The release of How to Go Plant-Based marks 10 years since Ella Mills, founder of Deliciously Ella, embraced a plant-based lifestyle to help her recover from postural tachycardia syndrome, a nervous system condition that left her housebound aged just 21. She became one of the most high-profile healthy eating advocates with a best-selling app and her first plant-based cookbook Deliciously Ella in 2015.
Now, a business-partner husband (Matthew Mills), two babies, a healthy snack range and a chart-topping podcast later, her newest book How To Go Plant-Based, a definitive guide for you and your family is just out and in our view, it's her best - and most informative - yet.
There are 100 recipes, which Ella summarises as “quick, easy recipes that use familiar ingredients, recipes perfect for batch cooking, freezable options, easy pastas and one-pots for weeknight meals, and portable snacks and treats."
It's written in collaboration with top experts across a variety of fields from a habit change psychologist to a gastroenterologist, all of whom are plant-based champions (they even contribute their favourite recipes) and is peppered with stats and data about topics such as what makes a healthy diet, the sustainability benefits of going plant-based, how to raise plant-based children, how to make healthy habits stick and which supplements may be useful for all ages. It makes for a highly readable evidence-based approach to going plant-based.
While Ella is undoubtedly synonymous with the Deliciously Ella brand, unlike her previous six cookbooks, this doesn’t bear her face on the cover. It's nonetheless personal and practical. Now raising her two small daughters on a plant-based diet, this is Ella's guide on how to do the same for your family, while navigating time constraints as a working parent and fussy eaters, both of which she bumps up against on a daily basis.
It's brimming with new family-friendly recipes, spanning breakfast to speedy lunches, with tips on things like adapting recipes for little ones. Though arguably anyone wishing to give plant-based life a go will find it useful, whether you have kids or not.
Demystify going plant-based
The aim of this book, says Ella, is to demystify and debunk common myths around going plant-based, scotching the notion that plant-based food is bland and unsatisfying.
At home, my carnivore husband and 14-year-old son made the Herby Garlic Mushroom with Butterbean Mash' from the 'Family Favourites' and the verdict from all of us was a definite make-again!
Ten years as a plant-based advocate have given Ella time to build up a large and engaged community and she’s drawn on them to crowd-source common concerns about adopting a plant-based diet, to which she provides answers. FAQs include: ‘what does a plant-based diet include? I want to start but I don’t have the knowledge or confidence to ‘what are the best protein sources?’ and ‘how do I get my sceptical partner to try it?’
Ella doesn’t believe plant-based living has to mean taking an all or nothing approach, it can simply refer to someone who eats a plant-based diet most of the time. She's open to having her recipes tinkered with to suit omnivores. “I said in my very first book in 2015 that you should adapt the recipes to make them work for you, and I stand by that seven years later. The only change since then is that I feel I have a better understanding of how to make our recipes work in your life,” she writes.
This translate to arguably better tasting, less complicated and, crucially for now, less expensive meals. "I know that the biggest barriers are a lack of time; a nervousness around what a balanced, healthy, plant-based meal looks like; a concern about costs; a question as to whether the diet will be interesting enough given it doesn’t include every food group; and a lack of confidence in the kitchen. Overcoming each one of these has sat at the heart of creating this book," she says.
Who are the experts featured in her book?
Ella draws on the expertise of seven specialists throughout the book, including doctors, nutritionists, dieticians and psychologists, each of whom contributes an essay and a recipe. “In that sense, it’s a little different from my previous cookbooks in the amount of information included, and I hope it’ll really guide you and your family in your choices, allowing you to make the most informed decisions on the way you eat,” she continues.
The experts are Dr Shireen Kassam, consultant haematologist and senior lecturer; Dr Gemma Newman, NHS GP and senior partner at a family medical practice; Dr Alan Desmond, consultant gastroenterologist in the NHS; Rosemary Martin, registered dietician; Rohini Bajekal, nutritionist, author and board-certified lifestyle medicine professional; Paula Hallam, specialist pediatric dietician; Shahroo Izadi, behavioural change specialist and psychologist.
What kinds of plant-based recipes does the book feature?
For breakfasts: think slow-baked creamy berry and coconut oats, big green smoothies, supercharged date and banana pancakes, as well as savoury numbers such as simple hash browns and super creamy cashew and tofu scramble.
For main meals, there are recipes 'from the hob,' think garlicky roasted aubergine ragu and super greens pasta; and 'from the oven,' with summer tray bakes and harissa chickpea jacket potatoes.
The chapter on speedy lunches, includes quick healthy dishes such as black beans on toast and ten-minute pea and pesto orzo, while "family favourites" covers hearty plant-based bolognese ideas, green mac and cheese and smoky tofu tacos.
There's a chapter on sweet treats, from cherry and almond granola bars to easy berry muffins, and another titled 'making life simpler,' with recipes for plant-based alternatives for dairy dishes such as dips and pasta creams.
This isn’t just a cookbook, it’s a reference book about the role of what we eat in living a healthy life and raising a healthy family as best you can. It's a measured plea for the power of plants to support our health and the planet. Adopting more of a plant-based diet, says Ella, has been shown to be one of the biggest changes we can make in the battle against climate change.
The health evidence, as outlined by the experts in the book, is incontrovertible. As Dr Gemma Newman explains in the chapter on ‘what is a healthy diet’: “according to the World Health Organisation 71 per cent of all deaths around the world each year – a whopping 41 million people – are caused by diseases linked to our lifestyles.”
One of the four pillars of a healthy lifestyle which could help prevent these diseases (such as diabetes or heart disease) is of course a healthy diet (the others being physical activity, not smoking and sensible use of alcohol) and Most of Dr Newman's work as a doctor is helping people when they already have a life-limiting lifestyle condition.
“How wonderful it is to be able to share this information with you and your family before they begin to live with a life-limiting disease," she tells Ella in the book.
Convinced to give plant-based a try now? We are, and this book makes a powerful and delicious case.
How to Go Plant-Based by Ella Mills is out now, £12.99 (Yellow Kite)