I had seen a lot of Ella Woodward on television and in social media, and with so many wonderful comments on her blog praising her delicious recipes and how clean eating has changed people's lives, I was intrigued and wanted to get in on the action. Afterall, cutting out refined sugar, wheat etc makes complete sense, so I wanted to know how I can do it easily and most importantly - enjoyably.
For me, clean eating is actually pretty easy when it comes to breakfasts and snacks, however, it's main meals I need inspiration with. I had high hopes about discovering some delicious meals that I could tempt My Beloved over from 'the dark side' and enjoy eating much more healthily together.
It was with much anticipation and excitement that I read the book cover to cover, oohing and ahhing, armed with my pretty little post-it notes, planning all the lovely healthy meals we would soon be dining on.
It really is a beautifully designed book with lovely photographs (although the font is so small!).
The grouping of recipes does not follow the typical style of cookbook, rather they are arranged by main ingredient (Grains, Nuts & Seeds, Legumes & Pulses, Vegetables...) so I've had to use the index a lot, to find the meals I'm looking for. Not really too bothersome.
Ella's simple recipes for nut butters and variations of hummus are delicious, and having discovered the amazing taste of homemade cashew butter - my oh my, Ella I thank you!
Even her simple sweet fix of a medjool date with nut butter had me a little dubious until I tried it - WOW - my sweet tooth can actually be satiated with a small, quick, guilt-free treat (and trust me, you only need one!). And her 'Creamy Coconut Porridge' - now that's a game changer and definitely pimps up my usual oats to keep hunger at bay for longer.
As for the main meals, I found the recipes to be extremely bland which puts me off trying her other recipes for fear of the same. A lot of tweaking to the flavour is required to make them palatable. Her '10 Minute Tomato Pasta' is exactly that - tomato-y pasta (with WAY too much apple cider vinegar). No interesting depth of flavour there.
My biggest criticism is that the quantities are WAY off. I've taken to halving all the ingredients when trying a new recipe. The issue with servings throughout the book makes me think that nobody has taken the time to actually test the recipes before bringing the book to print.
In this respect, I can't help but feel some laziness on Ella's part - an example would be her Butternut Squash Risotto; the recipe on Ella's blog states it serves 2 people yet the exact same recipe in the book states it serves 4 people. Someone mentioned this in the comments section on the blog, which Ella acknowledged with "Ooops, it serves 4", yet she did not take the 30 seconds to correct the misprint on the blog post.
Anyway, expecting to yield 4 servings of risotto, I halved the recipe and I still had enough for 3 VERY generous portions. I can only imagine I could've fed an army had I not halved it. And again, totally bland flavour and incredibly disappointing.
Another recipe which looks absolutely mouthwatering is Ella's banoffe pie. To cut a long story short, My Beloved could not eat it and I only managed 4 sloppy mouthfuls before feeling utterly sick. It was so sickly that my stomach felt unsettled for the rest of the evening.
Needless to say, it went in the bin, with me feeling completely disheartened, especially considering how expensive the ingredients were (various nuts, medjool dates, maple syrup...) and looking at the ingredients for just one serving, seriously, who would eat 3 bananas in one day, let alone in one sitting?
I did, however, enjoy her flapjacks, although if making them again I will definitely add a mixture of other ingredients for more interesting flavour.
I like Ella Woodward and feel inspired by her clean eating message. I admire that she has healed herself through healthy eating and seeing how beautiful and healthy she looks, it's understandable that we want to aspire to this. I'll certainly keep reading her blog for advice on clean eating, but her book is disappointing with bland flavours, not a lot of main meal ideas and my biggest gripe - totally inaccurate measurements.
If you want fool-proof recipes that result in successful, delicious meals, don't buy this book. However, if you are happy to experiment in the kitchen, tweaking recipes (and quantities) and adding ingredients to suit your taste, then this book may give you some simple ideas, but I can't help but feel there are better vegan / clean eating recipe books out there. Definitely not a book for the experienced vegan or vegetarian, as I think you'll be disappointed.
Before parting with your pennies, I suggest trying some recipes from her blog first - and halve the quantities! (I won't be buying her second book).
Have you tried any of Ella's recipes? Let me know what you think in the comments!