Ella was at the University of St. Andrews when she was diagnosed with a rare illness called Postural Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS), which basically breaks down the autonomic nervous system, leaving her bedridden for 95% of the time. She was just 19-years-old.
After failing to find a solution through conventional medicine, and inspired by holistic approaches to healing and such figures as Kris Carr, Ella decided it was time to change her diet. She had never been a fruit and veggie lover or a cook and describes her relationship to refined sugar before her illness as an addiction.
She started slowly, learning how to cook and making the same basic, healthy meals daily — porridge with berries for breakfast, buckwheat avocado toast for lunch, and brown rice pasta with veggie sauce for dinner. Ella decided it was time to mix it up and started her blog, Deliciously Ella, as a way to commit herself to trying new healthy recipes at least three times a week. Her readership started with just a few friends (and her mum.) After 18 months of consistently posting beautiful, plant-based, whole food recipes to the site, she had over five million hits.
There was one recipe in particular that, despite being one of the first she posted and spent the least amount of time creating, continues to be one of the most popular ever for Ella — her sweet potato brownies. Ella's book, Deliciously Ella, is due out in March 2015.
It happened like this: she was getting ready for a friend's dinner party one evening when she remember she was supposed to bring dessert. She didn't have time to go out and get ingredients so she rummaged through her pantry to see what she had/what she could make. She found a couple of sweet potatoes, ground almonds, buckwheat flour, dates, maple syrup and raw cocoa. So, she steamed the potatoes, blended it with the dates and mixed everything else in and baked it. Here's what happened next.
"I have to admit that when I made these I was beyond excited, like really way too over excited. I was jumping around a lot, making a lot of 'mmmmm… delicious… wow… these are outrageous… can you believe it' type noises! Anyway I was so excited that I told everyone that would listen about my new creation — but the response was a little mixed. Most people seemed to think the idea of making dessert from a vegetable was too bizarre and maybe I'd taken my healthy baking a step too far! But I absolutely promise you that I haven't and that you will adore these, it is impossible not to."
Ella's Sweet Potato Brownies