Olena’s Story Olena’s Story
December 30, 2019
by Olena

Olena’s Story


And welcome to iFOODreal.

My name is Olena Osipov. I’m a mom to 2 boys and a wife to Alex. And this is our healthy family recipes blog.

I grew up in Ukraine on real food. As an adult, I tried many diets without results. Now for over 10 years, I cook quick and easy healthy meals for my family. Many recipes are inspired by my Ukrainian heritage. I can help you with “What’s for dinner?” too.

I now live on magic Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada. On that below.

olena osipov in her studio

In 2012 I ended up at home with 2 small kids, unemployed and a wee bit chubby. I started this blog thanks to Alex’s mad web design skills and in hopes to be able to work from home. Fast forward to 2019, I never could have imagined iFOODreal would grow into a business it is today! More on that below.

My food philosophy in short is – I don’t believe in diets (including Whole30 and Paleo – yes, those are diets!). That’s me, yay, and I’m brave enough to say it because that’s how I feel and because I tried them.

Diets ruin healthy relationship with food because they are unsustainable in long-term and short-term is not the solution. But you decide for yourself.

Nor do I think we were born to eat. This website reflects my healthy relationship with food to which took a while to arrive via diets.

healthy turkey burger

What You Will Find Here

  • Easy healthy recipes with simple ingredients.
  • I share mostly dinners because “What’s for Dinner?” is never going away.
  • I recently got obsessed with zero pre-cooking healthy freezer meals.
  • I do quite like my Instant Pot. Honestly – obsessed! See next bullet point…
  • Instant Pot video recipes on our Youtube channel – Thanks to my husband, Alex. And me. 🙂
  • Nutritional information with every recipe as a guideline – I don’t count calories.

More importantly, I want to be upfront about my understanding of “family friendly” recipes. My kids eat almost everything thanks to my authority as a parent. Raised in Europe, I do believe that North American diet is out of control, especially kids’. Mainly thanks to adults. What every kid eats is completely up to his/her parent – 5 ways to make kids eat healthy.

So, there is that. Can we be friends?

olena osipov and her family

A Little More About Us

In my “previous life” I received a Business degree, had a short career in accounting, and then a bit longer career in real estate.

In “a life even before that” I was raised by a single mom and grandma in Kiev, Ukraine until I came to Canada at the age of 19. We had little (very little) but we ate way healthier than majority of North America eats now with access to real food. That’s why I’m so passionate about reducing food waste and eliminating food snobbism as a whole.

That’s why I believe anyone can eat healthy! I believe anyone can find money for a bag of potatoes, a head of cabbage and chicken soup bones. I believe anyone can learn to cook, even the ones who don’t like it. Cooking is a life skill, not a choice. Eating healthy is all about choices. Anyone makes that decision every day with every $ they spent.

Our Home and Business

In 2018 we took a leap of faith, sold our Vancouver suburban home and purchased an oceanfront fixer-upper on Vancouver Island.

It is a true diamond in the rough and needs about 2 years of “polishing” a.k.a patience and money. But it’s OK. My over an acre backyard backs onto Pacific ocean.

It is a dream!

ifoodreal studio

Above the garage we just finished iFOODreal studio. It is my office and that’s where I test and cook recipes for the blog. From here we will be giving a breath of fresh air into our Youtube channel => Subscribe. You can read all about our renovation process and virtually visit the studio here.

Studio was one of the main reasons why we moved from mainland to the island. To be able to have a separate space for our business. To have that line between life and work. Balance. And it has been one of the best decisions ever! Tearful, sweaty and painful but it is worth 100% to follow your dreams. Life is truly short and I know I’m too young to say that. But remember, I’m from Ukraine.:)

You can listen to my full interview on Dreaming Big with Bjork Ostrom of Food Blogger Pro.

Featured In:

It is always exciting to see my recipes featured by other publications.

Thank you so much for sharing!

Comments and Stay in Touch

I reply to every single comment on the blog. Or send me an email. You gotta be nice though. 🙂

I delete without reading and do not engage with negative, rude and inappropriate comments. We have a software installed that automatically detects and deletes negativity. You will be wasting your time if you are planning to unload your bad day or life on me. Life is too short and that is why I live on the island. 🙂

I welcome constructive criticism. Before you leave a comment, please re-read it and if it sounds like something you would be OK to hear, then hit “Post Comment”. I am a human just like you.

Also, I currently don’t work with brands but thank you for thinking of me.:)


Olena Osipov

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463 comments on “Olena’s Story

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  1. Bonjour,

    I have been looking your blog for about a week now and I have to tell you that I LOVE IT! Recipes are easy and don’t require stuff that I never heard of! I too gained 55 lbs during pregnancy and working hard to loose that! Have to say love that you live in Canada, that simplifes ingredients/measurements and all! And you use sirop d’érable!!!!!!!! Finally I can mix flavor, good sugar and fun at the same time! Never stop doing what you do because you really make a difference in many home kitchen! Trust me, I recommend your website to EVERYONE! Thank you, thank you and a thousand times thank you!

    Maude, Robert et Constance!

    1. Hi Maude. Awe, thank you so much! You are very welcome!!! I won’t stop.:) Life is too short to eat crap and yet too short to diet. People ought to know that so we will keep fighting Skippy PB and Fruit Loops.

  2. I am just starting on the quest of “clean eating.” I’ve been doing cross fit for a while, but have not lost a lot. I like you am not eating fast food, but I got plantar fasciitis last year and it caused me to gain 25 pounds. I was not active and all i did was eat. I’m looking forward to making the garlic chicken and corn. I’ll let you know how it goes.

    1. Hi Amanda. Sorry to hear that.:( I learnt it is mostly about food. You can work out like crazy but food gotta be right to see results. I used to eat way more protein and was leaner. Now with more healthy but carbs I have gained weight but still look proportionate. Just more meat on me. And I work out but can’t get to super lean because of food. But I don’t want to eat too much protein because it is unhealthy.

  3. Hello Olena, my niece’s name was Elena but she was Irish and Greek mostly. I’m trying to get healthier, but it’s challenging at my age of fifty eight and living with chronic pain for over ten years . But hoping if I lose weight maybe it might help my pain. So I’m going to try some of your recipes hoping my husband will like them, he’s a diabetic, and so will I. I’m a creator of habit with my cooking so it will be a challenge for me, but it’s time for my husband and I both. Looking forward to trying you recipes. Thanks for giving me a ray of hope!

    1. Hi Trish. Elena is Greek goddess’s name I believe. In Russian, my full name is Elena, short Lena and in Ukrainian it is Olena.:)
      I won’t lie that any habits are harder to break as we get older. BUT it is a habit that still can be changed at any age, especially if you are in pain.
      One of my readers, Kit, has done just that. She is in her 60s. Look around my posts for her comments (she writes a lot which makes me love her even more) where she shares her experience. She was very sick. Now she eats very healthy.
      Good luck!

  4. Hi Olena, just came to your blog today from a link from BudgetBytes for your Thai Sweet Chili Sauce. Maple syrup is my sweetener of choice, so was thrilled to see your recipe and will be making it soon! Was reading through the comments to this post and noticed that you asked why someone would choose a gluten-free diet. I eat gluten-free, not because I have an intolerance to gluten, but because my doctor suggested that going to a gluten-free diet might alleviate some of the inflammation/pain I was experiencing due to an orthopedic issue. I’ve since had surgery and no longer have any pain associated with that condition; however I have chosen to continue eating gluten-free because it just makes my digestive system feel better. And I feel good too, because I know that I’m eating healthier, even though not totally organic or clean-eating, because most of my food is fresh and not refined or processed. I have absolutely no desire or cravings to return to a diet that includes gluten. Hope this makes sense! And now I’ll be checking out other posts on your blog!

    1. Hi Georgia! Congratulations on your recovery and choosing to eat clean. That is awesome!:) You will love this sauce!
      Over the years I have learnt that everybody has their own understanding of eating healthy. For me gluten is not a culprit but rather conventionally raised and processed food is a big NO. So you can eat gluten and not eat gluten, it also matters what else you eat that makes you healthy or unhealthy. The bottom line is it is not gluten, meat, dairy etc. that are absolute evils. It is a combination of various factors. I question why would someone eat gluten free without medical condition. I am not from here, I am from Europe where food is taken by people absolutely differently than in North America. And Europe is much healthier. That is why you won’t see me going gluten free, paleo, vegan etc.

      1. I completely agree with you. I also do not understand how people can think that just eating gluten-free is healthier. When I started on my new “diet”, I compared a lot of the processed foods that are “gluten-free” and found that actually they can contain more calories and fat plus unhealthy chemical ingredients. That is why I concentrate on eating fresh and clean whenever possible and even though I have no medical reasons to continue on a gluten-free diet, I’m used to eating that way and so that’s my personal choice. Avoiding gluten doesn’t automatically make my diet healthy, it’s avoiding foods (with out without gluten) that are unhealthy that make me feel my diet is healthy. By the way – I worked at a university with a graduate student named Olena – but she went by the name of Helen. She was from Ukraine. You are not her, are you???

        1. That is correct. A few generations of North Americans are SO confused what to eat as a result of marketing. It is all about money here and everyone is trying to make a few bucks anywhere they can. So, if people go for fads why not throw more of them at them and make more $$$?! And people go for it because human nature is lazy! Sad truth. I’m not sure it will get better to be honest. I do feel terrified who my healthy children will marry and how healthy their kids will be. Sometimes I question whether living in America is better health wise to be honest. But where to go??? Yes we have more than we need but look how many people are sick and dying?!
          I used to go by Helen when I first moved here. I went to university but was undergrad.

          1. Olena, I just made your Thai Sweet Chili Sauce and licked the pan! It’s delicious! I will be making a simple stir fry of chicken, cabbage, carrots and onion and serving rice on the side. Will drizzle the sauce on top. Kind of like an unstuffed eggroll 🙂 Thanks for the recipe!

          2. See, awesome!!! I like your dinner. This is how we eat too. It is a balance of lots of veggies, healthy fats and a bit of meat and seafood. If you eat like that naturally you do not eat much gluten. The gluten problem comes from processed crap mostly. So, eating whole wheat pizza or wrap I wouldn’t say no. My men eat way more bread than me because they are men and still there are no issues. However, I have to say if we eat out and I eat for example non organic wrap or pasta I DO feel a bit of bloating. But at home with organic stuff I don’t. I just thought to add to our conversation.:)

  5. Hi, Olena! I’m Oksana, and I’m from Ukraine as well, so I just couldn’t walk by without saying hi, found out we’re fellow countrywomen 😉
    I’ve just cooked cauliflower based pizza following your recipe, and it tasted amazing! Thanks for that. I’m also into clean and healthy eating and can’t understand HOW I haven’t come across your blog earlier… Anyway, now I’ll be your frequent visitor.
    Have a nice day 🙂

    1. Hi Oksana. Awe, you are welcome. Well there are so many blogs right now, it is easy to get lost. I checked out your blog and it looks lovely.:) I admire your writing ,especially in Russian.;)

  6. I just want you to know how much I appreciate and love your blog and recipes. I found your blog and delicious recipes on pinterest over the summer and have been hooked ever since. I too started my kids early eating healthy and am proud to say that there are not many vegetables that they won’t eat. My family loves your recipes. Keep up the good work and I will continue to scour your blog for new and exciting recipes to try on my willing family.

    1. Awe, thank you! Merry Christmas, Elizabeth!!! Now I’m pumped to keep producing.:) Definitely starting kids early in veggies is a huge advantage. I honestly do not know how to switch them later. I mean I do not have advice in that since my kids pretty much anything. Lately even stuffed eggplant was a hit!!!

  7. Olena, thank you for your great recipes! I just made the cauliflower pizza crust today and I immediately had to make another one because my boys finished it and demanded more! My younger son is gluten free, so this was great! Also, both my grandparents are from Odessa and immigrated as children to Brooklyn.

    1. Awesome, Randi! Yes I make two at a time otherwise it is not enough. I wonder if you grandparents were Jewish?! There was a lot of Russian speaking Jews in Odessa back then. Not many Ukrainians, more Russians and Jews. My husband is Jewish with a Russian last name.

  8. Hi Olena! I just wanted to say that reading your “about” page really touched me! Thanks for being so real! I just found your site but am thankful that you have nutrition info on your recipe so please keep that up! I have tried one and will try more and possibly buy your book. Thanks for your hard work!
    Blessed in all you do!

  9. Dear Oleana, You might be a minority as you said, yet I truly think that lots of people would prefer to consume organic foods only if only the cost of both basic ingredients like veggies and fruits and condiments etc’ would be lower or cheaper and if other ingredients from around the world, like whole fat coconut milk or young coonut etc’ would be available everywhere around the world all year round (for a reasonable price). The reality is not like that and people who consume organic food whether in the U.S where I used to live or in Israel where I live now and I am sure it is mostly the same every where around the world, are people who make a very good living and they can certainly afford those high cost foods.
    Indeed many people would suffice with ready made foods, but many others could only dream to consume some organic items and integrate them in their daily diet as I have been trying doing.

    Anyway, thank you for your recipes, I will look into them and I will also appreciate if you could develop some that do not include sugars like honey, maple syrop and similar ingredients only, but maybe you could also give sweetener alternatives like stevia powder, coconut sugar, Agave syrop, etc’.

    Thank you for your time and for sharing your experience and flavors. Oree.

    1. Hi Oree. Yes, I mean people who can afford food. In fact, once you stop buying processed food and stick only to real food eating organic IS NOT much more expensive in North America for sure. That is such a huge misconception that drives me crazy in conversations with friends. I do not mean to buy frozen organic pizza that costs an arm and a leg. Instead, I mean have boiled potatoes with kale salad and avocado for dinner. Takes 30 minutes to make. Majority of people just don’t care, could care less to find out more about food they eat or what harm to the environment they do by buying GMOS and processed food. That is until they get sick and if they are smart enough not to jump onto unnecessary pills and find excuses. Our society is so screwed up these days mostly thankfully to huge money making corporations and human nature – laziness. Life is too easy and comfortable, don’t have to hunt and fish for fish with a stick. Plus GMOs make food so cheap. Blunt but it is true.
      Agave used to be known good for you until recently it has been declared as bad as high fructose corn syrup. 100% pure maple syrup and raw honey are MUCH healthier and better for us. Coconut sugar is OK too but still honey rules. So, I recommend to stick to those.

      1. Hi, Olena, I am so happy to have found your website. I love the Overnight Mango Chia seeds Pudding! I try to eat mostly vegetarian foods and I try to avoid dairy products from cow’s milk, I also try to avoid sugary foods, so this makes it very difficult for me to find any good deserts! This one is perfect for me, as I always have a big jar of chia seeds at home and I love mango and coconut milk. By the way, I was born in Russia but lived in the US for almost 25 years, and I have a 14 year old daughter who I adopted from Ukraine back in 2011 (she was 10 years old then).
        It is funny because my daughter used to be “meat and potato” person and used to love sugary foods and she thought that my food was weird and won’t even touch it, but now she has changed her eating habits and she is cooking delicious foods for me sometimes. She just recently made the best vegetarian Ukrainian borsh (борщ) I have ever tasted. Thank you again for your blog and your recipes! Lana

        1. Hi Lana. Oh, then you eat like me.:) I bake with honey and maple syrup but mostly for my boys.
          Ukrainian girls are amazing in the kitchen, I know LOL. That is so wonderful what you did! I have seen Ukrainian foster homes and it is so sad…You gave her a big chance in life! I was lucky to immigrate as a teenager and feel like I have won a lottery and a second chance in life. Blessings to you and your family!!!

  10. I just discovered your blog and have already added a couple recipes to my files to make very soon. I am a mature woman of 60, have raised 4 children and never carried extra weight until I hit menopause. Now I am looking for ways to shed pounds and I have already removed all while products from my pantry, cook all my own foods and desserts, use only coconut sugar but not all my purchases are organic. We live on a very small budget so I buy the best I can with my what I have. I need more exercise, but you have given me hope that more effort on my part will help me rid the muffin top I carry around now. Thanks

    1. Hi Shelly! Koodos to you for raising 4 kids! But organic as much as you can. Or Non GMO Project verified at least. Also buy organic produce on Dirty Dozen list and save money on Clean Fifteen. Just do your best. Google those lists, I’m on my phone so hard to insert links. Also limited sugar, clean eating and moderate exercise will keep you in shape. I feel extra sugar right away lol. Good luck and let me know recipes you try!!!

  11. I’m cracking up, Olena! You are too darn cute. I’m 59, raised two daughters and one daughter has twins in the hopper! I just discovered you through Yummly and your chia pudding. I agree with everything you have to say about eating habits. I already eat pretty much as you suggest but still carry 10lbs more than I’d like, which arrived after menopause as with Shelly above. I look forward to reading your blog and trying your recipes. I love your attitude! I have the same feelings about exercise. I have a gym membership with mold on it. I’m an outdoor gal with a horse and a mule and my husband and golf. I’ll look at your suggested DVDs for home workouts.
    You look absolutely awesome! Thank you for sharing your lovely family as well! Happy cooking!

    1. Hi Lisa! Thank you! Hormones are responsible for so many functions in our body. Your attitude is absolutely spot on. America is so hung up on gyms and exercises, how boring! Just get outdoors, get moving, enjoy it and stop eating crap! The last 10 lbs are the hardest and usually it’s too much sugar and not enough vegetables.:) I’m sure you can do it. I yo-yo sometimes too, even with honey and maple syrup extra lbs can add up fast. I love to work out in my clean home when I feel like it. Good luck with your grand babies, tell your kids to eat like you and raise healthy children! Let me know which recipes you try.:) P.S. You originally left me a comment on my old About Me page I have removed now but you can see the list of DVDs there if you would like.

  12. Hello!

    I am from Germany. I am interested in Clean Eating, because I love food, I love to cook and after gaining some weight in the last years (because I am an emotional eater when I am stressed) I decided that I want to start over again with good food. In the last days I tried three of your recipies and it was very delicious, easy to cook and my husband was very happy about the good tasting food. I really like your website and I am looking forward to try more of your tipps and recipies! Greetings from Germany 🙂 Severine

  13. Olena! Oh girl, I feel you about this weight gain post pregnancy. I am a few months short of a year since I gave birth and haven’t made much progress in the weight loss department. But this mean sweet tooth awoke after birth that I’ve never seen the likes of. So I am trying to tackle that issue and get back into the healthy, organic, natural choices that I know and have made in the past.

    I, too, need to loose 20 pounds or so and I start my Walking for Losers on Monday (going to rain next few days and I’ll be walking with the baby) so I am hoping with that and some of your yum recipes I can fit into the bags of clothes that lay around useless at the moment.

    I love your creativity, your meticulous lay out of the site, and the seemingly beautiful ebooks. It truly shows you love what you do here and I look forward (with your permission, of course) to sharing you with my readers. I have a feeling they will love you as much as I do.

    1. Thank you so much! If you are breastfeeding sweet tooth is normal. But overall exercise and more importantly whole foods is the key to weight loss. Sugar is number one enemy!!! I would be honoured if you shared my ️recipes! More healthy people is good for all of us!!!

  14. Your site is very inspiring…I am a culinary arts graduate and have been “rewriting” my collection of recipes to use whole grains (that I mill at home) no refined sugar, no unhealthy fats and oil, etc. Looking forward to trying out some of your recipes!

  15. Hi Olena!
    It’s funny how things work. I’m just about to start on a weight loss plan and I literally stumbled onto your blog through Pinterest! I love your sincerity and your story! I’m sure your recipes will help me (: Thank you!

  16. Olena, I stumbled upon your site looking for a good chia pudding site, and couldn’t believe when I saw your photo! Do you remember me from eva.ru forum? Lena from Colorado :). You look amazing, and I’ll give your recipe a try. Hope everyone is well!

    1. OMG, this is unbelievable!!! Of course I do! Funny enough I was thinking about you the other day LOL. I will drop you an email.:) I still can’t believe it…What a small world. Thank you, Pinterest!

  17. Absolutely love your site. Especially am appreciative of all the advice for new bloggers. THANK YOU. THANK YOU!!… I too am from Ukraine and starting in the world of blogging..:)