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Kefir Kommunity

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Welcome to Kefir Kommunity! This is your one-stop-shop for nutrition news from around the blogosphere. If it’s got to do with kefir or probiotics, chances are, it’s here. But you’ll also find cutting edge information, articles and links to stories about all things health – from workout trends to cool food science research, delicious recipe suggestions to expert Q & As. We love to share our passion for what we do with the best customers in the world, while offering you exclusive info on special events, deals, promotions and all sorts of other happenings at Lifeway HQ and beyond. We encourage  you to tap into the power of Kefir Kommunity’s blog by reaching out to us or fellow kefir fans with comments or questions. So make yourself at home, pull up a chair and stay a while. We promise to treat you right. 
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Saturday Nut Fever

By LifeWayKefir LifeWayKefir on 11/9/2014 8:37 AM
 
Peanuts are like the superheroes of the snack world. At first glance they look so small and unassuming, but inside they hold secret superpowers, including:
 
  • They transform before your very eyes, from a handful of nuts to creamy or chunky peanut butter
  • They fight health crimes such as heart disease and Type-2 Diabetes
  • They save the day when you’re starving and can’t possibly wait another hour for lunch
  • Additionally, they’re packed with protein and healthy fats, are naturally gluten free, and are an important (and yummy) part of the all-important plant-based diet

Why are we gushing about these little nuts? Because November is National Peanut Butter Lover’s Month. And baby, we're lovers, not fighters. To celebrate, we’ve cultivated a handful of nutty facts*along with a few recipes so you can celebrate in sticky style:
 
  • It takes about 540 peanuts to make a 12-ounce jar of peanut butter
  • Four of the top 10 candy bars manufactured in the USA contain peanuts or peanut butter
  • The average child will eat 1,500 PB & J sandwiches before high school graduation
  • Mr. Ed “talked” on TV thanks to peanut butter; he was fed the sticky spread that created a natural talking motion as he moved his tongue and jaws
  • Six U.S. cities are named Peanut: Peanut, California; Lower Peanut, Pennsylvania; Upper Peanut, Pennsylvania; Peanut, Pennsylvania; Peanut, Tennessee; and Peanut West Virginia
  • Goober—a nickname for peanuts—comes from “nguba,” the Congo language name for peanut
  • When making Girl ScoutsDo-Si-Dos, peanut butter cream is deposited onto the cookies at the rate of 2,800 cookies per minute
 
What better way to celebrate this fantastic month than with peanut butter kefir recipes, right? Below are two of my favorite: Peanut Butter & Kefir Dip with Apple Slices, and the ever delicious (and appropriate) Peanut Butter and Jelly Kefir Smoothie.
 
The easiest peanut recipe simply calls for you to open a jar of peanuts, shake some out and toss ‘em back. But those things are addictive, so it’s easy to OD on them. A one-ounce serving (you know, one serving) is a small handful – about 40 peanuts or 2 Tbsp of peanut butter. If portion control is tricky for you but you still want to enjoy the taste and health benefits, you’d be nuts not to try these recipes.
 
Peanut Butter & Kefir Dip with Apple Slices

2 Tbsp natural peanut butter
¾ cup Lifeway Greek Style Kefir
1 Tbsp honey
1 tsp vanilla extract
¼ tsp cinnamon
1 apple, sliced

In a small microwave safe bowl, melt the peanut butter for about 20 seconds. Once melted, stir in the kefir, honey, vanilla, and cinnamon until smooth. Wash and slice the apple into pieces. Snack away!
 

 
Peanut Butter & Jelly Kefir Smoothie
 
1 Lifeway Goo Berry Pie Frozen Kefir Probug Pop
2 Tbsp peanut butter (or any nut or seed butter)
½ c Lifeway Lowfat Blueberry Kefir
½ banana, frozen
Heaping ½ cup raspberries
2 ice cubes
 
Place all ingredients together in a blender and blend until smooth. Enjoy!
 

 

*Courtesy of the National Peanut Board.

Julie Smolyansky – YWCA Outstanding Leader in Global Citizenship

By LifeWayKefir LifeWayKefir on 11/7/2014 11:45 AM
 
On October 31, Lifeway CEO Julie Smolyansky was recognized by the YWCA Metropolitan Chicago as an Outstanding Leader at their 42nd annual Leader Luncheon titled, “Local Women. Global Impact.” Specifically, Julie was named the Outstanding Leader in Global Citizenship, thanks to her philanthropic work and dedication to advancing the cause of girls and women around the world.
 

According to Karen Tulloch (YWCA Board President) and Dorri McWhorter (YWCA Chief Executive Officer), the mission of the YWCA is to eliminate racism and empower women in the Chicago area and throughout the world. The honorees of the event, including Julie, are concrete examples of how passion and career can be used to transform the lives of women everywhere.

Christy Turlington Burns, founder of the women’s health advocacy non-profit Every Mother Counts, introduced Julie with the following video:
 

"The fight for women's rights is everywhere. It is global, and we must scale it," Julie said during her acceptance speech. We couldn’t agree more, or be more proud to call her our leader.
 
I

On a lighter note, no luncheon would be complete without an appearance by Lifeway kefir, and the culinary team for the event certainly didn’t disappoint. They served an incredible dessert – milk chocolate tart with Italian meringue, roasted peaches, pistachio anglaise and candied pistachios – that was made with our scrumptious Lifeway Peach Kefir. Hello, yum!

Kefir for Kids

By LifeWayKefir LifeWayKefir on 11/4/2014 7:37 PM

We’re always talking about the incredible health benefits of our kefir has for adults (not to mention how good it is), but it’s also great for kids! It’s true – kefir can (and should) be fed to your children (under the right circumstances, of course). After all, everyone appreciates a happy tummy, right?


Though it’s not discussed enough in our opinion, a healthy digestive system is crucial for childhood development. But with all of the artificial “foods” available today, on top of marketing, TV and general confusion, it can be hard to find snacks that both parent and child can agree on. That’s why we developed a special line of products developed just for kids called ProBugs!


Probugs and Frozen ProBugs are Lifeway’s 99 percent lactose-free, gluten-free and synthetic hormone-free kefir drinks designed specifically for small tummies and taste buds. Made with organic whole milk kefir, they’re high in healthy fat, protein, calcium, vitamin D and contain 10 live and active probiotic cultures. Designed just for kids with exciting characters, delicious flavors and small hand-friendly pouches, they’re perfect for an afternoon snack, in lunch boxes, on long car rides, and more! Find you favorite flavor here.

Still not convinced? Check out the following Lifeway Probugs Kefir provides children – we’re sure you’ll change your mind:

Probiotics

Kids need probiotics just as much as adults do to maintain healthy tummies, but getting them to eat many cultured foods (such as kimchi, sauerkraut or miso) can be a challenge. Giving your child a Probugs pouch is an easy way to add healthy, cultured foods to their diet in the form of a treat.

Fat

Healthy fats are essential to proper cognitive development, digestion and overall health. Lifeway Probugs kefir is make with organic whole milk that hasn’t been treated with hormones, pesticides or antibiotics. It’s natural, healthy fat.

Calcium

One serving of Lifeway Probugs Kefir contains 10-15 percent of the daily recommended value of calcium for a child. Calcium is important for building strong bones (we know how accident-prone children can be…) and assists in weight management.

Protein

Protein is essential for a body to rebuild, maintain and replace body tissue – muscles, organs and, you guessed it, your immune system. As children grow rapidly, it’s important to consistently supply them with complete proteins. One serving of Probugs Blasts contains five grams of protein!

Bonus
: Probiotics May Help Infantile Colic

There are loads of reasons to include probiotic-rich kefir in your child’s diet and we’ll be sharing more over the coming weeks. In the mean time, what’s your favorite way to enjoy kefir? Comment below!

Spicy Chocolate Halloween Kefir Tart

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
 
Ingredients

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
2 eggs
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)
 
Directions

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.

Candy Corn Kefir Smoothie Revisited + Whipped Coconut Cream

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

Serves 2-3

1 cup Lifeway Lowfat Plain Kefir
½ cup orange juice
1 large banana, frozen
½ cup pineapple chunks, frozen
1 cup mango pieces, frozen
½ cup carrot juice

Directions:

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 Lowfat Peach Kefir. If you’d like a slightly sweeter taste, use that in place of the plain kefir.

Revisiting Red Rum Cupcakes: A Halloween Treat

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!

Ingredients:

3/4 cup Lifeway Organic Plain Lowfat Kefir(vanilla would also be nice here)
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)
 
Directions

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!

Notes:

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!

Breast Health Education with Bright Pink

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), consider Bright Pink. It’s a donation you can feel good about and will certainly go a long way toward providing bright futures for women everywhere.

Be sure to follow Bright Pink on Twitter (@BeBrightPink) and Facebook.


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. 

Celebrate United Nations Day!

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.

Food Day is Here!

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 »

Celebrate Chicago Food Day with Lifeway Kefir

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

Daley Plaza

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

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