Deliciously Ella ExclusiveElla Mills, the champion of eating well, shares all with Glowcation

By Ophelia Froud, Glowcation Founder
15 September '18

Long before fame found Deliciously Ella, I was a huge fan. I first interviewed her five years ago for The Mail on Sunday’s You magazine. Ella’s blog, Deliciously Ella was fast becoming a word of mouth social media sensation.

Fresh out of University, Ella was genuinely surprised by all the attention. I interviewed her for a trends feature and yet today Ella has become so much more than a trend. She has become a UK plant-food pioneer, single handedly inspiring and changing the way so many of us, including myself, eat. A year after our interview Ella was on the front cover of the magazine and in fact many more magazines across the UK. Now she is an award-winning cookery author, entrepreneur and wife. Her website, Deliciously Ella, has had over 110 million hits in the last 3 years and her first book was the bestselling cookbook of all time in the UK and a New York Times bestseller. And did we mention her number 1 app? Her Deli? Her recently launched podcast? Or her plant-based food product line?

Today Ella remains as authentic, genuine and well, as real and lovely, as ever.

It says so much about Ella that in the busiest week of her working year as she launched the UK’s fastest selling vegan cook book she gave Glowcation this exclusive interview super fast and super professionally. We can’t wait to see what Ella does next.


Deliciously Ella
Photograph Sophia Spring

Which is your favourite recipe from your new book and why?

So hard to choose just one… I’m obsessed with the Thai curries and the Sri Lankan curry and then the creamy artichoke and edamame dip served with our black rice, pepper and pistachio salad, roasted aubergine, tomato and pesto salad and sweet potatoes with spring onions, chilli and taihini is a real winner. Just such a delicious spread.

Our fudgy brownies are a staple in my life (and they already seem to be the most popular from the book as far as I can see from Instagram!), as are the mango flapjacks and the banana spelt muffins.

What’s a perfect Autumn recipe from your book we can look forward to making?

All the stews and curries, it’s the orange chapter, and it’s my favourite.

Each dish is full of warming, toasted spices; hearty veg, potatoes and beans; lots of creamy coconut milk and so much flavour.

The Tuscan bean stew, cauliflower lentil dahl with dried apricots and the Thai curries are such winners in our house.

Gatherings and supper clubs are a big part of your Deliciously Ella community and there is a whole section devoted to them in your new book. We really enjoyed your Christmas supper club we came to last year and made some great new friends. Yet holding a dinner party and getting people together at home can be daunting so what would be a simple menu to start with?

If you’re a nervous cook then start with something easy like the five bean chilli, which you can serve simply with brown rice (add a splash of tamari and sesame oil to it for more flavour), sliced avocado and a dollop of yoghurt (we use a coconut yoghurt).

It’s literally fool-proof, I promise you can’t mess it up and everyone loves it.

What has been the highest and lowest moment of running your business?

Highest is our team and our community.

Getting to work with such smart people every day and run a business with my husband is amazing, as is being supported by such kind, passionate people.
Lowest is feeling lonely, running a business can be isolating – I work every day, I’ve missed countless birthdays and things with friends for work.

You say in your new book that your authentic connection with your community has become the cornerstone of the Deliciously Ella community. How do you find time to respond to almost every tweet, Facebook, email and Instagram message? Do you have a daily routine for your time or an app or time manager you use?

Because I think it’s the most important thing in our businesses so I spend every spare second I can doing it – I don’t have any routine for it, I just fit it in wherever I can – on the bus, on my way to a meeting, while I have my breakfast, in the bath, literally anywhere any time!

Deliciously Ella

Social media can be all consuming. How do you detox?

I don’t know… I come back to my yoga again here, it’s the time of the day that I know I’m technology free and the world goes quiet. I love it.

You’ve been hugely successful at a very young age. What are your top 5 secrets for keeping that inner and outer glow under pressure?
Daily yoga, face masks (I’m a face mask addict I think, love them!), good sleep, dinners with Matt at home and green smoothies for breakfast.

Your new book also tells the story of you and Matt. What made you decide to share your story together?

Deliciously Ella has always been built on honest conversation.

We hadn’t had the opportunity to really open up about what we’d learnt, the messes we’d made, the ups and the downs and all the adventures we’d been through in the last few years until this book. As you’re going through the crisis points you can’t share them on social media.

It’s just not responsible as a business or an employer, but now that we’re on the other side it felt right to say this journey has been amazing.

It’s been anything but a shiny, glossy ride.

It’s been messy, challenging, heartbreaking at moments and so much more human that I think some of our readers realised.

You talk how important optimism is to you running a business in the book. How do you stay optimistic with all the ups and downs of running a business? What are your daily techniques and life hacks?

It’s something I’m still learning, but yoga has been by far the best tool I’ve found so far. I always prioritise yoga, making an hour for breath, calm, peace and sweat every day is magic for me. Especially if I do it first thing in the morning so I set an intention of space, ease and positivity that I can carry into whatever madness is about to unfold!

In your podcast you talk about your passion for small businesses. Growing a business can be tough and many fail in the first year. What advice would you give to someone starting out now with a small business?

There’s so much to say here.. Firstly attitude, be prepared to put everything into this, you have to be happy to work 24/7 and put every last drop of love, passion and energy you have into it. There will be moments where every option feels impossible and the world appears to collapse around you, at this point you can’t collapse – you have to be the one to find the way through.

Surround yourself with the best people you can, put your ego to one side, and acknowledge where you can help your business and where you can’t – where are your skills, and more importantly where are your weaknesses? Work as a team, listen to everyone and empower your team every day.

Engage in your community, every customer is essential to your growth, treasure them, take time for them and remember what they want matters most.

Most importantly, have a strong why – know why you do what you do, most businesses just know what they do but knowing the why is where the magic is. Get the book start with Why, it’s really helpful!

Deiciously Ella
Deliciously Ella

What has been the highest and lowest moment of running your business?

Highest is our team and our community.

Getting to work with such smart people every day and run a business with my husband is amazing, as is being supported by such kind, passionate people.

Lowest is feeling lonely, running a business can be isolating – I work every day, I’ve missed countless birthdays and things with friends for work.

You say in your new book that your authentic connection with your community has become the cornerstone of the Deliciously Ella community. How do you find time to respond to almost every tweet, Facebook, email and Instagram message? Do you have a daily routine for your time or an app or time manager you use?

Because I think it’s the most important thing in our businesses so I spend every spare second I can doing it – I don’t have any routine for it, I just fit it in wherever I can – on the bus, on my way to a meeting, while I have my breakfast, in the bath, literally anywhere any time!

Social media can be all consuming. How do you detox?

I don’t know… I come back to my yoga again here, it’s the time of the day that I know I’m technology free and the world goes quiet. I love it.

You’ve been hugely successful at a very young age. What are your top 5 secrets for keeping that inner and outer glow under pressure?

Daily yoga, face masks (I’m a face mask addict I think, love them!), good sleep, dinners with Matt at home and green smoothies for breakfast.

When I first interviewed you five years ago for You magazine you had been very unwell, you were were growing as a blogger, and you hadn’t yet written your first book or launched your business, Your huge success was just around the corner. How would you describe the last five years and what advice would you give your younger self?

Totally mad, totally unexpected, totally amazing.

My biggest piece of advice would be to enjoy every second of the adventure, moments will be tough but there’s still positives in every situation and a glass half full attitude is a game changer.

Know that nothing is ever as bad as it may seem so there’s no point worrying about what may or may not happen in the future, you’ll always be able to put one step in front of another no matter what life throws at you.

You write very movingly in your new book about Matt’s mother Tessa’s illness. You also talk about the impact that had on Matt that summer and how you both then went to Greece to assess the way you were living. What is your advice for avoiding burnout when life gets stressful?

The thing we really re-evaluated here was attitude again, coming back to ensuring every day we focused on gratitude rather than stress and then implementing the little tools we needed to keep that going. I really re-committed to my yoga practice at this point, that was my tool, Matt’s was a long walk each day with Austin – both gave us headspace and helped to take out the frantic nature of the way we were living. Life didn’t calm down, work didn’t slow and over the next nine months things only got harder but the attitude made it so much easier.

If you were looking at making changes towards a plant-based lifestyle where would you advise people to start?

With things you love.

I’m a massive believer in the idea that for anything to be sustainable it has to be enjoyable.

Make it delicious, add all the flavour and cook veg that you love – remember guacamole is a vegetable, it’s not solely about kale!

For more on Deliciously Ella click here and here. 

If you were just starting out on a plant-based journey what would be your top five products to buy first?

All the herbs and spices; nut butters and tahini; dressing ingredients (tamari, sesame oil, cider vinegar and olive oil); tins of chickpeas and beans; coconut milk and tinned tomatoes. If I could have a sixth, I’d say grains – oats, rices and quinoa.

What do you eat for breakfast?

I start with my yoga and then it’s normally a green smoothie, it’s speedy and when I’m really busy it’s an easy way to know I’m getting some of my five a day in. I do lots and lots of spinach, frozen banana, frozen blueberries, oats, almonds and almond milk

What would we be surprised to discover about you?

That my worst nightmare is a green salad. I don’t like lettuce and whenever I say do you have a vegan option and someone says how about a green salad, I want to cry!

You’ve achieved so much. Where next and what are you dreaming about?

So many projects… getting the podcast going, we’re just three episodes in, so loads to come there; a big book tour for The Cookbook all around the UK; a launch of a new frozen range of natural, plant-based meals (I am so excited about this!); launching a whole new look with our packaging; decorating our office; finding out how to run the London marathon (we just signed up to raise money for the Brain Tumour Charity) and lots of events and supper clubs.

Read bout Ella’s Deli here. 

 

Copyright Glowcation 2018

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