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!
By LifeWayKefir LifeWayKefir on 10/14/2014 9:37 AM
Foodies, listen up: WBEZ’s 7th annual Chicago Chef Battle is back! This year, five of Chicago’s finest chefs will stretch their culinary creativity by cooking up dishes using delicious craft cider from Michigan’s Virtue Cider. They will be vying for your vote to win awesome WBEZ prizes and the coveted title of Supreme Chef. It’s an event you don’t want to miss.
A Chicago Chef Battle wouldn’t be complete without an appearance from our friends Louisa Chu and Monica Eng of the Chewing the Fat podcast. They’ll entertain guests with a live recording of the show to start the evening, creating the perfect mood for sampling the night’s fantastic food.
Lifeway is the official dessert sponsor of this fantastic event, so after attendees enjoy dishes from the master chefs, we’ll be sampling our fabulous frozen kefir bars with different delicious toppings.
If a night of excellent food, creative drinks and great company interests you, pick up your tickets for the event now!
WBEZ’S Chicago Chef Battle
Wednesday, October 15, 2014
900 N. North Branch Street
Chicago, IL 60622
By LifeWayKefir LifeWayKefir on 10/13/2014 10:37 AM
The Lifeway Flavor Lab will be up and running again this week for Chicago Ideas Week
, the city-wide series of events, seminars, and labs that “brings together hundreds of the world's brightest thought leaders to inspire, connect, and activate the city of Chicago and beyond.” As with years past, we’re super excited to see what innovative, obscure and unique kefir flavor combinations attendees will put together with the help of the Lifeway team.
For the lab, attendees will be equipped with Lifeway Low fat Plain Kefir
and a recipe, where they will use any of the dozens of fun and wacky flavor essences, sugar and natural food coloring (like red beet juice) to create their very own custom kefir flavor. Lifeway CEO Julie Smolyansky
will be attending the event, participating and helping out with the lab, sampling the flavor concoctions that intrigue her most, and discussing the foundation and growth
of Lifeway Foods.
If that wasn’t enough incentive to get you registering, attendees at this year’s event will also be treated to delicious brunch treats, including our new oat kefir
, pumpkin spice kefir parfaits, scones and more! Mmm, our stomachs are already rumbling, how about you?
What do you think; will this year’s lab introduce the world to the newest Lifeway kefir flavor
? Who knows? You’ll have to attend, or check back here next week, to find out!
By LifeWayKefir LifeWayKefir on 10/9/2014 2:53 AM
The 2014 Bank of America Chicago Marathon is this Sunday! Whether you’re a spectator or a participant, the event is definitely one of the highlights of the city. The historic race, which was run for the first time in 1977, is one of the best known American races and draws competitors from around the globe. Even more impressive, it’s one of only six World Marathon Majors. Cool, right?
Not to miss out on such an exciting event for our city, the Lifeway community team will be at the marathon expo on Friday and Saturday, so be sure to stop by and sample some of our delicious, runner-friendly frozen kefir bars and drinkable kefir. We’ll also be handing out coupons and other fun Lifeway swag. Our CEO Julie Smolansky
will also be running the marathon with the Every Mother Counts
team, so be sure to say hello if you see her!
Fun fact: did you know that kefir is an excellent recovery drink? It’s true! According to Runner’s World (and science), kefir is an excellent addition to your post-run routine, thanks to its immune-supporting probiotics and carb to protein ratio! Plus, Lifeway kefir is 99% lactose free, making it super easy to digest. If that’s not enough to get you intrigued, take a look at all of these different flavors, mmm!
If you do happen to be one of the roughly 45,000 participants running this year’s marathon, check out the following race week and day tips to make sure you’re in top form for the big day:
Have a Plan and Know What to Expect
- Communicate with family and friends. Have a post-race meeting place planned out in advance, as there will be thousands of people racing and watching
- Study the map and know the course. While there will be plenty of event staff around to answer questions, knowing where you are and where you’re going offers peace of mind
- Stick to what you know and what you’ve tried. Race week/day is not the time to try out that new energy bar your friends have been talking about.
- Cut down and avoid high fiber and high fat foods a few days before the race to ensure you don’t run into any digestive issues (yet another reason to keep kefir in your diet!)
- Drink plenty of water in the days leading up to the race, as well as while running, to avoid dehydration and support a strong
During the Race
- Pace yourself! The adrenaline and excitement of the day could encourage you to run faster than you intend. Stick to your plan and know when to slow down.
- Don’t worry about the people who are running ahead/faster than you. Once again, stick to your plan and run your race
- Understand and listen to your body. If something hurts or seems off, slow down and find assistance
After the Race
- Celebrate your accomplishment! After weeks of training, take the time to stop and honor your hard work and dedication.
- Hydrate, eat and stretch – the three most important things you can do for your body! There will be treats and snacks provided for runners after the race, so feel free to indulge a bit.
- Take it easy and rest. Don’t plan too many fun activities for the afternoon/evening of the marathon; you’ll likely be fast asleep before sunset
- Nothing says “self love” like a massage or pedicure (hello, runner feet!) Take the few days after the marathon to treat yourself to some much needed pampering.
Runners, do you have any go-to advice for race day?
For more race day and week tips, check out some of the following resources:
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 10/6/2014 8:37 AM
Chelsea Clinton just welcomed her first child, Charlotte, into the world, and we’re guessing this initial week has been a blur of sleepless nights, dirty diapers and happy hearts. If she’s like most new moms, the former First Daughter is so busy with her bundle that she barely has had time to sit down to a meal. But mothers need fuel to get through those long days and even longer evenings, plus a little nutritious TLC to help with some common postpartum glitches. We would like to enter our kefir into the running for First Snack. Here’s why:
Thirst Quenching Hydration
Nursing mothers lose water when they feed their little ones, so keeping hydrated is key not only to maintaining milk supply but also avoiding annoying symptoms like headaches, dry mouth and even more fatigue that usual. Compared ounce for ounce with water, kefir counts towards your daily liquid needs but in flavors like Coconut Chia, Pomegranate-Açaí and Strawberries and Cream, it tastes so much better.
Protein for Late Night Stamina
With 11 grams of protein per serving, kefir can help keep you going when the baby is hollering and you’ve just pulled out the last wipe.
Grab and Go Convenience
Go ahead, skip the glass. Baby shouldn’t be the only one who gets to drink straight from the bottle.
Calcium for Breastfeeding Mamas
Studies show that mothers typically lose three to five percent of their bone mass during breastfeeding. Don’t worry: It’s usually recovered after weaning. But to keep your stores up, kefir’s a solid choice, fulfilling 30 percent of your daily needs in just one cup.
Immune-Boosting for Run-down Parents
Good bye, sleepy weekends and leisurely brunches! The chronic lack of sleep experienced by new parents is bound to run down their immunity. The healthy bacteria in kefir may offer a layer of protection, helping the body fight off viruses.
Fun fact: Did you know that babies born vaginally pick up all sorts of healthy probiotics during their voyage down the birth canal? These happy bugs go on to help form a solid bacterial base in the GI tract, prepping baby for everything from easier milk digestion to enhanced immunity.
By LifeWayKefir LifeWayKefir on 10/3/2014 7:37 AM
Everyone loves live music, especially kids. That’s why we’re proud to be the title sponsor of this year’s Austin Kiddie Limits (AKL) – the family-friendly component to the Austin City Limits music festival! A "festival within a festival" that offers exciting and creative activities, AKL even has its very own stage and lineup of incredible kid-friendly musical acts. If you’re heading to ACL, you definitely don’t want to miss it!
Located within the festival grounds during both weekends of the event, parents and children alike are invited to enjoy games, activities and live music in a safe, monitored environment. Rock out with music lessons from School of Rock
, create custom works of art with the help of Café Monet
, model a sweet ‘do with the help of the folks from AVANT, or add to our very own (festival-favorite) Lifeway ProBugs mural, and more!
Along with amazing activities and musicians, AKL is also a great place to find festival necessities such as bathrooms and baby changing stations. Even more, it’s a great place to relax and regroup during what will surely be a busy weekend.
We’ll be sampling our organic and frozen ProBugs treats and giving away different surprises thought the festival - October 3-5 and October 10-12. Be sure to stop by for a visit. For more information about all of the acts and activities appearing at Austin Kiddie Limits, visit their website www.aclfestival.com/2014-kids/
By LifeWayKefir LifeWayKefir on 10/1/2014 11:37 AM
We’re excited to once again support our friends at Common Threads
at their Cook-Off
this Thursday at Revel Downtown! The annual fantastic food fest, currently in its fourth year, will showcase the culinary creativity of some of Chicago’s best chefs and mixologists as they compete for bragging rights by cooking and serving their favorite dishes for attendees. Funds raised at the event will support Common Threads’ culinary programs in Chicago.
Of course, what would a cooking event be without some kefir, right? While we’re not competing for the title of Cook-Off champion, we’re taking healthy dessert to the next level with new, deliciously unique frozen kefir bar treats that are sure to be crowd favorites. While you can already feel good about indulging in frozen kefir bars, with just 60 calories and 10 live and active probiotic cultures, our gourmet delights allow you to indulge in the flavors of your favorite fall desserts – without the guilt!
Thursday, October 2
6:30 – 9:30 p.m. Revel Downtown
440 W. Randolph St.
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 9/24/2014 9:02 AM
Get your Om on with us at our pre-Austin City Limits Sun Salutation yoga class and party at Brazos Hall! Can you think of a better way to start a weekend of incredible live music than be stretching and strengthening with two of Austin’s finest instructors, Wanderlust’s Ashley Clauer
and Leah Cullis
? We can’t! Even better, DJ el John Selector
will be live with us playing a set comprised of all Austin City Limits musicians.
We’ll be serving up classic Bellinis after the class, as well as lots of yummy Lifeway kefir treats to keep you nourished inside and out. Mingle with fellow yogis and music lovers while enjoying fresh spinning from el john Selector. If that isn’t enough to entice you, we’ll also be giving away some very special prizes!
A $15 donation is suggested, with proceeds going to the Whole Planet Foundation.
What: Yoga, DJ el John Selector, Bellinis and Lifeway Kefir smoothies
When: Saturday, October 4 from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.
$15 donation, with proceeds going to Whole Planet Foundation
. This donation includes a free yoga mat and swag bag.