Ella Woodward and I are sitting in her newly opened Mae Deli gobbling almond soup and, between mouthfuls, extolling the virtues of healthy living. The food blogger’s version is a bit (okay, a lot) healthier than mine, but her words strike home anyway: “I still want to eat sweet and indulgent stuff, it’s just that my tastebuds have changed so that means something different from a Mars bar to me now.” I have similarly noticed that the avoidance of processed foods engenders a shift in what I feel to be a treat.
We’re here to mark Ella’s newest venture as an ambassador for the non-toxic cleaning brand Method for whom she’s initially created three recipes to correspond with their hero products), though it looks like 2016 will offer up many more occasions for celebrations: this week sees the launch of her new book Deliciously Ella Everyday; the Mae Deli is doing a roaring trade, and Ella is planning a wedding.
How does she fit it all in? “There’s a lot at the moment, but I’m genuinely just loving it. Healthy eating does make you feel better though – when you feel good in yourself you often put more energy into other things.”
After a beauty natter and some more of Ella’s tips on healthy eating, I leave the deli with an notebook teeming with recommendations and the resolution to always pick kale over crisps more regularly in that hope that it’ll give me Ella’s indomitable energy. Or, at the very least, her clear complexion…
ML: Would you consider your way of eating to be ‘clean’?
EW: I don’t like the idea of looking at food as clean and dirty, good and bad – healthy eating is a lifestyle, not a diet. For me it’s about focussing on natural food and about making a balance that makes you feel good and is accessible and sustainable and enjoyable. That’s why I focus on natural because that’s about real food and cutting out refined stuff. It’s not a diet. It’s really not. It’s a way of living.
ML: Has your ethos spilled into other areas of your life? I know you clean with Method products but do the contents of your beauty bag also now lean towards the organic?
EW: Cleaning and beauty come into the same umbrella: when I started changing the way I ate it started to become a part of me and the way I live. Over time it felt odd to be really conscious of the way I was eating but then to wash my plate in stuff that I thought was horrible or to put moisturiser on that was obviously going into my bloodstream and was full of all the stuff I was trying to avoid, so I started to be conscious about beauty.
ML: Talk products…
EW: For make-up I use a lot of RMS – I love their mascara, their living luminiser and all their eyeshots are amazing. For skincare, I like Neal’s Yard and really love their bath stuff. I did a half marathon last year with my fiancé Matt and my brother and his girlfriend so I used a lot of their arnica gel, too!
For hair, I have just discovered Faith in Nature which I buy online – it’s amazing. It’s really inexpensive and doesn’t lather and they only have five or six ingredients. I used to have really dry hair and now it’s really in much better condition.
ML: And are you a fan of using coconut oil?
EW: Absolutely – I love it for skincare. I use it to remove mascara with a cotton pad and it just disappears, which is especially useful after a photo shoot where they use loads of make-up. I also use it as a hair conditioner – I put it on the ends overnight or about half an hour before showering while I potter it around. Just don’t put it near the roots – you’ll be greasy for days!