Ellie of @elsas_wholesomelife has a feed full of inspiration. Whether it’s travel, food, time-out, wellness or friendship she’s posting about, she has a knack for celebrating the beauty in everything. We caught up with her recently to hear more about what goes on behind-the-scenes, and how she juggles all the travel and exploring with work and creating her very own cook book.
Cooking for a group can be tricky, if you were hosting a group of friends, what would you serve and how would you work out the menu?
If I was hosting a group of friends, I would usually just do easy picky food, so people can help themselves to what they like and how much they like. My fave sharing food is a dip platter with heaps of nuts, dried fruits, crackers, berries, veggie sticks, dips, and vegan cheese. I would also do a couple of platters of rice paper rolls or brown rice sushi, gyozas (from my cookbook), green pea falafels (from my cookbook), or set up a DIY taco spread.
When it comes to travel, you seem to find the most lush, tranquil locations! How do you plan your overseas getaways? Do you get advice from other travellers, keep lists of must-dos, ask your community or simply spontaneously book depending on your current mood? What is your most visited location and why?
We usually plan our trips very last minute! I have a list of places I want to visit and usually just base it on the seasons for that location as I want to have the best weather. I go to Pinterest for a lot of travel inspiration as well as Instagram. Sometimes I might throw a post up asking for tips for that location which is usually SO helpful. I also like to read blog posts about a location so I can get really honest experiences from other travellers (which is also why I love to share my travel experiences on my blog). My most visited location is definitely Bali. Its an easy go-to location, its affordable and the food is the best in the world (so far!).
We love your photography; the lighting, balance, composure… is this a one-woman job or do you have help when it comes to capturing your adventures? What is your favourite camera to use?
I do a lot myself but my fiancé, Alex, helps out with taking photos for me. I also have some help from my sister and friends when we’re travelling together. I love my Canon 5d Mark IV.
It must take a lot of energy and planning to create and maintain such a stunning feed! What advice would you give to new bloggers when it comes to organisation and goal-setting?
I think the best advice I would have for organisation would be having a feed planning app. I use UNUM to plan out my feed so it looks aesthetically pleasing to new people finding my page. It also helps me to plan out all my posts so I know what I have to post for the week or what work I need done that week. I also think it’s a great idea to keep lists of photos you want to take, recipes you want to create, and jobs you need to do, otherwise it can feel a little overwhelming. When you have the list in front of you, you can just concentrate on ticking the next thing off.
When it comes to snacking, what do you like to keep in your bag on your travels for when you’re hungry and need some fuel fast?
Nuts and dried fruits are my definite go-to bites for snacking. You can usually find a bag of nuts or dried fruits at most service stations, airports and grocery stores. Plus, nuts and fruit contain healthy fats and natural sugars that will replenish your energy levels.
When it comes to staying fit, what’s your favourite activity? How do you make sure you keep active when you’re travelling?
My favourite way to keep fit is by running, but actually when I am travelling I find I don’t need to make time for exercise as I am often walking 10-20km in the day just seeing the sights. If I can find a hotel with a gym that’s always a bonus too.
You seem to have some very special people in your life; your close gal pals, sister and your partner are always popping up in your feed. When it comes to travel, are you more of a lone-wolf or do you prefer to have something there to share the special moments with?
I definitely prefer to share my travel moments with other people. I always travel with my partner and we love going on trips with other couples or friends, it makes it more fun!
What’s your favourite way to treat yourself? Can you paint us a picture of the scene you’d create if you felt you needed an afternoon of indulging?
My kind of afternoon of indulging includes a big bag of popcorn (the healthy kind), dark chocolate, cup of tea and a movie or TV series in bed with Alex.
What’s your approach when it comes to having a balanced and nourishing diet? Do you meticulously plan your weekly shops and meals, conducting research into seasonal and local produce, or simply listen to your body and trust your day-to-day eating contributes to a balanced diet?
I definitely don’t plan it out too meticulously as each day is so different (given I don’t have a regular routine these days). But I always make sure each meal is healthy and balanced, which often means when I am cooking I am thinking about all the ways I could make the meal healthy. For example, I try to incorporate lots of vegetables and a variety of different types, a source of plant protein such as chickpeas and a grain source to make it complete, as well as some healthy fats like olive oil, nuts and seeds. If I am eating out I think about all the ingredients in each menu item and which would make me feel good – I usually order some type of salad bowl.
We’d really love to hear more about where you spend your time when you’re not off adventuring. Where do you call home and what makes it feel that way? Do you see yourself living here forever, or exploring a new city/hometown one day?
My home will always be back in Australia, probably on the Gold Coast in Queensland (as close to the beach as possible), but at the moment I actually call Bali home. I don’t see myself living in Bali forever but for the moment it’s a really fun and relaxing place to come back to.
Ellie can you tell us a bit about the creation of your latest book ‘Elsa’s Wholesome Life’? How long did it take you to produce, who else was involved and what was the most challenging part of the journey? Do you have any advice for someone who might want to undertake a similar project but doesn’t know where to start?
My cookbook took me around 8 months to produce but this was at the same time as completing my final semesters of university which actually were the busiest semesters (honours and placement). I created it on the weekends and planned and organised everything during the week. It was a huge job as I undertook all of the recipe development and experiments, all of the photography (aside from the cover and some incidental shots of me from that day), all the recipe styling, and all of the nutrition writing.
I published my book with a wonderful Australian publishing company, Plum Books (Pan Macmillan) so I had lots of useful help and guidance.
I think if someone wants to create their own cookbook they should definitely begin with blogging recipes and developing your skills in all of those key areas (recipe development, photography, styling, and writing). Once you have your own style and an established blog audience, creating an e-book is a fantastic way to get a taste of book publishing. You can choose to self publish or get a contract with a publisher and there are pros and cons to both options.
Could you share the top five Instagram accounts you love?
What’s your most significant memory to date since you began your incredible Instagram account and blog, and began engaging with such a vast community via social media? Are you always ‘plugged-in’ or do you strategically plan time to step away from your computer/phone?
My favourite memory was definitely when I received a contract to create a cookbook. It had been a dream for so long so when I got the offer I was pinching myself! I definitely engage with my audience on social media a lot! Which means I have to be active online lots (whether that’s responding on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, blog or email) but I try to make certain times of the day an unplugged moment such as before bed, during meals, and during my workout.
What’s next for Elsa’s Wholesome Life? Are you going to take some time off since launching your latest book or are running gung-ho into the next big project?
Well as usual I like to challenge myself and I have so many new ideas and projects I want to get up and running, I want to dive right into all of them but I just don’t have enough time!
Thanks so much for your time and insights Ellie, it was great to catch up with you!