Good Morning! I hope your weekend has been a pleasant and enjoyable one, thus far. Now that the weather is beginning to turn warmer and humid at times (yesterday was one of the first humid days of the season, here in suburban Pennsylvania!), I find myself spending more time outdoors and will often crave something cool, creamy and refreshing. With that being said, yogurt has always been one of my staples, as a go-to snack and light meal of choice, excellent when enjoyed on its own, or paired with something like cereal, granola, or fresh fruit. However, enjoying the same yogurts over and over can be redundant, boring and quite frankly, lacking when it comes to variety.
Therefore, I was recently presented with the unique and exciting opportunity to sample and review a newer kind of delicacy (at least to me!) packed with protein, nutrition, flavor and uniqueness! The new find I speak of is Kefir, an equally enjoyable counterpart and alternative to yogurt, available in numerous forms, such as drinkable versions, frozen options, squeezable tubes, Farmer Cheese, and beyond! As a versatile option, the possibilities with Kefir are endless and the health benefits extend well beyond that of similar foods, providing consumers with a product that is easy to enjoy and nourishes the mind and body.
By now, you may be wondering, what exactly is Kefir, anyway? Well, more on that in a minute! There are numerous companies which produce Kefir, though one company in particular, who supplied me with a vast array of Kefir varieties to sample – Lifeway Kefir (lifewaykefir.com), is now the largest Kefir manufacturer within the United States!
Lifeway Kefir History: (via lifewaykefir.com)
- Originated in 1986, when Michael Smolyansky began making kefir his basement at home in Skokie, Illinois. Eager to publicly share and promote kefir, within two years, he publicized the company and is now the largest Kefir manufacturer within the US, as previously stated.
- Family Driven – Lifeway Kefir prides itself in promoting family, as founder Michael, passed along the torch of company ownership in 2002 to his children, Julie and Edward, serving as President/CEO and Chief Operating Officer, respectively.
- Lifeway Kefir is based in the Chicago, Illinois area and even has the Lifeway Kefir Shop, a chain of Frozen Kefir cafes within the Chicago metro area!
Lifeway Kefir Mission: (via lifewaykefir.com) Commited to four ideals –
- All Natural and Hormone-Free Ingredients
- Environmental Responsbility – Lifeway Kefir offers and promotes BPA-Free packaging, recycling and renewable energy.
- Local Farming Sustainability
Lifeway Kefir Social Media, Website and Newsletter: Connect and keep in touch with Kefir and the latest happenings by choosing to follow, like, share and subscribe to their various social media channels, newsletter, blog and website –
- Lifeway Kefir Blog – Lifeway offers a blog on their official website (lifewaykefir.org), updated weekly with pertinent and helpful health and nutrition articles.
- Facebook – Follow and like Lifeway Kefir on their official Facebook page (Facebook.com/lifewaykefir
- Twitter – Follow Lifeway Kefir on their official Twitter page (@lifeway_kefir)
- Pinterest – Follow and pin with Lifeway Kefir on their official Pinterest page (@lifewaykefir)
- Instagram – Follow Lifeway Kefir and be delighted in their photos and posts on their official Instagram page (@lifewaykefir)
Lifeway Kefir Product Offerings: The product line up is vast and comprehensive and includes the following –
- Low Fat (in 15 flavors)
- Seasonal Flavors (5 flavors)
- Perfect 12 Kefir (4 flavors)
- Protein (4 flavors)
- Nonfat (5 flavors)
- BioKefir (3 flavors)
- Traditional (9 flavors)
- Kefir with Oats (3 flavors)
- Organic Low-Fat (7 flavors)
- Organic Whole Milk (6 flavors)
- Organic Helios (7 flavors)
ProBugs (for kids):
- ProBugs Squeezable Pouches (5 flavors)
- ProBugs Bites (3 flavors)
- ProBugs Blast (4 flavors)
- Frozen ProBugs (3 flavors)
- Frozen Kefir Bars (3 flavors)
- ProBugs Frozen Kefir (3 flavors)
- Frozen Kefir Pints (4 flavors)
Kefir Cups (individual cups with a spoon attached!):
- Kefir Cups (4 flavors)
- Organic Kefir Cups (7 flavors)
- Farmer Cheese Cups (6 flavors)
- Organic Farmer Cheese Cups (5 flavors)
- Farmer Cheese (3 flavors)
Supplements: (Coming soon!)
- Probiotic Supplements (3 flavors)
- Probiotic Chewables
What IS Kefir?
- According to the official Lifeway Kefir website, Kefir is described as a tart and tangy cultured milk smoothie offering an abundance of nutrition, such as great sources of protein, calcium and vitamin D, which are all critical components to a healthy diet and regimen. Healthy and with a taste comparable to both Greek yogurt and cottage cheese (in my opinion), Kefir supplies tang, creaminess and a rich texture and is an excellent protein source, along with other vitamins and minerals.
- Kefir orginated over 2000 years ago, in Caucasus Mountains.
What’s IN Kefir?
- 15-20 billion colony forming units (CFU), which are live and active Kefir cultures.
- All products are naturally gluten-free, certified by Gluten-Free Certification Organization.
- Natural Flavors = free of any artificial ingredients/preservatives, Lifeway Kefir products are all made with fruit juices, fruit essences and essential oils. The hints of sweetness in certain Lifeway products are strictly derived from the fruits themselves (as detailed via LifewayKefir.com)
- Milk = Milk is the essential ingredient in Lifeway products. The milk within Lifeway products hails from small co-op and family farms from within the Midwestern portion of the United States. Therefore, consumers can feel confident knowing the milk producing Lifeway Kefir is free of any synthetic hormones and antibiotics, rBGH and rBST.
Health Benefits of Kefir: Lifeway Kefir fully stands by their beliefs that Kefir supplies a vast array of health benefits which includes the following –
- Probiotics – Live microorganisms which aid in digestion and immunity.
- Immunity – Nearly 70-80% of one’s immune system is located in the digestive track and the probiotics within Kefir contributes to maintaining immunity.
- Healthy Weight – As a rich protein source, Kefir helps keep one fuller and guards against pesky hunger and cravings.
- Skin – Nourishing not only your internal body, Kefir contains Alpha Hydroxy Acid (AHA) often found in skin care products. Therefore, Kefir can assist in promoting healthy, glowing skin.
- Digestion – Given the probiotics, Kefir has the ability to support and promote optimal digestion.
- Protein Source – Kefir is a quick, easy and tasty way to take in 11 grams of protein in an 8 oz serving!
- Lactose Digestion – Fear not, those of you who may be lactose intolerant, Kefir is lactose-intolerant friendly, as it is 99% lactose-free due to Kefir‘s fermentation process and cultures.
- Mood – When it comes to Kefir, feel good not only physically, but also mentally/emotionally, as Kefir is a source of tryptophan, an amino acid naturally increasing the brain’s serotonin, a neurotransmitter affecting mood balance and regulation.
- Bone Density – Help keep your bones strong and in good form with Kefir, as it provides 30% of one’s daily calcium needs in a serving!
Unique Kefir Facts:
- Cook/Bake with Kefir – Kefir can be used commonly as a replacement for buttermilk, sour cream, yogurt and mayo! Check out the official Lifeway Kefir website (via lifewaykefir.com) for their recipe page to help get you started!
- Safe for Pregnant/Nursing Women and Children – Lifeway Kefir even offers a line designed for children by the name of ProBugs and Frozen Kefir options!
Now that you’re familiar with Kefir in general and Lifeway Kefir, as a company, it’s time to share what I received from Lifeway Kefir and offer my perspective and experience with Lifeway Kefir products!
What I Received:
- Birthday Cake Low-Fat Kefir
- Madagascar Vanilla Low-Fat Kefir
- Apple Pear Cobbler Perfect 12 Kefir
- Nonfat Plain Kefir
- Plan Lowfat Kefir
- Kefir Cup with Granola
- Organic Kefir Cup with Orange Vanilla
- Natural Kefir Cup
- Organic Natural Kefir Cup
- Natural Farmer Cheese Cup
- Black Cherry Farmer Cheese Cup
- Organic Natural Farmer Cheese Cup
- Organic Peach Farmer Cheese Cup
Upon the arrival of the large and generous shipment from Lifeway Kefir, I was excited, eager and delighted to sample all of these innovative and healthy products! As a vegetarian, it is a goal of mine to be able to take in adequate protein and with Lifeway Kefir products, I was convinced it would be easy task!
First up, I opted to try the Birthday Cake Low-Fat Kefir! Just hearing the phrase – Birthday Cake associated with any type of food product is inviting and appealing to me! I even figured it would be appropriate, given my actual birthday is this Wednesday! The taste was a unique one and reminiscent of vanilla cake frosting/batter! Immediately upon taking the first sip, I was greeted by a taste that reminded me of Funfetti cake mix! The texture was full-bodied, creamy and rich, with just the right amount of thickness to feel satiating. After trying several other Kefir products, I consider this my favorite one of the bunch!
The next trial was Apple Pear Cobbler Perfect 12 Kefir, which has hints of sweet apple and creamy, sweet pear with notes of a tart and tang. It was refreshing and the notes of apple and pear complemented the overall texture and flavor.
In the realm of Kefir Cups, I was pleasantly surprised to see that a spoon is tucked in the clear lid of each, which is convenient and functional, great for enjoying it on the go, or at any time! It is a generous serving packed inside each Kefir Cup and is thick and rich, providing a similar tang noted in the Kefir smoothie/drinks. The granola mix-in in the one variety provides a sweet oaty crunch for a balance of texture. It is a great alternative to Greek yogurt and is equally healthy and nutritious!
Unique and new to me are the Kefir Farmer Cheese varieties. As a fan of cottage cheese, I was eager to try this new offering and loved the thick, rich texture. It is chunky and filling, packed with protein and is great on its own, or with fruit mixed in and even can be enjoyed savory as a dip, perhaps mixing in favorite herbs, spices or chopped veggies! In my mind, it could even be used as a topping for bagels, toast, and beyond!
Overall, it was an incredible and exciting experience to have the unique opportunity to sample and review Lifeway Kefir products! In my mind, they are a commendable and admirable company, truly dedicated to community, facilitating partnerships and producing healthy foods to nourish all! There is truly an offering for everyone when it comes to Lifeway Kefir products.
Many, many sincere thanks to Erika and the entire team at Lifeway Kefir for their generosity and kindness in providing me with these products to sample and review; it was a true honor and one I greatly appreciate!