Lifeway + Pilot Light: Feeding Minds and Fueling Appetites

The Pilot Light Chefs were back in the classroom earlier this week, bringing their unique nutrition education program and approach to Chicago-area elementary school students at Disney Magnet II.

As proud and enthusiastic sponsor of Pilot Light, members of the Lifeway team were on hand to help with chef-led lessons, serve a tasty and nutritious lunch, and speak with students about their experiences.

Lifeway Kefir Pilot Light Chefs 2016


Lifeway + Pilot Light

Last fall we spoke with Alex DeSorbo-Quinn, Pilot Light’s Executive Director, about Pilot Light’s model, approach and mission.

“We want children to develop an understanding of where their food comes from and how they get it,” said Desorbo. “From there, we want them to consider how their food choices affect their bodies, their communities and their environment. We hope that children will connect with food on a deeper level than they otherwise would, which in turn will allow them to share their experiences with their families and communities.”

Lifeway Kefir Pilot Light Chefs 2016


This week, lessons included: how to write a recipe, popular U.S. dishes by geographic region, and traditional family recipes from around the world. Students sampled a variety of nutritious and delicious foods, including peapods, succotash, kale, wild rice, roasted sweet potatoes, before digging into a healthy, wholesome lunch prepared by the chefs.

Learning Through Food

According to the Pilot Light model records impressively high lesson/information retention among students. They attribute this to the notion that, “by teaching the students their regular lessons through food, they not only came away with a better understanding of classroom lessons but an understanding of food and its relevance to their everyday lives.”

Lifeway Kefir Pilot Light Chefs 2016


While the Pilot Light lessons themselves are fun and informative, our favorite part of the day is and has always been lunchtime! And why wouldn’t it be, when it’s planned and prepared by some of Chicago’s best chefs?

For the “Lunchtime Takeover,” students savored a warm chicken tikka masala-filled “hot pocket” with brown rice, sliced cucumber and carrot sticks. For a tasty surprise dessert, the chefs came up with a DELICIOUS Lifeway Kefir Panna Cotta with raspberry preserves, courtesy of Floriole.

As always, we were honored to be able donate the kefir used in the dessert and offer our continued support of a program that is changing so many lives.

Lifeway Kefir Panna Cotta


The Pilot Light Chefs were happy to supply us with the Kefir Panna Cotta recipe from Monday. We hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

Lifeway Kefir Panna Cotta

Serves 8-10

  • 5 cups Lifeway Whole Milk Plain Kefir
  • 2 envelopes powdered gelatin
  • ½ cup cold water
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • Raspberry preserves and sunflower seeds, as needed

Add the water to a medium mixing bowl and spring the gelatin onto the surface of the water. Allow to stand for 10-15 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine the sugar and heavy whipping cream in a small saucepan. Bring the contents to a simmer over medium heat and stir until the sugar dissolves.

Add the gelatin  to the cream/sugar mix and stir until the gelatin is completely dissolved.

Remove from heat and allow to cool for three to five minutes, or until you can touch it without burning your hand.

Stir in the vanilla extract and the Lifeway Kefir before dividing into 8-10 cups/serving dishes.

Place in the refrigerator and allow to chill for at least four hours before serving.

Serve cold with raspberry preserves and sunflower seeds, as desired.