Healthy Holidays with Lifeway Kefir

Lifeway Kefir is helping to keep us healthy this holiday season! Kefir, sometimes called the “champagne of dairy” is a cultured probiotic dairy beverage that’s been around for more than two thousand years. With the consistency of drinkable yogurt and a tart and tangy taste, kefir’s versatility ranges from granola to smoothies, salad dressing, to holiday treats.

Here are the health benefits of kefir plus a delicious recipe for “Strained Kefir with Fresh Pear, Nuts and Seeds,” brought to us by Lifeway Kefir.

  • Kefir contains live and active probiotics, live organisms that provide a myriad of health benefits. Like other fermented foods, including miso, sauerkraut and kimchi, kefir supports a healthy gut, where 70-80% of the cells that make up the immune system are located.
  • Kefir may help to maintain a healthy weight. It is high in protein, which increases satiety and reduces hunger cravings throughout the day.
  • Kefir can improve your skin, as it contains Alpha Hydroxy Acid (AHA), a popular ingredient in skin care products.
  • The live and active probiotic cultures found in kefir may help support healthy digestion.
  • Not all brands of kefir are lactose free, but Lifeway Kefir’s unique fermentation process and specific cultures ensure their kefir is 99% lactose-free. Unlike other dairy products, it is suitable for most people who are lactose intolerant.
  • Kefir can improve mood, as it contains tryptophan, the amino acid that helps raise levels of serotonin in the brain.
  • Kefir supports bone density, as one serving provides 30% of your daily calcium needs.

Strained Kefir with Fresh Pear, Nuts and Seeds by Lifeway Kefir

Kefir_parfait_pear_nuts_fbIngredients:

  • 1 32 oz bottle Lifeway Plain Whole Milk Kefir
  • 1 ripe pear, sliced*
  • 1/4 cup mixed nuts and seeds
  • 1/2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • Ground cinnamon, to taste
  • Ground nutmeg, to taste
  • Honey, to taste
  • Pinch of sea salt

Instructions:

The night before, or up to three days in advance, line a fine mesh strainer with cheese cloth or coffee filters. Rest the strainer over a deep bowl, careful to make sure the bottom doesn’t touch, and pour in the kefir. Cover the bowl and strainer with a lid and place in the refrigerator overnight, or for at least eight hours, to strain. After the kefir has strained, transfer the thick cream to a container with a lid and place in the fridge until ready to use. Discard the liquid whey, or save for use later. You will have 2 – 2 1/2 cups of thick kefir cream. To prepare the pears: clean, slice and remove the core of the pear. Add to a bowl with lemon juice and toss to coat. Sprinkle with a pinch of sea salt, cinnamon and nutmeg.

To serve: add 1/2 – 3/4 cup strained kefir to a bowl or parfait glass. Top with sliced and seasoned pears, nuts and seeds of choice. Drizzle with honey, if desired, and serve cold. Feel free to use sweet or sour apples, plums, bananas or berries – whatever is in season and you have on hand!

One Healthy Breakdown: a super healthy sweet treat – the best of both worlds!

Pumpkin Treats Two Ways

These are hands-down two of the best pumpkin treats everrrrr invented. Pumkins are not only a fall staple for their color and taste, they also deliver a rich dose of antioxidants to boot. You can feel good about making these treats over and over and over again.

Pumpkin Nut Fudge: (vegan, gluten-free, and can be made sugar free)

IMG_3116Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup pureed pumpkin (I like Farmer’s Market organic pumpkin or you can make your own)
  • 1/4 cup cacoa powder (or cocoa powder)
  • 4 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 2 teaspoons pure maple syrup or honey (optional, omit for sugar free recipe)
  • 1/3 cup nut butter of choice (peanut, almond, and sunflower seed all work great)
  • pinch of sea salt

Instructions:

You’ll need two separate bowls to make the layers. For chocolate fudge, combine cacoa powder, 2 tablespoons coconut oil, and 1 teaspoon maple syrup/honey. Melt briefly (microwave for about 20-30 seconds or use stovetop) and stir fudge until consistent. Pour half of fudge on parchment paper in a square pan. Put in freezer or fridge for 5-10 minutes while making pumpkin layer. For pumpkin filling, combine pumpkin with the remaining coconut oil (2 tablespoons) and maple syrup/honey (1 tablespoon.) In a blender or mixer, add nut butter and sea salt and mix until consistent. Spread this layer on top of fudge once it’s solid and freeze or refrigerate another 5-10 minutes. Once pumpkin layer has solidified, add remaining fudge and refrigerate another 10 minutes before cutting and serving.

*option: for a sweeter treat, simply melt chocolate chips and coconut oil for fudge layer. For a less-rich and more “cookie-like” fudge, add almond meal to fudge layer. Recipe adopted from Detoxinista.

Pumpkin Oat Cookies:

cccIngredients:

  • 1 cup pureed pumpkin
  • 1/3 cup oats
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • dash of pumpkin pie spice
  • 2 teaspoons maple syrup or honey
  • 2 tablespoons chocolate chips

Instructions:

Mix or blend all ingredients together, adding chocolate chips last. Scoop spoonfuls of cookie batter onto cookie pan over parchment paper. Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes until outside becomes crispy.

One Healthy Breakdown: you’ll be extra thankful for pumpkin this season after tasting these treats!

 

 

Apple Coconut Crisp

We’re officially kicking off apple season (hooray!) with a treat that’s super delicious and nutritious; apple coconut crisp! Putting a spin (and a dose of healthy fat) on the old favorite with just three simple, healthy ingredients; apples, cinnamon, and coconut. Yes, it’s totally okay to enjoy a serving or two regularly for breakfast, snack, or a healthful dessert!IMG_2659Makes one large serving or two smaller portions:

  • cover a small cookie sheet or pan with wax paper
  • chop two apples and place cubes on cookie sheet
  • sprinkle apples generously with cinnamon
  • bake at 400 degrees for ~10/15 minutes until apples begin to brownIMG_2656
  • sprinkle apples with shredded (unsweetened) coconut and continue to bake another few minutes until coconut browns
  • serve warm or cool

Yum! It’s great as is, but feel free to mix it up. For a satisfying breakfast, add granola, oats, or some nuts. For a creamier dessert, add whipped cream, whipped coconut cream, honey, plain Greek yogurt, (pictured) or even some vanilla ice cream if you’re going all out.

FullSizeRender(40)One Healthy Breakdown: who says healthy eating doesn’t taste amazing??

Healthy Hot Chocolate

Remember when snow days used to be fun? The best snow day memories arguably boil down to one thing: hot chocolate. Well, move over Swiss Miss, because hot chocolate is now delicious AND nutritious. No joke, this one’s full of essential minerals and a trip down snowy memory lane.image(33) Healthy hot chocolate:

Mix 1/2 cup hot water with 1/2 cup warm almond milk, (or milk of choice) 2 teaspoons cacao powder, (raw, organic is best) 1 tablespoon ground coffee, (optional for caffeine boost or mocha flavor) a drop of vanilla extract, and 1 teaspoon stevia (or honey, maple syrup, or sweetener of choice.) Top with frothed milk and cinnamon or dark chocolate chips if you’re going all out. Stir, sip, and smile!

One Healthy Breakdown: you’re welcome.

Lean Green Mean ICE CREAM!

What do we want? ICE CREAM!

When do we want it? EVERY DAY!

image(15)Now we can have the good stuff every day without a care in the world! Here are my two favorite healthy ‘ice cream’ recipes that seem indulgent but are just as nutritious as they are delicious! Just blend the following in a high-speed blender or food processor, dig in, and enjoy! Because a life without ice cream is not a life for me!

Green Banana FroYo:

  • 1.5 frozen bananas
  • 1/3 cup frozen spinach (optional. yes, this will turn your dessert green, but you won’t even taste it!)
  • 1/3 cup almond milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon honey or maple syrup (optional)

Protein Ice Cream:

  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1/3 cup yogurt of choice (Greek for protein, coconut/almond for non-dairy)
  • 1/2 scoop organic protein powder of choice (chocolate or vanilla both work deliciously!) or sub for 2 tablespoons hemp seeds
  • 1/3 cup almond milk
  • 1 tablespoon maca powder (optional)
  • handful of spinach
  • 1 teaspoon honey or maple syrup (optional)

Toppings/Mix-ins:

  • cacoa nibs
  • chia seeds
  • hemp seeds
  • dark chocolate chips
  • nut butter
  • nuts
  • mint leaves
  • berries
  • fruit slices
  • pomegranate seeds
  • shredded coconut
  • healthy cereal
  • dried fruit

SCOOP up the goodness any time of day…yes, you can even have ice cream for breakfast with these healthy recipes!

One Healthy Breakdown: We ALL scream for ice cream!

Carrot Cake Recipe Roundup

MP900049619Mmmmmmmmm, is there anything tastier than a big bite of carrot cake? That sweet and sour combination that basically melts in your mouth? Carrot cake isn’t something we see often, but it’s definitely something to be savored. (pause – if you haven’t yet tried it, drop everything, go directly to The Palm and order the carrot cake and nothing but the carrot cake. You can workout double tomorrow, it’s worth it. Trust me.) Alright, now that we got that out of the way, let’s talk healthy carrot cake that doesn’t mandate a double workout. So, here I bring you the carrot cake recipe roundup. Get your shredder ready, folks, it’s going to be a good Easter.

1. Carrot Cake Muffin Cupcakes: they’re healthy enough for breakfast!

Bran Muffin

Preheat oven to 350. Lightly coat 12 muffin tray with coconut oil.

Mix the following dry ingredients:

  • 2 cups shredded carrots
  • 3/4 cup coconut flour (or flour of choice, can also sub for vanilla protein powder)
  • 1/4 cup shredded (unsweetened) coconut and/or raisins
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 tablespoon stevia/sugar/sweetener
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3 tablespoons chopped toasted walnuts

In separate bowl, combine:

  • 3 eggs (or vegan substitute)
  • 1/4 cup almond milk
  • 1/3 cup Greek yogurt, coconut (non-dairy) yogurt, or applesauce
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Blend all ingredients, combining slowly, until mixture is consistent. Pour into cupcake/muffin holders until about 2/3 full. Bake for 15-20 minutes until solid, but moist. Let cool. Delicious and nutritious enough to be eaten plain, but of course what’s carrot cake without that deliciously rich, tangy frosting?! For the frosting, combine 1 cup plain Greek (coconut, or yogurt of choice) with 1-2 teaspoons maple syrup and a few drops of vanilla extract. Top “muffins” with oats or “cupcakes” with frosting and more nuts or shredded coconut for an extra treat. Devour accordingly!

2. Carrot Cake Pancake for One: The perfect spring breakfast!

photo(167)In a bowl, mix:

  • 1 tablespoon toasted pecans or walnuts
  • 1 large carrot (grated/shredded)
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • sprinkle of pumpkin pie spice
  • dash of nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened shredded coconut.
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Splash of almond milk
  • 1 teaspoon ground flaxseed
  • 1 teaspoon plain Greek or coconut yogurt (or sub with 1/2 mashed banana or 1/3 cup applesauce)
  • 1 teaspoon maple syrup (or sweetener of choice)

Mix well. Grease pan with coconut oil. Pour whole or half of mixture into pan. While waiting to flip, in separate bowl, combine 2 tablespoons plain yogurt of choice with 1 teaspoon maple syrup and dash of cinnamon. Make two smaller pancakes and spread frosting between pancakes as shown or dallop on top of one larger cake. Whatever your heart desires. Pancake should be crispy on the outside, moist on the inside, just the way we like it.

3. Delicously Orange Spring Smoothie:

In blender, combine:

  • 1 large handful romaine lettuce
  • 2 large carrots or 8 baby carrots
  • 1 small piece tumeric (superfood!)
  • 1  frozen banana
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons honey, maple syrup, or 1 teaspoon stevia
  • 1 cup almond milk

One Healthy Breakdown: Tis the season! The carrot season. Live it up.

Santa’s Favorite Peppermint Bark

Who can pass up that minty bark?! Peppermint bark is definitely an indulgence to be enjoyed this time of year. That combo of rich chocolate and mint is enough to spread holiday cheer in one little bite. After all, there’s no better way to eat a candy cane than with a side of chocolate!

MP900382936

Here’s a healthier upgrade for a homemade peppermint bark that’s sure to please anyone from your kitchen to the North Pole and back!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of quality dark chocolate, chocolate chips, or carob chips
  • 1/4 cup cacoa powder or cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon almond milk or water
  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 drops of pure peppermint extract
  • 4 peppermint candy canes or 20 peppermint candies – crushed into small pieces

Instructions:

Cover a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Combine all ingredients except for candy canes in a bowl. Transfer mixture to a sauce pan to melt on low heat (or in microwave.) Stir until consistent and let cool for just a few minutes before adding half of candy canes. Spread evenly on wax paper. Add remaining candy canes on top of chocolate sheet and freeze for at least two hours. Once completely solid, remove from freezer and break into pieces. Eat, gift, and smile.

One Healthy Breakdown: just as delicious (and way more nutritious!) than store-bought bark!

World Peace Cookies

Cookies Fresh Out of the OvenWhat could be better than a cookie recipe entitled “World Peace?” A chocolate cookie recipe titled “World Peace,” that’s what! These cookies are sweet enough for any holiday occasion without going overboard on sugar…the perfectly peaceful combination you can feel good indulging in!

Ingredients:

  • 1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour (or half whole wheat flour)
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 stick plus 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • ¼ cup sugar of choice
  • ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 5 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped into chips, or ¾ cup bittersweet mini chocolate chips

1. Sift flour, cocoa and baking soda together.

2. Working with a stand or handheld mixer in a large bowl, beat butter on medium speed until soft and creamy. Add both sugars, salt and vanilla and beat for two more minutes.

3. Turn off mixer. Pour in dry ingredients and pulse mixer at low speed for a few seconds, about five times. Mix for about 30 seconds more, just until all flour is incorporated. Add chocolate pieces or chips and mix only to incorporate. (Dough should be worked as little as possible for best texture.)

4. Turn dough our onto a work surface, gather together and divide in half. Working with one half at a time, shape dough into logs and 1 ½ inches in diameter. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least three hours (or up to three days).

5. To bake: Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 325 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats.

6. Using a sharp, thin knife, slice the logs into rounds that are ½ inch thick. Arrange on the baking sheets, leaving about one inch between them.

7. Bake the cookies one sheet at a time for 12 minutes (they won’t look done, nor will they be firm, but that’s as they should be). Transfer the baking sheet to a cooling rack and let rest until only just warm, then carefully remove the cookies to a rack to cool completely. Store in airtight cookie tin.

One Healthy Breakdown: these cookies are sure to create some peace and quiet in your house this holiday season, enjoy!

Recipe submitted by Emily Herrick, adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking From My Home to Yours

Healthy Pumpkin Pie

This healthy pumpkin pie recipe is delicious, vegan, and gluten-free!

pumpkpieCrust:

  • 1 cup oats
  • 2 cups raw pecans
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 3 tbsp flax
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ cup brown rice syrup
  • 1 tbsp Earth Balance (or preferred butter/margarine/oil, melted)
  1. Preheat oven to 350F
  2. Grease a 9 inch pie pan
  3. Process oats into a fine powder using a food processor or blender (or you can just buy oat flour!) and set aside
  4. Put the pecans in the food processor and process until it starts to clump and oils are released (around 45 seconds), when finished you should be able to make a ball with the pecans
  5. Melt Earth Balance and brown rice syrup in the microwave for 30sec.
  6. Mix all ingredients in a large bowl (it’s easiest to do this part by hand)
  7. Put the pecan dough in the pie dish and spread out evenly, bringing it up the sides to make a crust. Press down firmly
  8. Poke the crust with a fork a few times
  9. Pre-bake the crust for 10-12 minutes, watching to make sure it doesn’t burn.
  10. Let cool for 10 minutes.

Filling:

  • 2 ¼ cups canned pumpkin
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup coconut cream
  • 1 tbsp Earth Balance (or preferred butter/margarine/oil)
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • 3 tbsp brown rice flour (or tapioca flour or cornstarch or arrowroot powder)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp nutmeg
  • 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice (or more to taste)
  1. Whisk together the maple syrup and brown rice flour.
  2. Add all ingredients and whisk together
  3. Scoop the filling into the crust
  4. Cover the pie with aluminum foil
  5. Bake for 50-55 minutes at 350F
  6. Let cool for 1 hour on the counter
  7. Place in the fridge for a minimum of 3 hours (I’ve found its best the longer you wait, even a few days later, so you can prepare this early for Thanksgiving to relieve some of the cooking stress!)
  8. Slice and serve!! For some added deliciousness, serve with some homemade coconut whipped cream!
  9. Serve and enjoy with family!

One Healthy Breakdown: Better than your average pie and much healthier too!

(Recipe slightly adapted from Oh She Glows)

*About Josie: I’m originally from Sag Harbor and I’m currently a student at Boston University working towards becoming a registered dietician and getting my Masters in Nutrition. I’ve been gluten-free for almost 2 years and vegan for a little over a year. My family is having a completely vegan, gluten-free Thanksgiving this year! I’ve been testing out new recipes to serve and this one was a real hit with my roommates (so hopefully it will be a hit with my family too!)

Holiday Flavored Smoothies

With the holidays just around the corner, incorporating some sweet seasonal deliciousness into your green smoothie is a great way to stay on track and taste the holidays in the healthiest way. Try these pumpkin pie, chocolate peppermint, and gingerbread smoothie recipes this season!

SONY DSC

Pumpkin Pie Smoothie:

Blend 1 whole head of romaine lettuce, 1/3 cup pumpkin puree, 1 large carrot, 1/3 cup cold cooked cauliflower, (optional, for creaminess) 1 scoop vanilla or pumpkin spice protein powder (Tone it Up sells this!) OR 1/3 cup yogurt of choice, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice, dash of tumeric, 2 dates, and 1/2 cup almond milk. Top with granola or shredded coconut and be thankful for this healthy version of pie in a cup!

peppermint

Chocolate Peppermint Smoothie:

Blend 1-2 large handfuls spinach, 1/3 frozen banana, 1 piece ginger root,  2 teaspoons cacao powder, 6 fresh mint leaves, 1 teaspoon maca powder, (optional) 1 scoop chocolate protein powder, and a drop of natural peppermint extract with 1/2 cup coconut water. Sip with a smile! Much healthier than peppermint bark or Thin Mint cookies, but that same minty flavor!

gingerbreadcookies

Gingerbread Smoothie:

Blend 1 frozen banana, 2 heaping tablespoons oats, 1 piece fresh ginger, 1 scoop vanilla protein powder, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1 teaspoon maple syrup or honey, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, dash of cloves, a dash of nutmeg, and dash of sea salt with 3/4 cup almond milk. Yum, yum!

One Healthy Breakdown: Eat (or drink) your way through the holidays with healthy smoothies!