Best-seller Ella on how St An­drews changed her life

Kitchen queen re­veals how her life changed for

The Sunday Post (Newcastle) - - FRONT PAGE - Mur­ray Scougall Ms­cougall@sundaypost.coM

She cooked up one of the most pop­u­lar food blogs in the world and wrote Bri­tain’s big­gest-sell­ing de­but recipe book.

With a num­ber one app, four more cook­books, 16 lan­guage trans­la­tions, a deli and a new su­per­mar­ket range, De­li­ciously Ella is one of so­cial me­dia’s big­gest suc­cess sto­ries. But the world­wide phe­nom­e­non all started in stu­dent ac­com­mo­da­tion in St An­drews six years ago, when Ella Mills was at her low­est ebb. So when she re­turns to Scot­land next week on a book tour pro­mot­ing her lat­est best­selling book, The Plant-Based Cook­book, it will bring back lots of me­mories. “Every­thing started in Scot­land, so it’s great to come back,” 27-year-old Ella said. “I spent four years at St An­drews study­ing his­tory of art and I loved it. And my hus­band’s par­ents grew up in Scot­land, so we have a lot of affin­ity with the place.” But it wasn’t all fun and laugh­ter at univer­sity for Ella. In 2011 she was di­ag­nosed with pos­tural tachy­car­dia syn­drome, which had a pro­found ef­fect on her phys­i­cal and men­tal well-be­ing. The con­di­tion meant her ner­vous sys­tem failed to func­tion prop­erly and she couldn’t con­trol her heart rate or blood pres­sure. She was in con­stant pain, had lots of al­ler­gic re­ac­tions and chronic fa­tigue, sleep­ing for 16 hours a day. “I was on med­i­ca­tion for a year but it didn’t work,” she con­tin­ued. “I was re­ally strug­gling. “My men­tal health was at rock bot­tom and I felt I had to do some­thing. I’d been do­ing a lot of read­ing and de­cided to com­pletely over­haul my diet.” The self-con­fessed sugar mon­ster gave up meat, gluten, dairy, sugar and all pro­cessed foods – and be­gan to see sig­nif­i­cant changes. “I was quite scep­ti­cal, but it felt like I had noth­ing to lose,” she ad­mit­ted. “I moved to a plant-based diet overnight. I knew I wouldn’t do it un­less I com­mit­ted to it and I re­ally wanted my health back. “I saw my en­ergy lev­els im­prove and things be­gan to sta­bilise. It was grad­ual changes along the way. “It’s a great les­son, to take one step at a time. I still can’t be­lieve it and at times I do re­flect on every­thing that’s hap­pened.” There was one small prob­lem in the early days. She was a com­plete novice in the kitchen. “I could make a plate of pasta, but that was it. I didn’t cook, but I re­ally wanted to try this, and that’s where the blog came in.” Ella be­gan writ­ing about her strug­gles, both with her health and in the kitchen, as she tried to adapt to this new way of eat­ing and liv­ing. To her sur­prise, the blog took off. With more than 110 mil­lion hits in the last three years alone, its suc­cess led to a se­ries of cook­books, a Lon­don deli and a range of en­ergy balls that are avail­able in shops around the coun­try. Ella the per­son had be­come Ella the brand, and it took some get­ting used to. “It felt odd – es­pe­cially in the be­gin­ning,” she con­tin­ued. “This was never the in­ten­tion of the blog – it just grew or­gan­i­cally. “And then peo­ple started talk­ing about me rather than to me, and that was a strange feel­ing. “It took a mo­ment to get used to it, but I wouldn’t change it for any­thing.” Ella, daugh­ter of Tory-turned-Labour politi­cian Shaun Wood­ward, mar­ried the late MP Tessa Jow­ell’s son, Matthew Mills, two years ago. They are also busi­ness part­ners and Ella ad­mits she finds it hard to switch off – a world away from be­ing un­able to get out of bed just a few years ago. “I do al­low it be 24/7,” Ella said. “I still run all of our so­cial me­dia, as it’s the cor­ner­stone of our busi­ness. Our com­mu­nity is our foun­da­tion, so I’m al­ways keen to an­swer ev­ery­one’s ques­tions.” Her lat­est book con­tains 100 of the recipes that have been served in the deli, as Ella con­tin­ues to per­suade the Bri­tish pub­lic to eat more fruit and veg. “Only about a quar­ter of the pop­u­la­tion have their five a day and we need to start in­cor­po­rat­ing it more into our di­ets,” she in­sisted. “Any­thing we make has to be

‘ I was on med­i­ca­tion for a year but it didn’t work. I was re­ally strug­gling

en­joy­able. I want peo­ple to in­clude fruit and veg­eta­bles in what they eat, make it sat­is­fy­ing, be­cause there are pre­con­cep­tions that it is bor­ing. “I know we are all dif­fer­ent and lead dif­fer­ent lives, so it has to be ap­proach­able to ev­ery­one and any­one. “If you want to dip in and out, that’s fine. I don’t like la­bels to be put on things or to be cat­e­gorised. It’s not a fad diet.” There’s no let up for De­li­ciously Ella. “We’ve just launched a pod­cast se­ries and later this month we have a range of nat­u­ral ready meals, with no preser­va­tives or ad­di­tives, go­ing into su­per­mar­kets,” she added. “It’s all been in­cred­i­bly ex­cit­ing but def­i­nitely a whirl­wind.” Ella is at The Roxy Assem­bly Rooms, Ed­in­burgh, and Water­stones, Sauchiehall St, Glas­gow, on Sept 24 and 25.

Ella Mills has gone from stu­dent blog­ger to global busi­ness sen­sa­tion with her range of recipes

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