Ella Mills tells Chris Evans her new plant-based cookery book is about ‘gently improving your health’

Virgin Radio

23 Aug 2022, 13:28

Chris Evans and Ella Mills at Virgin Radio.

Chris Evans and Ella Mills at Virgin Radio

Ella Mills, founder of Deliciously Ella, joined the Chris Evans Breakfast Show with Sky to talk about her new book, How To Go Plant-Based: A Definitive Guide For You and Your Family.

The homecook and food writer’s latest book is out now, and is a practical guide incorporating her own journey, alongside scientific research and data, plus insights and information from plant-based experts. She told Chris: “Since I started Deliciously Ella ten years ago, almost 50 percent of the country are dabbling in plant-based, whether that’s just flexitarianism, trying to do meat-free Monday.”

She continued: “A crazy stat: 60 percent of kids in the UK are either vegan, vegetarian, or would like to be…. so I just felt there was space to make it easy for people, make it very everyday recipes, so one pan, one tray, midweek meals, being really conscious of costs as well.”

As well as featuring 100 plant-based recipes, Ella's new book debunks the common myths surrounding eating a plant-based diet, and also works with NHS doctors, dieticians, paediatric dieticians, nutritionists and a psychologist to actually answer pertinent questions, “which is why I called it a definitive guide, because you’ve kind of got everything,” she said.

A common question regarding a plant-based diet is where to get protein from. Ella said: “It is the most asked question, because I think there’s a big myth around it. There’s so many sources, whether that’s tofu, edamame, any kind of source of soy, or your beans, your lentils, your chickpeas; so things like hummus as a result as well. Your nuts and seeds, peanut butter, everyone’s favourite food, or tahini, which is absolutely delicious as well, so it is quite easy.”

She continued: “But I do understand there’s this misconception, and this nervousness about it, and I think we also have this quite strange, deep-rooted fear of not getting enough protein in society, and almost no-one in the western world is deficient in protein, whereas most of us are very deficient in fibre.

“We’re eating just barely over 50 percent of the fibre we need and it’s so important for our gut health, and obviously gut health is such a big topic at the moment, but it has such a big impact on our physical and our mental health, and fibre can be delicious if you kind of learn to make veggies taste amazing, which I certainly did not know how to do when I started this.”

The sixth book from Ella offers recipes perfect for batch cooking, freezable options, easy pastas and one-pots for weeknight meals, portable snacks and treats. She brought some treats in for Chris and the team to try, including a herby butter bean dip “that takes five minutes to make,” as well as simple cookies “which I managed to hide from my toddlers”. She also brought in a one-pan veggie and butter bean orzo, which she says is “my number one dish that I’ve made from the book.”

Explaining how simple it is to make, she said: “I’ve been cooking it pretty much every week for a year now. It takes 20 minutes, one pan… You literally just chuck in red onion, normal onion, garlic, and then orzo, coconut milk and veggie stock, pop the lid on, it will simmer away and then you just add the butter beans, peas, basil and tomato. So again, it’s all kind of normal, normal, easy ingredients.”

Speaking about plant-based recipes, Ella, who has has 2.1 million followers on her Deliciously Ella Instagram account, told Chris: “It makes you think a little bit differently about your cooking as well. Because I think in that more traditional meat and two veg element, you give all your focus to that centrepiece of the meat, and then the veggies are often kind of a bit left behind, which I think is part of the reason that we’re not quite so enamoured with them in this country.” 

Ella told Chris that, while her new book is about plant-based cooking, people’s eating habits don’t need to be “100 percent plant-based, 100 percent of the time, by any means.” She said: “More is more. Only one-in-four of us manage a five-a-day. If we could all just eat a few more portions, we’d all feel the benefits of it.”  

Regarding what she hopes people take away from her book, Ella said: “If people take one thing away, it’s that it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. It’s not a diet, it’s not a three-day thing, it’s just gently improving your health for the next few decades. It’s just more veg, more simple food.”

How To Go Plant-Based: A Definitive Guide For You and Your Family is out now.

For more great interviews listen to  The Chris Evans Breakfast Show with Sky, weekdays from 6:30am on Virgin Radio, or  catch up on-demand here.