Inspiration: Jasmine and Melissa Hemsley

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I’m so excited to keep going with the inspiration section of the blog this year and to start 2015 off I’m talking to the beautiful Hemsley sister’s today, who are so inspiring. Jasmine and Melissa are health goddesses and they’re two of the friendliest, nicest people I’ve ever met. They’re championing the idea of eating fresh, natural foods that make you look and feel your best, so I know you’ll love their interview and I hope you’re as inspired by them as I am!

Name: Jasmine and Melissa Hemsley, of Hemsley + Hemsley

Where do you live? Jasmine – South East London and Mel is in South West London

What sparked your interest in health and wellness?

We have always been interested in food and aware of it’s connection to health. Jasmine and her boyfriend Nick Hopper (photographer and third member of the team) both modelled for over 15 years and naturally, modelling makes you conscious of health, skin and wellbeing. Jasmine was lucky enough to work regularly with many of the same shoot teams who would humour her constant excitement about food and health and all wanted in on the action. Interested in the relationship between the gut, good health and psychology, she began studying to discover why the foods that were supposed to be ‘unhealthy’ (e.g fats and animal products) made her feel her best. 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 and be able to share it with everybody?’  One day a friend of a friend asked Jasmine if she would take charge of his eating habits by providing all of his food for a time. She did and the phone hasn’t stopped ringing since!

How did you build your passion for healthy living into a career?  

We’ve been developing and growing the Hemsley + Hemsley way of eating for almost ten years through research, study and self-practice. 5 years ago, HEMSLEY + HEMSLEY was born as a bespoke service aimed at helping people with their digestion and relationship with food. We were cooking for clients, clearing out their cupboards, filling up their fridges and freezers and showing them how to cook our recipes. 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. Our cookbook The Art of Eating Well was developed as an all-encapsulating guide and philosophy. We wanted to create a go-to guide for people to use as the foundation of eating and feeling well.

Who inspires you?

Every day we’re inspired by the people around us. The food that we make and our philosophy is based on helping people to improve their relationship with food and understanding what works for them. A lot of our inspiration comes from working with clients who ask us to ‘rework’ their favourite dishes to make them healthier and more nutrient-dense.

Favourite quote?

Jasmine: ‘Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better’  Maya Angelou

Melissa: May the rest of my life be the best of my life

What is your biggest achievement so far?

Launching our first cookbook The Art of Eating Well well this year and then being nominated for Book of the Year in the National Book Awards 2014 alongside Yotam Ottolenghi, Hugh Fearnley- Whittingstall, Mary Berry and Tom Kerridge.

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What’s your typical breakfast, lunch and dinner?  

People might think that eating healthily means sticking to one set of foods and/or eating similar foods or meals day in, day out. While we don’t mind eating leftover supper for breakfast and leftover lunch for supper we eat a variety of foods depending on the season (the vegetables in our veg box change every week so we get the variety without too much planning on our part) and how we’re feeling – so if we’re cold and tired then we prefer cooked food and when it’s hot we enjoy plenty of raw foods.  Breakfast might be a nutritious green smoothie (avocado, coconut oil, spinach, spirulina, flaxseed and lemon) or a quick frittata made with lots of grated carrots and courgettes and herbs. Lunch on the go could be leftover steak with roasted vegetables and a rocket and basil pesto, supper might be a buckwheat noodle stir fry or a quinoa risotto. Soups and stews make up many of our meals (including breakfast!) because they are easy to cook up in large batches. Armed with a thermos, they’re also a good way of enjoying a hot and nourishing meal on the go and at work (avoiding the microwave!). We carry snacks in our bags – a Paradise bar (dark choc covered coconut bar), extra green smoothie from breakfast or an apple and almond butter – and drink plenty of water throughout the day. We love fresh ginger and mint tea which peps you up – make it hot or cold to suit the weather!

What’s your favourite dessert?

We like to keep sweeteners, even natural sweeteners like dates and raw honey to a minimum and balance them with good fat and protein for a satisfying treat that doesn’t cause energy dips! It also means that our taste buds find commercial sweets and biscuits too saccharine sweet and artificial so we don’t feel like we’re missing out on anything!

Jasmine: Hands down I love comforting desserts like our Sticky toffee pudding or easy Molten Chocolate pots from our book The Art of Eating Well, but right now, because they’re in season, our Dark Chocolate Salted Clementines.

Melissa: I’m not as crazy on dessert as Jasmine but The Avocado Lime Cheesecake (our whole food, gluten, grain, dairy and refined sugar free take on a classic New York-style cheesecake) never fails to impress!

What’s the best recipe you’ve ever made?

We pride ourselves on our recipes always being delicious, nourishing and simple We’re super proud of some of our recipes from quinoa muffins to blackbean burgers and cannellini bean birthday cakes (secret recipe!), to our new takes on comfort staples like our Ragu with chicken livers and Courgetti, Flower Power pizza and cauliflower mash topped pies. Our favourites though have to be our go-tos that we like to make a big batch of or that you can take on the go.  We couldn’t agree on one recipe so we’ve curated our Top 5 Winter Recipes:

  1. Kelp Pot Noodles (a perfect packed lunch option for Winter with kelp noodles and rich, probiotic  miso in a heat-proof glass jar). Just add hot water at lunchtime and you have yourself a delicious hot soup.  (Recipe below)
  1. Mung Dahl  – Also great for breakfast, this recipe champions our signature Bone Broth and we never tire of it. We heat it up in the morning and put it in a thermos to take with us wherever we are so that we have access to a delicious, nutrient-dense lunch.
  1. Black Bean Brownies – One of the most popular recipes from our book The Art of Eating Well, these chocolate brownies, made from black beans, grass-fed butter and maple syrup, are proof that flour, grain, gluten-free whole food baking can be delicious and flavoursome. People can’t believe that they’ve got black beans in them and how satisfied they feel with one or two small pieces! We bake them in trays, slice and store in the freezer ready to go when we fancy something chocolatey and sweet.
  1. Flaxbread – We do a few types of grain-free breads but this is our favourite for sandwiches. Made from flaxseeds and ground almonds, this recipe is perfect for avocado toast, topped with almond butter and grated apples or to make a coconut oil and fried egg sandwich.  Bread can be a handy option for lunches on the go so we bake one or two trays ‘focaccia style’ of this super easy batter mix once a month, slice into portions and freeze so they’re ready to go whenever we need them.
  1. Pep Up Turmeric Tea – A homemade brew of turmeric, ginger, cayenne and lemon, we’ve converted many coffee lovers to this punchy pick-me-up. The ginger and cayenne provide a natural boost and it is naturally immune boosting. Perfect for the cooler months.  We make a huge batch of the concentrate, store it in the fridge and then add it to hot water.

Where do you get the inspiration from to create so many awesome recipes?

We are constantly inspired by our travels and requests from our readers and clients. We love the challenge of reworking their favorite recipes to make them healthier and nutrient-dense. We like to make clever use of whole foods to reinvent classics – our fudgy brownies are made from black beans, spaghetti from courgette (Courgetti) and we have pizza bases made from either cauliflower or chickpeas. Lower starch vegetables like cauliflower replace the mash on our shepherd’s pie and we use more nutrient-dense foods like butter and ground almonds (instead of refined flours and vegetable oil) in our cakes and cookies. Not only can you then enjoy a dose of nutrition with every bite but these great-tasting dishes made with whole foods will ensure you feel satisfied without having to eat as much.

What are the ingredients you can’t live without?

The essential ingredients you’ll find in our pantry at any time are coconut oil, mung beans, cold pressed extra virgin olive oil, turmeric, broccoli, watercress, bone broth, eggs, ginger, lemons and tahini. Having these nutrient-rich items on hand at all times allows us to whip up nutritious, delicious meals in an instant.

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Where are your favourite places to eat?

London: Elliots in Borough Market, Brunswick House in Vauxhall, Paradise by Way of Kensal Green, Primeur in Stoke Newington, Brawn in Hackney and have to stop for a Green Juice at Raw Press when we’re in the area.

New York:  We’ve been on a few trips recently to New York to launch the US version of our book. We love Acme, The Fat Radish, The Spotted Pig, Tiny Empire, The Butcher’s Daughter and  Lulu & Po.

What do you do to stay active?

For a quick burst of exercise and to invigorate we’re fans of barefoot running – we pop on our Vivo’s, do a few special moves to make sure that our spines are aligned after sitting at the desk or standing around all day and then dart off. We don’t do it for long – 5-10 mins we find is great for getting everything moving and toning the whole body (no sit ups needed!). We both love the way yoga makes us feel – on YouTube you can find a class for every occasion – a super chilled 45 mins to a 7 min ‘go-on you’ll be glad you squeezed it’ in video. Other than that we like to walk where possible, Mel loves Beyonce Dance Classes at Frame and Jasmine loves a bit of Voga for a good laugh and some 80’s dance classics.

What is your beauty routine?

Melissa: As with our food philosophy, we like to keep our beauty routine simple and as closest to nature as possible. We try to let our skin breathe as much as possible and try to keep wearing makeup to events and shoots. One of the most important things you can do is to stay hydrated to keep your skin healthy, clear and supple! One of our favourite brands is Alexandra Soveral. She’s a very underground, bespoke facialist and grows all the herbs and flowers in Portugal.  Morning and night, I cleanse with her Angel Balm. It is officially a cleanser, but I use it as a mask and on my lips. I also love her Floral Rain Spray to refresh and revitalise throughout the day  and Mandarin Kiss Healing Lip Balm.  I use extra virgin coconut oil to remove my make up and I love Ilia, RMS, deVita products and get all my organic make up from www.beingcontent.com

Jasmine: For years I’ve been a fan of body brushing, tongue scraping and making my own natural body oils from unrefined sesame oil mixed with sweet almond oil and my latest essential oil find. It’s taken a while because I used to be such a get up and go person and found it hard to appreciate baths but now soaking in a salt water once a week is part of the curriculum! My favourite beauty products to date are Alexandra Soveral Angel Balm, Organic Pharmacy Lip & Eye cream (the first organic beauty product I ever bought) Pai Rosehip Bio Regenerate Oil, Tata Harper’s Concentrated Brightening Serum and her beautiful oils for stress, anxiety and sleep.  One of my best friend’s (and flatmate) works at Content Beauty as a makeup artist so I always get the lowdown on her latest favourite discovery – recently the Twelve Beauty serum and Ilia’s matt red lipstick. She bought me a Konjac face sponge for my birthday last year and now I can’t live without it. I love easy to wear colour which usually means painted nails from Kure Bazaar and Priti NYC and in the winter I use Couleur Caramels BB Cream which is the only I have found that is silicone free.

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Do you have any favourite natural skin care products or awesome beauty recipes?

Melissa: A lot of our go-to pantry essentials also double as natural beauty products. We love avocado turmeric face masks, coconut oil hair masks and ginger and salt baths.

Jasmine: For Christmas I give everyone homemade body oils in beautiful glass bottles that I collect all year – I mix 50ml Sweet Almond Oil with 50ml Meridian unrefined sesame oil (I also use this for oil pulling) and then add about 15-20 drops of Baldwins Christmas oil blend (cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, orange, pine).

Where’s your favourite place in the world?

Melissa: Home

Jasmine: Anywhere by the sea

What makes you happy?

Jasmine: Being outdoors, travel, my cats, explorer days with my boyfriend, sleepovers with friends, hot water bottles in winter, the sea in the summer,

chocolate, kombucha and kimchi, laughing with friends and family and yoga no matter how i’m feeling. It always makes me feel amazing!

Melissa: Daytime – big walks in the park,  playing in the kitchen and coming up with new recipes, eating delicious food with friends and family and dancing!

Bedtime – Clean, crisp sheets, a Neom organics lavender candle, a good book and some Classic FM

Describe your perfect day  

Jasmine: I love taking time on the weekend to explore new areas and spend time outdoors. That may mean exploring a new market, taking a 40 min walk into town, taking a new yoga class somewhere in London or going to see the latest exhibition at Tate Modern. In the evenings I like to travel to catch up with friends for long, relaxed dinners, enjoying good food in good company.

Melissa: I like to start with a morning meditation and a lovely breakfast sitting outdoors somewhere. I love eggs so something like Shakshuka eggs or our version from our book which is called Anytime Eggs (as I’d eat it anytime!). Then a long lazy walk somewhere with my boyfriend and his blue staffordshire terrier puppy like Hampstead Heath, going to see the ballet in the early evening then supper with friends and some great red wine!

Do you have any favourite tips and tricks to stay healthy and happy everyday?

  1. Meditate. We live in a digital world, saturated with information and stimulus. If we’re not reading emails on our laptops, we’re Instagramming, on social media or distracted by another digital medium. We meditate to dump the day and to create clarity and to calm the mind.
  2. Take yourself outside every day for fresh air, a sense of vitality and all important Vitamin D. Daylight also helps to reset your internal body clock – also known as the circadian rhythm leading to better sleep and allowing your body to tune into what it needs.
  3. Your fridge and freezer are your best friends – we love cooking but we also love not having to cook from scratch every day! Cooking in batches allows you to have nourishing meals on the ready. Cooking with leftovers also makes you think creatively about the ingredients you use!
  4. Sleep!- it’s free, it’s easy, it feels amazing, nothing resets you like a nourishing sleep and for some reason we all avoid it.
  5. Understand fats- natural fats are good for you – both saturated and unsaturated. Know which natural fats are stable enough to heat and which are best enjoyed raw.

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