Valeria | Beets & Bones Blog

My name is Valeria, I was born and raised in Russia. When I moved to the States 15 years ago I was enamored by the supermarkets and the bounty of colorful things they contained, crunchy, sweet, ready from frozen in three minutes and under one roof. I had never seen fruit that bright and bread that stayed fresh for weeks.. That was so cool for a girl that had to go to several places to get a dinner ready – meat market, bread store, vegetable market. With no fast food whatsoever, if we wanted to eat – we had to cook.

What a difference – now I could spend no time on meals and be able to just sit around and snack from all the pretty boxes I could get my hands on… So why after a few years didn’t it feel right? Something always hurt and this tiredness would not go away. Why would I feel anything but great if my mid twenties and why was my cholesterol so high?Β  I started reading all the ‘healthy’ stuff out there and following the experts’ advice about limiting fat intake and increasing whole grains. In three month on low fat/high grain diet my cholesterol skyrocketed so that I was put on statin. Always tired, plus bad migraines.

I stopped statin after getting married. After my second daughter was born, I came across Dr. Davis’ book ‘The Wheat Belly‘ and decided to try going wheat free for a bit. In three months, my cholesterol went down to an in-range value, and migraines gone, which made me question every health advice I got to that point. I didn’t enjoy some of the effects that wheat-free diet brought on, even with all the positives. So I decided to eat what feels right to me, using ingredients that don’t come with labels, not follow any diets and put behind the American ‘always in a hurry, whip up something quick’ mantra. I started cooking, every single day, preparing foods the way my grandma and her grandma did, and enjoying everything in moderation. I eat grains, soaked, fermented and sprouted, that I prepare at home. I choose organic any time possible, but think that’s not a good way to gauge the quality of food because the organic industry is not properly regulated to keep away those who want to profit from the trusting consumers. I prefer small local farmers who really care about food they grow.

In my posts, I often reference scientific studies and research, but my position is that most of the food related science is controversial because it comes from a socio-cultural vacuum. There are always agendas, ulterior motives and potential influences that a mindful reader should be aware of, from large corporate interests in food processing to so called natural manufacturers. My point here is: don’t trust everything you read, on this blog or anywhere else; if something is advertised to be a miracle cure – it definitely isn’t. Trust your common sense, make good food from real ingredients that don’t have labels telling you that they are healthy.

I started this blog to share my experience and my recipes, a lot of which draw from my Russian heritage. Hope you enjoy it!



  1. Great website, didn’t know you had this, we’re going to try some of your recipes.

  2. WOW , just found you through instagram, what a beautiful site you have created. I love it. Well done. Your photos are stunning. So gorgeous and clear! I love them

  3. Hi Valerie,

    You better “know” me as @malissajane through Instagram. As I lay here next to my little girl napping, I have poured over all your recipes. Im in awe. Truly. Only today did I actually read your ‘about’ section and now understand your own personal diet trajectory. I have to say that I am currently having an internal conflict that seems to be guiding me in the same direction that you went in a while back. Now, after following a Paleo diet for some time, I am not feeling very energetic and have started to question the Paleo approach…as well as other diets that are selling you a healthier lifestyle by giving up an entire food group. I too would like to follow your lead and let my ancestors and my intuition guide me. I feel inspired by your recipes and your knowledge and I hope to incorporate many of your recipes into my family meals. Hopefully you don’t mind my asking questions along the way. Thanks for sharing with us! ☺️

    • Hi honey, thank you for the kind words! I think sometimes we get so influenced by people who relay their message in a strong way, whether it’s Paleo, or veganism, or anything else, that we forget to listen to our bodies. I used to feel guilty when I started eating grains again after complete elimination for quite some time. Until I realized that it’s what’s right for me. And now, as long as I make my food at home and know what went into it – things are just where they belong. I’m 34 weeks pregnant right now with my third and only gained 20 pounds, as opposed to over 30 with the first two.. and I cook and eat a lot!!! πŸ™‚

  4. Thank you so much for being you.
    I have learnt more about traditional Russian food in the last hour on your website than I have in 8 months on Russian pages dedicated to soviet cooking.
    You are indeed a gift : )

  5. Very cool website! I had been gravitating to this type of diet for years after going through a similar period of feeling horrible when I was early 20’s after trying the popular (healthy low fat high healthy carb diet which we were all taught in school.. I now am starting to seriously think its a warped myth perpetuated by greed.

    It seems to feel great and stay healthy you need to ignore what everyone is taught and go for the stuff our great grandmothers made. (Probably a reason I remember my great grandma almost living to 100 and jogging at 90!..yes she jogged every morning.. and she was 90!)

    I still have to try the beet kvass.. I am already swimming in sauerkraut.. after that I should be able to make Borscht legitimately. Thanks for the authentic recipes!!

  6. Thank you so much for your gorgeous, detailed and well-written site. It’s extraordinarily educational – I also have stopped following diets and simply listen to what keeps me full and calm and energetic. It’s a work in progress, but I feel happy when I prepare my foods myself. Thanks for writing this!

  7. Your story is very inspiring and in some ways similar to my own. For the last year I have also started to prepare all my own food at home with locally sourced ingredients. My health has improved tremendously and I feel great. The only downside is that I get so much grief from my fiancΓ© and his family and friends who are convinced that anything with animal fat is bad. I just wish this knowledge would become more mainstream. Keep up the good work!

  8. I just stumbled upon your site and am in LOVE! What beautiful food, philosophy, and photos! I will bookmark, and reference, and be inspired!!

  9. Hi Valeria,
    I just made your beet gazpacho recipe and loved it. Thank you.

  10. I;m so glad to see another blog following traditional wisdom. Man is still not smart-enough to outsmart nature – even with our new-fangled inventions of industrialization and commercialization. I suspect we will never be stronger than nature. We just need to eat what what already exists because it is in harmony with our physiology.

  11. Thanks. You recipe for ryazhenka was the best I found.

  12. Irena Morgan

    Hello, Valeria! I have been checking on your blog almost every week because I bake exclusively with einkorn as well. My name is Irena and I am Bulgarian. I moved to the US 10 years ago. We have one son, Ioan, who was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes a year and a half ago. The shock that you have to check your child’s blood sugar 4 times a day and give him insulin injections 4-5 times a day was intensified by the blood sugar spikes. I quickly found out that regular wheat bread causes spikes and started researching low carb bread. I quickly discovered that they all taste like cardboard though. Then a friend of mine told me about einkorn and we gave it a try. He had no blood sugar spikes when he ate einkorn bread because of its low glycemic index. The whole family switched to einkorn and I have become quite the baker in the last year. I have used two of your recipes – the moist chocolate muffins and the blueberry muffins with ricotta. Thank you for posting them. They turned out really well!!! Keep on posting your creations because they are successful and greatly appreciated! I want to mention one more benefit of einkorn – I lost 15 pounds after we switched to einkorn, I feel more energetic and my stomach functions much better than before. Einkorn is truly a gift for us! I also share your passion for yogurt. I have grown up in Bulgaria where people put yogurt in everything – soups, cakes, sauces, etc. My fridge always has at least one jar of Bulgarian yogurt. I have my eye on the raspberry cheese cake recipe and the pumpkin pie one on your log. I will try one of them for my husband’s names day. Thank you again for posting your wonderful recipes for all of us to enjoy! Spasibo!

  13. Robert Bayliss

    I am very, very happy to receive your blog posts. I fell in love with your type of cooking from my Ukrainian ex-wife. All my friends who try my Beet Kvass love it. Several of the ingredients you post in your recipes are not available to me, like oats to sprout so I will try the steel-cut variety. On another note, when making Beet Kvass, I start with only a little water and add some each time I stir until I get the quantity I am going for (full jug.) This way the other ingredients such as salt and starter are concentrated and the bad stuff can’t get going. I also do this with Quinoa Rejuvelac which I use as starter for other things..

  14. Irena Morgan

    Valeria, I have been checking your website and I noticed that you have not graced us with your lovely culinary posts for more than a month. Is everything Ok? I hope so. Happy Mother’s Day!!! And I hope we will see your inspiring, informative and colorful posts very soon!

  15. Beautiful insights, and great name for the site! And may I say that’s a great portrait of a classical Russian lady. You remind me of one of my nieces. My Russian mom raised her kids well with awesome home-cooked food, but now as adults we are ever seduced by the strange allure of convenience foods, and our health suffers in myriad ways. I’ve started my first batch of sauerkraut, and next will be making beet kvass for the second time. I’m off to search for borsch on the site, something that kind of got lost along the years.

  16. Robert Bayliss

    Do you have a recipe about Rutabaga or ‘Swede’? I have recently seen how valuable nutrition-wise they are.

    • Hi Robert, thanks for reminding me about it! It was a big thing for my grandma who lived in the north her whole life, but my mom couldn’t even stand the smell so I would eat it at grandma’s only. She would cook it in a big iron pot in the oven, with milk and butter. I don’t really have any recipes that I saved and my mom isn’t much help πŸ™‚ I just remember that it smells pretty pungent during cooking, and to cut down on the smell, folks added milk or cream. If you find a recipe that you enjoy rutabaga in – let me know. I might also try to experiment, it’s a perfect time of year for it!

  17. Robert Bayliss

    Re: Rutabaga
    I have only steamed young (small) organic rutabaga once and didn’t notice any particular odour. The skin just slipped off but was pretty sticky. They were so delicious just fork mashed (I like texture) with butter. Definitely! will do again. Maybe a little sour cream?

  18. Robert Bayliss

    Can’t find leave comment section under Beet Kvass.
    Do you have a recipe for the left-over Beets? I ferment them with celery (to take the place of salt) and hate to toss the left-overs. The second brew I pulp the beets and celery and haven’t had it turn alcoholic. I think it draws the nutrients out better. There are recipes for chilled beet and celery soup but I wonder what take your heritage would bring to it.

  19. Robert Bayliss

    Re: Beet Kvass
    Do you transfer comments over to that column since I see no ‘Leave a comment’ on that column?
    When I make Beet Kvass, I start with 1 tablespoon of sea salt in two cups of water and pour over the beet pieces. Starting with enough water to cover the beets, I add 2 cups of water each day until I get to about 1 gallon. By this time the salt is very dilute and the lactic acid bacteria have been established. By the time I have done a second brew, this time with celery, that 1 Tbs is spread over about 2 gallons of liquid.

  20. Robert Bayliss

    Do you have a mushroom gravy recipe? My father-in-law (Ukrainian) made a good one but he is gone now.

  21. Hi there, my husband and I are excited to find your Blog. Traditionally we have
    delicious cheeses, fish, fun things to eat for Christmas eve. So this year we will
    be baking your Russian Sour dough bread, starting my rye starter today.
    I want to try to bake it in a rather narrow long bread pan, I’ve got time to
    see it it bakes nicely this way! thank you for sharing!

  22. Hi Valeria,
    I am visiting your blog recently quite often. I am from Lithuanian and raising three children in Baltimore area. Just like you I am in old lithuanian cooking and food practices. Just now I am trying to perfect my 100% rye bread that would taste just like my grandmothers. I even brought an oak bowl from Lithuania so I could ferment bread there. It makes a big difference. I am very close to make it just as good, if I only could have clay oven. I just tried your shampoo recipe and I am very pleased. I used only the three powders. I tried many ways of washing my hair naturally, castille soap being the worst. I was skeptical when I put that porridge on my hair, but the result was amazing. Thank you for the great blog and all the research you have done so far.

  23. Hi, I just found your site. It is a wealth of great information! Please add me to your mailing list. ~

  24. This is such a fantastic site, Valeria. I’ve always loved cooking Russian food and your healthful, traditional recipes have been very inspiring. Every recipe I’ve tried so far has come out wonderfully and learning about the nutrition/history behind the dishes make them even more meaningful. I hope that you can keep the recipes and posts coming!

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