-I’m Chef Alina
Or, should I say, that’s what I’ve answered to the most for the past 18 years. Mom is a close second and before that, I was just Alina or Ali which is still what my friends and family call me.
For the past two decades I have made my living as a professional chef, owning and operating bakeries and restaurants. I have appeared numerous times on Food Network (videos here) and I have been a featured chef at the prestigious James Beard Foundation twice. My greatest joy is sharing my knowledge and passion for all things food both as a mentor and teacher of young chefs and through my website and social media channels.
I’m a firm believer in the power of fitness and whole foods and I am living proof of the difference it can make. Hypothyroid and Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis run on both sides of my family and I have both.
Join me as I share ways to stay healthy in the kitchen, happily give in to indulgence on a regular basis, and live an active, balanced lifestyle!
My Unique Perspective
As a fitness competitor in the early 1990’s I dieted strictly, counting calories and eating enough chicken, broccoli and egg whites to last a lifetime. The list of what I shouldn’t or couldn’t eat was far longer than what I was allowed on a contest diet and I developed an unhealthy guilt and obsession with food. I was working as a fitness instructor and personal trainer, between my own workouts and teaching classes, I was severely over-training. I may have looked good but I certainly wasn’t healthy.
After having my son, and over the years since, I have adopted a diet and developed hundreds of recipes based on the principles my mother taught me (as the saying goes mother knows best), lots of fresh vegetables and fruit, smaller amounts of grass-fed, pasture-raised meat and poultry, seafood, nuts, seeds, healthy fats, and gluten free whole grains in moderation. I guess you could call it “Paleo-ish”. Don’t get me wrong I love my cheese, wine, and chocolate just in limited doses and when I do indulge I make it count. Life is too short for cheap cheese, wine or chocolate!
I give myself (and all of you) full permission to indulge without guilt, just make it count because you can’t get those calories back so if you’re going to indulge make sure it’s delicious, you can pronounce every ingredient in it and you thoroughly enjoy it. Indulge like you mean it!
The crazy thing is that, despite having hypothyroid, at 48 years old I decided to get in the best shape of my life with the goal of entering a fitness competition 20 years after I had retired from the stage. I was determined to prove to myself and other women that it is possible to achieve your fitness goals without extreme deprivation, crazy diets and over training. Not only did I reach my goal of getting into the best shape that I have ever been in, I won my class which earned me my WNBF pro card and an invitation to the world championships. A month later I placed fourth in the world for my class. It is my hope to motivate and inspire others to follow there own fitness journey and to help them achieve their goals no matter how big or how small.
As a professional chef, I have always believed that recipes should be delicious by design and healthy by default. What I mean by this is that I always take flavor, texture, and appearance (we do eat with our eyes first) into account first and then I tackle the nutrition and I never try to force something to be what it cannot be. If you want a piece of deliciously decadent cake then eat a piece of deliciously decadent cake and if you want a super healthy dessert eat a poached pear. Both are delicious in their own way. That being said there are endless possibilities for food that is both delicious and healthy, you need not sacrifice one for the other.