Gut health, glow and giving veggies a go: We recently caught up with 'Deliciously Ella'
Unless you have been living under a rock the past couple of years, you will have heard of Ella Mills (maiden name Woodward) and her Deliciously Ella brand.
What started as a blog (to teach herself to cook and 'like healthy foods'), soon grew bigger and bigger, and before you could say neither quinoa or kale, Ella was everywhere. And now, as well as having launched an insanely successful app, authored several cookbooks and opened a deli in her hometown of London, the 29-year-old has also brought out a series of healthy snacks, mueslies and frozen meals – and launched a podcast where she chats health, wellness and all things feeling vibrant and happy and living with purpose and joy.
We recently caught up with Ella, who is currently expecting her first baby, and got a change to sit down to pick her brains about eating for wellness, living your best, fullest life and how the heck to decode all those super-foods and supplements.
HF: First of all, congratulations on your pregnancy – how are you feeling?
EM: Thank you! I feel really good now (*Ella is currently in her 3rd trimester and due at the end of July) – but for the first few weeks, I was really sick and had some rather strange food cravings.
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Babymoon heaven ❤️ Soaking up the last day of our last holiday as a two, ten weeks until we’re three ????? Never ever been so excited for anything ?? P.S I’m so sorry that I haven’t answered my direct messages this week, just needed some time offline and that takes me 2-3 hours a day ?
HF: You really have created a movement around health and wellness, and inspired so many to embrace a greener, healthier lifestyle and a better diet. Why do you think 'Deliciously Ella' resonated with so many and grew from a blog into this 'wellness empire' so quickly?
EM: I think it was a combination of factors that played in, and I was lucky in that regard that Instagram came along and really became the most amazing platform in terms of connectiong with people and sharing our recipes and snippets of what we do. But I also think we are part of a bigger picture when it comes to how people view health and eating healthier, and there is a much bigger, more holistic take on this now then maybe what was the case a few years back. Now people are becoming so much more aware of how what they eat and how they live not only matters to their own lives and health, but also to our planet and the world around us.
HF: Everywhere we turn these days there is talk of healh and wellness, and eat this and not that, and do you think it can become too much? Are we putting ourselves under pressure to eat "perfect" all the time?
EM: I think the biggest thing we see, that is obviously becoming very visible because of social media, is that for so many, it's about waking up to how amazing out bodies really are and what they are capable of if we just look after them, both by eating foods that are good for us, but also by keeping active and making sure we stay connected and present in our everyday life.
Also, we cannot ignore that our health systems are spending billions on treating lifestyle related illnesses, and that on top of that, we are seeing a growing problem with mental health issues too. Being concerned with our health and wellness isn't being indulgent, it is actually really, really important, and a conversation that is very important to have on the agenda.
What I find these days, though, is that there seems to be an interest in, and a willingness for, embracing an overall healthier and more holisitc lifestyle, be it that people are prioritizing cooking and eating healthy, and that they are starting to explore how, apart from food, they can also make sure they stay healthy, be it by starting to exerise or practising living a more mindful and meaningful life.
I don't think it is about the pressure to eat perfect, but more about wanting to eat in a way that makes us feel better and that also has a kinder impact on the world around us. More than anything, my goal has always been to use this platform to show how easy it is to create beautiful, nourishing, and delicious meals from simple, natural ingredients.
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I woke up this morning feeling super passionate about spreading the plant-based message ? I spent yesterday filming with an amazing team who are making a film on the importance of encouraging more veganism for health, environmental and ethical reasons and it really really inspired me to try and do more. So here’s a little Saturday recipe for you to get some greens and lots of deliciousness in two minutes. You’ll need: 1 ripe frozen banana (freezing them makes the smoothie so much creamier, but don’t worry if you don’t have any in the freezer fresh works too), 1 big handful of spinach, 1 date, 1 or 2 tablespoons of shelled hemp seeds (great plant-based protein), 1 teaspoon of almond butter, 1 teaspoon of chia seeds (good for our omega-3’s) and any plant-based milk, plus a couple of ice cubes ✨ So quick, so yum and such an easy way to get a couple of portions of fruit and veg in first thing ??♀️ P.S there’s a really interesting link in our stories to a study about the impact of plant-based milks on climate change. Did you know that producing a glass of dairy milk results in almost three times the greenhouse gas emissions of any non-dairy milks? ?
HF: What if it all sounds a bit too much for some? You know, the whole kale and quinoa thing? It can seem a little overwhelming to overhaul your lifestyle when it comes to what we eat, so have you got any advice?
EM: Oh, yes, I totally get this – because to me, that is exactly how it was. Before I got sick (Ella was diagnosed with Postural Tachycardia Syndrome at the age of 20) I was a total sugar moster, and lived mostly on a diet of highly processed foods, cereal, sweets and literally would go days without even consuming anything green. It's a process, and my biggest advice would be to remember that for anything to last, or be sustainable, it also has to have an element of enjoyment. Start with just adding a few more greens to your diet, embrace Meat Free Mondays, explore blogs and cookbooks for ideas on what to cook, and don't think of it as restricting yourself from eating what you love, but rather by adding more and more things that are good for you.
We are talking about a change that is hopefully going to be for life, your health is a long-term commitment and investment, so make sure you find a balance that work for you, and that you can manage to feel like you are both eating well for your best you, but that there is also room for indulging and treats.
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HF: Eating healthy is one thing, but I think today, we are also inundated with ads for and information about 'super foods' and supplements and it can be hard for someone who is not an expert to know what to believe and what to, if anything, take. Have you got any advice?
EM: It can be totally confusing, there is just so much information out there, and it can be hard to separate truth from what are just clever marketing plans. Part of the reason why I love doing our podcast now is that we get to debunk a lot of myths around food and health, and have experts in to give some real insight and information.
Personally, I think the best thing you can do for your health is to eat a varied, healthy diet of mostly plant-based whole foods, get enough sleep, keep active and make sure you take care of your mental health too. The supplement thing is really confusing, and we can have different needs, of course, baset on our personal health, how we eat and other circumstances too.
I would say keep it simple, take a good multi-vitamin supplement if you feel you need this, and maybe a vitamin D supplement, especially in winter.
I know there is a lot of talk about gut health these days – and for good reason. Personally, I have been using Symprove, a water-based food supplement to support the gut microbiome, for a few years now, and love it. I was recommended it after having been on so many different antibiotics for so long when I was sick, and knowing that it really, really works, I’m so happy to work with them because I'm their number one fan.
I take Symprove first thing in the morning, it is kept in the fridge, so as I am making our morning coffee, I do a shot of it. And right now, it has been so amazing in helping me cope with the debacle that can be digestion when you are pregnant!
HF: You are about to become a mum – and are having a little girl, what is next for 'Deliciously Ella' and your growing family?
EM: Matt and I are so excited to become parents, I can't wait to meet her now. And I am sure having a baby and being a mum will be a total game-changer in so many ways, so I am really trying to just take it as it comes right now, and not plan too far ahead or overthink how we will do things. I am currently working on another cookbook, we are planning to launch our Deliciously Ella products in the US soon, and I am aware that running your own business is not going to allow me to take a very away-from-it-all for months maternity leave, but we will take it all as it comes. I am very intent on taking some time the first few weeks after the birth to focus on just learning to be a mum and getting to know my baby, and I can't wait. And after that, well, she'll be part of me and us, and I am excited for that, this next chapter.