Foodies Blog

Catch up with Becky Excell

Long time no see! Our blog has been in hibernation over the winter while we’ve been hard at work ensuring that Foodies Festival is bigger and better than ever before for 2022.

Someone else who’s been hard at work is the lovely Becky Excell – a food writer, recipe creator and Sunday Times best-selling author based in Essex. So busy, in fact, that she’s only gone and written her third book, ‘How to Plan Anything Gluten Free’, which is available to buy from today.

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Becky Excell: Photo by Hannah Hughes.

We caught up with Becky, ahead of the release, to chat all things writing, cooking, and meal-prepping.

1. Hi Becky! How are you? How does it feel to be releasing your third book just a year after your first?

I’m good, thank you! No matter how much time or hard work goes into a book (or how much I’m super proud of how it turned out) I always find myself incredibly nervous before a book comes out. Fortunately for me, that’s always counterbalanced by this constant ‘I must be dreaming’ feeling of disbelief… One cookbook has always been the dream and clearly I was never ambitious enough to dream I would one day have 3! So yeah, it’s definitely a mix of nervousness and excitement all rolled into one – I just really hope people like it as much as I do!

2. I’m such a planner and meal-prepper, so I’m really excited to check out your new book for some fresh ideas! Have you found meal-prep to be an important part of your routine since you had to cut gluten from your diet?

That’s a definite yes, but to be honest, it took me many years to realise how much meal planning and prepping would come in handy. For starters, I never realised how much I would have to cook from scratch when I was told to start a gluten-free diet and over the years, I found myself cooking from scratch almost every single day. Whilst I loved improving my cooking skills and recreating new dishes I’d otherwise never be able to eat, cooking sessions were always very chaotic; I’d be deciding what to eat based on whatever was left in the fridge, frantically Googling recipes at the last minute and it made that part of the day way more stressful than it needed to be.

Since I got into meal planning, I now know exactly what I’m going to cook and when, with all the ingredients already waiting for me in my cupboards. And with a little meal prepping, on days where I don’t feel like cooking at all, I can simply reheat something delicious that I made earlier that’s also safe for me to eat – no stress required! I’d highly recommend meal planning and meal prep to any gluten-free person as it helps to bring back something that a gluten-free diet always takes away from us: convenience. I hope you enjoy the book and can pick up some new tips too and hopefully, so can veteran planners as well as those who have never done it before.

3. Which recipe from your new book are you most excited to share with readers?

With the recipes in HTPAGF, I’ve definitely tried to make sure there’s even more ‘everyday’ type recipes that are simple and quick to prepare; so hopefully, everyone can enjoy them more often. But of course, those recipes still include recreations of lots of foods I thought I’d never eat again like my gluten-free McDonald’s-style chicken nuggets.

As these are something that most of us haven’t enjoyed in anywhere from 1 year to a decade or more, it was really important to me that I created something as dangerously close to the original as possible. And I’m pleased to report that I did it – so not surprisingly, they’re my current fave! I can’t wait for everyone to try them and let me know what they think.

4. What would you tell those who are daunted by the news that they need to ditch gluten?

I probably sound like a broken record at this point, but I always say: ‘don’t worry, it’s not the end of the world!’

It’s probably hard to take that statement to heart when you’re handed a long list of things you can’t eat… then also realise that long list means you can’t eat an even longer list of your favourite dishes. And I’m not going to lie, it is a big adjustment at first in so many more ways than what’s literally on your plate.

But once you’re committed to starting a gluten-free diet, you automatically begin a journey to reclaiming the normality you once had. And fortunately, myself and others in the gluten-free community are scarily committed to ensuring that everyone else’s journey back to normality goes as quickly and smoothly as possible; whether it be through sharing recipes for dishes you thought you’d never eat again or sharing recommendations for awesome gluten-free restaurants and bakeries.

I would also like to say to anyone daunted by being newly diagnosed: ‘you’re definitely not alone and welcome to the gluten-free community!’. It’s an important thing to know as many feel like they’re the only person in the world this is happening to… and it can make you feel quite alone or ‘the odd one out’. However, most don’t realise that there’s actually so many of us in the same boat and willing to help each other out – like in Facebook groups or on Instagram.

5. If you could cook/bake for anyone in the world, who would it be? And what would you make them?

As much as I would love to say my fave celeb, I’d have to say my Ouma (my South African grandma). She passed away before I could even really bake or cook at all and I would love to be able to chat with her again about everything she’s missed over a slice of my maple pecan apple cake.

And also I’m going to say Nigella Lawson anyway because who wouldn’t want to eat cake with Nigella? I’d probably make her a slice of my chocolate courgette cake!

6. Can you give us a sneak peak of what you might be demo-ing for us at Foodies this year?

I’ve got a few ideas in my head, but as I’m painfully indecisive, I still haven’t decided yet! It’s between a few sweet bakes and savoury dishes that, most importantly, most gluten-free people could only dream of eating. So watch this space!

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Becky Excell: Instagram.

We’re so excited to have Becky demonstrating for you all in the Chefs’ and the Cake and Bake Theatres at four Foodies Festival events this summer! You can catch her in Brighton, Chelmsford, Maidstone and Norwich.

If you didn’t manage to pre-order it, Becky’s brand new bookHow to Plan Anything Gluten Free’ is now available to purchase here. You can also check her out on Instagram, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, for more of her gorgeous recipes and snippets into her day-to-day life.