By LifeWayKefir LifeWayKefir on 10/30/2014 7:37 AM
Candy corn: you either love them or you hate them. Arguably the most ubiquitous Halloween candy alongside the similarly textured candy pumpkins and super sticky caramel creams, these corn kernel-shaped confections are typically both bought and consumed in bulk this time of year but quickly forgotten come November first (ok, seventh – we always have a few bags that linger). Found in candy jars on desks nationwide, they’re as much a part of the Halloween season as scary movies and frightening costumes.
They’re also quite terrible for you, nutritionally.
At Lifeway, we’re always looking for ways to enjoy our favorite treats in healthier ways. We’re certainly not ones to pass up homemade dessert, but if we’re going to indulge in a sweet, it has to be worth it. Frankly, candy corn just isn’t worth it.
Around this time last year, our culinary team came up with a delicious Candy Corn Smoothie as a festive alternative to the artificially colored sugar bomb of a candy that goes by the same name. While we love that recipe, we wanted to tweak it a bit (and add more of a nutrient punch). Though it’s the end of October, the temperature reached an astonishing 79°F this week, giving us what we’re sure will be the final warm snap before winter. Naturally, we craved something tropical; this smoothie is the result!
Candy Corn Smoothie Revisited
½ cup orange juice
1 large banana, frozen
½ cup pineapple chunks, frozen
1 cup mango pieces, frozen
½ cup carrot juice
In a high-powered blender (or regular blender), blend kefir, orange juice, banana, pineapple and mango until smooth. Pour roughly ¼ cup of the mixture into each clear glass.
Add carrot juice to the remaining mixture in the blender and blend until smooth. Spoon or gently pour the rest of this blend on top of the first layer of smoothie in the glasses evenly.
Top the smoothie with prepared whipped topping, or homemade coconut whipped cream (recipe below). The tropical flavor of coconut goes great with the mango and pineapple in the smoothie – trust us!
Homemade Whipped Cream
1 can full fat coconut milk (without additives or guar gum –like this brand)
Place can of coconut milk in refrigerator and refrigerate overnight, or at least four hours (this allows the cream and milk to separate – we will be whipping just the cream!).
When you’re ready to make your cream, remove the can from the refrigerator and carefully open the top.
Either carefully pour off the thinner milk or scoop out the cream into a chilled bowl (we’ve had the cream both sink and float). Set the milk aside for use later.
Using an electric mixer, slowly start beating the coconut cream, increasing the speed, until you’ve reached the consistency you desire. Serve immediately by spooning a dollop of cream on top of your smoothie, or refrigerate until ready to use. The cream will stay well in the fridge for about a week (though we don’t think it’ll last that long!).
Notes: our original recipe calls for Lifeway LowfatPeach Kefir. If you’d like a slightly sweeter taste, use that in place of the plain kefir.
By LifeWayKefir LifeWayKefir on 10/29/2014 9:37 AM
Halloween is just a few days away and if you’re anything like us, you’re more than ready to celebrate with spooky costumes, eerie eats and ghostly treats. Not to mention jack-o-lanterns, scary movies, too much candy and, our favorite, parties! It’s a festive time for sure and we’re so excited it’s here again.
Creating and cooking healthy (most of the time, at least!) festive food to be enjoyed by friends, coworkers and family is one of our favorite ways to celebrate a holiday. Halloween offers us the opportunity to not only work with some of the best produce around (we’re huge fans of winter squash, dark leafy greens and root vegetables – more of that is to come soon!), but allows us to get a little quirky with what we make.
This year, we’re bringing you not one, but three of our favorite Halloween recipes! Today we’re featuring our Red Rum Cupcakes. We made them about two years ago and decided to bring them back for a bit of a redesign. We cut back on some of the butter and sugar (we’re sure you won’t notice they’re gone) and swapped the white sugar with coconut sugar. Let us know what you think!
1 3/4 cups cake flour (see Notes)
1/4 cup grass fed butter, softened (see Notes)
1 cup coconut sugar
2 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder (we like Dutch processed)
3/4 tsp apple cider vinegar
3/4 tsp baking soda
2 large eggs
3 Tbsp dark rum
3/4 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp apple cider vinegar
3/4 tsp baking soda
Red food coloring (see Notes)
Preheat your oven to 350°F and line two standard cupcake pans with paper (or silicone reusable) liners. You’ll get close to 18 cupcakes from this batter.
In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar with an electric mixer (or a REALLY strong arm and whisk!) until light and fluffy – roughly 5 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, incorporating completely before adding the next egg.
In a separate small bowl, whisk together the dark rum, cocoa and vanilla. Add to the sugar/butter mixture and beat well. Add your red food coloring until it’s as red as you’d like.
Pour kefir into a liquid measuring glass and add salt. Stir until combined. Add to the kefir/salt mixture to the other liquid ingredients in three parts, alternating with the cake flour (one part kefir, mix, one part flour, mix, etc.). With each addition, beat until the ingredients are just incorporated, careful not to over mix.
In a small bowl, stir together the cider vinegar and baking soda. Add this mixture to batter and mix. Using a rubber spatula, scrape down the batter in the bowl, making sure the ingredients are well-blended and the batter is smooth, again careful not to over mix.
Pour batter into cupcake liners until 2/3 full (careful not to overfill, as these babies rise!). Bake 20-25 minutes, or until the tops spring back when you gently touch them.
Cool the cakes in the pan for 10 minutes, before removing from the pan to cool completely. When cool, frost with icing of your choosing, splatter with food coloring and enjoy your festive Halloween treat!
Cake flour: This recipe calls for cake flour, which differs from regular all-purpose flour in many ways. Most notably, it is has a much finer grain, lending to extra fluffy baked goods. Substitute all-purpose flour if you have it on hand, and learn more about cake flour here.
Butter: We suggest using organic, grass fed butter in this recipe for taste and health benefits. Substitute other butter you have on hand, melted unrefined virgin coconut oil, or the vegetable oil of your choice. Read more about the benefits of grass fed butter here.
Food coloring: We recommend gel food coloring for the goriest possible color, however we understand there is controversy behind artificial food coloring. While we didn't make our own here, we did find this great recipe for homemade, food-based food coloring and hope to experiment with it soon!
By LifeWayKefir LifeWayKefir on 10/28/2014 8:37 AM
As October – Breast Cancer Awareness Month – comes to a close, we wanted to bring attention to one of our favorite breast health organizations – Chicago’s own Bright Pink. Based in our hometown, Bright Pink is on a mission to save women’s lives from breast and ovarian cancer by empowering them to live proactively at a young age.
One of the many things that makes Bright Pink unique is their interactive “Assess Your Risk” tool. It was developed to help women understand how their family history and common lifestyle factors can influence cancer risk. It also provides suggestions and steps women can take to reduce their risk at any age, making it perfect for every woman everywhere. To date, more than 45,000 people have completed the tool – a huge accomplishment!
So not only is it an awesome educational tool (we learned so much when we took it), it also works as an easy conversation starter with your healthcare provider. Too many women don’t know what questions to ask, or if they should ask questions at all, when visiting their doctor. With the support of a personalized risk assessment, a woman has extra incentive and motivation to take charge of her health. Assess your risk here then share the tool with a woman you love.
More Women’s Health Facts:
- Breast and ovarian cancer are particularly devastating diseases because they strike at the heart of a woman’s femininity.
- Breast cancer is the most common cancer diagnosis among women in the U.S.. The average woman has a 1 in 8 or 12% lifetime risk of developing breast cancer.
- 1 in 67 women (1.5%) will develop ovarian cancer at some point in her lifetime. Two out of three of women diagnosed will die as a result.
- 750,000 individuals in the US have a BRCA gene mutation, which dramatically increases the lifetime breast cancer risk to up to 87% and ovarian cancer risk up to 54%
- When detected early, the 5-year survival rate for breast and ovarian cancer can be as high as 92%
- Having just one first degree relative with breast cancer doubles your personal risk for the disease.
There’s a lot you can do to reduce your risk for cancer. Making healthy diet choices (kefir, anyone?
) and engaging in daily physical activity are great places to start. Bright Pink offers some awesome tips, which can be found here
. As always, be sure to speak with your physician before starting a new exercise program or diet.
We’re proud to support Bright Pink and encourage everyone to check out their resources. If you’re looking for an organization to support this year on #GivingTuesday (the Tuesday after Thanksgiving where charities, families, businesses and individuals around the world will come together to celebrate generosity and to give), . It’s a donation you can feel good about and will certainly go a long way toward providing bright futures for women everywhere.
About the Assess Your Risk tool: please keep in mind that the tool is available for educational purposes and should not be interpreted as medical advice. Be sure to partner with your medical provider to develop the best personal care strategy for you.
By LifeWayKefir LifeWayKefir on 10/24/2014 11:56 AM
Today is United Nations day, the yearly celebration (this year is the 69th!) that celebrates the establishment of the UN Charter and all of the great work that the UN does and continues to do. Even more, it’s an awesome opportunity for United Nations Association members and chapters in the U.S. (the UNA-USA) to inform and educate communities about what the UN is, what it does and how it impacts millions of people around the globe in positive ways.
This year’s theme for UN Day is Global Citizenship and Youth and the UNA-USA is hoping it will help promote grassroots participation by adults, young professionals and youth in UN activities and projects. It’s definitely a cause we can get behind (our CEO Julie Smolyansky is a member of the United Nations Global Entrepreneurs Council).
While many of us know that the United Nations is an organization that exists, too few of us (Lifeway staff included) actually know what they do. Here’s a quick rundown of their incredible global impact:
- Provides food for 90 million people in 80 countries
- Has helped 420 million rural poor achieve better lives in the last 30 years
- Mobilizes $22 billion in humanitarian aid to help people affected by emergencies
- Protects and promotes human rights on site and through 80 treaties/declarations
- Keeps peace with the help of 120,000 peacekeepers in 16 operations on four continents
- Assists over 38.7 million refugees and people fleeing war, famine and persecution
- Vaccinates 58 percent of the world’s children, saving 3 million lives per year
- Works in 193 countries to combat climate change
Pretty cool, right? The work of the UN is incredibly important and with our support – and yours! – it will continue long into the future.
More About the United Nations
According to an official statement, the UN is “essential to international peace, prosperity, and security. The challenges of the 21st century are global in nature and require a global response. The UN is the only institution with the international scale, reach, and capacity to address these global problems.” Learn about the many ways the United Nations is helping the world every day here. To find a UN Day event in your area, or to see how you can become involved with UNA-USA, visit unausa.org.
By LifeWayKefir LifeWayKefir on 10/23/2014 12:01 PM
We’re not one to name names, but a certain frozen food line packs 590 calories, 13 grams of artery-clogging saturated fat and 2,400 mg of sodium into its chicken pot pies. And a shall-remain-nameless restaurant chain that rhymes with Easetake Lactory serves up its chocolate cake with nearly 2,000 calories and three days' worth of saturated fat (62 grams). On World Food Day, October 24, The Center for Science in the Public Interest is urging consumers to avoid 10 major edible terrors, from bacon trouble cheeseburgers to mocha madness coffee concoctions. A couple of the worst offenders:
Read More »
By LifeWayKefir LifeWayKefir on 10/22/2014 1:37 PM
Last week we discussed World Food Day, the globally-recognized holiday that celebrates the creation of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Today we’re talking about a subject a little closer to our home – Chicago Food Day! This year, we’ll be celebrating at the Daley Center plaza with loads of local businesses and Chicagoans – it’s a free event and open to the public, so don’t miss it! You’ll be able to sample our delicious kefir, win fun prizes, play exciting games and more – all in the spirit of celebrating healthy eating and nutrition in Chicago, of course.
Thursday, October 23rd
7:30 a.m. - 2 p.m.
About Food Day/Chicago Food Day
Food Day was created by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) and inspires Americans to consider their diets, their environment and food policies. Celebrated nation-wide, the day “brings together some of the most prominent voices for change in the food movement, united by a vision of food that is healthy, affordable, and produced with care for the environment, farm animals, and the people who grow, harvest, and serve it.” (Source)
Chicago Food Day is supported by Building a Healthier Chicago’s Eat Real Chicago! initiative and works in partnership with various national agencies and organizations, as well as city officials and community leaders, to celebrate healthy, affordable and sustainably produced food in and with the Chicago community.
More info/get involved
For more information about Chicago Food Day and how you can get involved, visit chicago.foodday.org. Visit www.foodday.org to find Food Day events in your area (celebrated every year!).
Bonus! Take this Food Literacy Quiz, provided by Food Day, and test your knowledge about the environment, the ecosystem and the food you eat: http://www.foodday.org/food_literacy_quiz
By LifeWayKefir LifeWayKefir on 10/21/2014 7:37 AM
We collected quite the bounty of fresh apples while visiting the orchard last weekend and have been dying to bake with them ever since! We know there are quite a few apple recipes located on our blog that we love, but we weren't in the mood for cookies, a smoothie or a big slice of pie when we set off to bake. No, we were feeling doughnuts. Soft, delicious, moist, kefir doughnuts.
Ah, now we’re talking.
We're patting ourselves on the back for these; they are delicious! Warm straight out of the oven sprinkled with cinnamon, or cooled and topped with a dollop of fresh whipped cream and pecans - however you eat them, you'll enjoy them. They were perfect for a quick breakfast and paired excellently with a cup of coffee.
Good thing there are more than enough to go around, right? We bet these would also be delicious with pears and walnuts, or with any of low fat kefir flavors. Adjust to your taste!
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 cup plain Lifeway Plain Low Fat Kefir
1/4 cup cider reduction (recipe below)
1/2 cup sugar
1 large apple, peeled and diced
1/4 cup pecans, chopped
Whipped cream and additional pecans for topping
2 cups apple cider
Heat cider in a medium sauce pan to a boil (be careful not to let it boil over). Reduce heat and let the cider simmer, reducing to ¼ cup. Set aside to cool until thick.
Preheat oven to 350 degree Fahrenheit. Spray a mini doughnut pan with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.
In medium bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
In large bowl, mix together kefir, cider molasses, applesauce and sugar. Add in flour mixture and until combined. DON’T OVER MIX! Fold in apples and pecans.
Spoon batter into mini doughnut pan wells, filling each no more than halfway full (you will have extra batter for extra batches). Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until cooked through. Remove from oven and cool for ten minutes before popping out of the pan. Cool completely before topping, or enjoy warm.
Feel free to make any adjustments or substitutions you see fit. We bet our Lifeway Organic Whole Milk kefir would make these extra creamy, and substituting pear for apple would also be delightful! In place of white sugar, try coconut palm sugar or a stevia for baking blend, if you enjoy the taste.
Fun fact: Apples are loaded with incredible health benefits. Not only does the fiber content help you feel satisfied (and stay fit and trim!), they're full of antioxidants, polyphenols and other vitamins and minerals you need to stay healthy and happy! Learn more about our favorite fall food here.
By LifeWayKefir LifeWayKefir on 10/16/2014 12:08 PM
We couldn’t be more thrilled to announce that our CEO, Julie Smolyansky, was recently named to Fortune Magazine's prestigious "40 under 40", an annual list of the country’s top innovators, gamechangers and trailblazers. Among the influential leaders, all under age 40: Mark Zuckerberg (CEO of Facebook), Marissa Mayer (CEO of Yahoo) and 37 other passionate leaders. In addition to highlighting her business prowess, Fortune called out Julie’s involvement in pressing social issues such as sexual assault on college campuses. They also featured a “5 things you don’t know about Julie” list – things we at Lifeway know but the world didn’t…yet:
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By LifeWayKefir LifeWayKefir on 10/16/2014 2:32 AM
Today is World Food Day, a globally-recognized holiday that celebrates the creation of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. It was first held on October 16, 1981 and since has been used to spread awareness of not only the agency, but of global poverty, hunger and malnutrition. The key initiatives of the organization are:
- Help eliminate hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition
- Make agriculture, forestry and fisheries more productive and sustainable
- Reduce rural poverty
- Enable inclusive and efficient agricultural and food systems
- Increase the resilience of livelihoods to disasters
In short, it’s an agency with a mission Lifeway can get behind.
This year’s theme for World Food Day is Family Farming – feeding the world, caring for the earth. According to the FAO, the theme was chosen because it draws attention to and raises awareness about the key roles family farms and smallholder farms play in the global food crisis. “It focuses world attention on the significant role of family farming in eradicating hunger and poverty, providing food security and nutrition, improving livelihoods, managing natural resources, protecting the environment, and achieving sustainable development, in particular in rural areas.”
To help spread awareness of World Food Day, we’re accepting their request and raising a glass in a toast to thank the farmers who feed the world (and provide us the highest quality milk for our kefir available).
Learn more about our commitment to sustainability and our support for local farmers at our website here.
Find out more about the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations as well as resources for how you can become involved by visiting their website www.fao.org. Visit www.worldfooddayusa.org for more information about World Food Day and activities in your area.
By LifeWayKefir LifeWayKefir on 10/15/2014 7:04 AM
With Halloween right around the corner, there’s no better time to get familiar with the scariest-looking health food ingredient trending right now: the SCOBY.
SCOBY stands for Symbiotic Colony Of Bacteria and Yeast, and it’s basically a congealed blob of – you guessed it – bacteria and yeast which, when introduced to a mixture of black tea and sugar, ferment it, resulting in the uber-popular drink known as kombucha.
Funky-smelling, cloudy, and flying off store shelves everywhere, kombucha tea delivers a dose of healthy bacteria just like kefir does. It also contains vinegar (lending it that characteristic, pungent smell), B vitamins and several other compounds that fans claim can do everything from ease tummy troubles to boost immunity. While the science behind kombucha’s health claims isn’t rock solid yet, bottles selling out everywhere and plenty of proponents swear by what NPR describes as a taste “somewhere between vinegar soda and carbonated apple cider.”
We called up Renee Renz, a Chicago-area board certified holistic nutrition practitioner who leads the Greater Chicago Area Whole Foods Nutrition Meet Up Group, to ask her some kombucha questions. Renz, herself a fan of drinking kombucha as a means of “getting all your good creatures,” pointed out that there’s a brew for everyone. If you prefer a less-sweet taste, go for a longer-brewed bottle; if sweet is your thing, reach for a kombucha flavored with ginger, strawberry, blood orange, lemon-lime or any other of the dozens of flavors available.
One of Renz’s favorite beginner tips: If you find the taste of kombucha too potent or strong, try diluting it with still or sparkling water. Not only will this mellow the flavor, but it will extend the amount of kombucha bang you get for your buck.
If dressing up like a slimy pancake doesn’t sound appealing, you can always masquerade as one of the many celebrity kombucha fans, like Lindsay Lohan, Gwenyth Paltrow or Madonna. As for us, we’re debating between Polly ProBug
and a life-size tub of Farmer Cheese
. Trick or treat!