Monthly Parenting Magazine

Interview: Ellie Woodhouse-Clarke, author of ̵...

Interview: Ellie Woodhouse-Clarke, author of ‘A Wholesome Week’

Monikachatterton Ellie

Mama-of-two Ellie Woodhouse-Clarke is a Nutritional Therapist, specialising in naturopathy and nutrition for family life. She’s recently launched a e-book called ‘A Wholesome Week: Your Monday to Friday Family Meal Guide‘, which is designed to take the stress out of feeding a young family. We chatted to Ellie about how she feeds her boys, and about her passion for food…

Ellie Woodhouse Clarke
All photography: Monika Chatterton

What’s your background and how did you get into nutrition? 

I began exploring a more naturopathic and holistic lifestyle approach in my mid-twenties, motivated by my own poor gut health and a diagnosis of infertility at a relatively young age. In 2019, I graduated as a Nutritional Therapist with a professional interest in lifestyle medicine for optimising fertility and pregnancy. Now, fortunate enough to be raising a family of my own, my interests have (perhaps unsurprisingly) widened to include naturopathy and nutrition for family life. 

Particularly in the early years, when sleep is regularly disrupted and there’s a higher than normal exposure to new bugs and illness, both parents and children really benefit from proactively supporting health and wellbeing. I believe that what children are exposed to during the early years provides a blueprint for many preferences later on in life, and therefore introducing positive lifestyle practices (such as considered nutrition, healthy sleep patterns, exercise, fresh air, mindfulness) at an early age not only benefits families wellness in real time, but it also provides children with the foundations for lifelong healthy tendencies and practices. 

We love how ‘A Wholesome Week’ allows for you to incorporate your own dietary preferences. How did you get into plant-based eating and why are you so passionate about it? 

I wrote ‘A Wholesome Week: Your Monday-Friday Family Meal Guide’ (additional recipes here) to provide a nutritionally balanced weekday menu that includes recipe suggestions for breakfast, lunch, dinner and two snacks for every day of the week. It felt important to me that it was able to support as many families as possible, so it’s mainly plant-based to provide a foundational  starting point for all. I encourage families to adapt recipes to accommodate their individual preferences and dietary choice, for example the Friday dinner is mash potato with a mushroom and cashew nut sauce. The meal is nutritionally balanced as it is, but the sauce also works really well with a white fish such as cod as suggested in the meal notes. Where there are a couple of recipes that include eggs, I’ve also provided a vegan alternative such as with the Eggy bread and Raspberry French toast.

For the last six years my husband and I have primarily followed a plant-based diet, which we feel passionately about for reasons including our own health, animal welfare, and the health of our planet. Our children eat the same way as we do, other than occasionally enjoying some fish and eggs too. We try to keep our food choices health-focused, flexible, and without rules. 

Monikachatterton Ellie
All photography: Monika Chatterton

What are some of the biggest stumbling blocks you’ve encountered feeding your own young family? 

For me two of the biggest stumbling blocks are being unprepared and feeling uninspired. After a broken sleep or a long day out I can find it tricky to muster up the energy or motivation to cook something interesting for the boys. Often we get home from being out and I find myself rushing to throw something together because the boys are really hungry.  My throw together meals tend to be quite simple foods that I know my children will eat, like a homemade pesto pasta or sweet potato, peas and tofu. Whilst these meals are perfectly healthy, I’ve found that we can easily slip into a cycle where the boys are more fussy with their eating because they’re being served less variety of foods, flavours and textures. This is actually what motivated me to write the E-book, to take the thinking out of day-to-day cooking by creating a menu that we can follow of nutritionally dense and balanced meals, designed to become family favourite meals that are simple to prepare, some can be made in advance and frozen, and encourage variety and adventurous little eaters.

What are some of your earliest food memories from your own childhood? 

Pasta, pasta and…more pasta – with cheese and ketchup! To be fair to my parents, they were (and are) both very competent in the kitchen and to this day nothing beats my memory of dad’s roast dinner. 

And finally, what are some of your favourite things you like to eat with your family?

We try to eat as a family as much as possible as there are so many proven benefits of eating together. For dinner, there will always be four clean plates at the end if I serve a butternut squash or beetroot curry, savoury green pancakes with scrambled tofu, or pasta with a homemade sauce – all of which I’ve shared recipes for in the E-book.