My incredible journey to Borneo has now come to a close, and I've taken a short sojourn to Sydney for a week before heading back to the land of the long white cloud. The trip was incredible - I was lucky enough to see some amazing wildlife including wild orang-utans, numerous species of monkeys, hornbill birds, kingfisher birds, night owls, as well as crocodiles, tarantula spiders, and pythons. I also learnt a lot about the, sadly, much rarer endemic Bornean species such as the world's smallest rhinoceros, the pygmy elephant, the clouded leopard, and the sun bear. This second grouping of animals are all verging on extinction, and it was incredibly sad to realise that the likely reason we didn't get to see them was due to their dwindling numbers. There are a lot of things going on in Borneo affecting this, including tropical rainforest deforestation, mass monoculture of palm oil plantations, and poaching due to demand for wildlife animal parts in China. But I shall save all that until I'm back on the ground and able to do it justice.
Mean the while, I thought it high time I introduce you to another super inspiring plant-powered individual I've had the pleasure of meeting. I first spotted Ella Woodward on Instagram, under her alias Deliciously Ella. There she was posting pic after pic of incredible looking, mouth watering herbivorous cuisine, always bursting with rainbows of colour. A lady after my own heart, I soon discovered that she also had an wildly popular blog by the same name. A few recipes later and I was hooked.
Ella's background is pretty similar to mine, in that her move towards a plant-based organic lifestyle was precipitated by a debilitating auto-immune illness. After having been a Ben & Jerry's addict for years, Ella's sudden Postural Tachycardia Syndrome caused her to do a complete U-turn, and become a whole foods fruit and vegetable loving vegan food-nerd overnight. Her health recovery has been so extraordinary, she's also decided to head back to school in her home abode of London, topping off her Masters in Art History with a qualification in Naturopathic Nutrition.
I hope you enjoy meeting Ella as much as I have, and I definitely recommend trying out her incredibly popular Raw Blueberry Cheesecake. It will leave those other sugary white flour dairy filled cakes languishing in the dust!
Without further adieu, meet Ella...
Why did you decide to turn to a more plant-powered organic lifestyle?
I went from an ice cream loving, candy-obsessed diet (which included almost no fresh fruit or vegetables) to a clean eating gluten free vegan overnight as a way of trying to manage and hopefully cure an auto-immune disease called Postural Tachycardia Syndrome. I was diagnosed with this illness in 2011 and was told there was no cure just lots of medication, none of which really worked so after six months of steroids and countless other drugs I started looking into a holistic, food based approach to healing.
How has your health (physical and emotional) changed since then?
The change in diet has had the most incredible effect on my health; I still can’t quite believe how drastic the change has been! I went from being bed-bound with constant pain, headaches, digestive problems and non-stop infections and illnesses to super healthy within about a month! I’m now eighteen months into this lifestyle and feel better than I could ever have imagined, eating like this has given me an amazingly positive outlook on life too and seems to make me constantly happy!
If you had to give someone 3 reasons why they should switch to more plant-based organic food & beauty products, what would they be?
Being a real foodie my number one reason is that plant-based organic food seriously tastes better than anything, there’s so much that you can do with fruits, vegetables, nuts and grains, all of which is so awesome!
It makes you feel amazing - lighter, more energetic, more positive and healthier, so the effect on your body physically and mentally would be reason number two.
It makes you look pretty awesome too, your skin starts to glow, your hair is stronger and shinier and your body is leaner – it’s pretty amazing.
What does a day on your plate look like:
My breakfast always revolves around a smoothie, at the moment it’s normally a frozen banana blended with fresh berries, some superfoods like chia seeds, ground flax and spirulina plus some spinach or kale and coconut water. It tastes so delicious and powers me up with energy for a great day!
Lunch is then normally a rainbow bowl, which basically consists of a rainbow of vegetables, dips and greens – something like crispy kale with homemade hummus, quinoa, broccoli, grated beets, pumpkin seeds and avocado. It only takes a few minutes to throw together and works perfectly as an on-the-go lunch.
At the moment my dinner obsession is stir-fried veggies with buckwheat noodles, fresh ginger, lemon juice and gluten free soy-sauce – it’s so delicious!
I also constantly snack on medjool dates, dried figs and almond butter, three of the most delicious foods ever!
Now, your favourite foodie indulgence...
Raw brownies (click here for a recipe). I’m so obsessed! I could eat plates and plates of them, they’re so easy to make and taste better than any normal brownie!
What do you think the biggest fear or misconception is about going more organic or plant-based?
That all we eat is grated carrot and iceberg lettuce! I think people worry that the food is boring and not at all filling, but I’m yet to make anyone dinner who didn’t say afterwards that they were so surprised by how good it really was and that they loved it! When you make roasted cinnamon sweet potatoes with quinoa, a creamy rosemary brazil nut cheese sauce and spicy sautéed veggies followed by chocolate mousse and coconut bites everyone falls in love with plant-based food!
What's your approach to balance & moderation in life (and/or food)
Balance and moderation are great things always! I don’t want my lifestyle to be something that prevents me from anything so there always needs to be some compromise, but for me this way of life has given me my health back so I don’t want to stray away from it. Besides I love eating like this, it’s amazing and I can’t imagine ever going back to a meat-based diet.
You've been given permission to raid the Be Good Organics stock room - what's one foodie product and one beauty product you'd nab...
I’d take cacao powder and coconut oil! Cacao powder is one of my favorite things as I have such a sweet tooth so I love being able to make healthy chocolate sweets, and then coconut oil is my go-to beauty product. I use it for everything – as a face and body moisturizer, as a make up remover, a cleanser, a deodorant… the list is pretty endless!
Can you share your favourite plant-passionate recipe?
My raw blueberry cheesecake, it’s my favorite and the most popular recipe on my blog by a long way!
*Click on each ingredient link below to add to your cart. Always use certified organic ingredients where possible*
1 ½c raw almonds
2 ½c medjool dates
2c raw cashews (soaked 2-4hrs)
2 over-ripe bananas (sliced and frozen)
1/3-1/2c light coconut nectar/maple syrup (depending on how sweet you like it - see tasting notes below)
1/3c freshly juiced apple juice
1c freshly frozen blueberries (if available - see tasting notes below)
1 banana (sliced and frozen)
4 medjool dates
1Tbsp dark coconut nectar/maple syrup
1. Start by making the base. Put the almonds into a food processor and blend for a minute or so until the nuts are nicely crushed. Once this has happened add the pitted medjool dates and blend again until a sticky mix forms. Press this into the base of a cake tin and place in the freezer.
2. Then make the middle layer by simply putting all the ingredients into the food processor and blend until smooth and creamy. Take the base layer out of the freezer and pour three quarters of this mix over it before putting the cake back into the freezer – keep the final quarter of the mix in the processor as it’s needed for the top layer.
3. Wait about twenty minutes for the middle layer to set in the freezer before making the third layer. To make this simply add the remaining ingredients to the blender combined with the mix from the middle, blend until smooth and then pour over the middle layer.
4. Place the cake back into the freezer to set for two hours before serving. You’ll need to remove the cake from the freezer and allow it to warm up for a few minutes before you serve it. Then enjoy!
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VIDEO POST! Banoffee Pie is always a favourite, and this healthy version tastes just as good as the original, without leaving you feeling heavy or bloated afterwards. Luscious, low sugar, and delicious!