Kefir! What is it and why is everyone talking about it?

Kefir! What is it and why is everyone talking about it?

Since I started to study nutrition, I have been introduced to the world of prebiotics and probiotics. Quite frankly, I had no idea about it! I had no idea that there are millions of bacteria in the stomach that interact directly with the digestive and immune system. What?! How did I miss something this important all these years of my life? When I was first introduced to prebiotics and probiotics at the start of last semester, everyone else in my class seemed to have heard about them or the benefits of consuming them on a regular basis. I quickly learned that although I had never used the term "probiotic" before, there were a variety of different foods I was already eating in my diet that contained "pre" and "pro" biotics. Some of these foods are: yogurt, kimchi (two things I love dearly), sour cream, sauerkraut and miso soup. I then started to hear about all the other great fermented foods that I have never heard of, such as kambutcha and kefir. Before we go any further lets talk about what kefir is.

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Quitting Sugar 2016 + Tasty Zucchini Spaghetti Recipe

Quitting Sugar 2016 + Tasty Zucchini Spaghetti Recipe It’s the time of year again to re-motivate ourselves, stick to our goals and improve our lives. It’s a great time to make new health goals and start fresh, especially after all those Christmas treats over the holidays. I’m not going to lie; my new year’s resolutions usually go something like this: lose 30lbs, floss my teeth more and be happier. Easier said than done hey? Sure, there is nothing wrong with having those intentions, but if you don’t have a good plan, support system and good reasons behind doing them, they will likely only last a few weeks.

How to achieve healthy goals:

  1. Make a plan. What are you going to do each day, week and month to reach your yearly goals for 2016? I am a visual person so I like to write it out on a note book or make a spreadsheet on the computer. Whatever works best for you, just make sure you get it in writing with details of how you will reach your goals. Remember to periodically check up on how you are doing and make adjustments if needed.
  1. Have a good reason. If your goal is to lose weight or be healthier in 2016 but you have no desire to stop eating the bad treats you love or to work out, it’s going to be hard to reach your goal. Sit down and figure out what the root (motivation) is behind your goal. Once you have a good reason, you can recall that reason when you are discouraged or when you falter. This will help you stay motivated to reach your goal.
  1. Support System. Tell someone about your goals; a family member, a friend, or social media. Besides yourself, let someone keep an eye on your progress. You need to be held responsible for your actions and trust me, it is way easier if you have a support group helping and cheering for your success when you are struggling.

I decided to not put a weight loss number on my health goal this year. I instead picked one bad habit I wanted to eliminate in order to improve my overall health. My goal this year is to cut out all refined sugar from my diet. Some people think that it is a little bit extreme, but after making a plan, talking it over with my support system, and doing a little research to understand the limitless health benefits, I am excited and determined to keep this goal for all of 2016. Other goals I have I won’t discuss today, but the same method of setting goals applies regardless of whether you have 1 or 10 goals. Don’t overwhelm yourself. Make sure to focus on just a few goals for the best results.

My reasons for quitting sugar in 2016:

  • I’ll think more clearly and have more energy  (that will help me, especially with my studying).
  • Reduce blood sugar problems including; fatigue, irritability, dizziness, insomnia, poor concentration, forgetfulness and digestive problems.
  • Improve my overall health and nutrient stores (sugar uses up your body’s stores of vitamins and minerals while providing you with next to none! Talk about an unfair relationship).
  • Increase the functioning of my brain (high sugar consumption is linked to mental health and has been related to a lower I.Q. of 25 points).
  • Improve my mood (sugar is related to aggressive behavior, anxiety, hyperactivity and attention deficit, depression, eating disorders, PMS, and learning difficulties)

(Information found in Patrick Holford’s book, “New Optimum Nutrition for The Mind”. Chapter 10 pg. 87-88)

Tasty Zucchini Spaghetti

I first had this at my sister in law's (Anona) house. It was so tasty that I asked my husband to buy me the Veggetti to make my own. Today I decided to make this recipe myself for the first time.

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Step 1. Wash and grate (using the Veggetti) zucchini into thin veggie noodles.

Step 2. Mince garlic and cook with olive oil on medium heat until slightly brown.

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Step 3. Add diced tomatoes and cook for 2-3 minutes.

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Step 4. Add a few tablespoons of pesto and mix until even.

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Step 5. Add the zucchini

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Step 6. Combine together and let cook until the zucchini is soft.

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Step 7. Enjoy!

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Happy Friday!

Viktoria <3

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15 Practical Grocery Store Tips

I've been realizing that healthy choices don't necessarily have to be a HUGE change from what we are used to. If we can simply make a few minor adjustments while at the grocery store, that can make a big difference.


Healthy eating is hard to start all at once and rarely will it stick, unless it has become a lifestyle. Today I wanted to make a few easy suggestions for some healthier alternatives and simple changes you can make, starting in the grocery store. Start by cutting down on processed, refined, high fat, and high sodium choices in your diet. WARNING: All choices are examples. I did not try to down grade or promote any of the brands in the pictures, they were simply to make a comparison.

1. Bananas vs. Bananas

Next time your are about to buy a huge bag of Marshmallow Bananas, reach for some fresh fruit instead! It is cheaper, contains more vitamins and nutrients, WAY less sugar, and no artificial coloring.

2. Peanut butter vs Peanut butter

So this here is a little secret I learned. I always knew that peanut butter wasn't very good for you. I've heard of people making his or her own peanut butter but I never got around to it. I was recently introduced to "Nuts to You Nut Butter Inc." It is SO yummy! If you don't like peanuts, they have lots of different flavors: almond butter, hazel nut, etc.. It's a little more expensive but I know you can buy them in packs at Costco to save a little bit of money.

3. Potato vs Potato

For obvious reasons its better for you to eat potatos rather than potato chips, BUT if you are craving potato chips why not make your own? There are plenty of recipes out there for homemade oven baked chips. That way you can determine the amount of salt and what kinds of oils are being used.

4. Soysauce vs Soysauce

THIS IS AMAZING! Okay, so get this. Regular Soy Sauce has 38% sodium, Reduced Soy Sauce has 24% sodium, and COCONUT AMINOS tastes just like soy sauce but only has 5% sodium! Best kept secret I'd say. You can find it at most health food stores or most local grocery markets.

5. Rice vs. Rice

Rice Krispies are good... white rice is better... but whole grain brown wild rice is best! :)

6. Oil vs. Oil

Similarities: both are white and solid at room temperature. Coconut oil has become very popular lately and for good reason! It is a healthier alternative to the traditional fats we have been cooking with for years. Try replacing your cooking oils with coconut oil. Your food will taste better and be healthier for you. It can also be used as an alternative for face wash! See for more healthy facts.

7. Hot drink vs Hot drink

Fall is here and winter is on its way! When you are curling up in a blanket with a warm cup of hot chocolate, pick a seasonal tea instead! Peppermint is my personal favorite, but there are a variety of holiday spice teas you can find. You will still get the same warming effect without all the sugar and calories in hot chocolate.

8. Syrup vs. Syrup

Is there really that big of a difference between pancake syrup and maple syrup? Some people argue that a sugar is a sugar; however, I personally believe that the less ingredients the better. High fructose corn syrup is used in most pancake syrups.   No matter what kind of maple syrup you buy, it is organic. That means that there hasn't been any additional additives added. When you leave maple syrup out on the counter, mold will start to grow.

9. Dairy snack vs Dairy snack

Greek Yogurt is a great alternative for your dairy cravings. I personally LOVE the coconut Greek yogurt. As you can see in the nutritional fact comparison, your body will like you better if you decide not to put all those fats and calories in your body. BUT if you need a frozen sweet treat (not just a yogurt to cut your cravings or maybe you have an intolerance to dairy) try some homemade NICE CREAM.

10. Popcorn vs Popcorn

Instead of your microwave or movie popcorn, try air popped for a lighter snack for your movie night. You control the amount of toppings, as well as the portion sizes.

11. Bread vs. Bread

Try to switch from white processed flour to whole wheat or grain breads. The more complex carbs you eat the better your fiber intake. You will improve your digestive track and avoid those spikes in blood sugars from eating carbs that dissolved quickly into your blood stream. On the "Glycemic Index for Food," white bread rates at 95, whole wheat bread rates at 71, and homemade whole grain bread rates 51.

12. Sweetener vs Sweetener

I have been trying to switch from using white refined sugar in my baking to honey. It is probably one of the best decisions I've made! I feel better and have less cravings for refined sugar. Honey is sweet but I don't need very much of it to get the effect I desire. I also use it in my oatmeal & peppermint tea. On the topic of sweeteners, I would try to stay as close to natural products as you can. For example, if you are going to use a low calorie sweetener, stick to stevia (which is a herb that is a strong natural sweeter with no calories).

13. Juice vs Juice

Make sure you READ the labels on the products your are buying. There are differences between "Made from concentrate" and "100% pure." If you are not sure, read the ingredients!! They will be a big indicator of whether what you are drinking is natural or not.

14. Fruit snacks vs Fruit Snacks

Although Elsa and Anna are super awesome, these fruit flavored snacks are definitely not as good for your kids as dried fruit snacks. Be careful, even with dried fruit, because they are very high in concentrated sugars. Fresh or frozen is always best for sure. There are often other chemicals used in the drying of store bought fruit that you can avoid by making your own fruit snacks at home! A few weeks ago I posted an easy recipe for home-made fruit roll ups.

15. Granola bar vs Granola Bar

Who doesn't love the traditional chocolate-covered Dipps Granola bars? Yes, those on the bottom are homemade, healthier granola bars (and might I add, Adrian approved)! Since I still don't have many of my own recipes, I used this really great one by minimalistbaker. I made a batch last night and they turned out AMAZING! So Tasty.

A few more tips to making healthier choices:

  • Do not shop while you are hungry! You will be influenced more easily by your cravings and may pop open a bag of chips and have them finished before even getting to the check out.
  • For the most part, stay out of the middle lanes in the grocery store! Usually around the outside of the market is where you will find most of your fresh fruits and veggies, wholegrain breads, fresh fish and meats, dairy, and usually frozen produce. Once you start making your way through the middle aisles you tend to find more processed refined packaged food. That being said, there are still some great middle isles (ie: spices and international foods are my two favorite).
  • By cutting out the more processed, chemical, refined, artificially colored, high fat, high sodium, and artificially sweetened foods, you will notice many benefits such as: increased energy, weight loss, reduced sugar cravings, less mood swings, better sleep, healthier gut bacteria, better digestion, lower blood pressure and blood sugar levels, improved mood and attitude, better skin, better hair, better nails, and better overall long term health.

“Today, more than 95% of all chronic disease is caused by food choice, toxic food ingredients, nutritional deficiencies and lack of physical exercise.” ~Mike Adams


Food for thought. See you next week! 

<3 Viktoria 

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