By LifeWayKefir LifeWayKefir on 10/31/2014 10:37 AM
Our final Halloween Recipe Revamp was a huge hit in the office, as chocolate often is. We made a fabulous Silky Chocolate Kefir Tart last year and couldn’t resist bringing it back – with a few changes, of course.
This year, we wanted to add a little heat to our tart, which we’ve dubbed our Spicy Chocolate Kefir Tart (clever, we know…). After some perusing and comparing different spiced chocolate recipes, we settled on on a simple Mexican hot chocolate-inspired combination. A pinch of Cayenne pepper and a scant 1/8 tsp of chili powder bring out deep chocolate notes, while cinnamon and vanilla keep the tart sweet and enjoyable for the whole family.
A dollop or two of whipped cream (left over from your Candy Corn Smoothie, perhaps?) isn’t necessary for this tart to be delicious, but we couldn’t help it. Add two mini chocolate chips for eyes and you have the sweetest, spookiest tart that is perfect for your evening potluck, or to eat after a night of trick or treating.
Spicy Chocolate Halloween Kefir Tart
3/4 cup bittersweet chocolate (chips or your favorite bar; sub dark chocolate for a less rich tart)
1/2 cup sugar
2 Tbsp fine flour
1/2 cup Lifeway Organic Whole Milk Plain Kefir
1 Tbsp vanilla
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp chili powder
Pinch of cayenne
1 - 9" pie shell (or 5-6 - 4" tart shells)
Begin by letting all of the ingredients come to room temperature and preheating an oven to 325° F.
In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, kefir and vanilla. In a separate bowl, mix cayenne, chili powder, cinnamon salt, sugar and flour. Add to the egg mixture and stir to combine.
Over a double boiler, warm the chocolate chips until they are melted, careful not to let them burn.
Once the chocolate is melted, very slowly whisk the melted chocolate into the egg and spice mixture (we suggest starting by pouring roughly ¼ cup of the chocolate in and stirring vigorously to warm up the egg mixture. If the egg mixture isn’t tempered properly, the eggs will scramble and you’ll need to start over).
Once all of the chocolate has been mixed in, pour the batter into your prepared pie crust. Bake at for about 30 minutes, or until the custard jiggles. Be careful not to crack the top (though it’s fine if you do).
Serve warm or cold and top whipped cream!
Tip: If the chocolate mixture "curdles" or clumps when added to the egg mixture, the egg mixture was too cold. To fix this, place the mixing bowl with the egg mixture into a bath of warm water and whisk until all ingredients come together.
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 10/21/2014 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 10/8/2014 12:06 AM
We’re experienced our first truly fall-like weather at the Lifeway headquarters last week. The temperature plummeted, the sun disappeared and chilling rain was accompanied by blustery winds for the better portion of the week. It was a stark contrast to the lovely late summer warm spell we had been enjoying, and, needless to say, had our team at a loss. Do we surrender Summer to Fall with complaints and colds, or do we celebrate the changing of the guard in style?
If you guessed, “celebrate,” you’re correct. And what’s celebrating without eating? Not a celebration we want to attend, that’s for sure!
In order to welcome in the cool weather appropriately, we turned to our culinary roots, better known as “our mothers,” for a recipe many of our team enjoyed as children. Syrniki, also known as Russian Cheese Pancakes, were (and are) a childhood/family favorite; we’re excited to share our special recipe for them with you today.
Syrniki served with fresh berry sauce and Ryazhenka
, a traditional-style kefir.
2 large eggs
1 Tbsp sugar (optional)
1/4 teaspoons salt
2 tsp vanilla extract
5 Tbsp flour (whole wheat, all-purpose – your choice) + more for dusting and hands
1/4 teaspoons baking powder
In a large mixing bowl, crumble/break up white cheese with a fork. Add in eggs, sugar, salt and vanilla. Mix well. Add baking soda and flour, mixing until just combined. Batter should be thick. Refrigerate batter for about an hour to thicken more, if desired.
When you’re ready to cook your syrniki, heat a skillet on medium-high and spray with cooking spray. Sprinkle some flour on your working surface and on your hands. Spoon about 1/4 cup of the pancake batter at a time into your hands and form into thick patties roughly two inches in diameter. Add to the hot skillet and cook as you would a pancake (until golden brown on both sides, flipping halfway through cooking). Serve with berry sauce (recipe below) or toppings of your choosing (sour cream, nuts and honey are traditionally used).
1 cup berries (we used a mix of raspberry and blueberry)
1 Tbsp lemon juice + grated zest
2 tsp sugar (to taste)
In a small pot, heat the berries until warm and juices begin to escape. Stir in lemon juice, zest and sugar. Cook, stirring frequently, until bubbly and desired thickness is achieved. Cool slightly before serving with syrniki. Enjoy with a glass of Lifeway Kefir, orange juice or coffee.
What is White Cheese?
Many traditional recipes for syrniki call for cottage cheese or farmer cheese, but we choose to use our Lifeway White Cheese, as it is thicker and the cakes hold together better. It is a cultured soft cheese made from an Old World European recipe. It adds unmistakable flavor and texture to your favorite dishes and recipes. It’s low in fat, cholesterol and calories and it has a distinctive, pleasantly smooth flavor. Lifeway White Cheese is composed primarily of dry curds and has a consistency of feta cheese. Use it as you would feta, as a salad topping, or as a feeling for crepe or pancakes.
By LifeWayKefir LifeWayKefir on 9/26/2014 10:37 AM
Apparently it's National Pancake Day? It's all a bit unclear, as Shrove Tuesday (or Pancake Day) is traditionally related to Lent and occurs worldwide during February or March. It was even co-opted by IHOP for marketing and charity purposes.
Imagine our surprise when we noticed that many sources are currently listing today as National Pancake Day. They say competition makes things better, so we're willing to celebrate twice a year.
If you haven’t perfected your master pancake recipe yet, give ours a shot! It’s made with whole-wheat flour, probiotic-rich kefir and applesauce – ingredients you can feel good about eating, and will feel good after eating! You can celebrate today, tomorrow or all year long with this healthy and delicious recipe.
1 cup whole wheat flour (for lighter pancakes, mix ½ cup all-purpose flour with ½ cup whole wheat)
1 Tbsp sugar (scant)
1 ¼ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp baking soda
1/ tsp salt
1 cup Lifeway Low Fat Plain Kefir (or 1 cup Lifeway Organic Whole Milk Kefir)
½ cup unsweetened applesauce
1 large egg
1 Tbsp butter, melted
1 apple, grated
Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt together in a large bowl. Set aside. Crack the egg into a medium sized bowl and whisk until fully incorporated and frothy. Add in the applesauce, kefir and butter and whisk well. Add liquid mixture to the dry mixture and stir until just combined (there will be lumps).
Heat a nonstick pan over medium heat. When up to temperature, lightly coat with cooking spray. Drop ¼ cup dollops of batter onto the hot pan and sprinkle with grated apples. Cook 2-3 minutes, or until bubbles form and pop, then flip. Continue cooking until golden brown on the bottom, about 2-3 more minutes. Continue with the rest of the batter until all pancakes are complete.
Top with syrup, more grated apples, peanut butter, or toppings of your choice. Enjoy with a nice glass of cold Lifeway kefir!
How do you enjoy your pancakes? Do you have a favorite recipe?
By LifeWayKefir LifeWayKefir on 9/22/2014 9:37 AM
This summer, the Lifeway kitchen cooked, baked and blended up our favorite summertime foods. Not only did we come up with some delicious dishes, but learned some new tricks with our favorite probiotic kefir. We kept our bellies (and a those of a few friends) full of the good bugs that kept them happy and swimsuit ready. As we say goodbye to the summer sunshine and hello to the changing of leaves, we wanted to pay one last tribute to a few of our favorite kitchen creations this year.
This summer staple is simple to make and incredibly refreshing. Even more, it’s full of beneficial potassium, Vitamin C and our favorite belly bugs, which kept us full and satisfied. We enjoyed it with breakfast and as a snack throughout the season and look forward to when we can devour it again next year!
When it was too hot to cook, we turned to our tried and true Kefir Ranch Dressing recipe to dress up our favorite seasonal salads and veggies. While it can be a challenge to get children to enjoy seemingly strange vegetables and dishes (thanks to their ultra sensitive taste buds), this dressing tricked even the pickiest of eaters into filling their bellies with their daily dose of probiotics. We used our organic whole milk kefir for a thick consistency, but feel free to substitute our low fat plain or Greek style kefir to your tastes.
Our pampered our papas and various house guests this summer with our favorite Baba Ghanoush recipe, inspired by Ottolenghi’s Eggplant with Buttermilk Sauce
recipe from Plenty
. Our pomegranate low fat kefir was a delightful surprise to guests who were expecting a traditional dip. We served it with fresh crudités and warm pita bread, however this fall we think it would be great with crunchy crackers or spooned over a salad.
We jumped on the overnight oats wagon this summer and are so glad we did! With a bounty of fresh, seasonal fruits, as well as a wide variety of different kefir flavors, we enjoyed endless combinations of grab-and-go breakfasts that were hearty, healthy and delicious! One of our favorites was our kefir plum almond overnight oats – made with our low fat plain kefir, fresh plum and sliced almonds. We’re testing out different overnight oat recipes with our seasonal flavors now, so be sure to stop back and see what we come up with.
Last but not least, what would summer be without a chocolate milkshake? Our delicious, tart and tangy shake is a healthy take on the soda shoppe classic. Once again we traded refined sugar and processed chocolate for probiotic-rich organic whole milk kefir, cacao powder, honey and dates. It is a treat that’s not only good for your soul, but good for your belly!
We’re looking forward to fall here at the Lifeway, but we’ll sure miss the relaxed summer days. What was our favorite dish this summer? How do you plan on kefir-izing you fall favorites? Stay tuned for some surprises from our kitchen!
By LifeWayKefir LifeWayKefir on 9/12/2014 9:37 AM
It’s National Chocolate Milkshake day and at Lifeway, we’re all about celebrating life’s little pleasures. Today, we’re acknowledging this festive food holiday with a healthy take on a decadent summertime classic – the chocolate milkshake! We traded artificial flavors, additives and sweeteners for antioxidant-rich whole foods and creamy, delicious organic kefir you can feel good about sharing with your family. We’ve also slashed the added refined sugar by substituting processed chocolate syrup for pitted dates and raw cacao powder.
Healthy Chocolate Kefir Milkshake
· 1 cup Lifeway Organic Whole Milk Kefir
· ½ cup organic vanilla ice cream
· 1 ½ - 2 Tbsp cacao powder
· 5-6 dates, pitted
· ¼ tsp vanilla extract
· Dash of salt
· Ice (if desired)
· Mini chocolate chips, chopped nuts or shredded coconut to garnish
Add all ingredients into a high powered blender or food processor. Blend/process until smooth. Garnish with mini chocolate chips, chopped nuts or shredded coconut.
Fun facts: the original malted milkshake was created in Chicago in 1922. By definition, it must include ice cream, otherwise it’s a smoothie (in this recipe, we’ve substituted our tasty frozen kefir without guilt). Learn more about the origins of the milkshake as we know it today here.
By LifeWayKefir LifeWayKefir on 9/4/2014 1:34 PM
We recently shared a traditional Eastern European soup called okroshka, and today we have another scrumptious soup for you to enjoy. Depending on where you live, cold soup season may soon be coming to an end. We think this refreshing cucumber avocado soup recipe is the perfect way to cap off a great summer!
Total Time: 4 hr
Yield: 4 to 6 servings
1 large cucumber peeled, seeded and cut into 2-inch chunks 1 large, ripe avocado, peeled
2 scallions (green and white parts included) chopped
1 cup vegetarian broth
3/4 cup Lifeway Low fat plain kefir
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, or to taste Garnish:
Dollop of sour cream, chopped chives or scallions
In a food processor or blender combine the cucumber, avocado and scallions. Pulse until the mixture is thoroughly chopped.
Add broth, Lifeway kefir and lemon juice and continue to process until smooth.
Season with salt and pepper to taste and chill for 4 to 6 hours. Taste for seasoning and serve in chilled bowls with garnish.
By LifeWayKefir LifeWayKefir on 8/29/2014 9:51 AM
Labor Day weekend is upon us, which means many will be celebrating with parties and picnics. Let your friends at Lifeway give you a hand with some tasty recipe ideas that won't force you to spend all of your time working the grill. Plus, these snacks are a great way to sneak in some probiotics to counteract all of the other stuff you might consume over the weekend!
How about some sweet potato fries with a kefir chipotle dipping sauce
? No frying required!
Or maybe a light and tangy kohlrabi and cabbage slaw
Of course, there's something to be said for tradition. Potato salad is always a winner, and this one has a probiotic boost!
What's for light and fruity and perfect for dessert? You could take the easy route and pick up some of our new frozen kefir bars in a store near you, or we'll teach you how to make your own frozen kiwi kefir pops!