Q&A : Hemsley + Hemsley
17 April 2017
Loved by the food, fitness and fashion industries alike, sisters Jasmine and Melissa Hemsley have taken the health and wellness industry by storm since launching their family-run wellness business in 2010 for people who want to live healthier, happier lives. Within two weeks of creating their blog the girls were asked to contribute to Vogue.co.uk, where they are still regular columnists. The Art of Eating Well
The Art of Eating Well is Jasmine and Melissa’s best-selling first cookbook which was followed by Good + Simple in February 2016, both of which champion nourishing, home-cooked food. They have since gone on to launch The Hemsley Spiralizer, opened their first cafe Hemsley + Hemsley at Selfridges in London and seen their TV series Eating Well With Hemsley + Hemsley air in 28 countries including Channel 4 in the UK. Jasmine and Melissa are experienced public speakers, having given talks for BBC Worldwide’s International Conference, Penguin Random House, YouTube and Facebook. The girls have also appeared on TV including Channel 4’s Saturday Kitchen and BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour.
What was the inspiration behind the eating healthy movement?
People are over the calorie counting and low-fat refined foods that have been labelled as healthy and progressive. The link between good food and health and vitality is now clearly visible - not only in fortifying yourself with fresh, homemade meals but in how removing the often over consumed refined foods makes them feel so much better. For us the health food movement is not about going for a commercial ‘free-from’ version of your usual refined foods - but rather to focus on real, nourishing wholefoods that are naturally devoid of those ingredients.
What is your choice of food indulgence?
Jasmine : love a seafood feast with some chilled white wine and chocolate anything.
Melissa : I adore a British cheese board!
But to be honest, with our reworked comfort foods we never really feel like we’re missing out, and nothing is off limits - we’re just less likely to eat junk foods or fall for foods to fill cravings because our recipes are designed to be packed full of wholesome goodness while tasting absolutely delicious. If eating out then we choose somewhere with a real food ethos but if that’s not an option then we don’t stress. Eating well most of the time means that we’re better equipped to deal with the croissants that occasionally cross our path! We have an 80/20 guideline which is elaborated on in our book; if you feed your body the good stuff 80% of the time then you’re better equipped for the less than ideal.
Tell us your pick on the current food trends?
The big focus for us is finding genius ways to enjoy more veg, and our cauliflower rice has proved really popular with everyone. Who would have to know that the dreaded cauliflower which has been overcooked and soggy for years in UK cuisines could suddenly take pride of place on the plate!. We love cauliflower rice with our curries and also turn it into tabbouleh to serve alongside lamb meatballs. By swapping vegetables and other more complex carbohydrates in and swapping out or decreasing the more simple carbohydrates we not only ensure that we are eating whole foods which have a greater nutritional value but also achieving our 5 a day in veg. We’ve seen it on menus at more and more cafes and restaurants recently and there’s even ready-to-go cauliflower rice sold in supermarkets too!
What are your all-time favourite ingredients?
Here are our top 5:
Bone broth- as the base of soups, stews, risottos, to cook up quinoa and enjoy simply as a nourishing drink
Cauliflower- grate it to make cauliflower rice, cauliflower tabbouleh or a speedy cauliflower mash
Coconut oil- cook with it, bake with it and add it to smoothies. Use it to moisturise skin and hair
Sea salt- fantastic for flavour and packed full of minerals
Lemon juice- fresh and full of vitamins it’s great for giving flavour to food such as fish and for making the perfect marinade. We drink a squeeze of lemon in warm water in the mornings (one of our ‘10 things to do today from The Art Of Eating Well’)
What is the one Asian dish that you would never say no to?
Beef Sinigang! Our Filipina mum brought us up on traditional Philippine homemade food and one such dish which really stands out is sinigang, a hearty and stew-like soup containing large chunks of meat or seafood and any seasonal vegetables. This slow-cooked dish is characterised by its sour and savoury taste, which comes from the inclusion of tamarind – a tart and tangy fruit synonymous with Asian cuisine – and ginger. We absolutely adore it and included the recipe in our book Good + Simple. You can even watch us cooking it with our mum here.
Who are your biggest influences?
We’re constantly inspired on our travels and receive requests from friends, family, readers and clients. They often ask us to rework their favourite foods which keeps us coming up with more ideas. We make clever use of whole foods to reinvent classics - our 2 pizza recipes are made from cauliflower or chickpea bases, fudgy brownies made from black beans, rice made from broccoli, noodles from cucumbers and carrots and spaghetti made from courgette (courgetti).
Share with us your favourite Asian cities?
A few years ago we visited Som Saa, the private island eco resort in Cambodia which was breathtaking. We also spent a few days in Siem Reap; where we explored the awe-inspiring temples and visited the night markets and a floating fishing village, enjoying plenty of Khmer food along the way. Khmer food has many similarities to other South-East Asian cuisine; tangy green mango, banana blossom and pomelo salads, coconut curries, stir fries and barbecues; but a dish that stood out as uniquely Khmer was Fish Amok - firm cubes of white fish gently cooked in a bright yellow, mild coconut curry made from an aromatic paste of turmeric, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, galangal, shallot and garlic. We were so inspired that we decided to make our own version of the recipe and it is in our book Good + Simple.
And words of advice or tips for those starting out on their health journey?
Make it work for you. Nourishing yourself with delicious food that makes you feel your best is a pleasure, not a chore! It takes some organisation but in the long run, you save time and money cooking at home and on top of that you know exactly what is in your food. If you’ve got the space, spend a little time ordering in cupboard ingredients in bulk which saves lots of money. If you don’t have the space, do this with few friends so you can share the benefits.
We’re huge fans of cooking up big portions then freezing half for a rainy day. Another economical tip is to bulk out dishes with lentils rather than refined grains like pasta and white rice - make sure that your money is spent on food that energises and repairs you rather than just something to fill you up and keep you on the go for now - it’s money better spent in the long run. Eating seasonally means ingredients are at their best and cheaper. Turn leftover veg into soups and leftover herbs into pestos. We champion the less fashionable cheaper cuts from good quality meat. Homemade bone broth (mentioned below) which is at the heart of our cooking is a fantastically frugal ingredient that makes for sustainable, healthy home cooking and it’s also a great way to enjoy more protein on the cheap.
What’s next for Hemsley + Hemsley?
To continue cooking and sharing our love of healthy, whole foods with our readers! We’re excited to have our TV series airing across Asia and also busy working on more new dishes for our London cafe, Hemsley + Hemsley at Selfridges. 2017 will see us focus on our individual passions too. Jasmine recently launching Sound Sebastien, a pop-up for London sound baths and East by West, her cookbook inspired by Ayurveda which will launch in November 2017.
Melissa is involved with Cook For Syria, and she is a proud judge for YBFs (Young British Foodies) and her first solo cookbook, Eat Happy: 30 Minute Feelgood Food is set to be published in January 2018.
Watch Hemsley + Hemsley: Healthy & Delicious, Sunday 10PM MY/SIN/HK
Photos credits: Hemsley + Hemsley