The wellness movement received backlash last year, when the relatively unknown eating disorder ‘orthorexia’ – defined partly by the obsession to eat only ‘pure’ produce, grew in it’s wake. The leaders – those bucking the wellness trend, were targeted by the press. Deliciously Ella hasn’t had an easy escape.
Her following remains strong, and with a second cookbook, snacks sold in shops and supermarkets, plus her deli café, there’s no reason to suspect any backlash would harm her brand. Reported in March however, two of Ella’s deli’s will be closing, leaving her Marlyebone deli single-standing.
When I first read about Ella in The Daily Mail, I thought her story inspiring. As a plant-based eater, I can’t help but warm to her gluten-free, vegan living. She’s not resting on her family name and has successfully managed to find a niche in the food market. In the process, encouraging people worldwide to make healthier choices.
For those trying to solve health problems through diet, Deliciously Ella is a delicious comfort. Here is a woman who is out there in the public, offering a wide selection of recipe’s and tips; most standard chefs steer clear from.
Trialling her debut cookbook
With the admiration I have for Ella Mills, I was eager to get stuck in to sampling her meals and desserts. Like many, I’ve baked her infamous brownies, and had an appetite to sample her other dishes.
My delight quickly turned sour. Flicking through her book, I struggled to find anything immensely appealing. The pages sprung salads, nut-based desserts and individual sides that could combine to make meals.
What to know about Ella
As the daughter of a Tory MP and Sainsbury’s heiress, Ella has turned her passion for food blogging to an entrepreneurial business in her own right. After being diagnosed with POTS (a syndrome which affects your autonomic nervous system) in 2011, Ella found herself in chronic pain, sleeping for hours a day, as well as facing numerous hospital visits.
After reading a book on a woman in the US who used food to beat cancer, Ella ordered a copy, and switched to a whole food, plant-based diet. Gone were chemicals, additives, sugar, gluten and meat.
In her book, Ella states it took six months to get comfortable on her new eating plan. She hails it as her cure, writing: “It felt like a miracle: my symptoms had all but disappeared and my self-esteem was rebuilt, all thanks to the goodness of plants”.
What to like about her cookbook
Without having trialled her second book, I can only write on her first which became the fastest-selling, debut cookbook in the UK. Ella launched at a perfect time; the rise of social-media pulled ‘clean living’ to a height supermarkets can’t ignore.
It’s clear through the opening pages, Ella is selling a lifestyle and not merely a book of recipes to whip up on a whim. There’s an entire section on getting started, including staple kitchen ingredients to stock. All recipes are sectioned into chapters on food types, with each category giving information on cooking. As an example, “Vegetables” has tips on the different ways to cook, including steaming and boiling.
For people not use to creating meals with plant-based food, Ella’s guides will greatly benefit. It’s nice everything is explained and adds a personal touch. I like that Ella uses the same produce throughout; we all hate investing money in items we only use for one recipe.
Where Ella shines, is through her desserts. Cookies, flapjacks, key lime pie and cheesecake are all included. Additionally, Ella covers her basics. Sometimes we just want help mastering sweet-potato chips and strawberry jam.
What to dislike
Good luck trying to make and bake with Deliciously Ella, if you don’t own an expensive blender. My Nutribullet is terrible at blitzing anything other than fruit and veg, and I’m sceptical the Phillips £80 blender she recommends as an alternative to her expensive Vitamix, will really do the trick.
There’s also a food processor to consider – yes, Ella admits her Magimix has a high price-tag, though she clarifies it’s a life-long investment.
It’s disappointing to find dinner mostly comprises of salad options. There is the odd stir-fry, dahl and pasta, yet nothing interesting to catch my eye. The lack of order in searching for breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert, frustrates me.
In spite of my love for her puddings, it’s tiring to see syrups mentioned repeatedly. Research shows sugar alternatives are not that ‘good’ after all. This piece by The Telegraph, goes through the truth on honey, agave and maple syrup.
Medjool dates feature consecutively as well, along with a variety of nuts. Both costly items to have on hand. One recipe can remove an entire packet of medjool dates from your cupboard. I adore the dates but I eat one or two a day. My cupboard without pistachio nuts feels empty, nonetheless, a UK £5 packet would disappear in an instant, if I was to make a Deliciously Ella dessert.
My issue with the wellness movement
I am hypocritical because I do believe my lifestyle choices have cured my energy, well-being and skin. Having said that, the wellness movement is about selling a beauty ideal.
We automatically assume women with flawless skin and miniscule waists, are experts in health. There are women who take care of themselves incredibly well, but who are struck with spots and therefore, not worthy to hear advice from.When my acne was at its worst, I was continually judged and faced interrogation on my supposed bad eating habits. I do think there’s a fine line to tread, in telling others good skin can form from eating ‘clean’.
There’s huge pressure to avoid ‘bad’ food. I sometimes still feel guilty for tucking into pasta or enjoying toast each morning. And I’m a health-nut; 15-year-old, takeaway loving me, would struggle immensely on giving up food not ‘pure’.
Overall thoughts on Deliciously Ella
I don’t think Ella should face blame for eating disorders or obsessions with clean eating. Ella has tried to distance herself away from that term. She’s simply found a diet she likes and one which suits her body and needs. It’s not for everyone, but Ella has brought light to plant-based eaters and those looking to use diet to change their wellbeing.
Is the book for me? No. Unless I bring myself to buy a Vitamix, I can’t see myself picking up Deliciously Ella often. With that being said, I haven’t lost my admiration for her and I’m inspired to make better eating decisions.
If you have enjoyed reading, it’s worth scrolling through my post on Instagram’s Clean Eating. Have you tried any Deliciously Ella recipes? What are your thoughts on the wellness movement?