Deliciously Ella Book Review
Ella Woodward is one of the keynote speakers at the Britmums annual conference in a weeks time, and I have been asked to write review of her book Deliciously Ella. I’m giving away a copy of the book to one lucky reader. See details at the foot to see how to win – closing date 26th June 2015
Unless you’ve been hiding under a stone for the last few months, you will probably have heard of Ella. She’s the 23 year old wunder blogger who was diagnosed with Postural Tachycardi Syndrome (POTS) around 4 years ago, and managed to regain her life through healthy eating and a gluten free vegan diet. Her blog Deliciously Ella documents the recipes she has created and has seen success that most bloggers could only dream of. She now has a phenomenally successful book with the same name.
It’s in with some pretty good company as seen at my local Waterstones display:
Regular readers of my blog (and indeed anyone who has spent more than 15 minutes in my company) will know that eggs, meat, cheese and bread products usually on the same plate (and sometimes the same sandwich) are my life blood. What I know about vegan cooking you could write on a lentil. Suffice to say, I was a little sceptical about what I would get from this book.
A large part of the book is Ellas story and facts about the ingredients and their uses. It covers the basics in terms of grains, nuts, pulses, vegetables and fruits.
What I did like about it.
I enjoyed hearing Ellas story. The recipes take you on her journey. These are the tried and tested dishes she has made over the last 4 years, as she works out what works and what doesn’t for her. Ella has clearly done her research, and the book is pretty informative without being too preachy.
The photos in the book are beautiful. Though I would have liked a few more photos of the finished dishes. I personally like to see a picture of every dish –the book could easily have absorbed more without looking cluttered. The pictures are like an instagram feed, but given the books roots, that’s hardly surprising.
The book has a real first cook book feel to it, and a great way for someone wanting to start on the vegan journey, including really simple amendments to turn classic dishes vegan and gluten free for example the recipes for mashed potato or tabbouleh with quinoa. I learned about new cooking methods and substitutions that I hadn’t heard of before.
The recipes are in the main quite simple, and could be made without much cooking experience. They also have handy top tips at the foot of each recipe. I will set my 11year old daughter to try out some of the recipes.
I don’t feel that Ella is “dictating” a lifestyle. This book documents the changes she has made to her diet, and she has clearly seen positive results. Right up front she suggests that you should start by making one or two changes – adding a new serving of fruit or veg, to your existing routine. Or making it work for you by adding cheese or fish to fit in with your lifestyle.
What I wasn’t so keen on.
I would question how healthy some of the recipes actually are. Although the book doesn’t advocate refined sugar, there are lots and lots of recipes using natural sugar in the form of medjool dates, maple syrup, honey or bananas. The beetroot chocolate cake uses a mug of apple puree and a mug of maple syrup. Although unrefined, that’s still a lot of natural sugar. Similarly coconut oil, milk and cream, and avocados may be healthier than dairy and animal fats, but they still have a high fat content. To be fair, I don’t think Ella is preaching in her book. She is 23, was a self-confessed sugar monster, and is simply documenting what works for her.
I’m not sure I’m the target demographic, but I found some of the language and phrases quite annoying. It was like having a conversation with my teenager. There were a lot of “I swear you can …” and “awesomely” phrases scattered about the book. I imagine this is how she writes on her blog. (And I really shouldn’t throw stones at this point). Somehow it feels more annoying in a book than a blog – probably because I’m more likely to dip in and out of a blog. That said, the writing feels like it has her authentic voice, and she has a very loyal following. It was a niggle rather than a critisism.
A lot of the recipes I liked the look of are readily available on the internet from other sources. For example the one ingredient banana icecream,
The final verdict.
This book will definitely not convert me to vegan cooking, In fact until bacon is declared a vegetable, I would struggle to even be vegetarian. But I will definitely try to introduce some of the ideas once or twice a week, and am likely to take her recipes and modify them to my own tastes or those of my kids. I only received the book last week, and so have only had time to try out 4 – 5 recipes from the book. It is unlikely to be the first book I reach for, but I am sure to dip in and out, and will definitely consult when I have veggie friends over.
And I would definitely reuse some of the recipes – not necessarily because they are healthy, but because they are really tasty. The thai vegetable curry and sweet potato brownies were both delicious in their own right.
Heres my version of the coconut thai curry – I used roasted peppers instead of aubergine. This was really tasty, and I would definitely use for veggie lunches and suppers.
And here are my versions of Ellas baked beans – old school with handmade chips. Yum. I have my own version of homemade beans here. These were equally tasty, if a little sweeter than my usual.
The book is available for around £10-£15 a most online book retailers – but if you’d like a free copy, simply add a comment bellow on this post, (and maybe consider following the blog).
OR write on my Instagram post and repost. I will select 1 winner at random on 26th June.
I was sent this book to review by the publishers, however all views expressed are my own.