Sisters Jasmine and Melissa Hemsley are here to change the way we think about food. Not to convert us to the latest craze or most recent superfood, but to help us understand ourselves better through the food we eat.
“Our philosophy is about cultivating holistic attitudes and helping minds. What you don’t want to see is that people become so obsessed about ‘eating right’ that it too can become unhealthy and lead to an even more damaging relationship with food.” says Melissa.
The Hemsley sisters want to impart the importance of balance and respect for food and eating to heal, nourish and protect.
“This is not a diet so you never fall ‘off the wagon’; you never think you have done something wrong”.
Good + Simple, Jasmine and Melissa’s highly anticipated second book is out now in the UK and Australia. The girls have also just launched their first ever day-to-night café, Hemsley + Hemsley at Selfridges, London. Find out more here.
We sat down with Melissa and Jasmine on their whirlwind tour of Australia to talk about the importance of fuelling your body with the right foods and how easy it is to make better lifestyle choices.
Both of you are to be congratulated on your success so far – a brand new series, three cookbooks, a café, a successful catering and cooking business and a popular online presence in the healthfood web-space. Do you have a particular career highlight?
All of the above! It’s been an absolute whirlwind and we’re enjoying every minute of it so it’s really hard to pick out just one particular highlight. Hearing all the lovely feedback from our readers never gets old, and seeing our books in bookstores all over the world is amazing. It’s always been our dream to have our own day-to-night café, so launching Hemsley + Hemsley at Selfridges is definitely up there as one of the best moments…and we can’t believe that we have our own TV show now – still pinching ourselves about that one! But the real highs come from the personal stories – hearing how our books, recipes and blogs have helped people feel better – there is no better feeling than that!
Have you always been advocates for healthy eating and nutrition? If not, what triggered your interest in wellness and nutrient-dense cooking?
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 through this 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 soon began 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.
Hemsley + Hemsley started 6 years ago 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 and feel better – happier, healthier and more energized.
You have over 234k followers on Instagram (and counting), what type of posts do your followers love to see the most?
They really love it when we open up and share things from our everyday lives, such as a quick snap while recipe testing, or a meal we’ve just eaten while out with friends – we really take note of that and keep things candid and honest. Our social media followers inspire us with their requests and we love to see their photos of our recipes.
What inspiration can your blog or online recipes give to an individual just starting off on their journey to better health?
Our recipes prove that healthy eating doesn’t have to be difficult, time-consuming or expensive. We create home-cooked, nourishing dishes that are simple enough for even a total kitchen novice to follow! With easy recipes for delicious breakfasts, lunches, dinners, desserts, snacks and drinks to suit your mood, we’ve done all the hard work for you – taking the stress out of cooking, so you can really enjoy eating well.
Some people struggle with developing a harmonious relationship with food, some of us turning to food to fulfil an emotional need. How can we focus on food as a fuel and a pathway to better health, rather than just a source of comfort?
It’s important to tune in and listen to your body. Make mealtimes a time of focus and pleasure – away from distractions such as a laptop – and chew your food thoroughly. As you make more home cooked meals your confidence in the kitchen will soar and there really is nothing more satisfying to sitting down to eat a meal you’ve made for yourself with care and attention, especially if you’re sharing it with people you love too!
One of your 15 H+H principles for Eating Well is Forget Calories, Think Nutrients. What advice would you give for women, especially younger women, trying to navigate their way through a media circus of quick- fix diets, weight loss tips and the idea that thin equates to happiness?
Calorie counting and skipping meals to nullify guilt while snacking on ‘health’ food products that shout ‘low-fat’ make it easy to lose a sense of what it takes to feed ourselves well. People are slowly but surely beginning to realise that these ‘quick-fixes’ may seem like a short term answer, but they’re not a sustainable, long term solution. We believe that eating well isn’t a diet, it should be part of your lifestyle. We are all about feeling healthy and happy every day, for life!
Why do you believe interest in superfoods and all things health and wellbeing have exploded in recent years?
We’re moving away from the convenience foods, ready meals and fast food of the last few decades; people are tired of reading labels with huge lists of ingredients that they don’t recognise and they’re concerned about what they’re putting into their body. There’s been a backlash against the ‘easy’ option and a renewed interest in real, old-fashioned home-cooking. It’s comforting to know where your food is coming from and to source the ingredients yourself – it’s the healthier option and society is really embracing that.
As well as that, people are starting to notice the direct link between what they eat and how they feel; they’re more aware of eating nutrient-dense foods – like certain superfoods – which will nourish them and leave them with more energy and feeling good both mentally and physically. Those superfoods don’t need to be the just the expensive exotic type – in fact our favourites are probably watercress, eggs, liver, broccoli, bone broth and butter!
What benefits can an individual gain from eating a consistently healthy diet that people don’t usually associate with nutrition?
People often get caught up with the physical, aesthetic benefits of eating better, but soon find that energy levels, your mood, immunity and quality of sleep will all improve and you’ll realise just how amazing your body is designed to feel!
I, like so many people suffering with autoimmune diseases, have benefitted so much from simple diet changes.
What do you have to say to people who are yet to discover the power of food?
Wellness truly does begin from within, so you need to eat better to feel better. This doesn’t have to feel daunting – small changes have big impacts, so start by stocking up on wholesome, cupboard essentials which will allow you to pave a path to healthier eating and lifestyle. While each person is individual and has individual needs our approach centres around quality meat and vegetables.
Healing the gut is not just important, but is essential to maintaining overall health for every person on this planet. What do you wish more people understood about how to heal their gut – and the importance of maintaining proper gut health.
Your gut really is at the centre of immunity. It’s like your second brain and affects your health, mood and immunity, so why wouldn’t you want to look after it?! We always say ‘you are what you can digest’, so we prepare our foods for optimal digestion, such as soaking quinoa, nuts and pulses, cooking foods and chewing every mouthful well to get the best from our food without putting a strain on our digestive system
Our MiNDFOOD readers love to read about travel, health and all-things food. When travelling, what is your advice for staying healthy yet indulging in that heavenly Italian pasta?
Be prepared. If you have a long journey ahead of you, pack a takeaway pot of leftovers, a piece of fruit and a small jar of almond butter or coconut oil to add to shop bought meals to boost their nutrition, and we love the southwestern spiced nuts from Good + Simple too. We always start a road trip with a big green smoothie in a cool bag if it’s warm weather – one of the best ways to concentrate your greens in an easy to consume and portable way, especially when you’re not sure when you’ll get your next plate of veg! That being said, if we’re in Italy, we’ll eat some lovely handmade pasta, just like if we’re in France, we’ll have a good croissant!
We have an 80/20 guideline. The human body is amazing and If you feed your body the good stuff 80% of the time it can cope a lot better with the bad stuff. In avoiding processed foods you can steer clear of the guilt and discomfort often associated with it – make eating well a consistent part of your life and enjoy your guilty pleasures now and then.
The health myth you wish people knew was completely false…
Fat. Eating it doesn’t make you fat.