The Lifeway Story – The Lifeway Foods story begins in 1986 with kefir, a milk-based cultured drink that is popular in Eastern Europe and is said to be more nutritional than yogurt.  Today, Lifeway is the country’s leading manufacturer of kefir, with multiple flavors and varieties that include lowfat, whole milk and organic versions as well as a children’s line, and a provider of other probiotic natural and organic dairy products for health-conscious consumers.

lifeway kefir

Here is my take on Lifeway Low-fat Kefir’s!

My REALLY general review: Flavor-wise is a hit or miss. Most of the flavors aren’t especially strong in flavor …and don’t go looking for any fruit bits. My favorite is the peach and probably least favorite the pomegranate . Consistency-wise, the kefir is very milky, smooth and creamy smoothie-like drink. Think: in between milk and regular yogurt. Nutritionally, they are rather high in calories for a drink, but the fact that there are probiotics is definitely a plus! I have noticed improvements in regularity by incorporating the drink into my daily diet. (Is that too much information?)

Here are the ingredients to all the low-fat kefirs. The only difference between all of them is what juice concentrate is used in the mixture.

INGREDIENTS: Cultured Pasteurized Lowfat Milk, Nonfat Milk, Organic Cane Juice, XXX Juice Concentrate, Natural Flavors, Inulin (a natural dietary fiber), Red Beet Juice For Color, Vit A Palmitate, Vit D 3

Stats per cup: 160 Calories, 2g fat (1.5g saturated fat), 10mg cholesterol, 125mg sodium, 25g carbs, 3g fiber, 21g sugars, 11g protein

lifeway kefir 2

What is Kefir?Kefir is prepared by culturing fresh milk, water, or other non-dairy substitutes (with some adjustments) with kefir grains, which are basically clumps of bacteria that have been proven to be beneficial to the human digestive system. The end product is a creamy, slightly sour, refreshing milky beverage that is filled with these ‘friendly bacteria’. The fermentation process only takes about 24 hours at room temperature and does not involve many of the sterilization techniques that go along with many other cultured products, such as yogurt.”

Benefits of Kefir:

  • Known to be an effective immune stimulant and antimicrobial against a wide variety of harmful gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria.
  • Kefir has been used to treat metabolic disorders, atherosclerosis, allergic disease, tuberculosis, cancer and other gastrointestinal disorders

Lovely RD Emily recently discussed what Pro and Prebiotics do for your health! Here is a short excerpt, but check out her post here.

  • Probiotics increase the number of good bacteria and inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria  in the intestine.  They may help the immune system and assist in maintaining barrier function.
  • Prebiotics promote the growth of good bacteria in the intestinal tract and may enhance the effect of probiotic bacteria; may also increase the absorption of certain minerals (such as calcium and magnesium) and may help reduce risk factors related to colorectal diseases.

1) Low-fat Peach Kefir

Pictured kefir is the top orange -colored layer of the parfait below.

Nutridel Parfait

Tastiness: 8/10. This was a very light, refreshing flavor that definitely reminded me of eating peach yogurt! It also went very well whatever cereal I ate it with… the Nutridel flax cookie tasted amazingly delicious in this!

2) Low-fat Blueberry Kefir

Kefir eaten as a cold soup topped with  mini vanilla meringues (courtesy of Trader Joe’s)

Lifeway blueberry kefir

Tastiness: 6/10. I was disappointed with this flavor. Not only was the liquid hardly “blue” (yes I like my blueberry drinks blue, and not the kind from chemicals), but there was hardly any blueberry flavor. The liquid was a good balance between sweet and tart, the liquid itself was very smooth and runny. To my further disappointment, it did not contain any blueberry bits. The blueberry kefir definitely didn’t taste bad, and I would even consider it good if only I didn’t know it was meant to be blueberry flavored! *sigh* This formula needs some readjustment.

3) Low-fat Strawberry Kefir

Kefir eaten as the topping over kashi heart to heart warm cinnamon cereal & strawberry special K.

Strawberry kefir with cereal

Tastiness: 8/10. It’s hard to mess up strawberry, and thankfully this was quite a good flavor. The kefir flavors are well-balanced between tart and sweet, and there is unmistakable strawberry flavor (unlike the blueberry.) However, because strawberry is such a classic, I do wish the kefir had a stronger authentic strawberry fruit flavor.

4) Low-fat Pomegranate Kefir

Tastiness: 4/10. I can only compare this to POM juice (which tastes like grape juice to me with a slightly bitter aftertaste) and fresh pomegranate seeds (which are just delicious)…and unfortunately I have to say that this kefir flavor did not resemble any of those two. The flavor honestly tasted like sweeter plain yogurt to me with a minor bitter aftertaste (like POM juice). Not an exciting or delicious flavor at all.

5) Low-fat RaspberryKefir

Tastiness: 7/10. This had good “berry flavor” – though more like mixed berries than plain raspberry, but like most of the other flavors, true fruit flavor is lacking. As expected, it’s quite similar in flavor to the strawberry.

6) Low-fat Strawberry Banana Kefir

Kefir eaten as topping over plain yogurt and topped with Kashi Go Lean & Homemade Granola

Strawberry banana kefir with granolaTastiness: 8/10. There is a slight hint of banana (not overwhelming, otherwise I would have not liked it very much) and highly strawberry-like…though you have to get over the fact that it is technically strawberry flavoring. Not the real stuff.

Michelle’s Overall Suggestions: I love the consistency and health benefits of kefir, but I definitely think that buying a non-fat plain flavor would not only save you calories, but give you flexibility to add in your own flavors and mix-ins! However, if you’re short on time and you like fruit-flavor, the organic non-fat peach or strawberry kefir would be my recommendation.

Store Price: $3.49 per bottle at my local Dominick’s store (Chicago)

My price: Complimentary from Lifeway representative Erin