Deliciously Ella delivers the goods
As the saying goes, you are what you eat. And while the idea of being a chocolate rabbit isn’t all bad (thanks Easter), it’s all about moderation. Food should never be about diet and deprivation, but a celebration of deliciousness that makes you feel good.
It’s a sentiment shared by Ella, of Deliciously Ella fame, who chatted to us about why there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to food, and how if you’re going to make healthy eating sustainable, it’s got to be enjoyable.
Can you tell us about the catalyst that prompted your lifestyle overhaul eating in 2011?
I got very ill with a condition that affected my autonomic nervous system, it’s called Postural Tachycardia Syndrome. I was put on lots of medication but struggled to gain control of my symptoms, which affected everything from my heart rate to my blood pressure, digestion, immune system and chronic fatigue. I really struggled with the debilitating impact this had on my physical health, which in turn really affected my mental health. After about a year I hit my rock bottom and started to look at what I could do to help myself. I became interested in health and wellness and began exploring the space. It took a while to feel the impact of a big lifestyle shift, but after a few years I was able to come off my medication and have kept most symptoms at bay since then.
What’s your philosophy towards health and wellness? Your Instagram bio says, “celebrating plant-based food and working to make vegetables cool” – we love it – can you talk about the greater mission behind this statement?
I really want to help change the perception of healthy food. There are so many misconceptions that fruit and veg, beans and nuts etc are relatively bland foods and we don’t necessarily gravitate towards them in Western cooking – they’re too often the side dish. To get closer to eating our five portions of fruit and veg a day we’ve got to get everyone more excited about it and show just how delicious they can be.
What’s your favourite thing about your work?
The variety. I love that I get to do different things every day and work with such a diverse group of people. The Deliciously Ella community is absolutely phenomenal too, I feel so lucky to have their support and they really guide all of our business decisions.
You now have an app, multiple cookbooks, a deli, 1.2 million followers on Instagram, and your products all over the UK – congratulations, you’re officially a total #bosslady. Did you ever think you’d make such big waves?
Once changed my diet I made a decision to share my journey into the healthy space online. I created my blog, deliciouslyella.com, which grew quickly, and I then started sharing on Instagram too. The community started asking for cooking classes, workshops and events so I started doing those. I invested the money from that into an app, which went to #1 overnight in the UK and US iTunes store – it was a dream come true and I put it down to the deep community engagement. On the back of that I was offered a book deal. A similar thing happened with the book and it went on to become the fastest-selling debut cookbook event in the UK and has now been translated into 22 languages! Since then we’ve published another three best-selling cookbooks, opened sites in London and launched a retail line of our products across about 5,500 stores around the UK – it’s been quite a journey and one that I never ever expected to happen! It all started off as such a personal story and it does feel mad reflecting on how a small, personal blog written from my student kitchen became a business with forty people.
What’s your favourite food?
I love making a big curry. I’ll sauté herbs and spices like mustard seeds, cumin seeds, paprika and cayenne pepper then add marinated roasted sweet potatoes and cauliflower, simmer those in coconut milk before wilting in spinach and serving with crunchy roasted chickpeas and sesame brown rice. I adore an apple, maple and cinnamon crumble too, as well as crunchy nutty granola with coconut yoghurt and fruit compote and our peanut butter raspberry energy balls.
What does a day on a plate look like for you?
It varies hugely as I do a lot of recipe testing so some days it’s literally six cakes with some smashed avo toast either side, and other days it’s a banana, spinach, blueberry smoothie then a quinoa salad with roast veg and a big curry for dinner. I love Japanese, Indian and Middle Eastern restaurants too, they always have brilliant veggie options.
What are your top tips for someone who wants to embrace healthy eating and a vegan diet?
Find what works for you, there’s no one size fits all in anything and if it’s going to be sustainable, it has to be enjoyable.
So go forth, find food goodness that lasts and enjoy feeling downright fabulous as a result.