A review of Deliciously Ella Everyday by Ella Woodward

Reviewed by Magdalena Ball

Deliciously Ella Everyday
By Ella Woodward
Hatchette Australia
ISBN: 978-1-473-63316-2, Feb 2015, Paperback 288pg, $24.99aud

I’ve been a fan of Ella Woodward’s website Deliciously Ella for some time. Her recipes are  innovative, healthy, generally super-easy, and delicious (and my vegan daughter will eat them). In addition, Woodward is charming, vivacious, and her prose is always a pleasure to read. About 4 years ago, Woodward was diagnosed with Postural Tachycardia Syndrome and has healed herself through diet and general self-care. Her first cookbook, Deliciously Ella, was published a year ago and was a huge success.

The latest book, Delicously Ella Everyday, is as full of inspiration as it is of good recipes and contains some 100 very easy to make recipes that are all plant based, super-healthy (even the desserts) and absolutely delicious. Woodward’s warm prose is a joy to read, and she provides lots of information for beginner and more experienced cooks on how to minimize preparation time, eat better while travelling, keeping costs down, stocking a pantry, and preparing food in advance. Just reading the book is inspiring – with lots of tips for improving the diet and just having more fun with food, and every recipe I’ve tried has been a winner: easy, fast, using ingredients that are readily available (no obscure superfoods here) and reasonably priced.

The book is separated into chapters that include breakfast, travel (foods on the go), salads, dinners, cooking for crowds, and desserts. Breakfast is definitely my favourite section and I suspect it’s Woodward’s favourite meal due to the loving way she describes it:

Eating a meal that doesn’t make you feel bloated or lethargic an hour later is great, especially when it also helps you to get glowing skin, shiny hair and bright eyes  It’s amazing knowing you’re doing something that will make you look and feel your best. (21)

Most of the recipes are fast, relying on overnight soaking or blending, but there are also muffins and quick breads, a fry up (no bacon here), pre-made (grab on the way out the door) bars, and smoothies. Most of the recipes assume you have a high speed blender and they are certainly harder to make well with a cheap blender, but will generally still work if you’re prepared to be patient.

Some of the recipes I’ve tried and enjoyed include “Tahini Buckwheat” (which I’ve had for breakfast many times, though it’s not in the breakfast section), “Perfect Pesto Veggies”, “Sauteed Potato, Kale and Hummus”, “Almond Butter Quinoa”, “Sweet Potato Cakes” and “Gooey Black Bean Brownies” (don’t tell the kids about the black beans…). It’s pretty hard to pick up this book and not want to begin cooking immediately, and everything I’ve tried has worked, even with my usual bad habits of substituting and failing to measure anything, and has been quick, easy and very moreish. I already have post it notes on many other recipes throughout the book, and would be making more if I didn’t feel the need to keep repeating those dishes that worked so well for me.

Variations are always provided for the recipes and the book Is livened by a number of beautiful images (including many of Ella herself, who is rather a glowing example of why eating well is worthwhile). There really isn’t any recipe in Deliciously Ella Everyday which is hugely complex or unhealthy, and that includes, on both counts, the “Chocolate Ganache Cake”, which is likely to be next on my list.

The book has plenty of desserts you can eat for meals, and meals you’ll want to eat regularly, not just because they make you feel lighter, better, healthier, or because they’re vegan and better for the environment, or even because they’re relatively easy and use ingredients you’ll likely have on hand, but simply because they taste better. Even if you’re not a vegetarian or vegan, having the odd plant based dessert or dinner in place of meat, milk and egg dishes is a good idea, and Deliciously Ella Everyday has plenty of inspiration for the most reluctant chef.