With a readership of 2.5 million a month, an inspiring story behind her blog 'Deliciously Ella' and the best sweet potato brownie recipe we've ever tasted, it’s no wonder 22 year old Londoner Ella Woodward has become a super-food success with her own Recipe App and the recent launch of her very own book!
With our long list of New Year’s resolutions at the ready, we’re chatting to the superfood blogger for some home truths about committing to a vegan & gluten free diet.
1. You started your blog ‘Deliciously Ella’ back in 2011 to record the healthy lifestyle you had embarked on after being diagnosed with a rare illness. How was your diet before your diagnosis and are you able to further explain POTS?
My diet was pretty awful before; I primarily lived off sweets, cereal and pasta; and I also really didn’t like fruit or vegetables – so it was very different to now! In June 2011 I suddenly got ill and that changed everything. One day I just woke up feeling awful – my stomach looked like I was six months pregnant, I was so exhausted, was having heart palpitations and general 'hangover' type symptoms despite not having drunk any alcohol the night before!
Over the next four months these symptoms got gradually worse as I went in and out of hospital seeing way too many doctors and having countless tests. No one could figure out what was wrong and at this point I would loose my vision when I stood up, couldn’t eat anything without pain and could barely get out of bed. Eventually I was diagnosed with Postural Tachycardia Syndrome which is a chronic illness that affects the autonomic nervous system, effectively breaking it down so that most systems in your body don’t work as they should – I couldn’t regulate my heart rate, digestions and immune system etc. I tried conventional medicine for about six months but sadly this didn’t help and I was still bed-ridden most of the time so I decided to heal with food. Overnight I gave up gluten, dairy, refined sugar and meat and started eating a wholefood, plant based diet. It took me eighteen months to feel well again and come off my medication, but it’s really worked!
2. Having openly confessed to having a serious sweet tooth prior to your diagnosis; how hard was it to adapt to your new lifestyle?
It was so hard! I was so addicted to sugar to the point that I dreamt about eating Haribo every night for the first three months, which was very strange.
Once I learnt that you could make sweet treats that were full of healthy ingredients, like dates and nuts, life became great again and I no longer craved processed sugar.
3. What have you found were the biggest benefits from adapting to a diet that consists wholely of plant-based, vegan and gluten free foods?
For me the biggest benefit was that it healed a chronic illness and gave me my life back again, which was amazing. It’s also given me amazing amounts of energy, and on a superficial level it does wonders for your skin and hair and allows to you to constantly stay at your natural weight.
4. Your blog is filled with amazing, easy to follow recipes and ingredients for a healthier lifestyle; what is your favourite recipe as an alternative to a much loved comfort food favourite?
I love curries, they’re my go-to if I need comfort food. There’s a great recipe in the book for a Thai coconut curry that I love and make all the time. It’s made of aubergines, chickpeas, squash and coconut milk infused with ginger, chilli, coriander and miso – it’s so good! I then mix it with lots of brown rice for an easy, nourishing dinner.
5. The Deliciously Ella app is filled with vegan recipes from smoothies and exotic salads to mouth-watering chocolate mousse and pasta bakes! What can we see from Deliciously Ella: The Book?
I’m incredibly excited for people to see the book, it has over one hundred recipes in it, almost all of which are new and so delicious.
I’ve included a couple of favourites from the blog though – like the sweet potato brownies! Sweet treat alternatives are so popular I thought it would be nice for readers to have hard copies of them. I’ve also filled the book with all the information that anyone would need if they were looking to eat more plant-based goodness. I was so confused when I changed my diet as to what to eat – what was good, what was bad, how to pair ingredients, so I’ve tried to demystify all of that in the book.
6. A plant-based diet must make it easier to maintain a toned and healthy body, what is your top tip to get in shape before hitting the beach?
I think it’s just about taking care of yourself all year. I’m really not an advocate of crash diets, they just make you unhappy and irritable, plus you won’t get the results you want as they wont last. Instead I think we should try to eat well and exercise all year so that you feel happy and comfortable in your body all the time.
7. What foods or vitamins do you recommend to prepare your body for the sun?
In the summer I like eating hydrating foods like cucumbers as they feel cooling and do wonders for your skin.
Ella wears the Ignes Lace Kaftan in Cream
The Deliciously Ella Recipe Book is available to buy online now!
Make sure you pick up a copy and you'll learn how to to heal the healthy way!