Get to Know Ella Mills of Deliciously Ella (+ Her Favorite Cozy, Plant-Based Pasta Recipe)

Last Update: April 3, 2024

Since starting her Deliciously Ella brand in 2012, Ella Mills has championed colorful, nourishing, plant-based food, building a community of over 4 million people across social media platforms. On the Deliciously Ella website, you’ll find recipes like Pesto Lasagne, Herby Chickpea Burgers, and Sweet Potato Brownies, and now, almost 100 plant-based food products in supermarkets around the world. In cookbooks like Deliciously Ella: Quick & Easyand on her podcast, Wellness With Ella, Ella continues the conversation surrounding her own personal journey with plant-based eating, overcoming illness, and balancing motherhood with a healthy lifestyle. 

After more than 10 years as a food writer and businesswoman, it’s safe to say that Mills is a certified foodie superstar in the UK and around the world. At Thrive Market, she has more than a few dedicated fans amongst our (quite discerning) food expert employees, so when Thrive Market became the exclusive US distributor for the Deliciously Ella product line, it was met with a frenzy of excited Slack messages, Zoom conversations, and “adding-to-carts”. 

We recently sat down with Mills to learn more about the health struggles that prompted her plant-based journey, and snagged one of her favorite recipes for a cozy pasta recipe using only veggies and other whole-food ingredients.

Get to Know Ella Mills of Deliciously Ella

Can you share a bit about your journey toward a plant-based diet? 

“In 2011, I was in my second year of university in Scotland, and out of nowhere I got very ill. I spent a few months in and out of different hospitals and my body felt like it was effectively shutting down. I couldn’t control my heart rate, digestion, or circulation. I’d have brain fog, chronic fatigue, all sorts of immune issues, chronic infections, pins and needles in my body all the time. I felt my head was literally disconnected from my body. I looked more pregnant at that point than I did when I was about seven months pregnant with my daughter. 

Nothing was working. There were so many symptoms, but also lots of them were quite invisible, like brain fog and chronic fatigue and all the pain. I had various MRIs and endoscopies and colonoscopies and ultrasounds — you name it, I did it. I saw neurologists, endocrinologists, gastroenterologists, every specialty, and no one could really get to the bottom of it. 

I was eventually diagnosed with a condition that affected the working of my autonomic nervous system, and when that happened, I was put on a whole spectrum of different medications. I would sleep for 16, 17, 18 hours a day.  After about nine months or so, I reached the end of the road with all the medications that I could try, and it became very clear that there weren’t really any other options to explore. That was, for me, an absolute rock bottom — obviously with my physical health, but with my mental health as well. As I realized that, I felt for the first time that whilst I wouldn’t have said it at the time, I wasn’t really taking any responsibility for what was going on. That was the point where I started to become really curious about what else I could do to potentially help myself, and I became really interested in any ways in which I could support my body. 

In the UK, there was really no conversation around the profound effect that how we eat and how we treat our bodies has on our health. I started to learn as much as I could about how the body worked and how to really fuel it properly, and as I did that, I became really interested in switching my diet and moving to a really plant-focused, whole-foods diet.”

How did you learn how to cook? Are you self-taught?

“I think it’s always so worth saying that I didn’t really cook before I did this. I wasn’t really interested in healthy eating, so I always feel like if I can make the change, someone else can make the change. 

I couldn’t find the recipes that I wanted: simple, easy, everyday ideas that you could make day in, day out, and that you’d look forward to eating. It was so clear to me from day one that if I was going to do this for the long run, it couldn’t be a compromise. I couldn’t feel like I was making a sacrifice every day for the sake of my wellbeing. 

So, I set about teaching myself to cook, and I [made a] website, and I honestly didn’t think anyone was ever going to read it. But quite quickly, the site started growing. Within the first few years, the site had had about 180 million hits, and my health had completely changed, and I felt really well again. Along the way, I discovered just how easy this way of cooking was, how delicious it can be, and I just started to feel so passionate about sharing it.”

What is your relationship with food like now that it’s your job and Deliciously Ella has grown so much? Has it evolved?

“It has, in some ways. 

When I started, I had a lot of time on my hands, so it was about making it easy, but I think that has been really exacerbated in the second half of my career. Now I’ve got two little kids, I’ve got the business, and time is short. I love cooking from scratch, but very few of us have time to do that with every meal, with every snack, we often need a helping hand.

I think probably the biggest change for me was just trying to be super smart with meal prepping and planning ahead, always having things in the freezer and in the fridge that make it easier. I do think so many people have such great intentions when it comes to their health, but life often gets in the way.”

How has Deliciously Ella changed your life outside of your diet? 

“I’ve kind of come to the conclusion that there are two types of founders when it comes to businesses. First, you have those natural born entrepreneurs. They’re the kinds of people who tell the stories about what they sold at school and they’d had a thousand business ideas, and they then see interesting gaps in the market and they create great businesses. And I think you have another cohort of founders who don’t really intend to start a business. It’s not necessarily how they would see their career panning out, but they have a problem, they start solving their own problem and in solving their own problem, there becomes this real sense of being able to solve it for other people. I was definitely in that camp. 

It was really exciting, because when I started, it was so niche and all my friends and family thought I was very weird. I would have these little Tupperwares that would bring around with me with pre-made food that I’d prepped, and you started talking to like-minded people who were kind of totally on the same wavelength. That was really rewarding on a personal level because it was so nice to feel you were making a difference and people started sending in messages saying, This is really helping me. That was extraordinarily rewarding, coupled with the fact that I also started to feel less alone. 

I think also anyone who’s been through difficult periods, for whatever reason in their life, when you start to feel a sense of purpose again and something that drives you and gives you something that’s not about the position that you are in that given day, I think that’s such an amazing way to start to be able to move forward with your life again. I had become really stuck on an emotional mental level as well, and I couldn’t really see what my life could be, or what it was. I started to feel like I had a sense of purpose again, and that there was a reason to be here and to get up each day. I had just been missing that in my life, so it helped me in such a multifaceted way.”

Deliciously Ella’s Roasted Squash Pasta With Crispy Paprika Crumbs 

“This super creamy pasta is the perfect comfort food as the weather gets a little colder. The roasted squash and garlic are blended with silken tofu, paprika and turmeric to create a silky smooth, nutritious, flavor-packed sauce that’s tossed through spaghetti with some crispy breadcrumbs to finish.” —Ella Mills of Deliciously Ella

Yield: 4 servings
Active time: 30 minutes
Total time: 40 minutes


2 slices crusty bread, torn into small pieces
4 tablespoons Thrive Market Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil
½ teaspoon Thrive Market Organic Paprika
Handful of fresh thyme leaves
Pinch of flaky sea salt
1 butternut squash, peeled, deseeded & cut into ½-inch cubes 
2 onions, halved & finely sliced
1 bulb garlic
1 pack silken tofu (about 10.6 ounces), drained
1/3 cup oat milk 
1 lemon, zested & juiced
1 tablespoon Thrive Market Organic Dijon Mustard
2 tablespoons Thrive Market Nutritional Yeast
1 teaspoon Thrive Market Organic Tamari
16 ounces spaghetti or other dried pasta


Preheat the oven to 425° F. 

Toss the torn bread with oil, paprika, thyme leaves, and a large pinch of flaky salt. Place on a baking tray.

Place the squash and onions on another baking tray. Drizzle with oil and season with flaky sea salt and black pepper; toss so that everything is combined. 

Slice the top off the garlic bulb so that the cloves are just exposed; place the bulb on a sheet of parchment paper or foil and drizzle with a little oil. Scrunch the parchment paper around the garlic, so that it’s completely enclosed. Place on the baking tray with the squash and onions. 

Put both baking trays in the oven. 

Bake the bread for 10–15 minutes until golden, then remove from the oven and continue to cook the squash for another 15–20 minutes until golden and soft. 

Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to the packet instructions, reserving a mug of the pasta water. 

Once the squash is cooked, put half the squash mixture in a blender with the tofu, oat milk, lemon juice, mustard, nutritional yeast, tamari, turmeric, paprika and then squeeze the roasted garlic out of its skin into the machine. Blitz until smooth and season to taste. 

Pour the sauce into a pan with the pasta, adding a splash of pasta water to thin, if needed. Stir through the remainder of the roasted squash mixture. 

Serve topped with a drizzle of oil and a sprinkling of the crispy paprika breadcrumbs.

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Amy Roberts

Amy Roberts is Thrive Market's Senior Editorial Writer. She is based in Los Angeles via Pittsburgh, PA.

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