Loved by the food, fitness and fashion industries, sisters Jasmine and Melissa Hemsley have taken the wellness industry by storm since launching Hemsley + Hemsley in 2010. Their best-selling debut cookbook, The Art of Eating Well, champions nourishing, home-cooked food. The sisters are currently holed up in their Stockwell kitchen working on their second book, Good + Simple, due for release in March 2016. Jasmine lives in Elephant and Castle, while Melissa lives in Brixton, so Living South Resident quizzed the glowing duo on spiralizing, wellbeing and south London.
Have you always eaten well, or did you one day just think, ‘I need more veg!’?
Jasmine: I’d been working as a model since I was 19 and became fascinated by the many different ideas surrounding health and nutrition, so I began to develop and grow the Hemsley + Hemsley way of eating through research and self-practice. Mel, who worked as a footwear brand manager and later in marketing for gastropubs, caught the cooking bug and helped spread the word.
Are you allowed a ‘dirty food’ day?
Melissa: We always get asked this but honestly, with our reworked comfort foods we never feel like we’re missing out. We don’t deprive ourselves of sweets and desserts because we’ve found a way to make them better for us. If we’re eating out then we choose somewhere with a real food ethos, but if we can’t pick then we don’t stress. We have an 80/20 guideline for eating well – the human body is amazing and if you feed it the good stuff 80% of the time it can cope a lot better with the bad.
J: Some of our favourite reinvented classics include buckwheat burritos, pizza bases made from cauliflower or chickpea and our own version of fried chicken – Pablo’s chicken – free from breadcrumbs and vegetable oil but still crunchy, crispy and delectable.
What are your favourite places to eat out in south London?
M: We love the Canton Arms on South Lambeth Road, The Camberwell Arms, Brunswick House in Vauxhall, The Dairy in Clapham Old Town, Fowld’s Café in Camberwell, Elliot’s Cafe in Borough Market and Seamus Mullen at Sea Containers on the South Bank.
And to shop for ingredients?
M: South London food markets like Maltby Street – stalls like Brambletye Fruit Farm, with its biodynamic produce, make this Borough Market spin-off one of my go-to destinations for good quality food with a less hectic atmosphere. We also love The Ginger Pig and Wild Beef Co for meat, and the Riverford online farm shop for weekly vegetable boxes.
You started a ‘spiralizing’ movement! What are your top 3 foods to spiralize?
J: We love packing vegetables into recipes in clever ways and a spiralized vegetable looks beautiful, adds texture to your dish and takes seconds to make. The courgette is our spiralizer hero – it’s mild tasting, the perfect shape and if you have any fussy eaters just peel the courgette first for a bowl of noodles that looks like spaghetti (hence the name ‘courgetti’). Just stick bolognese on it and you’re away! Cucumber noodles are fresh and juicy and we love to spiralize fruits like apple and pear. A current favourite is beetroot for eye-catching magenta noodles.
We have an 80/20 guideline for eating well – feed your body good stuff 80% of the time and it can cope a lot better with the bad
Your next book, Good & Simple, references mindful eating, tell us more…
J: It can be too easy to inhale your lunch at your desk having not even registered the experience of eating. Taking the time to enjoy each mouthful will do you a world of favours. Not only in what you choose to eat but also the way you eat is crucial to your health – it’s important to break down all foods by chewing to access their nutrition. We like the old adage of ‘drink your food and chew your drink’.
Where do you start when developing a new recipe?
M: The initial inspiration comes from a whole host of places! A friend, client or reader who wants us to reinvent one of their favourite dishes or a new combination of flavours we may have tried on holiday. We also pride ourselves in turning their favourite foods into better-for-you versions with wholefoods.
What’s a great leftovers dish?
J: Our Mini Vegetable Fritattas make use of all those veggie odds and ends in the fridge, as does our Kelp Pot Noodle – just throw everything in, add miso, tamari, hot water and stir. Our Sesame Chicken Salad with Cucumber Noodles was inspired by leftovers – all those juicy chicken bits from a Sunday roast, some greens and a cucumber spiralized into noodles, et voila! And of course the carcass goes straight into a pot to make bone broth – our number one frugal food.
What’s your top mid-afternoon snack?
M: A green vegetable-based smoothie or a cup of hot bone broth or miso with a raw egg yolk swirled in also makes a quick, nourishing snack that isn’t heavy on the stomach.
J: Our Apple Rings with toppings like our Ginger, Honey and Black Pepper Tahini Spread – coming soon! Anything with coconut oil for sustained energy, nut butters, our Chickpea Crunchies or half an avocado with a spoonful of dressing drizzled on top.
Is there any place for a fad diet, ever?
M: Not for us! Calorie counting and skipping meals while snacking on ‘health foods’ make it easy to lose the sense of what it takes to eat well. People are realising that these quick-fix answers are not a sustainable, long-term solution. Eating well is a lifestyle choice – it’s about small changes that soon become second nature. Once you’ve experienced the positive effects of good food on body and mind, you won’t want to go back.
Do you still have plans to open a cafe?
J: We have lots of exciting plans for 2016! But in the meantime we’re hosting supperclubs this summer – keep an eye on our website!
Good + Simple, due for release in March 2016, is available to pre-order now from your nearest independent bookshop