Want to be part of the Deliciously Ella supper club? Us too. On a mission to make vegetables ‘cool’, Deliciously Ella started as a blog back in 2011, when founder Ella Mills overhauled her lifestyle by eating a plant-based diet almost overnight, after being diagnosed with a rare condition called postural tachycardia syndrome. Ten years later, Deliciously Ella is a plant-powered empire.
From food blogger to a plant-based powerhouse: an interview with Ella
Not only has Ella Mills written six best-selling cookbooks, she also has the Deliciously Ella app with over 600 vegan recipes, a product range that has everything from the Deliciously Ella apple raisin and cinnamon oat bar to the Deliciously Ella cookies, and a fully-serviced restaurant coming later this year.
Oh, and did we mention she and her husband and business partner Matt are hosts of the Deliciously Ella podcast? When she’s not busy approving designs and packaging for her latest healthy food product or fine-tuning the Deliciously Ella menu, Ella Mills loves nothing more than getting outside for a daily walk with her daughters and gorgeous dog, Austin, as you’ll probably see on her Deliciously Ella Instagram stories. Here, we caught up with what wellbeing means to her, why healthy eating is important, how she makes healthy eating habits easy and some of her favourite quick and easy recipes, where you can find that nutrient-boosting kale salad from Deliciously Ella you’ve been dreaming of.
What is your daily routine?
“I’m such a morning person and a big believer in getting up and out. Skye, our baby, is an early riser, so our days start at around 5:30am. My work is so varied and there’s no real rhythm to the day, which makes every day interesting.”
How has your perspective of exercise changed over time?
“It’s the same as anything, for it to have a long-term impact and become a sustainable part of your life, you have to enjoy it. For me, I love long walks and doing yoga. I’ve found that it’s created a much more consistent way of moving my body, not to mention the positive impact exercise has had on my mental health.”
What is your healthy diet made up of?
“It really does vary every single day. I’m pregnant at the moment, so I’m experiencing all sorts of cravings, but normally I might be doing some yoga training, which makes me eat a lot more. I’m not a huge fan of imitating what other people eat because it’s so individual and personal.”
Where do you get your delicious recipe inspiration from?
“We’ve got such a big audience now, so they’re very open and honest about their likes and dislikes. It’s so immediate to see what’s popular and I use that for ultimate guidance.”
What is the hardest lesson you’ve had to learn in your career?
“There have been so many challenges with starting our business [which Ella runs with husband Matt] – coronavirus being the most recent, but you just have to keep going. You have to find a solution and be a complete optimist in a sense that you will find the answer. It’s amazing how far you can get if you keep plugging away.”
How do you switch off?
“I wish I had an answer for this, as I’m still searching for one! There’s a never-ending spiral with social media, and the work doesn’t really stop. [Matt and I] have spent many a date night talking about work – spreadsheets and cash flow aren’t very romantic! – but there are so many upsides, too.
“I love that we have a shared family ambition, that we can support each other fully because we’re both so invested and that we’re always so understanding when the other has to work. It’s created such a close bond between us.”
What does wellbeing look like to you?
“For me, it’s the little things that collectively make you feel happy and healthy. It’s a 10-minute yoga stretch, five minutes of quiet, a walk with a podcast or time spent with friends and family. I think wellness has become complicated and expensive, but that really doesn’t need to be the case. Wellbeing is about those simple, everyday things that on their own are quite small, but collectively can have such a powerful impact.”
Tips for staying positive and boosting your wellbeing
With the world feeling a little topsy turvy, it can be hard to get into the swing of WFH life. You might have thought that not having the day-to-day morning commute, the chatter of the office and meetings would make you more productive than ever, but you can be faced with a whole new set of challenges at home.
From negotiating a workspace with your partner and struggling to take a break, to finding it hard to avoid the lure of a snack cupboard, there’s a lot of adjustments you’ll need to make. Sharing her advice for those who are struggling, Ella has revealed her tips on how to boost not just your productivity, but your wellbeing.
Get moving first thing
“It can be extremely difficult to feel as motivated when spending long periods of time working from home, so start each day with that positive intention to move more – it can be just five minutes, anything to show yourself that you’re committed – and get it out of the way ASAP so that it’s done.”
Prepare healthy recipes in bulk
“Cooking once and eating multiple times from the same batch is an efficient way of managing time and also ensuring that you’re eating the right kind of things. Try to focus on sitting down and eating real, healthy meals three times a day, as this helps to reinforce the structure.” Stocking up on sesame oil, quinoa and sunflower seeds will make meal-prepping easier!
Try to increase your face-to-face conversations
Trying to create some sense of structure for your days is perhaps the most important tip of them all. “As you would a normal workday, plan ahead and try to build in as many face-to-face online meetings as possible to bring a sociable aspect to that. Deliciously Ella is offering a virtual coffee room experience – pets and kids welcome – every afternoon at three o’clock via its app, to help bring people together.”
Take regular breaks
“Be mindful of your mental health throughout a period of isolation. YuLife is currently offering mindfulness and meditation sessions via its user-based app, encouraging people to take short amounts of time out of their schedules to switch off and tune out. It’s a vital part of everyone’s agenda during tricky times.”
Be kind to yourself
“Take this opportunity to learn how to manage your own wellbeing both mentally and physically. Getting on top of all of the above points – physical activity, nutrition, keeping socially active and staying conscious of your mental health – will help you to harness your wellbeing and live your best life moving forwards. Ensure that this time spent self-isolating isn’t all for nothing.”
Deliciously Ella’s favourite recipes
If you’re looking to bring some vegan-friendly recipe inspiration to your life, we’ve got you covered. While you can find the Deliciously Ella frozen meals in Tesco, you can also recreate your own delicious versions from scratch. Here are some of her favourite vegan and vegetarian recipes.
Deliciously Ella cake using chia seeds
- 1 tbsp chia seeds
- 300g plain flour (we use gluten free)
- 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 330g coconut sugar
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp nutmeg
- 100ml almond milk
- 130g coconut oil, melted
- 100g raisins
- 100g dried cranberries
- 6 medjool dates, pitted and chopped
- 100g walnuts, roughly chopped
- pinch of sea salt
- Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6. Line a 23cm cake tin with baking paper.
- Place 1 tablespoon of chia seeds into a small bowl and mix with 4 tablespoons of water. Leave to one side to thicken up for about 10 minutes.
- In a large bowl, mix together the flour, bicarb, baking powder, coconut sugar, spices and a pinch of sea salt until there are no lumps.
- Pour in the melted coconut oil, almond milk and chia mixture. Whisk to form a smooth batter.
- Stir through the raisins, cranberries, dates and walnuts.
- Pour the cake batter into the lined cake tin and bake for 35-40 minutes until crispy on top but baked through the middle – you still want it to be a little fudgy as it will solidify more as it hardens. If not baked through, place back into the oven for 5-10 more minutes, you may want to cover the top in foil to stop any burning.
- Once baked, remove from the oven and leave to cool before serving.
Sweet potato brownies with chocolate sauce
For the brownies:
- 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into small cubes
- 12 medjool dates, pitted
- 100g ground almonds
- 100g oat flour
- 2 tbsp coconut oil, melted
- 6 tbsp cacao powder
- 6 tbsp maple syrup
- 2 tbsp almond butter, optional
- Water from 1x 400g can chickpeas
- 1 tsp baking powder
- Handful of dark chocolate chips
- Pinch of sea salt
For the chocolate sauce:
- 1 tsp cacao powder
- 2 tbsp coconut oil
- 2 tbsp date syrup
- 4 tbsp coconut milk, from a carton, or any other plant-based milk
- Pinch of sea salt
- Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6.
- Place the sweet potato into a steamer or in a saucepan with boiling water for 15-30 minutes, until they become really soft (the length of time will depend on the size of the chunks).
- While the sweet potatoes cook, grind the oats in a food processor until they form a flour (if not already), place to one side.
- Once the sweet potatoes are soft and beginning to fall apart, drain them and add them to a food processor with the pitted dates. Blend until smooth. Now add the remaining ingredients (except the chocolate) and blend until smooth. once blended, stir through the chocolate chips (if using).
- Spoon the mixture into a lined baking dish and cook for 45-50 minutes until you can pierce the brownie with a fork and bring it out clean.
- Remove the tray and allow it to cool for at least 10 minutes – this is really important as it needs this time to stick together.
- For the chocolate sauce, simply place all of the ingredients into a pan over a medium heat. stir continuously until everything is melted and has come together to form a smooth sauce, about five minutes. Pour on top of the brownies when ready to serve. Nut butter fans, this one’s for you!
Deliciously Ella dahl
- 400g green lentils, washed and drained
- 2x 400g cans coconut milk
- 3 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
- 2 large tomatoes, cut into small pieces
- Ground cumin
- Curry powder
- Hot chilli powder
- Chilli flakes, optional
- Place a pan over a medium heat.
- Add the chopped garlic with olive oil and salt and let that cook for 1-2 minutes before adding all the spices, followed by the chopped tomatoes.
- Stir well, letting the garlic and spices fry together for a few minutes before stirring through the lentils, followed by the coconut milk.
- Bring the mix to the boil, before reducing to simmer over a low temperature.
- Leave to cook, uncovered, for about one hour until thick and creamy – making sure to stir it every 10-15 minutes, ensuring it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan and adding a splash of water if it feels like it’s drying out.
- Once cooked, stir through a little more salt and serve. Ella loves it with avocado, chana masala, chilli flakes and coconut yoghurt.
Deliciously Ella banana bread
- 430g ripe, peeled bananas
- 20g pecans
- 150g ground almonds
- 125g buckwheat flour
- 190ml maple syrup
- 55ml chickpea water
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- Pinch of salt
- Preheat the oven to 190C/375F/Gas 5. Line a 23 x 13 x 7cm loaf tin with baking paper.
- Peel the bananas and place into a large mixing bowl. Mash with a fork until smooth and creamy – the more ripe they are, the easier this will be.
- Add the ground almonds, flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, ground cinnamon and a large pinch of sea salt, and mix well until there are no lumps.
- Add the maple syrup, chickpea water and apple cider vinegar and mix well until a smooth batter forms.
- Spoon the mixture into the lined loaf tin, then sprinkle with the pecan halves. If you want to add another banana on top, simply peel the last banana and halve lengthways before placing on top.
- Bake for 45-50 minutes or until a knife inserted into the middle comes out clear; if it doesn’t, leave the loaf in the oven for a little longer.
- Once cooked, remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes to firm up. Spread a slice with peanut butter for the ultimate treat.
H&W’s favourite Deliciously Ella products
As previously mentioned, the Deliciously Ella bars are a staple in the product range and you can find them when you search for ‘Deliciously Ella Holland and Barrett’. But there are plenty of other choices: these are our top picks, from sweet treats to warming dinners.
Deliciously Ella crumble
Cooked with apple and blackberry, this dessert is perfect after a Sunday roast dinner, topped with vegan vanilla ice cream or custard.
Deliciously Ella cacao and almond bar
Find yourself getting peckish at around 3pm? Us too. This chewy oat bar is perfect for that afternoon slump to give you some tasty bitesize energy. We also love her bircher muesli, which only takes five minutes to make!
Deliciously Ella crackers
Available in four vibrant flavours, these crackers with some hummus make a tasty pair. We love the sea salt and black pepper variety.
Deliciously Ella Shepherd’s pie
Using black beans and tomatoes, this warming dish is quick and easy to pop into the oven when you just can’t be bothered to cook. Plus, the sweet potato makes for a creamy topping.