Hey Ellen! Hi Ellen! Would you please introduce yourself?

I am Ellen Demeulemeester but most people know me by my Instagram name “Ellen Charlotte Marie”. These are my 3 names and since Ellen Demeulemeester was already taken when I started my food blog, I chose to use them. Not necessarily an exciting story, but that’s how it went (laughs). I am mainly into recipe creation, photography, styling, and writing books. I am now working on a new book, which is completely different from my previous books, but I would like to keep the topic secret for just a little while longer (laughs).

We are very curious to hear how it all started.

My blogging adventure started about 8 years ago when I started an Instagram page with mainly photos of my kids. It was a period in which I was very tired and I wanted to do something about it at all costs. I started looking for sources from which I could get energy and that’s how I ended up with my diet. Little by little, I started to change things in my diet and I started to eat more plant-based foods and really, I felt the effects immediately! I started experimenting a lot, and since I am a photographer by training, I was increasingly capturing my meals. And that is how the ball started to roll. So, we can speak of a hobby that got out of hand.

Your beautiful photos and tasty meals motivate people to cook delicious and, above all, healthy meals. Would you like to tell us more about your vision on nutrition?

In the beginning, I mainly wanted to eat as healthy as possible. My focus was on unprocessed food and on avoiding “empty” food. Gradually, this changed into eating plant-based food and now, I eat completely vegan. Through my photos and recipes, I want to show that eating as much plant-based food as possible only has advantages, both for their health and for the well-being of our planet. Because in addition to health, animal welfare and climate issues have also become increasingly important factors in my food choices. You can hardly be an environmental activist without also being vegan. I want to prove in a fun way that plant-based food is delicious, and above all that you don’t have to miss out on anything. And all of this without finger-pointing or without being too extreme. I want to raise awareness among the general public and make them think about the impact of their food choices.

In addition to your food blog, you have also published a couple of beautiful cookbooks. They are all little gems. One of them is called “One healthy family”. There you emphasize healthy food for the whole family. What was the motivation for writing this book?

The main motivation for writing this book was to share recipes that both young and old would enjoy, always with plant-based ingredients in the leading role. As I started to eat more and more plant-based, I realized like no other that it is not easy to cook a separate meal for each member of the family. The second reason was that I noticed in my environment that eating plant-based was often associated with having to miss out on dishes that you like. That is not the case at all! For example, you can make a perfect white “cheese sauce” but then completely plant-based, and also mashed potatoes can so easily be made vegan by using olive oil or vegetable butter instead of butter. You can also use a lot of vegetables in it to get extra vitamins. These are two vegan dishes, but they are very easy to make. You just replace the animal ingredients with a plant-based alternative, and that’s it. This may be a challenge at first, but if you take it one step at a time, it quickly becomes doable. After all, you can’t change everything from day one to day two, especially when you have children who join you at the table. Guiding and inspiring people to make this transition easy and fun, was the aim of this book.

As if all of this was not enough, you have also developed an app called “Effortlessly healthy”. In this app, you’ll find lots of delicious recipes for every moment of the day. How did you get the idea to develop an app?

Many people don’t know this but actually, my app was first, even before my books. The idea for an app came because my Instagram page was exploding and I had a big international audience, not so much Belgian. And because releasing a book in Dutch, when far fewer people knew me here, didn’t seem logical, I automatically landed on an app. You can easily create an app in two languages and you are not bound by national borders or shipping costs. I did have my doubts for a while because it was a big investment, but in hindsight, I am very happy that I took this step because a lot of people still use my app.

Where are most of your followers from?

Mainly in the United States and Australia. In Belgium, I am growing, but it goes a bit slower. Maybe this is because I always communicate in English and I am not so active on Facebook, for example, to share recipes there in Dutch. But I have a hard time focusing on multiple channels and communicating in multiple languages. That’s why I’m sticking to Instagram and English for now. (laughs)

Besides healthy food, sports also seem to be a passion of yours. We are seeing more and more videos of your workouts. Tell us more about your vision on sports, what you like to do and how you see the combination of nutrition and sports.

In addition to healthy recipes, I’m indeed starting to share my workouts more often, because I want to communicate that one is inextricably linked to the other. It is so important for your body and mind to move, no matter how healthy you eat. Sport can be so much fun, it doesn’t always have to be hard work. This brings us in the direction of my new project… It will be about the combination of exercise and nutrition but this is the only thing I’m going to give away (laughs).

No problem, we are waiting in suspense!

Now that we know a bit more about your professional activities and plans, we would like to talk about the person behind the blogger. Because that is at least equally important!

What does well-being mean to you?

For me, wellbeing means first and foremost to feel truly healthy and to be aware of where my limits are, and to set them. You can’t compare yourself with people around you because everyone has different limits when it comes to health, resilience, needs, and goals. It is just important that you know where yours are and that you’re able to stop in time. This allows you to maintain inner peace and to have enough energy to do the things you like to do. Also, your boundaries can shift throughout your life, along with the different phases of life. For example, I am a mother of 4 and especially when my children were young, it was not always easy to set boundaries. But I realized that this was a phase, a period in which you forget yourself a little and that later on, another period would come in which I could focus more on myself and on the things I like doing.

Covid has a huge impact on our lives. How do you experience this period and are there things you will take with you after corona?

The impact of covid is indeed enormous. I try not to dwell on it too much and consciously push it away from me. For example, I avoid the news and focus mainly on making myself and my family strong by going outside a lot, eating healthy, and not allowing too much stress. It has also been a period during which I started thinking about which path I want to take, professionally speaking, and about what I want and do not want anymore. It’s a big challenge to do this when you have full-time kids around you, but I try to make time for this thinking exercise. What I also notice is that I am more aware than before of who I really miss and who is therefore important in my life. This realization will make me look for these people even more after covid.

Do you have any rituals, habits…to keep your cool? I think many people are looking for concrete tips so if you have any, please share.

I exercise every day. Tonight, for example, I’m going to swim, tomorrow I’m meeting a friend to do sports outside. Sport is something I make time for every day, but always with a lot of variety in what I do. Sport is my outlet and could be anyones. So, even if the weather is bad, just go outside. That’s my most important tip! I also recently put a meditation app on my mobile phone and I now meditate every day. I usually do this before I take a bath or shower. I just close up for a moment, it doesn’t have to be long, but it works and it makes me feel good!

You regularly use our products, thank you very much! How do they usually appear on your menu?

I usually use your products in a smoothie or add them to my protein shake. I drink similar smoothies every day. It’s a really easy way to vary and get all my vitamins, fiber, fats, etc. in. I enjoy it every time! Both your Açai products and your pitaya and passion fruit packs are regular items on my menu. Smoothie bowls are also very popular among my children. I have two very difficult eaters and I can get them to eat all sorts of fruit and even vegetables, such as spinach, without them even realizing it (laughs). And in the summer I make nice creams with it every day. Besides smoothies and bowls, I also really enjoy experimenting with your products. For example, I recently made a jelly of pitaya, which was very tasty and original, if I do say so myself (laughs).

Thank you so much for this fascinating interview Ellen!

Discover Ellen Charlotte Marie’s beautiful creations on her Instagram page and get all her books or download her appEffortlessly Healthy to make the step to a plant-based kitchen extra tasty and fun!

Ellen’s favorite recipe with our Açai can be found here!