Megan McKenna on coping with coeliac disease, the joy of cooking and learning from her mistakes

Following winning The X-Element: Superstar at the end of 2019 and landing a offer with Simon Cowell’s history label, Megan McKenna was on the brink of using her singing career to the upcoming amount. But then the pandemic strike.

Was the actuality Television set star – who observed fame on exhibits like Ex On The Beach front, Superstar Large Brother and The Only Way Is Essex – gutted she had to place her new music designs on maintain?

“Everything takes place in a strange way,” she states on a Zoom simply call from her property in Essex. “I’ve experienced time to do my creating and get all my materials all set. It has held points again, but that’s fine – it held the whole globe back again, not just me.”

In truth, McKenna, who went to a undertaking arts school and released her debut album Story Of Me in 2018, relished the possibility to gradual down for after.

“I’ve been mad for having said that several decades I have been executing Television set – seven or eight decades. So to truly have time to do me… I was at house, I’m so fortunate to have a beautiful house with a yard.”

Passionate about cooking, the 29-calendar year-old obtained fast paced in the kitchen in its place. She shared cooking videos with her 2.4m Instagram followers, and uncovered her gluten-free of charge recipes struck a chord.

Diagnosed with coeliac illness – where your immune technique assaults your have tissues when you take in gluten – and a wheat allergy in her teens, McKenna is aware of the stigma that can arrive with a gluten-free food plan.

“People automatically think you are fussy. They are like, ‘Oh, you’re just a person of them, you are just gluten-free’. But no, in fact, it can make me actually, genuinely unwell,” says the London-born celeb.

“With wheat, I get hives, allergic reactions. With the coeliac, it’s more of a lifelong autoimmune illness. So if I keep having [gluten], in later daily life it can cause problems.”

There is no cure for the condition, but McKenna, who is in a partnership with enterprise proprietor Josh Riley (“we’re pretty pleased and he enjoys my cooking, which is generally a bonus,” is all she’ll say on that make any difference), has uncovered to overcome the disgrace she employed to experience about currently being different.

“I normally utilized to say to my mum ‘I would like I was normal’. When you are at college, you just want to have faculty dinners, you never actually want to stand out, do you? I did truly feel a very little bit like the odd just one out.

“But my mum has constantly been the most incredible cook, and has been capable to cook for me from scratch. This is what I needed to place throughout in the guide: you really don’t have to eat a salad, you don’t have to take in boring [things]. You can try to eat pastries, you can take in cake.”

(PA/Louise Hagger)

That e-book is Can You Make That Gluten-Free? – and the title is motivated by the culinary problem McKenna will get questioned the most.

In it, she shares the recipes she swears by, these types of as the fluffy, American-type pancakes that are her weekday breakfast go-to, the Sunday staple of beef and crispy roasties, and a host of vibrant cakes and puds.

“The ebook is not just for allergy folks,” she insists. “Some of the recipes in the book are in a natural way gluten-no cost anyway. That’s just how I cook dinner.”

McKenna, who was recognized on reality Tv set for her fiery identity, confirmed off her techniques on Celeb Masterchef in 2021, generating it to the closing in advance of currently being pipped to the put up by Paralympian Kadeena Cox.

“Every solitary human being on the judging panel explained they would under no circumstances know it was gluten-free of charge,” she recalls. “I know I can make the foodstuff flavor awesome, that’s why I’m so confident with this e-book. I truthfully assume it is heading to alter people’s life.”

Getting guested on so a lot of Tv set displays, would she like to entrance her own cooking series? “That would be astounding! I hardly ever know what is in the pipeline, but currently being in a position to make people realise you can take in wonderful [gluten-free food] is my target.”

Tunes is her other massive concentration. Soon after touring with Michael Ball and Alfie Boe in 2021, the singer is gearing up to launch a lot more new music before long, and hints at some “really thrilling huge factors coming up”.

And with a major 3- in September, she’s enthusiastic about what the upcoming holds. “I really feel like my 30s are likely to be the most effective time of my daily life. I feel like my 20s were a learning curve. I have accomplished a large amount in my 20s – a whole lot – and I truly feel like I have moulded into who I am now.”

She proceeds: “I’ve learnt from all my faults, I’ve developed up, I’ve bought my dwelling. So I imagine my 30s will be about dwelling my desire.”

Can You Make That Gluten-Totally free? by Megan McKenna is printed by Hamlyn, priced £20. Photography by Louise Hagger. Accessible now.

The greatest video clips delivered each day

Look at the tales that issue, ideal from your inbox