Infusing her healthy food vibes at the recent Dubai Food Festival, British cooking sensation Ella Mills, better known as ‘Deliciously Ella’, spoke to HEALTH about her culinary journey.
HEALING WITH FOOD
“I had suffered from Postural Tachycardia Syndrome, also known as PoTS and therefore, radically altered my diet to alleviate some of the symptoms. To be honest, I got this idea from research I did on Google. I had taken medication for one year and hadn’t seen the results I wanted and was really at a loose end. So, I began looking at other things I could do to help myself; lots of people were using different elements of lifestyle and diet to manage different kinds of conditions. I was quite interested in that concept and thought I should try it. It took about two years to see real results in terms of actually being able to come off my medication and manage it on a daily basis. But it took three months to a point to what I was doing and then six months to see there really was something positive in what I was doing.”
“I think having a certain stock of things makes a big difference. Like if you come home from work and already have the fundamentals to make a healthy meal and you only need to buy one or two fresh ingredients, I think you are more likely to cook it than if you have nothing to start with. The first is having a very good spice rack as it’s an instant way to add flavor and obviously makes food tastier to eat. I always have paprika, cayenne, cumin, turmeric, mustard seeds, ginger, cinnamon, and chili flakes. Then I think dried herbs are important; I keep oregano, thyme, and parsley. Then a must is very good olive oil which makes such a difference and adds such immense flavor. Soy sauce is excellent to have because if you are making something simple like a vegetable quinoa bowl, just a splash of this gives depth and flavor and can make a big difference. Then of course the nut butters like peanut butter and almond butter just because I love them. A good shelf of dried goods like oats, quinoa, brown rice, and then canned goods like tomatoes, chick peas, and coconut milk. So you can get home, open a can of chick peas, cook it with some garlic and canned tomatoes and stir in some paprika and add some avocado or spinach and you have the base for a deliciously healthy meal ready in minutes.”
“I believe being healthy is cooking fresh meals with healthy foods using what’s available in your area. You don’t need 101 complicated ingredients. I eat lots of mixed vegetable curries and these don’t need super foods like chia seeds or spirulina. You can focus on your everyday simple ingredients.”
“I don’t like a term or a word that puts anything into a box. Personally for me, I think it’s about doing what you enjoy and find sustainable. Put a word on it and then you can’t do much more with it. I really respect everyone, but it doesn’t have to be one way or the other. I try my best to eat more natural, home-cooked foods and less processed foods, more natural foods and more fruit and vegetables. Also, focus on the positives more; so more fruit and vegetables, more natural foods, rather than the negatives like ‘never eat this or that’ as this can create a complicated cycle. If you focus on taking stuff out instead of in, it becomes difficult. This is just a more approachable way of looking at it.”
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“I think people looked at healthy eating as a bit sad or lonely. It needs to be enjoyable which makes it a sustainable approach. I think that means delicious things that you can share with your friends and all have together.”