I’m very excited to share the wisdom and advice of two incredible sisters: Jasmine and Melissa Hemsley have taken the food, fitness and fashion industries by storm with family-run business helping people live their happiest, healthiest lives. As someone who adores my own sisters and love the idea of working with them one day, I love the story of the Hemsley sisters even more! Learn about how they established their brand, launched a gorgeous cookbook, The Art of Eating Well, and their plans for the future – including a new book, Good + Simple, which will be out in 2016.
Tell us a little bit about you – who you are, and what you do.
We do what we love…We are food lovers with a passion for wellness and delicious, nutrient-dense cooking and The Art of Eating Well is our international bestselling cookbook. As well as contributing to Vogue we also cook and consult for celebrities and high-profile events around the world.
Jasmine: I worked full-time as a model from the age of 19 and was fascinated by the many different ideas surrounding health and nutrition. Over the years I developed a way of eating that made me feel energised and toned and I found that natural, easy to digest and nutrient dense foods were what truly counted despite whatever ‘fads’ were being hailed by the media. I was soon sharing tips and tricks with friends and family. Mel, who worked as a footwear brand manager and later in marketing and promotion for gastropubs and bars, caught the bug and helped spread the word!
Melissa: 6 years ago, we started a bespoke service aimed at helping people with their digestion and relationship with food. We became private chefs and wellness coaches but we didn’t intentionally ‘launch’ the business – it came about organically. We were cooking for clients, clearing out their cupboards, filling up their fridges and freezers and showing them how to cook our recipes and feel better – happier, healthier and more energized. Back then we didn’t have a name, our clients called us their ‘food fairies’! Within two weeks of launching our own blog, we were asked to contribute recipes to vogue.co.uk and became the London based editors of sousstyle.com. We then developed our book The Art of Eating Well as a go-to guide for people to use as the foundation of eating and feeling well by championing good food.
What was the ‘ah ha’ moment that made you get into health and well being?
The turnaround moment came after a trip to Australia where we, along with Jasmine’s boyfriend Nick, were determined more than ever to bring that holiday feeling of sunshine and vitality back to our hectic London lives. We jokingly said – wouldn’t it be great to have a family business making the food we all want to eat, food that keeps us happy and energised without struggling and be able to share it with everybody? With no concrete plans but plenty of passion and willingness to continue learning and work hard here we are today!
How important is your relationship with food?
Very important. We look to our food first and foremost to supply us with everything we need and provide the building blocks for a strong and healthy body. We believe in sustainable, delicious and nutritious food that is made with love, eaten mindfully and enjoyed, all while gaining the goodness that your body needs to flourish from the inside out. A healthy relationship with food should be should be non prohibitive, focusing on simple values such as provenance and taste in order to maintain a completely enjoyable and sustainable way of guilt and stress free eating.
What does a typical day on your plate look like?
For both of us, warm water with fresh lemon juice and a little turmeric is the first thing we consume upon waking. Throughout the day we drink lots of water to keep hydrated and steer clear of caffeinated drinks, opting for zingy, detoxifying alternatives like our Pep-Up Tea.
Jasmine: For breakfast I might have Buckwheat porridge with coconut oil, grated apple and goji berries or our Chia Chai Butternut Breakfast Pudding. Then for lunch, a leftover meat stew like our ’Osso Bucco’ Stew with Cauliflower Mash. At dinner time, I’d have a Squash, Red Lentil and Coconut Curry in the freezer which I can take out and heat up on the stove. We are big fans of batch cooking as a little preparation on the weekend (something we like to call a Sunday Cook-Off) means all we need to do is heat up our food and throw in some spinach or greens at the last minute. In the most frugal and efficient way we’ve created something to eat that’s comforting, delicious and easy to digest!
Melissa: Eggs anyway for me – scrambled with bone broth, in a veggie-packed frittata or even with kimchi. For lunch, I’d have our Vietnamese Chicken Pho with Courgette Noodles as it’s warming and really satisfying. For supper, something comforting like our Mung Dahl made with bone broth. I’m usually well-equipped with nourishing snacks to tide me over between meals too. These might include our Carrot and Flax Crackers with Mung Bean Hummus or a Tahini Bliss Ball if I fancy something a little sweeter. (Recipes in The Art Of Eating Well.)
What inspires you and keeps you motivated each day?
We’re constantly inspired on our travels and the requests we receive 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). We’re also motivated by our fellow ‘wellness warriors’ and love that more and more people are embracing this wonderful health and wellness movement! Witnessing this new wave of interest in looking after ourselves and loved ones in the most natural way possible inspires us to keep making a difference.
What is the best piece of advice you have received?
Jasmine: Our holistic and business mentor, Susie Pearl, makes me feel I can achieve anything and when projects are backing up I remember her motto: ‘No push.’ It means take the path of least resistance.
Melissa: Our mum used to say it all the time and we say it now ‘chew chew chew’ because there are no teeth in your tummy!
What are the top 3 foods you can’t live without?
- Bone broth – Homemade bone broth provides a good dose of nourishment and comfort, plus it’s a frugal way to enjoy good quality animal protein. It’s soothing on your tummy and packed full of vitamins , minerals, collagen and keratin so is also amazing for your skin – and the dreaded cellulite! Use it in soups, stews, sauces, risottos, eggs or enjoying it plain from a mug at bedtime.
- Apple Cider Vinegar – Raw (unpasteurized) ACV can help promote better digestion, aid with heartburn, help with calcium absorption and alkalize the body. We love it in salad dressings, dips and sauces, and it’s something our Mum always championed growing up.
- Organic Extra Virgin Coconut oil – Coconut oil is a saturated fat, which makes it heat stable; a perfect and tasty fat for stir-frying, baking and roasting as well as adding to smoothies and sweets. Made up of medium-chain fatty acids, it provides an easily obtainable energy source that doesn’t spike blood sugar levels. It’s also great for your hair and skin!
What are some cafes in London you are loving right now?
Raw Press in Mayfair, Elliot’s Cafe in Borough Market, Rochelle’s Canteen in Shoreditch and Fowld’s Cafe in Camberwell.
What is your life motto or mantra you live by?
Melissa: “May the rest of your life be the best of your life.”
Jasmine: “Do what you love and love what you do.”
Check out our Instagram every Sunday for our thought of the week! @hemsleyhemsley
What is it that you wish to achieve by entering the health industry – what do you hope to change/improve?
We aim to dispel the myth that fat is bad! Bad fats are bad, but good fats are very good and that includes saturated fats. Saturated fats are not only vital for our well being but make a meal taste great – no wonder deprivation and low-fat diets don’t work in the long term! The secret to feeling satisfied by your meal without craving something immediately afterwards is down to the inclusion of quality fats as well as protein in dishes. This is where we are different to many other diets. Add butter or olive oil to cooked veggies and nuts, seeds and quality cheese always makes a plate of salad into a delicious and wholesome meal. Homemade bone broth is our secret weapon – a perfect starter base for soups and stews – we just come home, heat up a pan and throw in the veggies from our veg box!
Any tips or advice for those just starting out on their health journey?
We believe that eating well isn’t a diet, it should be part of your lifestyle. So we create and champion food which can be enjoyed every day, not just for short-term fixes. It is delicious, nourishing, energising, wholesome and free from gluten, grains and refined sugars. To make looking after yourself easy, we keep things simple. It’s about small changes that soon become second nature. Through our website and book The Art Of Eating Well we share our advice and tips on how you can adopt new healthy habits and adapt them to suit your life. Here are 3 of our top tips summarised:
- Boil your bones! A homemade bone broth provides a good dose of nourishment and comfort, plus it’s a frugal way to enjoy good quality animal protein. It’s soothing on your tummy and packed full of vitamins , minerals, collagen and keratin so is also amazing for your skin – and the dreaded cellulite! Use it in soups, stews, sauces, risottos, eggs or enjoying it plain from a mug at bedtime.
- Spiralize! It’s a great way to eat more vegetables and prepare them quickly – carrot, beetroot and cucumber noodles, spaghetti from squash and celeriac. One of our favourite quick weekday suppers is pesto with courgetti, ready in less than 10 minutes. Make a big batch of ragu and freeze in individual portions. Defrost when needed and while you’re heating it up, grate some Parmesan and spiralize your courgette into courgetti – 5 minutes in the kitchen and you’ve got a delicious nourishing supper.
- Have a Sunday cook-off. A few hours of stress-free cooking on the weekend so you can get ahead on meals for the working week. Soak quinoa, nuts and seeds in order to remove phytates and promote easy digestion and get your bone broth simmering. Make maximum use of the oven by roasting multiple trays of veg at the same time as a chicken for use in salads and throw-together meals like our Kelp Pot Noodles.
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