Since starting a food movement online, Ella Mills has become a healthy eating pioneer. Here, she tells us more
Every cloud has a silver lining and Ella Mills is a testament to this. After being diagnosed with postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (a condition which causes an abnormal increase in heart rate, resulting in dizziness and fainting), Ella slept for over 15 hours a day and was in chronic pain. With her medication having little effect, she investigated natural alternatives and sought to change her diet, opting for plant-based foods and blogging about her favourite recipes as she did. Deliciously Ella was created. Fast forward seven years and she now has 1.3 million Instagram followers, a deli in London, a range of healthy snacks and four best-selling books. How did she do it? Read on to find out…
I always thought healthy, plant-based food would be really dull but, after getting ill back in 2011, I looked at changing my diet and instantly discovered a whole new world of flavour, texture and abundance. I love cooking and experimenting in the kitchen, and I really enjoy this way of eating, I do believe, however, that there is no one-size-fits-all approach and you’ve got to make it work for you – find the balance that makes you physically and mentally happy. I do what I do as it controls a chronic illness, and that’s something I’m incredibly grateful for.
Balancing work and social life when I’m so busy can be tricky, and I think it’s important to be honest about that. Starting your own business often looks more glamorous than it really is – it’s a lot of long nights, emails on holiday, and weekends at your laptop – but I wouldn’t change it for anything. It’s so challenging and rewarding, and I’m learning more than I ever thought I could. Life is about making choices, no one can do everything, so it’s about choosing to spend your time in a way that makes you feel the most fulfilled and satisfied on a day-to-day basis, and I really do just love Deliciously Ella and the community that exists around it. I’m lucky that I run the business with my husband. He’s our CEO and the most phenomenal support, always full of words of wisdom – working together is really fun.
My new book is a celebration of plant-based cooking. It’s meant to make getting your fivea- day easy and will hopefully inspire everyone to get a little more excited about vegan recipes. They’re all easy to do, and I cover everything from sweetcorn fritters with smoky beans and smashed avo to Thai and Sri Lankan curries, plus so much more. I wanted this book to be really personal, so each chapter has a diary excerpt at the start talking through how Deliciously Ella developed, what’s happened behind the scenes and what we’ve learnt along the way. We’ve also spent most of the last year working on a new brand identity and are just about to release our new packaging designs, which is really exciting, as well as a new line of freshly frozen meals. I know eating well can be tough when you’re busy, so I wanted to create a natural, healthy alternative to a ready meal that you can stock in your freezer for busy weeks.
I’ve started yoga teacher training and it’s something that I’m really excited about. Yoga has become a big part of my life over the last five years – it’s helped me so much – both with my physical and mental health. I find it clears my head and helps me create a more positive mindset – better than anything else I’ve ever done and I just can’t wait to share that with everyone. I really think feeling good is about more than what you eat, it’s how you move, your relationship with your body, your relationship with those around you, stress and sleep, too. I can’t wait to expand Deliciously Ella into this space.
If you want to feel healthier, you’ve got to enjoy living well. Take ideas and inspiration from lots of places, then mix and match what suits you. I think there’s a sense that you have to start eating all the greens and a lot of kale to be healthy, but again, make sure you’re enjoying it – the world is full of delicious flavours and ingredients, so try lots of things. Use loads of herbs and spices, sauté things like mustard seeds and cumin seeds with salt and pepper, add a pinch of cayenne pepper and curry powder with coconut milk, and then simmer potatoes, chickpeas, spinach and courgettes in there to create an easy one-pot curry.
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