Hello, my name is Angelika Ilina. Welcome to the Love On The Table® blog! I’m a foodie and a health-conscious eater. Yes, you can be both!
I was born and raised in the former Soviet Union, in Russia and Belarus. Growing up, I ate bread pretty much with every meal. In fact, I remember when I was in kindergarten in the Russian Far East, they once served us watermelon with bread as a snack!
Belarus was also known as the “Potato Republic” in the Soviet Union, similarly to Idaho in the United States. To this day, my grandmother says it’s not a meal if there aren’t any potatoes on the table.
My love relationship with food and cooking goes far back. Both of my grandmothers are great cooks. One of my grandmothers was a cook most of her life. She worked as a cook in my kindergarten. She cooked delicious meals from various Soviet Union republics, both Slavic and Central Asian dishes. She also had a large vegetable garden as well as goats, chickens, and a pig. When I visited her in Siberia in the summers, I helped her weed the garden (which I hated!) and sell her mouthwatering vegetables and berries at a Farmers’ Market.
When I was 13 years old, my family arrived to the United States as political refugees. As a teenager, I helped my parents cook for dinner parties they hosted at our house almost every week. This is how I learned to cook Russian food. I don’t even have recipes; I simply remember quantities, so I actually have to measure things to share those recipes on this blog!
Then in my 20s, I volunteered as an assistant to Chef Instructors at a local cooking school for several years. This is where I learned a lot about cooking, cuisines, knife skills, tips, and tricks.
Needless to say, I love, love food, but I love my health & wellness more. In 2011, I discovered just how much inflammation was created in my body from eating gluten, grains, and sugar. See, ever since I was 12 years old, I had excruciating pain during the first day of my menstrual cycle. When I was in high school, once a month I went to a nurse’s office to get pain killers and then waited for my dad come and pick me up to take me home because I couldn’t function, all while crawling the walls from agonizing pain. And I’m Russian — I’m pain-tolerant!
Doctors told me I had endometriosis, which wasn’t curable. My options were to have a surgical procedure called laparoscopy, which meant make an incision in my stomach, put a camera in, and see how bad it is, then surgically remove endometrial implants. No guarantees, of course, because they would come back one day anyway.
Or I could take hormonal contraceptives, which resulted in giant mood swings. Or hysterectomy with long-term health risks such as an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases and certain metabolic conditions. Lovely. I chose to live with pain and a monthly dose of pain killers.
Then one day, our good friend Rob shared a book with us. It was The Paleo Solution by Robb Wolf. I didn’t even read the book; my husband did. He told me that the concept of eating like our ancestors did made sense, and we should try it.
Mind you, at the time I was a self-described “carb junkie.” We ate bread every day. I had to have a scone once a week. I had a cookbook titled I Could Eat Pasta Every Night. I told my husband that I didn’t know if I could do this diet. I was really doubtful.
Following suggestions in Robb Wolf’s book we tried the Paleo diet for 30 days. It actually wasn’t difficult at all. After 30 days, I had my menstrual cycle and NO PAIN!!! I couldn’t believe it, so I started searching online for answers. Lo and behold, there were all kinds of blog posts of women who cured endometriosis by eliminating gluten, grains, and sugar from their diet, and thus, inflammation!
Not only that, but also:
- I lost weight
- My daily sinus congestion went away
- My adult acne went away
- The daily post-lunch afternoon slump went away
- My circulation improved
- My energy levels improved
- …and a host of other wonderful health benefits.
It goes without saying that I stuck with the Paleo diet, and life was never the same again. Then in 2016 I decided to switch to the Keto (ketogenic) diet after reading The Big Fat Surprise by Nina Teicholz. See, I just couldn’t lose the last few pounds even though I was exercising intensely 3-4 times per week. I was still eating a lot of carbs: Sweet potatoes, bananas, dates, etc. Something had to change.
Then in 2017, I also read The Plant Paradox by Dr. Steven Gundry. It made a lot of sense to me to eat a lectin-free diet, so I am currently on a lectin-free Keto diet. I try to eat within an 8-hour window as much as possible to get the benefits of intermittent fasting, usually between 10:00AM and 6:00PM. I get to eat rich, satisfying foods, which has been working great for me so far.
I’m also a business owner and a traveler, so I’m always busy. Being busy encourages me come up with quick and easy meals; being a foodie ensures the meals are delicious, satisfying, and friends- and family-approved; being health-conscious means all of my recipes are Keto and/or Paleo, lectin-free and/or low-lectin, low-carb, LCHF, sugar-free, and most importantly, guilt-free!
I love to share my recipes and tips with family, friends, and health-conscious foodies everywhere, so this is how the Love On The Table® blog was born. A friend once told me that you can’t call yourself a foodie if you are on a “restrictive diet.” Well, I respectfully and strongly disagree! I’m here to show you how easy, delicious, satisfying, and healthy Keto, Paleo, and lectin-free lifestyle can be. My mission is to change how America eats!
So, if you are busy like me, if you are a foodie like me, if you are a health-conscious eater, or if you just want simple, quick, easy, healthy, and tasty recipes for yourself and your loved ones, this blog was created for you. I have to credit Gary Vaynerchuk for his first bestseller Crush It, which exposed me to the world of blogging. I still have the signed copy. Can you tell I love to read?!
My recipes are also featured on Connie Bennett’s blog. Connie, the Cravings NinjaTM and 1 New Thing a DayTM Founder, is the bestselling author of Sugar Shock and Beyond Sugar Shock.
Plus, watch videos on how to cook delicious, healthy, quick, easy, friends- and family-approved recipes that create satisfying meals for your table, both on my YouTube channel and right here on my blog.