It was being diagnosed with a condition that impaired the functioning of her nervous system that first kickstarted Ella Mills on a health-journey that would prove transformative in just about every respect. Keen to find something
to help restore her physical and mental health, she began paying closer attention to the way in which making small changes to her nutrition and lifestyle impacted on her body.
Adopting a plant-based lifestyle long before it went mainstream and sharing her recipes on her blog, Deliciously Ella, her reputation grew. Eight years later, she’s widely credited as being among the trailblazers of the entire plant-based movement, with five best-selling recipe books under her belt, as well as a Mayfair deli, an app, a podcast and a range of products stocked in supermarkets across the UK.
We caught up with her ahead of the release of her newest book, Deliciously Ella Quick and Easy, which focuses on fuss-free recipes that can be whipped up in basically no time at all, to hear about the lessons she’s learned so far, discover what goes in to writing a recipe book and hear how she thinks lockdown can be a force for good.
The experience of writing this book was totally different from previous ones.
In fact, it’s been slightly ridiculous in some ways. It started before I even fell pregnant with Skye, spanned a whole pregnancy, being a new mum, a global pandemic and now a second pregnancy. It’s been a bit of a life journey; it’s been with me through some pretty big things.
The recipes have been impacted by so many different things.
We’ve been building Deliciously Ella as a company and got busier and busier, and with juggling that with being a parent, the idea of ‘quick and easy’ has only become more important. I need so much more energy, patience and calm, but also have less time. It’s given me more of an appreciation than ever for the fact health is so important.
The process of building the recipes is a long winded one.
It takes lots of attempts. There’s obviously ‘nice’ and ‘not nice’, but flavour is such as subjective thing that we test everything out on the team in the office, and on friends and family, to get a general consensus. Fortunately, there were no complete disasters along the way this time.
The Caesar Salad is one of my favourite recipes in the book.
It’s so thick and creamy and tangy and I make it all the time. It takes literally 10 minutes. There’s also a chocolate chip banana bread that I love (and try not to make too much). The mushroom and walnut ragu is pretty easy to make and has been a massive hit with friends and family.
I find that there are so many things that add up to you feeling good
, but since becoming a mum I’m a lot more focused on what’s genuinely practical. When I first had Skye I used to just go out walking for about two hours, first thing in the morning, and it made me feel so much better. It's amazing the difference something so small can make.
Taking the time to eat well can play a huge role in this
and it’s definitely fed into the new book. Making something proper to eat can make such a difference to your mindset, even if it’s pesto pasta which 10 takes minutes, rather than snacking or grazing all day; stir in some peas and some spinach and you’ve got two of your five a day in there as well. Being a new mum is so overwhelming, the book is about genuinely making it easier to juggle everything.
The number one lesson I’ve learned from Deliciously Ella so far
is that nothing is ever as bad as it seems. Working in a start-up environment is chaos – it’s a lot of fun, and every day is certainly different, but there are so many times where you think this is it, it’s all over. But there’s always a solution. To start with I would feel panicked about how to approach a situation, but now I just feel that the quicker you’re able to figure out a solution, the less stressful it’s going to be to deal with.
I think I’ve become increasingly level-headed,
but I’m still an emotional person. My husband Matt always says that I have so many
feelings. I think by exploring yoga and meditation I’ve become much more ‘level-headed’ and able to just kind of ride my emotions a lot more freely.
The world of wellness has changed a lot in the last few years, but lockdown has brought a whole new element.
Even just taking out the commute gives you so much more time in your day and people are having much more time to cook now whereas before they were rushing home, starving by the time they get through the door. I really get the sense that people have been trying new things and are really enjoying being able to do this. It’ll be really interesting to see how the world changes after this.
So often we look towards external factors for making us feel good,
whether that’s physically or mentally. It’s always like okay I’ll go there and do that. There's something nice in the fact that - although being confined to our own spaces definitely has its challenging parts - we’re having to find the tools in ourselves to self-motivate to go for a run or do an online class, rather than relying on other people.
I think Jamie Oliver is unbelievable.
There are so many people doing incredible things in this industry but the way he has inspired people to get cooking and feel confident to make even simple things is just so amazing. And his passion for food is just second to none.
One of the best books I’ve read lately is...
A Monk’s Guide To Happiness by Gelong Thubten; we had him on the podcast and he’s one of the most inspiring people I’ve ever me in my entire life. He talks a lot about meditation and the idea that the only way you can be happy is to be present, and whatever tools you need in your life to keep you present are exactly what you need.
Ella's latest book, Deliciously Ella Quick and Easy, is available now. In the meantime, try making her 10 Minute Apple Pancakes!