I’ve been wanting to write this post for a while because Deliciously Ella has completely transformed my approach to food and healthy eating – for the better! She is so inspirational and ever since I discovered her I have been totally hooked. I briefly mentioned her in my last post on Wild Food Cafe, but for those who may not have heard of her, she writes a blog all about healthy living that has now been turned into a best-selling book and app. All of the Deliciously Ella recipes are plant-based and gluten free, and reflect her story of how she used this way of eating to recover from PoTS. My first experience of Deliciously Ella was actually by coming across her Instagram account, seeing all of her pictures of amazing and colourful food! This just made we want to make the recipes myself, which is when I started looking through her blog. From there I became obsessed with watching the videos on her YouTube channel too, so I knew I just had to get the book! In this post I want to share my experiences of eating the Deliciously Ella way; where it all began, how I’ve been finding it so far and how it has affected the way I look at food.
How it all began:
My decision to begin eating this way wasn’t a matter of reading the blog and changing my diet overnight. In recent years I’ve lost a bit of weight but I still don’t feel as though I’ve reached where I want to be. I’m in that stage of a weight loss plato, which is probably a result of my extreme low calorie diet I was on before that my body got used to. Moving to university I’ve become much more in control of my diet, but I’ve been stuck in rut with knowing what I should be eating. Yet, I want feel good as well as look better, so I didn’t want to go back to eating the minimum as it just made me feel tired and grumpy. I am a bit of a foodie, so I could never cope with a bland and boring diet, nor do I want it to be low in nutrients (as it was previously, and my body showed the effects). When I found Deliciously Ella, it seemed like there would be no harm in trying. I know she says that the recipes can be used as part of a healthy lifestyle and you don’t necessarily have to completely commit to this way of eating, but for me I felt if I didn’t immerse myself in it then I would constantly be making excuses and so wouldn’t feel the benefits. But for now, enough of the serious part! I have hugely enjoyed eating this way, it has been such a positive experience so far and I wanted to share my thoughts!
I looked through all the recipes and had a good idea of the dishes I wanted to first. A lot of the ingredients feature in many of the recipes, so I did an initial bulk buy which allowed me to make most things. Once I’d made my decision to live the Deliciously Ella way, I basically did make the changes overnight. However, for me this wasn’t as drastic as it sounds. I didn’t call myself a vegetarian or vegan before, but I ate very little meat and my only source of dairy was yogurt as I prefer almond milk over cows’ milk. I’m also not the biggest lover of bread and pasta, so cutting out gluten didn’t affect me much either. I was feeling so enthusiastic and it was so refreshing to get excited about my diet again rather than seeing food as the enemy.
My favourite dishes:
I have tried so many of the recipes on the blog and in the book, but I wanted to share my favourites!
Bircher Muesli – I adore bircher muesli but thought it always had to be made with yogurt. So I must admit that before I tried this I didn’t know if it would be as good. It’s made with almond milk instead, and the chia seeds thicken it up. This recipe however, has become my favourite breakfast! I whip it up the night before (which takes about five minutes, if that), leave it in the fridge overnight and then in the morning I have my breakfast ready! It’s so quick and simple, absolutely delicious and I love the fact you can taste every ingredient.
Apple and Cinnamon Porridge Bake – This recipe tastes as good as it looks. It almost feels as though I’m having a crumble for breakfast, it’s amazing! Porridge is a breakfast favourite of mine so it is nice to change it up, and if I have a bit more time in the morning I love to make this recipe. The flavours are great, you will never again think of porridge as bland. Another good thing is that it does fill me up so I don’t feel I need to eat again until lunch.
Marinated Kale Salad – I have jumped on the kale hype, and marinating kale is the best idea ever. For lunch I like to have it on its own with maybe some nuts, seeds and/or veggies. Very often though, I’ll have it with dinner as an addition to cannellini bean stew or something. Again, it’s super quick and extremely tasty.
Courgetti with Avocado Pesto – Courgetti is basically spaghetti made out of courgette, and it’s a great swap. A spiraliser is used to create the shape which I didn’t originally have, so just peeled the courgette into thin strips. However, I have now bought myself one and I love it! The avocado pesto is so creamy and totally transforms a vegetable that can be very bland on its own. For lunch the courgetti really nice raw and the dish is easily transportable so I often take it on the go with me.
Cannellini Bean Stew – I have made this recipe so many times already! It’s everything I want my dinner to be: quick, easy to make and satisfying. All you have to do is mix the ingredients together and heat it up but the result is amazing. I find cannellini beans really filling so I eat this with marinated kale (which I’ve already mentioned I love!) which really works.
Lentil Bolognese – Again this is another satisfying dinner. Lentils are filling because they are a great source of protein, and using them for a bolognese makes this a very tasty dinner. It needs a little longer for all the flavours to soak-up than other recipes, but the result is worth waiting for! The first time I attempted to make this it was 7pm and I foolishly hadn’t looked at the instructions beforehand. I decided to make it the next evening instead when I could be more organised!
Raw Brownies – I think this is Ella’s most popular recipe and I can totally see why. I have certainly made a few batches of these delightfully sweet and chocolaty bites! Again, so quick, so simple and you really feel like you’re indulging.
Flapjacks – These flapjacks were certainly on my ‘to-make’ list from the beginning as I’m a big fan of oaty things however, after trying them at Ella’s book signing I promoted them to the top. They are much better than traditional flapjacks which makes them the perfect example that recipes always taste better when natural ingredients are used. They will also make your kitchen smell delicious!
Medjool Dates with Almond Butter – Not a recipe as such but Ella frequently recommends this combination and it’s heavenly!
For my first week of eating this way I was at home, so I was surrounded by the food that my family would normally eat. I can’t say this was easy, as when I began I still had cravings for things like biscuits and chocolate. The temptation of just caving in and eating one was difficult to fight. The first week was definitely a case of will-power! After that, the new term started at university and I only took back the ingredients I needed which was so much better. I think the first mistake I made was not having any satisfying snacks. As much as fruit is so delicious I feel like it doesn’t always fill me up and sometimes you just have to have something chocolaty! The raw brownies were therefore a revelation – the perfect pick-me-up!
Another difficulty is eating out. When you look at the menu for most places, it’s so surprising that there is usually nothing on the menu that fits in with gluten-free and vegan eating. Often, the vegetarian options will be loaded with carbs and cheese instead. How I’ve been tackling it so far is by having salads and just not eating the cheese, for example. In one case when I was out for dinner with my friends, the only potential option on the menu was a salmon salad, which I did eat on this occasion. I felt it was the best compromise and that the damage was minimal.
Nutrients not Calories:
For me this was a huge change as previous diet involved meticulous calorie counting. Although I was horrified to find that a medjool date with almond butter can be around 100 calories, I do try my best to not be as obsessive. Ella always recommends that we should listen to what our body needs and that too much of anything isn’t good for us.
I committed to Deliciously Ella eating for two months and did not deviate from it. I did enjoy it immensely and although I have now altered it slightly to suit my lifestyle, my diet still mainly reflects the core of her food philosophy. Plant-based eating should definitely be appreciated more and therefore, this is something I try to stick to. I no longer eat any meat and avoid gluten and refined sugar where I can. As far as dairy products, I now eat yogurt but still enjoy the coconut yogurt that Ella recommends, and do occasionally have goats’ cheese. I also eat fish – mainly salmon and sea bass. For me, these changes are enough to be comfortable with my diet for the majority of the time without feeling like I’m being awkward or making compromises. Of course, you have to live a bit and there are always going to be exceptions – I will still have cake on my birthday and go out for afternoon tea! But this type of food is just as delicious and in no way do I feel like I am depriving myself.
I was lucky enough to meet Ella at Whole Foods Kensington, where she signed my book. She was so lovely and I cannot wait for her second book to come out in January! I hope you can take something from her just as I have and please, if you have not already, check out Deliciously Ella!
YouTube: Deliciously Ella