Deliciously Ella’s latest cookbook for healthier entertaining will first and foremost inspire your daily cooking regime says Susannah Taylor
I try to eat healthily and aim to eat fresh, unprocessed foods most of the time, however I am by no means perfect. I am also not so immersed in this world that I can’t see see why many people can be very put off by the whole ‘clean eating’ movement that has come under so much scrutiny of late . From beetroot brownies to quinoa snack bars and sweet potato chips/rostis/puddings, for many people this sort of eating is still not ‘normal’ and unfortunately it can be alienating. However, I really think that in her new book, Deliciously Ella does do a very good job at making healthy food shareable and enticing, even to the most hardened anti-health nut.
Within the introduction to the book, Ella says, ‘So many of my readers say that they love eating wholefoods and incorporating plant-based meals into their routine….but their husbands, wives, children friends and colleagues are more skeptical.’ I feel this is true for a lot of healthy people I know, and Ella gives some great tips as to how to incorporate healthier alternatives into their lives. One that stuck with me is ‘Keep the ingredients a secret’. She explains that ‘It really helps people be more objective if they don’t know there’s a certain ingredient in a dish.’ After all, if I was to offer my husband or my children a slice of avocado and cacao chocolate cake with cashew icing, they may politely decline.
The book however is crammed with delicious sounding recipes that look like they would have broad appeal to both family and friends. I think my favourite section is the one on ‘Mornings’ which includes recipes such as Honey and Lemon Breakfast Bars and Crumbly Blueberry Squares for those mornings you need to grab ‘n’ go. I’m definitely going to give these a whirl and keep in a tub for when I am dashing for the train or need a boost pre workout. Then there’s a delicious sounding Berry and Orange smoothie that Ella says she’s made for her husband nearly every day for a year, as well as ideas for everyday breakfasts and longer brunches both sweet and savoury. The herby guacamole is a very welcome update for avocado on toast too.
When you're trying to eat healthily, I find you can roll out the same recipes again and again for lunch and dinner, so I was very grateful for the section on 'Light & Easy' meals. From picnics, to ‘al desko’ snacks and ‘After work catch-ups’ as a busy working mother, I found this particularly useful and real. And as a die-hard salad fan I was also extremely pleased to see a section on ‘Summer Salads’ many of which I will be adding to my repertoire such as the Pistachio and Apricot Quinoa or the Sesame Slaw.
The book covers all types of entertaining, so if you're cooking for a lot of friends or a bigger dinner party then there’s a great section on ‘Feasts’ with recipes from risottos to curries to healthier ideas for Sunday lunches and a delicious-sounding Tomato and Aubergine bake. Then there are pages of easy yet impressive looking side dishes with some incredible looking Lemony Hasselback Potatoes (if deliciously Ella says spuds are ok, then they must be - they come out of the ground for Christ's sake!), plus a whole section on party entertaining from nibbles to cocktails and mocktails. Finally it leads into ‘Sweets’, and whether you’re after a healthier version of a flapjack to go with a cup of tea such as the Quinoa, Hazelnut and Cacao Bars, a light pudding for kids like Coconut and Mango Ice Lollies or Ella’s version of a Sticky Toffee Pudding, you can find it here.
Crammed with pictures of Ella and her equally good looking husband and their friends as well as slightly imperfect pictures of food (artfully squished berries or nibbled-at sticky toffee mixture on a spoon), the book actually doesn't come across as too smug or perfect, and it certainly doesn't feel as alienating as some healthy cookbooks I've read in the past. And whilst aimed at enhancing entertaining skills, more than anything I think it will inspire my everyday cooking at home, whether I get to inviting friends round or not.