primarily low-income children how to cook healthy, affordable meals.
At Jordan, a group of about 18 grade schoolers meet every Monday after school, under the guidance of Chef Jerry Korab (creator of our favorite vanilla cupcake recipe
) and a rotating group of volunteers, to explore the cuisines of different cultures around the world.
This week the kids prepared chicken saag, naan bread and mango lassi (made with Lifeway Kefir) as they explored the flavors of India. We also brought along our flavor lab from Chicago Ideas Week
, and the kids had a chance to create their own unique kefir flavors. Some of our favorite included Grape-Cherry Super Slushie and Fairy Rock (strawberry with coconut).
As they dined on their homemade Indian dishes, the kids also had a chance to sample our own Mango Lassi
. It was so encouraging to see kids taking an interest in nutritious foods, and having fun in the kitchen! We look forward to many more opportunities to work with Common Threads in the future.
By LifeWayKefir LifeWayKefir on 11/21/2012 4:16 PM
Black Friday is upon us, and as always, we are bombarded with promises of low, low prices on the hottest electronics, in-demand toys and special deals on luxury cars topped with big, red bows. (Seriously, who are these people who buy each other $80,000 cars for Christmas and how can we become friends with them?)
While some people enjoy the thrill of waiting in long lines at midnight, shoving fellow shoppers aside and saving a bundle on flat-screen TVs – we’re pretty amped on online shopping. Ever since we discovered Amazon we’ve spent our Black Fridays sleeping in and eating leftover turkey sandwiches. If you’re considering staying home this year, we have a few ideas for things you could do instead of going on a Black Friday rampage:
1. Sleep in – yes, we just mentioned sleeping in two sentences ago and there’s a reason why: sleeping in is awesome.
3. Get a head start on holiday decorating – find a good place for the menorah, decorate the tree, get out the kinara or dust off the Festivus pole.
4. Go on a holiday movie bender – Home Alone, Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer, or our personal favorite, Pee-Wee's Christmas Special.
5. Chug some holiday kefir
, Cranberry Crème Brulee and Pumpkin Spice Kefir are in stores now, ‘tis the season!
By LifeWayKefir LifeWayKefir on 11/20/2012 12:00 PM
Next to turkey, green bean casserole is the quintessential Thanksgiving food. It’s typically made with a can of condensed soup, some green beans, and not much else. We’re keeping it simple, but with real ingredients like Lifeway Greek Style Kefir, fresh green beans, mushrooms and garlic for a new spin on a classic.
Green Bean Casserole (4-6 servings)
- 2 Tbs plus 1 tsp salt, divided
- 1 lb fresh green beans, trimmed and halved
- 2 Tbs unsalted butter
- 12 oz mushrooms, sliced
- ½ tsp black pepper
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
- 2 Tbs all-purpose flour
- 1 cup vegetable stock
- 1 cup Lifeway Plain Greek Style Kefir
- 1 & ¾ cup Fried onions
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Bring a gallon of water and 2 Tbs of salt to boil. Add the beans and blanch for 5 minutes, then drain and plunge into a large bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. Drain and set aside.
- Melt the butter in a medium pan over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms, 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper and cook until the mushrooms start to give up some liquid, about 5 minutes.
- Add the garlic and nutmeg and cook 1-2 more minutes. Add flour and stir. Cook for 1 minute, then add the vegetable stock and simmer. Decrease the heat to medium-low and add the kefir. Cook until the mixture thickens, stirring occasionally – about 6-8 minutes.
- Remove from heat and stir in 3/4 cup of fried onions and the green beans. Top with the remaining fried onions and bake in the oven until bubbly – about 15 minutes. Remove from oven and serve hot.
By LifeWayKefir LifeWayKefir on 11/19/2012 11:00 AM
You invite friends and family over to share what they are most thankful for, have everyone jot their feelings down, then hang them on a tree.
Inspired, we asked our staff to share with us what they’re grateful for this Thanksgiving. They opened their hearts, below:
“This time last year I had just been laid off of my job - not a great feeling right before the holidays. So this year I'm thankful to not only have found employment at Lifeway, but to have the good fortune to work with people I really like to sell a product that people love.” – Natalie Slater, Community Manager
“Thanksgiving is always a great time for me because I was actually born on Thanksgiving. My mom always tells people that instead of having a turkey and stuffing, she had me - her little ham. Ha."
-Joe Ackerman, Events Coordinator
“I am thankful for my family. I don’t think I ever realized how important family is until I became a mother. I am that much more grateful to my parents.”
-Marina Nikolenko, Director of Marketing
“Of course, I have the requisite thankfulness for friends, family and the opportunity to live in the wonderful city of Chicago. I’m thankful that I work at Lifeway Foods, a company that produces healthy food, strives to be as green as possible and makes charitable giving a central part of its operational practice.
And for the internet. I love the internet so much.”
-Derek Miller, Director of Digital Marketing
"I'm thankful that my family and I are both happy and healthy."
-Fallon Morgan, Director of Operations
“This is my first Thanksgiving as a mother, and I’m immensely grateful for the new light that has been brought into our lives. I love how we get to relearn the whole world through her eyes, like tasting watermelon for the first time, or petting a doggy, or splashing in the tub. That said, it’s also exhausting, so I’d also be very thankful for a free babysitter and a nap.”
-Leslie Goldman, blogger
“I spent some time helping Hurricane Sandy survivors in NY a few days after the storm left its devastation. I am thankful to have our home in tact and our loved ones safe. I am thankful for my health, as well as the health of my family and my friends. I am thankful to have a career I love that helps my customers lead healthier lives, and I am thankful I get to work with the greatest team ever.”
- Julie Smolyansky, CEO
By LifeWayKefir LifeWayKefir on 11/19/2012 8:00 AM
Pass the biscuits! Lifeway Kefir gives these biscuits a rich, buttermilk flavor – combined with fresh green onions and a crack of black pepper they’re perfect for sopping up gravy or making leftover turkey sandwiches.
Green Onion and Black Pepper Biscuits (Makes about 14)
Adapted from bon Appétit
- ¾ cup Lifeway Plain Kefir
- ½ cup finely chopped green onions
- 2 cups self-rising flour
- ½ cup cornmeal
- 3 Tbs sugar
- ½ tsp coarsely ground black pepper (plus more for sprinkling)
- ½ cup cold, unsalted butter cut into ½” cubes (plus 1 Tbs melted)
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Combine kefir and green onions in a medium bowl. Whisk flour, cornmeal, sugar and ½ tsp pepper in a large bowl. Cut in butter with a pastry cutter or two forks until the mixture resembles a course meal. Add kefir mixture and stri until moist clumps form.
- Gather dough together and turn out onto a floured surface. Knead gently to combine, 3-4 turns. Roll out to 3/4” thickness and use a 2” floured biscuit butter to cut out rounds. Re-roll scraps and cut out more rounds. Place 2” apart on prepared baking sheet, bush tops with melted butter and sprinkle with salt and black pepper.
- Bake until golden – about 20 minutes. Cool slightly and serve warm.