By LifeWayKefir LifeWayKefir on 4/30/2013 10:13 AM
Monica Serratos first came to our attention in 2009 when she competed, very pregnant, on Food Network’s Cupcake Wars. After the show aired, her custom bake shop Two Parts Sugar took off, and went on to be named Best Bakery in Orange County. So imagine our surprise when we noticed her six-year-old daughter Alicia’s name on a Change.org petition
asking the Girl Scouts organization to make their cookies GMO-free! Cupcake baker turned real food activist?
The switch, according to Monica, was inspired by her volunteer work at her children’s school. After noticing that every birthday celebration, every holiday and even Dr. Seuss’ birthday resulted in her small children consuming sugary foods in class, Monica petitioned the school to stop celebrating with food. But that was just the beginning; she still had to tackle after-soccer snacks, Girl Scout meetings, and even the lollipops her kids got when she drove through at the bank.
We spoke with Monica, and with six-year-old Alicia to learn more about how this family of six works for a healthier, happier life together, starting in the kitchen. So, mommy went from being the best cupcake baker in the city to a health nut – was that a tough sell to your kids at first?
We just started eliminating certain foods and replacing them with similar healthy versions. For example, the kids don't eat cereal or crackers anymore. Instead, for breakfast they get organic fruit and veggie smoothies (what kid doesn't like smoothies?) and organic eggs from the farmers market. To replace the crackers we do plantain chips, nuts (preferably raw) and organic homemade popcorn. It can be overwhelming (and with four kids, very time consuming) trying to find recipes that everyone likes, but I think it is important for the kids to really understand how and why to feed themselves nutritiously.
I took Alicia to the store and we bought some Lifeway Kefir – we looked at the ingredients and nutrition facts, and talked about the Farmer's Pledge, which we both agreed was good. When we got home all the kids got to try a little bit, they loved it of course.Your six-year-old daughter Alicia has turned into a tiny food activist. How to you talk to your kids about complex issues like GMO foods? Are any of your other children going to follow in their sister’s footsteps?
It's been neat to see Alicia really get into this topic and it's definitely rubbing off on her siblings. Whether it's GMOs, economical issues, animal or human rights, I want them to research and learn as much as they can and if they want to see change, to be that change. We look things up online, watch movies on Netflix, and watch interviews of adults and even other kids speaking about GMOs on YouTube. I want her to really grasp all aspects of GMOs, not just the fact that they are not good for us. There are so many other connections to how they negatively affect organic farmers, to our environment, etc.Alicia grabbed national attention when she petitioned the Girl Scouts to switch to GMO-free ingredients in their famous cookies. Being that she is a Girl Scout herself, what sort of reactions did she get to that effort?
We've seen mostly positive reactions to her petition. I was overwhelmed with the response and support from so many people, but are still waiting to her from the Girl Scout organization. Of course there will always be people with opposing views and I can respect that. I actually like a little bit of an opposition, it gives me the opportunity to teach Alicia about how to handle such situations and how to respond, if at all. It also gives her a chance to remind herself why she is doing what she is doing and why she thinks she's doing the right thing.Your Girl Scout troop also opted to raise money for a community garden in lieu of selling cookies; did you meet your fundraising goals? Any word on whether or not other troops will do the same next cookie season?
Our troop has been learning a lot about a healthier lifestyle, which includes reading labels, activities to find out how much sugar was in their drinks, and what goes into the cookies themselves. How could I, as a leader, guide these girls into selling the same thing we had been discussing was so bad for them? So, we opted out of selling the cookies.
But unless we participated in cookie sales, we could not do any other troop earning activities. So, since we couldn't raise money for our troop, we decided to raise money for the school's edible garden.
The girls all set personal and troop goals. I believe they each reached their personal goals and together exceeded their troop goal of $1,589.00. Their total amount raised was $1,690.00! I made booklets to track their progress, and learn the value of coins and bills. They learned everything they would have if they participated in cookie sales, only without the cookies. One girl even asked family members for their recyclables instead of money, then took them to the recycling center and raised money that way!
What are some other ways Alicia and the rest of your family rally in support of natural foods?
We I frequent the local farmers market, and Alicia and my five year old are going to visit the farm where the grass fed cows are raised. We recently started growing celery, strawberries and raspberries, and hope to add spinach and kale this summer. We started composting, but may need to revisit that with a better game plan - a family of six produces a ton of composting materials and we have limited space in the backyard. Like I mentioned before, it's not just about our health, it's about the impact on farmers, the economy, and the earth.From our conversation with Alicia:
When people ask you what GMOs are, what do you tell them?
They are genetically modified organisms. They’re bad because they're dangerous because they kill bugs and give rats tu-u-u-u-umors (she actually sang that part) and they are not natural.Why do you think it’s important that food companies stop using GMO ingredients?
Because they are not safe and they are the worst thing ever. They are in 80% of our food and we shouldn't be eating them.Some kids don’t think healthy food tastes as good as junk –what do you think?
Uh-uh, I love healthy food because it's good for you and it makes you strong. I think they should be eating good...you can just pretend your apple is candy. And, if you just try new things maybe you'll like a new food that is healthy.What are your favorite healthy snacks?
Healthy popsicles we make at home from real fruit - and fruit salad.
By LifeWayKefir LifeWayKefir on 4/26/2013 11:19 AM
Lace up your running shoes, because for the next two weeks, every mile you walk, run or bike can earn money for One Fund Boston. Lifeway Foods is proud to announce our sponsorship of Charity Miles, a free iPhone/Android app that enables people to earn money for charity when they walk, run or bike.
Our CEO Julie Smolyansky is an active member of the Charity Miles community who runs frequently to benefit some of her favorite organizations, such as Girl Up
and Every Mother Counts
. Two weeks ago, Julie ran the Boston Marathon and was a half-mile from the finish when she was diverted due to the explosion
. Fortunately Julie and her family were safe, but she was deeply moved by the compassion and heroism shown in Boston. Like many of you, Julie and the rest of the Lifeway team wanted to do something to help.
Here’s what you can do:
Download the Charity Miles app on your smart phone. Then walk, run or bike to earn money for the charity you choose. Bikers earn 10 cents per mile; walkers and runners earn 25 cents per mile, courtesy of Charity Miles and Lifeway Foods. For the next two weeks, Lifeway Foods is sponsoring your Charity Miles, plus an additional 25 cents per mile for One Fund Boston – up to $10,000!
Looking for a great post-run recovery drink? Kefir is widely regarded as a preformance-boosting food
for runners! Try this Antioxidant Berry Smoothie made with Lifeway Frozen Kefir. Antioxidant Berry Boost Smoothie
- 1 cup Lifeway Frozen Kefir, Original
- 1/4 cup blueberries
- 1/4 cup blackberries
- 1/4 cup strawberries
- 1/4 cup green tea, chilled
- 1 Tbs ground flax seed
- honey or agave nectar to taste
Place all of the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.
By LifeWayKefir LifeWayKefir on 4/25/2013 6:43 PM
The phrase “GMO” gets tossed around a lot these days, usually in articles with scary titles like “Are you serving Frankensalmon to your kids for dinner?” A GMO (genetically modified organism) is a food, seed, plant or animal that has had its genetic material altered in a lab for some perceived benefit – typically to help it resist insects, viruses, or pesticides. That means a tomato can be tinkered with to flourish in harsh conditions: More pesticide can be used on that tomato during growth, or it may have toxic substances inserted into its cells to kill off pests when they nibble on it. And then…you eat it.
Despite the fact that a majority of Americans have claimed they would not buy food that had been genetically modified, more than 80% of the processed foods in American supermarkets contain genetically modified ingredients. According to the World Health Organization, “GM foods currently available on the international market have passed risk assessments and are not likely to present risks for human health.”Yet a number of studies have linked GM foods to fertility problems, organ damage and more. And labeling is not required, so even conscientious consumers will have difficulty distinguishing between, say, a cookie made with genetically modified sugar and one made without.
So we at Lifeway were thrilled to hear about the The Genetically Engineered Food Right-to-Know Act, introduced this week by Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Congressman Peter DeFazio (D-OR). The bipartisan legislation would require food manufacturers to tell customers when packaged food contains genetically engineered (aka genetically modified) ingredients.
According to the Just Label It coalition, more than 1 million Americans have petitioned FDA to require labeling on packaged food containing GE ingredients. Lifeway is one of over 600 partner organizations who have joined together to support the FDA petition and the mandatory labeling of genetically engineered foods. Our entire lineup of probiotic Kefir, Frozen Kefir, Helios ™, ProBugs ™, and BioKefir ™ beverages has been enrolled in the nonprofit Non-GMO Project, honoring our rigorous avoidance of GMOs. Unfortunately, the majority of manufacturers and industries can make no such claim:
Eighty percent of American corn has been genetically engineered for resistance to pesticides and herbicides; with high fructose corn syrup, the number jumps to nearly 100%. Genetically modifying corn allows farmers to spray more pesticides, but that corn is then used to feed the cows and chickens that will one day wind up on your grill. Whether you are starting your day off with cereal, noshing on popcorn during Real Housewives, or dunking tortilla chips in salsa, look for non-GMO sources of corn with brands like Late July, Mary's Gone Crackers, and Nature's Path. Fun fact: Popcorn is non-GMO!
A staggering 90+% of global soy has been genetically modified. That includes soy milk, tofu, soy sauce and edamamae beans, not to mention soy lecithin, which is used as an emulsifier in everything from chocolate to salad dressings, chips to granolas. Since soy can be a valuable component in your diet -- it’s a complete vegetarian protein that is rich in omega 3 fatty acids, fiber, and cancer-reducing phytonutrients – you may want to consider purchasing non-GMO soy products, such as Silk soy milk,
Earth Balance, Eden Foods soy sauce.
Companies are seeking FDA approval for genetically modified salmon – salmon injected with genes from other types of salmons in an effort to speed growth and enable it to survive colder waters. Some experts fear that cancer and faster aging of cells could be side effects from these 'Frankenfish.” To avoid it, buy organic or wild caught fish, or seek out seafood from Henry & Lisa's Natural Seafood or Blue Horizon Seafood. For fish oil, try brand New Chapter’s Wholemega. Learn more about GM fish here or here.
To date, very few fresh fruits and vegetables for sale in the U.S. have been genetically modified. However, about half of Hawaiian papaya has been genetically modified. Zucchini and yellow crookneck squash have also likely been altered. If you choose to steer clear of GM foods, keep in mind that even if a fruit or vegetable is non-GMO, it may have been packaged, frozen, or canned using GM additives. The same goes for pasta sauce. Want non-GMO produce? Buy organic.
Your and your children’s milk may come from cows injected with genetically modified bovine growth hormone. Some U.S. dairy farms inject the genetically engineered hormone rbGH, also called rbST, into their cows to boost milk production. But due to consumer demand, many companies have changed their ways. Walmart, for instance, will no longer buy milk produced from cows injected with rbGH. Many dairy products are labeled to show they are rbGH- or rbST-free, but their cows may still be fed GM corn and soy. The best way to ensure hormone-free dairy? Buy organic dairy products, which are not allowed to intentionally use rbGH or GM grains as animal feed. Look no further…that’s Lifeway!!
For help shopping GMO-free, try this comprehensive guide from ResponsibleTechnology.org
By LifeWayKefir LifeWayKefir on 4/25/2013 8:56 AM
If you were lucky enough to reserve a table for dinner last night at Chicago's gorgeous Nellcôte Restaurant
, you may have seen a familiar name on the dessert menu...
Nate Meads, pastry chef at Nellcôte and RM Champagne Salon, created a decedant dessert with our Whole Milk Kefir - Kefir ice cream with caramel, pineapple, and brioche croutons. Now, if you can't make it to Chicago to try Nate's handiwork, you can try making his recipe at home:
- 1 quart whole milk
- 2 vanilla beans, split and scraped
- Zest of 1 Meyer lemon
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 cups egg yolks
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 quart Plain Whole Milk Lifeway Kefir
Bring milk, vanilla bean, lemon zest and salt up to a boil. While milk is coming up to a boil, whisk yolks and sugar until pale and thick. When the milk boils add it to the yolks and mix thoroughly. The mixture needs to be thick enough to coat a wooden spoon. If the mixture is not thick enough, warm over simmering water until finished. Chill and pass through a fine sieve, then add Lifeway Kefir and churn into ice cream using an ice cream maker or attachment.
Grab a pint of Original Frozen Kefir (our store locator can help you find it in a freezer isle near you) and go to town with fresh fruit, chocolate chips and splrinkles - just eat it straight out of the pint! You can even sign up for money-saving coupons right here on our website.
By LifeWayKefir LifeWayKefir on 4/24/2013 9:37 AM
Summer is just around the corner and for many of us, that means it’s time to put some serious thought into our vacation options. Airfare to Europe is pretty outrageous, and feeding a family in San Francisco or New York can really break the bank. Luckily we know of a great place to visit that boasts plenty to do on a budget - our sweet home, Chicago! If you’re considering a trip to our home town, we have some tips that can help you make the most of your time in the Windy City.
The El is Your Friend
There’s no need to spring for a cab when Chicago offers a mass transit system that can quickly and safely get you where you need to go. The system is on a logical grid, but people in Chicago are friendly and most people you ask will be happy to tell you how to get to your destination.
Bonus tip:Take the Brown Line from one end to the other for a super chill tour of some of Chicago’s most diverse neighborhoods. Hop off at Merchandise Mart downtown and grab a frozen kefir at the Starfruit Cafe located inside!
DIY Taste of Chicago
The Taste is an institution. It’s also hot, crowded, and between you and us, not really the best way to eat your way around the city. Those in the know skip The Taste, and opt for neighborhood fests instead. Chicago hosts over 400 individual neighborhood festivals each year - celebrating the food, culture and customs that make Chicago’s diverse neighborhoods so great. Check out the city’s official site for guides to all the fests.
Bonus tip: While they’re plenty to eat inside the festivals, keep your eye on the perimeter where food trucks cruise around. Follow @StarfruitCafe on Twitter to see where the #KefirTruck is this summer!
Meh, the Mag Mile
Want to know a secret about Chicago’s famous Magnificent Mile? There’s nothing there you won’t find at a decent mall. For truly unique shopping experiences, head to neighborhoods like Wicker Park, Andersonville and Lincoln Park. Each one is filled with cute boutiques, vintage shops and dining options you won’t find in the ‘burbs.
Bonus Tip:Wicker Park and Lincoln Park each boast their own Starfruit Cafe! For people watching, sit on the patio at our Division St. store while you sip a raw, probiotic juice. If you’re with the kids, head to our Halsted shop where there’s plenty of room to run around and a coloring station, too!
Take Me Out to the Ballgame
Chicago boasts not one, but two professional baseball teams - The Cubs and The White Sox. We’re also home to the Chicago Bears, the Blackhawks, the Bulls, and the Chicago Fire for you soccer fans. Alternative action fans will love to catch a Windy City Rollers bought - Chicago’s own women’s roller derby league.
Bonus tip: Avoid stadium food fatigue at Wrigley Field - head to the Main Concourse Concession area and look for Starfruit frozen kefir!
Explore the Loop
Chicago’s downtown area is a great place to soak up the bustling, big city experience. With lots of public art installations there are plenty of photo ops, and the Loop is home to dozens of theaters and museums, so there’s a learning experience around every corner. Pop into Block 37, a somewhat hidden mall with a surprise in the underground pedway - another Starfruit location
Bonus tip: The Chicago Crown Fountain in Millennium Park is a fun place to cool off in hot weather, but don’t miss the park at night. Strategically placed spotlights make Millennium Park’s unique architecture shine, and concerts after dark in the Jay Pritzker Pavilion will leave you with goosebumps.
Have you visited Chicago? What were your favorite places to shop and eat?
By LifeWayKefir LifeWayKefir on 4/22/2013 10:37 AM
Four months into the new year comes Earth Day – a great time to reflect on the healthy, green changes you may have made as part of your New Year’s resolution, and to find new ways to preserve our natural resources. Today we thought we would talk a little bit about the phrase “reduce, reuse, recycle” and how you can apply it to your everyday life.
It’s simple – reduce the amount of waste you create in the first place. Bring your own reusable bags to the grocery store, stop buying bottled water and opt for filling a reusable bottle at home and on the go. Look for packaged goods with the least amount of packaging, and with packaging that can easily be reused or recycled. Lifeway Kefir, for example, is bottled in BPA-free
, #2 HDPD plastic
, one of the most commonly recycled plastics. Check out the next section to see how our bottles can be reused!
We all forget our reusable shopping bags now and again; luckily those plastic bags are perfect small waste basket liners. Cereal boxes coming out of your ears? Turn them into desk organizers
with a few snips of the scissors! Find ways to reuse and repurpose the disposables you do acquire, or to reuse something you already own before purchasing something new. Check out these Five Clever Ways to Reuse Lifeway Kefir Bottles and Caps
, for example.
Once your house is overflowing with kefir bottle herb gardens and cereal box organizers take the time to sort out your recyclables. And while we’re on the subject – try to buy things made of recycled materials, because recycling only really works if recycled materials are being put to use.
OK, this is not part of the 3 R’s you’re familiar with – in fact, it’s not an “R” at all. But choosing foods with 100% natural ingredients and that are non-GMO is a smart way to care for our planet as well. GMO crops lead to “super weeds’ and “super bugs” that can only be killed with toxic chemicals – the long-term impacts of GMO foods on our health and on the environment are not fully understood, which is why Lifeway has submitted all of our products to the Non-GMO Project.
Later this week we’ll bring you the story of Alicia Serratos, a six-year-old activist from Orange Country, CA, who is taking on GMO foods starting with her own Girl Scout troop!
What do you do to honor your Mother Earth each day?
By Julie Smolyansky on 4/16/2013 8:16 PM
Our hearts are heavy today in the aftermath of the bombing of the Boston Marathon. Our CEO, Julie Smolyansky, was running her 23rd mile of the race when the bombs exploded. Here is her recounting of a terrible sad day:
I was running the race to raise money for Every Mother Counts, a charity dedicated to global maternal health. My teammates and I had been dropped off early, maybe two hours before the race was set to begin. There was a chill in the air and I felt nervous – even though this was my 10th marathon, I’m not the fastest runner, and while most racers have to qualify to run Boston with a special time, I was there as a charity runner. I remember thinking, “What if I come in last?” I was worried about making it up Heartbreak Hill but at the same time, I felt excited for the race to begin. My team was in the 10:40 AM wave (racers are staggered and assigned to different waves to keep an even flow) and my teammate Nick and I were talking about sneaking into an earlier wave so we could finish earlier and have more time with our families afterwards.
Running through Boston’s quaint neighborhoods, I was feeling really good. There was tons of crowd support and a warm community feel. Kids were holding out their hands on the sidelines for us to slap them high five; parents were doling out orange and banana slices to fuel the runners. Patriot’s Day is a big holiday for Bostonians and everybody was in a terrific mood. Music was blasting, inflatable bouncy houses were jumping with kids. The sun was shining with just a tiny nip in the air – ideal running weather. All around me, I saw people running with the goal of helping others. Tee shirts read “Running to end cancer”; “Running for my mom”; “Running to end violence.”
My partner, Jason, and I had decided to meet up at Mile 12. Our two daughters, Misha (age 2) and Leah (age 4) were there to support me, too, as they almost always are at my races. I passed what must have been hundreds of female students at Wellesley College, all yelling, “Go Girl!”, before spotting my girls who were waving their homemade neon pink and yellow posters. They ran up to hug me and I couldn’t stop smiling. I told them I loved them, took some pictures and kept on running.
At around Mile 23, a woman running in front of me fell. She was having a seizure, convulsing right at my feet and throwing up. Ambulances were passing by – I figured somebody ahead was sick, as often happens in marathons – and I called out for a medic. I had just received a text from Jason on my phone but hadn’t had the chance to open it. A medic arrived and started helping the woman as I tried to calm her friends on the sideline, who were crying. Eventually I had to start running again though. As I did, I checked my phone and saw Jason’s message. It was a screenshot of a news website, announcing an explosion at the finish line. I remember thinking, “An explosion? What is he talking about?” I didn’t know if it was an accident or a terrorist attack, if the event was minor or major. I knew he and the girls were at the finish line waiting for me, but I assumed that because I had gotten a message from him, they were safe. So I kept running.
As I ran, I began hearing from other racers that a second explosion had taken place. I called Jason but no one answered. I called and called but could not get through; I kept going straight to voicemail. At that point, my phone started going crazy with messages from people checking to see if I was safe. I put a message on Facebook letting people know I was OK:
“I'm ok. Heard there was an explosion. At mile 23. Hope everyone is ok. Pays to be slow. Stopped to help someone who had fainted.”
But I still couldn’t reach my family.
By now, I had slowed to a walk, as had most other racers. Worst-case scenarios were zooming through my head. I had heard of limbs flying, that people had died. I think I was crying but I don’t really remember much from Mile 23 to Mile 25. People were crying and confused as emergency vehicles zoomed by. As my calls kept going into Jason’s voicemail, and I felt sick to my stomach.
Race officials were redirecting us off the marathon path, away from the finish line. I saw the bomb squad working by the sign at Mile 25.
A police officer announced, “Race is over.” I stopped walking and continued to call, worried my phone’s battery was almost out of power. A fellow runner – an older gentleman – comforted me, encouraging me to keep calling and reassuring me that reception was terrible for everyone. I was chilled, my feet blistered, but I didn’t feel anything. We all just stood there, numb from fear. A woman with a bag of clothes stopped me on the street and offered me a sweater, inviting me into her home.
Then my phone rang and Jason’s number lit up on the screen. I can only describe the feeling as pure elation. It turns out that his battery had died and he had run back to the hotel to charge it. Misha was asleep in the stroller; Leah just thought this was all part of the ordinary chaos of a marathon.
I made my way back to the hotel and up to Room 1409. Jason answered and I fell into his arms. We all hugged and kissed and settled in for a long, sad night. We looked out of our windows to see bomb squads and army vehicles on the street below. We slept fitfully. Our kids were shielded from the news, still innocent and unaware of the tragedies unfolding. They kept congratulating me, telling me how proud they were of me for finishing the race. To know an innocent eight-year-old boy died while cheering on his dad – how can I not see my family in that family? It is just gut-wrenching. It hits too close to home.
At different points in my life, my runs have inspired different thoughts and emotions. I ran my first marathon in Chicago one month after 9/11 and thought about the thousands of people who ran out of Manhattan and the World Trade Center in complete terror, dressed in their business suits, untrained, without the fancy water stops or energy gels that a marathon offers. Yet these people ran till they got home, some almost 26 miles. And I thought about the 3,000 people who never returned home. In comparison, my 26.2 miles seemed easy.
People are asking me, “Will you run again?” I will. You can be in your office and not be safe, like people were on 9/11. Or on an airplane. Or in a kindergarten classroom, like in Newtown. People experience violence every day. We can’t lock ourselves up in our homes. I am absolutely heartbroken over the loss of life and all of the injuries - how does a celebration turn into tragedy like this? But in times of grief, there is a Fred Rogers quote that reminds me to focus on the positive:
“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, 'Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.'”
I love running marathons. I love the challenge, the chance to test my mental and physical strength. Running gives me confidence and clears my mind. At Mile 18, I started dreaming about my post-race recovery meal; I literally spent a few miles debating between Uno's pizza and a juicy cheeseburger at one of the cute outdoor restaurants near the finish line. I remember getting excited to check in on Facebook at the Boston Marathon Finish Line, I knew exactly what I was going to post: "Finished. Now looking for beer, cheeseburger and a shower in any order - at the Boston Marathon Finish Line," along with a cute picture of me with my medal. All of which never happened.
If my teammates and I had tried to start the race at an earlier wave, I would have wound up crossing the finish line right around the time the bombs exploded. That single move might have saved our lives. As I reflect on that soboring reality, I mourn the lives that were lost, keep those who were injured in my heart, and am grateful for the compassion and kindness of strangers I experienced on this terrifying day. Donate to Boston Children's Hospital
Schedule an appointment with the Red Cross
Send in photos, tips, cell phone video and more to assist the investigation.
By LifeWayKefir LifeWayKefir on 4/11/2013 11:37 AM
This week, the Lifeway team joined hundreds of other Anti-Defamation League (ADL) supporters in honoring four remarkable women during the 20th Annual Women of Achievement Awards Dinner. The night’s honorees were Maria Green, Senior Vice President, General Counsel & Secretary, Illinois Tool Works; Mary Ann Hynes, Senior Vice-President, Counsel to the Chairman and Chief Compliance Officer, Ingredion Inc.;Barbara Steiner, Partner, Jenner & Block LLP and Lifeway CEO, our own Julie Smolyansky.
According to the ADL, honorees “embody the spirit and philosophy of ADL through their efforts to improve communication and understanding among the diverse racial, religious and ethnic communities of Chicago.” It was an amazing night honoring women who inspire all of us. We’d like to share Julie’s acceptance speech with you now:
I’d like to thank the entire ADL Family and the nominating committee for their tireless work to end hate in our world. Especially Sonya Jacobs, who has worked so hard on this dinner along with my assistant Megan Starsiak and Lonnie Nasatir, my longtime friend and Director of the ADL. I would also like to congratulate my fellow honorees for being Women of Achievement. I would like to thank my best friend and life partner Jason who has held my hand for the last eight years, and who I lean on for support every day as well as many other wonderful friends who are here supporting me tonight. I would also like to thank the team at Lifeway. I share this award with each and every one of you, and there and are so many of you here tonight.
When Lonnie informed me the nomination committee had chosen me as one of the honorees, I was humbled - both because of the prestigious honorees with whom I am sharing the stage, as well as the fact that this award is coming from an organization that has been fighting bigotry and hatred for 100 years; an organization that means a lot to me personally because I have always believed in advocating for individuals who cannot stand up for themselves.
I would also like to thank and publicly honor the woman to whom I dedicate this award; the woman on whose shoulders I stand, my mother, Ludmila Smolyansky. Mom, please stand up... She is a true woman of achievement. At the age of 26, she and my father risked everything and escaped the Soviet Union in 1976 - with me just an infant - for the promise of a new and better life in America.
My mom taught herself English watching soap operas like General Hospital, Edge of Night and Dynasty. She did not wait for an invitation to lead - she jumped in - and 2 years after settling in Chicago, opened the first Russian Delicatessen on Devon Street.
But more importantly, she modeled what it means to be a woman of achievement for me as she juggled the responsibilities of work during the day and family life at night. She also modeled for me the creative process of risk taking as she expanded her one deli into five, and turned national distribution deals into international importing deals -negotiating exclusively with men - which laid the foundation for our family to ultimately launch Lifeway Foods. So mom, this award is your award.
I also want to remember my father who is no longer with us, but without him as the strongest male figure in my life, pushing education, and if he did not actively point out strong females to me, I really don’t know that I would be standing here tonight. He believed in gender equality, made me realize that I could accomplish anything and taught me to fight for myself.
You see without my dad’s reassurance and support I honestly don’t know that I would have ever had the courage to lead Lifeway after his sudden death when I was just 27. Like my mother, I did not get an invitation to lead. Quitecontrary, what I was told hours after his death was, “There’s no way a 27 year old girl can run a public company” and “You need a CEO with a little gray hair”.But I fought to lead.
Celebrating the success of women, raising them up, providing examples of women who have blazed trails - it is why we gather here tonight. To give examples to the young women and men around the world – if they can see it – they can believe it. Until one day, when we no longer need an event with the title Women of Achievement – we can celebrate gender equality.
I also dedicate this award to 2 little girls who are just starting their journey, my little girls Leah and Misha. Who inspire me and push me and have given me a sense of urgency to keep fighting for rights for women and girls, to fight for a world without hate, and to design the world I want to live in and leave behind for you.
Inequality for women still exists in the United States and injustice toward women exists around the world. While we are fighting to break the glass ceiling here in the US, in countries many countries around the world women are fighting to keep the ground from collapsing beneath them. I will continue to make it my mission to fight for women to have a voice, to help women overseas also have the ability to break the glass ceiling that we have been doing for decades, and to ensure their safety and justice.
At the recent Women in the World conference I just attended, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said, and I quote, “When women participate in the economy, in peace-making and peace-keeping, we all benefit. Giving women and girls a fighting chance isn’t a nice thing to do, it’s a core imperative for every society. This truly is the unfinished business for the 21st century.”
And so I accept this award not for what I have done, but as a challenge to do more. And I hope you can join me.
By LifeWayKefir LifeWayKefir on 4/9/2013 8:22 AM
The following text conversation recently took place between us and some friends:
Us: Where should we go for dinner?
Friends: We don’t care. Seafood? Steak?
Us: How about sushi?
Friends: OK. But we are paleo.
Read More »
By LifeWayKefir LifeWayKefir on 4/5/2013 7:15 AM
If you read our previous post about anxiety-fighting foods featured on The Doctor Oz Show
you may have found yourself wondering how to incorporate more mood-boosting foods into your diet. We’ve packed a whole bunch of featured foods into this Soul Bowl - from GABA-boosting kefir to tryptophan-rich pumpkin seeds and soybeans to Magnesium and Vitamin B6-containing quinoa! Top it with grilled chicken or tofu if you like, or serve it with a side of kefir cornbread
! Makes 4-5 hearty helpings. Kefir Ranch Dressing
(adapted from From the Yellow Kitchen
)Makes 1 cup
- 1 cup Lifeway Lowfat Plain Kefir
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp dried parsley
- ½ tsp dried thyme
- ¼ tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp fresh dill weed, chopped
Whisk ingredients together and refrigerate in a sealed container for at least 1 hour to allow flavors to develop. Quinoa and Soybeans
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled & chopped
- 3/4 cup uncooked quinoa
- 16 oz frozen edamame (soybeans)
- 1 & 1/2 cups vegetable broth
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
- salt & pepper to taste
Heat the oil in a pan over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and sauté until lightly browned (2-3 minutes). Stir in quinoa and edamame and cover with vegetable broth. Add cumin, cayenne, salt and pepper and raise the heat to high until the mixture comes to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook 20 minutes. Steamed Kale
Wash and stem one large bunch of kale. Rip the leaves into bite sized pieces. Pour one inch of water into the bottom of a large soup pot. Place a metal vegetable steamer on top. Place the kale leaves on top, cover, and steam on high heat for about 4 minutes. Remove the cover and test for texture - kale should be slightly wilted, but still somewhat crunchy. If you like your kale slightly softer, keep cooking with the cover off until it’s the texture you like. Other Ingredients
- assorted steamed veggies seasoned to taste (zucchini, broccoli, cauliflower, etc)
- grilled chicken or tofu (optional)
- BBQ sauce
- pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
To assemble, scoop quinoa mixture into the bottom of a deep bowl. Top with steamed kale and any other steamed vegetables you like. You can also add grilled chicken or tofu. Drizzle with kefir ranch and BBQ sauce, sprinkle with pumpkin seeds for crunch and dig in!