The only thing we love more than a duo of American sisters working together (like us), is a pair of Brit sisters that do the very same thing (the one difference being that their accents are way cooler). Jasmine and Melissa Hemsley of Hemsley + Hemsley may be the UK’s most delicious food writers and nutritionists – constantly thinking up healthy recipes that encourage their readers to live more healthy, energized lives.
Their following includes some serious celebrity and fashion insider clients, and the good news is, they’ve made their lifestyles easy to replicate with their first cookbook out this month – The Art of Eating Well. Were we going to resist sitting down with them on their last trip to NYC? Not bloody likely…
From start to finish, what would be your ideal food day?
Melissa: I’d love a frittata and guacamole for breakfast followed by a chicory almond latte. For lunch, I’d have courgetti with ragu and parmesan, then for supper a spicy Malaysian squash and lentil curry with tons of coriander, spinach, and lime. Pudding would be black bean brownies or a crumble with homemade probiotic coconut yogurt, then a fresh chamomile or mint tea before bed.
Jasmine: I love a bone broth based vegetable soup to start the day, even in the summer, and some juicy ripe fruit for 11s (mid morning snack) like papaya or fresh peaches. For lunch it would be MORE than ideal if someone took me out for a juicy, grass- fed ribeye steak with plenty of caramelized fat and a glass of red or a seafood platter and a chilled white, followed by a few squares of really dark chocolate with salt and chili. For supper I love hot and comforting food to wind down for the day – something like creamy coconut vegetable curry or quinoa with sautéed leafy greens, lots of homemade kimchi, and lashings of extra virgin olive oil – strange but delicious.
What did your sister love to eat growing up that you always disliked?
Melissa: Jasmine always liked a Filipino mung bean dish called ‘mungo,’ which I really disliked. But now, I love mung beans in everything like mung bean hummus and mung dahl.
Jasmine: I had to ask Mel for help on this one and we couldn’t come up with anything…as the older sister, I had to set the example!
How do you balance eating well and staying healthy?
Melissa: The Art of Eating Well is just that. Wellness begins from within, and we feel best on delicious, home cooked food that nourishes us and makes us feel our best. Nothing beats home cooking with real nutrient rich ingredients made with love.
Jasmine: With a little forward planning, and by taking the time to listen to my body and tune in to what I’m eating and how it affects me. This may sound a bit new age, but it’s really as simple as slowing down, chewing well, and taking the time to enjoy food, as well as getting in plenty of down time in a fast-paced world. We all claim to be food lovers and have amazing and diverse foods available to us, but there’s a tendency to rush it all rather than giving it the attention and respect it deserves. If you eat well 70-80% of the time your body can handle the bad stuff – it’s when those percentages are reversed that we run into problems. I always make sure that I have a good supply of homemade foods in the freezer and do a big Sunday cook off to ensure that the fridge has plenty to offer for the busy week ahead.
Meditation is one of the best tools I have ever learned, and I practice daily even if it’s only for 10 minutes in a taxi or on the bus. YouTube yoga videos and a quick run around the block are lifesavers during a busy week.
What ingredient is overrated? Which makes everything better?
Melissa: Vegetable oils – they have to be unrefined, cold pressed, and kept cool to be good for you. Oil wise – we prefer ghee, coconut oil, and butter for cooking or baking with, and cold pressed flaxseed oil and extra virgin olive oil for drizzling over salads and using in dips and sauces. Butter makes everything better, as does sea salt.
Jasmine: Commercial soy products, ‘healthy’ vegetable oils, and too much raw veg – if you don’t chew properly, it’s a nightmare food. Homemade bone broth, sea salt. lemon juice, butter, olive oil, anchovies, raw honey, or dark chocolate will lift any meal!
Your go-to weeknight recipe…
Melissa: A delicious soup – I often don’t follow a recipe and just simmer up all the vegetables from the fridge with some spices – normally cumin, turmeric and ginger – and our secret weapon, nourishing bone broth (made from organic chicken carcasses or beef bones), then mix up some chopped herbs, lemon juice, and flaxseed oil, and drizzle over my bowl at the end.
Jasmine: Probably eggs – lightly scrambled or fried in butter with cumin, spring onions or black pepper and plenty of greens. Otherwise, I’d add some bone broth to leftovers and make a quick stir-fry or soup with Asian flavors like chili, garlic, ginger, and lime.
What’s always in your fridge?
Melissa: A jug of bone broth, lemons, and ginger.
Jasmine: Bone broth, lemons, ginger, kimchi, butter, and eggs. And at the moment – pears! Love them…
What snacks are always in your bag?
Melissa: A tahini fudge ball or some spiced chickpea crunchies (recipes in book).
Jasmine: One of our Paradise bars or a green smoothie. Quite often some kind of leftovers either from a restaurant, home, or the kitchen – waste not, want not!
What won’t you travel without?
Jasmine: Really good hand cream, lip balm, and something to eat. If I had to combine those needs into one product, then a small jar of extra virgin coconut oil would do the job.
Your personal style icon…
Melissa: Our friend Yasmin Sewell – not only as a style icon and incredible mother and businesswoman, she inspires us in many ways and we love organizing wellness weekends with her.
Jasmine: I don’t have any one person, but I always admire effortless style. If I like someone’s outfit, then it definitely influences my next purchase or outfit combo when I rummage through my wardrobe.
If you could cook for anyone, who would it be and why?
Melissa: My family and friends; we never get enough time together!
Jasmine: I’d have David Attenborough, Deepak Chopra, Arianna Huffington, Prince Charles, and Pharrell Williams round. A bit male heavy, I just realized, but I reckon Arianna and I could hold our own. I’d make a hearty pie topped with cauliflower mash, and serve with a big salad so that I could focus more on the conversation rather than the cooking.
The ultimate first date spot…
Melissa: Maltby Street Market on a sunny afternoon
Jasmine: I haven’t dated in eleven years! But if I was choosing a first date spot, it would definitely be somewhere super fancy like The Waterside Inn in Bray or ‘of the moment’ like The Chiltern Firehouse because it’s all downhill after that (only joking – I love street food and finding hidden gems)!
When hosting a dinner party, you always put out…
Melissa: An easy but impressive tasting dip like bagna cauda and a rainbow of crudités.
Jasmine: Our avocado lime cheesecake (from the book) ‘cos that’s what they all came for.
When going to a dinner party, you always bring the host or hostess…
Melissa: Wine and a pudding if they ask for one, which they usually do!
Jasmine: Avocado lime cheesecake (see above) or a jug of our signature Blueberry Lime & Lavender cocktail from the book, which has an army of fans.
What are your favorite cities for food? What restaurants do you go to in each?
Jasmine: I love London – Elliot’s Cafe in Borough Market, Brawn in Columbia Road Market, and Rochelle Canteen in Shoreditch. On our recent trip to New York, I loved The Leadbelly happy hour oysters at a dollar a pop, enjoyed with a Smoke Signal cocktail, and the squid and burger at Lulu & Po’s in Brooklyn.
In the same vein as ‘what is the new black’ in fashion, what’s ‘the new potato’ in food?
Melissa: Cauliflower! I think I must eat it every day – cauliflower rice, cauli tabbouleh, cauli mash, flower power pizzas (almond and cauliflower) and my current favorite, a whole roasted spiced cauliflower.
Jasmine: Courgettes (Zucchini). They are cheap, cheerful and make amazing ‘noodles’. But if I could get one ingredient into every dish, it would have to be bone broth – comforting and nourishing on another level – and of course it makes everything taste great.
*For Jasmine and Melissa’s recipe for Chia Chai Butternut Breakfast Pudding, Click Here
*Jasmine and Melissa Hemsley, photographed at Hundred Acres in New York, NY by Danielle Kosann.