Jasmine and Melissa Hemsley have taken the health and wellness industry by storm since launching their family-run wellness business Hemsley + Hemsley in 2010 for people who want to live healthier happier lives. I’m a massive fan of the Hemsley sisters and I’m thrilled to finally interview them. We’re really into healthy eating at home, and I’m very excited about their second book, which is coming out soon.
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 is Jasmine and Melissa’s best-selling first cookbook which champions nourishing, home-cooked food. Their philosophy is poured into every page, from their love of bone broth to reasons for championing natural fats as a diet staple. Packed with over 150 exciting and delicious recipes, it’s hard to believe that all of their dishes are free from grain, gluten and refined sugar. Earlier this year, the Hemsleys also launched the Hemsley Spiralizer, a must-have kitchen tool for instantly turning fruit and vegetables into noodle-like spirals which sold out in a month. Hemsley + Hemsley also continue to cook and consult for celebrities and high-profile events (some clients include Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Vivienne Westwood) around the world and they are currently very happy in the kitchen writing their second book which will be out in 2016. .
We are huge fans of yours, and avid readers of your healthy eating blog. Tell us a bit about your story; what first inspired Hemsley + Hemsley?
Jasmine: I’d been working full-time as a model since I was 19 and had become fascinated by the many different ideas surrounding health and nutrition, (paleo, low-fat, juice cleansing etc) and began to develop and grow the Hemsley + Hemsley way of eating through research, study and self-practice, all while 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 cooking bug and helped spread the word.
What top three pieces of advice would you give to families wanting to adopt a healthier lifestyle, but when it comes to food, are unsure of where to start?
When embarking on a lifestyle reset, remember that small changes have major effects. Our book The Art Of Eating Well is filled with tips & tricks to make it less daunting and more fun and exciting! Start by adopting one of our ‘10 Things to do Today’ and listen to your body – it’ll soon feel stronger, leaner, happier and healthier.
1: 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.
2: Another one of our most popular tools which we teach our clients and readers and has really taken off from our book, The Art Of Eating Well, is the all-important ‘Sunday Cook-Off’. We usually have a “cook off” every Sunday and have been teaching this in our cooking classes – cooking a stew made from pulses or a less fashionable cut of beef (we champion these cheaper cuts), roasting lots of veg at the same time (to make maximum use of the oven) which can be eaten hot or added into salads, soaking a bowl of quinoa, soaking nuts for smoothies and making a bone broth
3: Kick-off your day with warm water and fresh lemon and avoid caffeine – try cutting down every day and swapping in zingy fresh ginger tea instead for a natural boost.
Which guilty food pleasures would you find hardest to resist? Do you ever let yourself indulge?
With our re-worked comfort foods we really never feel as though we’re missing out on anything. People always tell us that our recipes don’t taste healthy and we pride ourselves on coming up with upgraded versions of takeaways, comfort foods and the nostalgia-inducing dishes that our clients, friends, families and followers love best from their childhoods. Keeping texture and flavour in mind, we make clever use of whole foods, such as black beans in our Black Bean Brownies and skin-boosting avocado and zesty lime in our Avocado Lime Cheesecake. We reinvented this classic New York-style cheesecake and gave it the H + H stamp of approval. The smooth creamy lime sits atop a nutty, chocolate base with a hint of coconut. It’s raw, packed full of goodness, tasty, filling and good for you! Eating well most of the time means that we’re better equipped to deal with the croissants that occasionally crosses our path! We have an 80/20 guideline which we elaborate on in our book; if you feed your body the good stuff 80% of the time it can cope a lot better with the bad stuff.
Is there anything you steer clear of food-wise at all costs?
We avoid grain, gluten and sugar all of which are overly abundant in the modern diet in all their refined and overly processed forms, favouring vegetables, meat, pulses and pseudocereals such as quinoa and buckwheat and nuts, seeds and fruit of good provenance. We also steer clear of artificial sweeteners, processed vegetable oils such as cooking oils and margarines and unfermented soy products such as soy milk, cheese and foodstuffs such as processed meat replacement products.
Grains (especially refined grains) and sugar can cause problems with blood sugar balancing (and in turn overeating and feeling hungry again soon after) as well as digestive issues for a vast majority of people. Avoiding these foods makes room for more nutrient dense alternatives to keep blood sugar levels stable which is key to good health. We also minimize even the most natural sugars, e.g. raw honey, dates and pure maple syrup.
For readers out there with young children – what’s your go-to family recipe this season?
Melissa: Spaghetti Bolognese was always one of my favourites growing up and we have given it a Hemsley twist by replacing glutenous, bloating pasta for courgette noodles; it’s our Beef Ragu with Courgetti. Made with the Hemsley Spiralizer, we enjoy the meaty sauce atop a bed of spiralized courgette (zucchini) and fill it with extra grated carrot and courgette as well as highly nutritious chicken livers to bulk up its nutritional value. This hearty, warming comfort food is always a favourite with families and using the Hemsley Spiralizer is a great way to get kids involved in the kitchen and excited about vegetables.
You both always look amazing. What are your top can’t-live-without beauty products?
We have the same outlook towards beauty as we do food; keep it as close to nature as possible. We always look out for organic brands (after all your skin is your biggest organ!) and try to only wear makeup to events and shoots. Natural fats from sources such as homemade bone broth and organic grass-fed butter and ghee are diet staples which provide protein, keratin and collagen; all essential for healthy, glowing skin.
Melissa: I swear by organic extra virgin coconut oil. This one pot has so many uses! It is easily absorbed by the skin meaning you can enjoy it’s unique nutritional and medicinal properties (lauric acid is antifungal, antiviral and antibacterial) as part of your skincare routine; it makes a deeply nourishing, chemical-free moisturiser for skin, lips and hair and an excellent, gentle, makeup remover.
Product wise, Pai’s Biogenerate Rosehip Oil as essential daily food for my skin, giving it a little glow. I warm it up in my hands and massage it in which always makes the face instantly brighter – and in the process you’re giving yourself a bit of love at least once a day. Both Jasmine and I have been using it for 3 years now and it makes the best birthday present, everyone adores it. And my favourite new beauty product is Jane Iredale’s liquid eyeliner for my go-to beauty look.
Jasmine: Getting lots of sleep, drinking plenty of water, meditating, lighting a Neom Organics Lavender Candle and spending time away from laptops and mobiles are some of the other ways in which we wind-down to reset and re-energise. I also started making my own natural homemade body oils 6 years ago when I realised that it was more economical considering the amount I go through! I use a blend of sweet almond and unrefined sesame oil as a nourishing base and add lavender oil for a deeply relaxing after bath moisturiser before bed. I make a separate bottle with mandarin for day use. They also make lovely gifts at Christmas – I use a Christmas Essential oil blend to scent the oils from my local health food store Baldwins, which is a mix of cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, orange and pine.
Some of my beauty essentials include Alexandra Soverall Angel Balm, Tata Harper brightening serum Couleur Caramel BB cream and concealer, Josh Rosebrook Hydrating Accelerator and RMS Lip to cheek. Mel and I love to shop at Content Beauty in Marylebone, London which has a wealth of information and is stocked full of these great organic products and have just discovered www.abeautifulworld.co.uk for shopping online.
Besides mastering the art of eating well, do you do anything else to stay in shape – what’s your fitness regime?
We both love yoga and if we can’t get to a yoga class, we go online. We particularly love Tara Stiles YouTube videos – usually around 10 mins long it’s hard to have an excuse not to get on with one.
Jasmine: I go for a quick run round the block if I feel like I need to shake it all out and get some fresh air in my lungs.
Melissa: I love dance classes at Frame.
Where are your favourite places to eat out?
We live in south London and both love the Canton Arms in Stockwell, the menu changes every day, the ingredients are top notch and they celebrate nose to tail eating but it’s a really relaxed neighbourhood pub.
Jasmine: I go to Wright Brothers in Borough Market and Soho for the catch of the day. For a variety of sharing plates and something special, Elliot’s in Borough market is great too as they always have an interesting menu.
Melissa: We are really lucky in London, there are so many great place to eat out. Sourced in Battersea is also fantastic and my favourite cold-pressed juices to grab when we’ve got meetings in town are from Raw Press on Dover Street.
What’s next in the pipeline for Hemsley + Hemsley?
We’ll keep on cooking and sharing recipes! We’re thrilled to have launched the book in America, Canada, UK, Germany, Holland, Australia and New Zealand. We’re looking forward to travelling to these countries to share our philosophy with others in making food and lifestyle decisions that best suit them. Currently, we’re busy in the kitchen working on our second book which will be released in Spring 2016. Further down the line, we’d love to create Hemsley + Hemsley wellness hubs for teaching and sharing. We’ve started already with our small urban weekend retreats called The Mind Body Reset, which we host with our friends Yasmin Sewell and meditation teacher Gary Gorrow, so that’s the focus and the dream!
How would you sum yourself up in one sentence?
Jasmine: Passionate, loving, explorer and homebody, and as my mum says ‘Jack of all trades, master of none!’
Melissa: Loves to cook and be cooked for.