Hello beautiful friends! I am so excited to start the Fall season off with some fabulous features on Kouzounas Kitchen blog. Many of my blog posts all have one thing in common… love for the Greek culture. The first of many posts is my new friend, Mikaela, who happens to blog at A Blonde In The Crowd.
Mikaela is a lady with many talents including fitness, singing, art, cooking, and her love for the Greek culture. Check out our interview about her lifestyle, some of her favorite recipes, and don’t forget to click on her YouTube video~ “When We Were Young,” a song by Adele. (Music fans, this is worth listening to.)
Q & A: Meet Mikaela
1. How did you get so passionate about fitness and health?
Most of my life I have struggled with gaining weight and the health problems that came with being really skinny. Even though I ate a healthy diet healthy and good amounts of food, I still could not gain weight and even had people think I was anorexic. I began college and my health issues worsened actually due to the fact I was under so much stress and strain. I decided to try lifting weights, not only to take my stress out on something but also trying to take a healthy active turn in my life. I fell in love with lifting heavy stuff and seeing how it changed my body and how my health issues started to diminish. I continued to push myself. Today, weightlifting is an extremely important part of my personality. I feel so out of place if I don’t incorporate it in my day, feeling so much more healthy, happy and confident!
2. Where do you blog? How did you start blogging? (Any inspirations?)
I blog on WordPress as well. Ablondeinthecrowd.wordpress.com I started sharing because I wanted to be able to write more than I could or was already writing on Instagram. I wanted to be able to expand my ideas and captions! Plus, I wanted to challenge my writing and research skills.
3. We met on Instagram a few months back, and I absolutely fell in love with your page. Who are some of your favorite Instagrammers and why?
Well you, of course, are one of them! Love your page koukla mou. Such positivity, love and amazing food! I don’t really have many exact pages that inspire me, but I do love exploring and finding travel and photography pages. Those I love! I have a good many friends on Instagram who are into fitness/healthy lifestyle, and I love how we support and reach out to each other.
4. What is the most challenging fitness routine you have accomplished? What’s the easiest routine?
I would have to say one of the hardest I have accomplished was prepping and then hiking a mountain here in Oregon a couple summers ago. I trained all summer, hiking the hills and smaller mountains around my town to prep myself for the 13-mile hike up the South Sister, 10,358′. There are parts of that hike that are just straight uphill in loose gravel! KILLED ME! I still am in awe that I was able to accomplish that hike not once, but twice, actually! I don’t really have an easy routine. Most routines are trying; I really push myself and work hard toward my goals. When the routine gets easy, then I change it up so it’s tough again. Don’t want my body to get used to a routine and go on auto-pilot!
5. If you could be a famous Greek artist who would it be?
I would probably have to say I’d like to be a Greek singer instead and choose Nikos Vertis just because his voice is so amazing; he just captures Greek music beautifully. Favorite Greek artist hands down!
6. Mikaela, you are very passionate about your Greek culture. Can you tell me what your childhood was like?
So my aunt married a Greek and my cousins and family live in Greece. So news flash… I am actually not blooded Greek, I’m adopted Greek. Growing up, I was not really introduced to Greek culture in my immediate family life; it was more in my church. I am Serbian Orthodox, but we have lots of traditions and music that we take from Greek Orthodoxy and Ellada that growing up I have truly fallen in love with. Reading the music in the church is how I learned how to read Greek. My cousins visited very rarely, but when they did we always clicked. They truly are my closest family even though they live the farthest away. I finally got to visit them in Greece a while back and just fell even more deeply in love with the country and the love of life everyone has there. So, I consider myself an adopted Greek. Greece truly is my home, and whenever I land or see the first signs of land from the plane window, I get so emotional but also am at peace. I feel like I’m coming home. It’s hard to explain……
7. What is your favorite quote?
I have several. It’s definitely hard to pick just one due to the fact I have many that mean so much to me at different times. One of my top favorites would definitely have to be the quote from Wonder Woman “It’s about what you believe in, and I believe in love. Only love can truly save the world.” Wonder Woman is definitely one of my top FAVORITE characters and ladies. AND she’s an Amazonian so she’s a badass!
8. What are two of your favorite recipes?
Banana Almond Shake Recipe
(This is one of my favorite quick and easy, BUT delicious snack during the day. It gives you the good fats from the nut butter and if you add protein powder you get a good refuel for a bit before your next meal.)
1 Banana frozen (having it in chunks is easier to mix)
2 Tablespoons almond butter (you can substitute a different nut butter if you want)
1 scoop protein powder
1 spoonful honey
Milk of choice. (I don’t measure my milk; I gauge the level by covering the dry ingredients and then stop pouring)
Blend all together and enjoy! Having the bananas frozen allows you to have the cold smoothie, but still keep it creamy by not adding ice! One of my favorite recipes.
Another of my favorite recipes which are healthy and pretty easy to make AND Greek would be Fasolakia! This dish is very simple to make and so tasty and healthy to accompany a meat dish and maybe a yummy Greek salad. I also LOVE making this or eating this dish on colder days. With Fall in the air, it’s a perfect time to enjoy!
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 yellow onion diced
For spices, I use Basil, Oregano, Salt and Pepper and a little bit of Thyme.
Garlic (now sadly this is my one major allergy so If I add it in I can only usually do a bit of garlic powder because it doesn’t affect me like fresh garlic does.)
1 ½ lb of green beans, trimmed and broken in half.
1 cup of water
1 can of whole stewed tomatoes (I mix it up and will do the tomatoes and/or add a paste or a sauce. I like to play around with what I use for my tomato base.)
3 potatoes cut up into chunks
In a large pot over medium heat, I cook up the oil and onions until a nice golden color.
Then I add in all the spices and let simmer for a little bit before adding the tomato base in with the beans and potatoes.
Allow this all to just simmer until the potatoes are soft enough for your liking. Check off and on and add a little bit of water here and there if you need it.
When it’s done then drizzle the lemon juice over and enjoy!!! Sometimes I like to add a bay leaf in for extra taste or even some red wine if I’m feeling fancy.
This dish is definitely one of my favorites. So yummy!
9. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
I’ve always had the dream of being one of those blogger health moms down the road, sharing tips, recipes and raising my kids. I’m trying to work toward that with my blog. That’s my goal, or to travel the world seeing and eating so many amazing things! I am trying to be able to find a way to enjoy life to the fullest and share how to healthfully do that with others. 🙂
10. You are very inspirational on Instagram and many people look up to you in the fitness world. What keeps you going? What can you say to others who might have a hard time staying focused and following a healthy diet?
What honestly keeps me going is looking back at myself when I started to where I am now. You don’t really see your results when they are happening and can get discouraged if you get the feeling you are just standing in place. Since I have been working out so long, it has also become a habit for me. I love how I feel during and after a workout so why not continue to feel that way? I have a method for my goals as well. I like to make little goals that lead up to one big goal. I found that if you set just the big goals, you can get overwhelmed and stop altogether. Making more manageable smaller goals that lead up to that big goal is how I like to achieve the projects I set out to conquer. Just a fun little tip!
11. I hear you have a passion for singing. Can you tell us a little bit about that?
I have always been singing whether it has been part of a choir, production or just at home. I’ve been taking piano for about 16 years now and taught myself to sight read. When I’m stressed, I can just pull out a music book, sit down and play. The gym and playing piano are my two huge stress reliefs. I have always loved being a part of my church’s choir, and I started taking private voice lessons when I was 13. All throughout high school, I was part of multiple music festivals and operas and just loved that whole aspect of music so much. I went to college for it as well! I graduated 2017 with a Bachelor in Music and Vocal Performance with a focus on classical music. So music is a HUGE part of my life. I’m not sure exactly what I want to do with it just yet. I had to take a breather for a bit after college and step back due to some rough/stressful experiences in college. I do, however, teach some piano now and help lead my churche’s choir off and on. Of course, I give my family private concerts. My dog loves to lie by my feet and fall asleep when I’m playing; that’s my happy place.
Watch Mikaela sing Adele’s song “When we were Young.” Watch Here
Thank you so much to Mikaela for stopping by on Kouzounas Kitchen blog. We hope you enjoyed the interview and please do follow our friend on her blog and Instagram page. 🙂