London-based sisters Melissa and Jasmine Hemsley were raised in a household that prized eating well-rounded, nutritious meals from scratch. They carried those values into adulthood, first consulting with private clients on overhauling poor eating habits and improving negative relationships to food.
Soon after launching their eponymous foodie blog, Hemsley + Hemsley, the website caught the attention of Vogue UK and the duo began contributing recipes to the magazine. Last year, that work culminated in the publication of their cookbook, The Art of Eating Well. The tome’s over 150 recipes are centered around the sisters’ shared culinary philosophy that good food leads to happiness. That message has clearly resonated: the book has garnered accolades from high-profile publications such as Elle and T Magazine and was shortlisted for the UK’s 2014 National Book Awards.
Here, the siblings share their own self-care regimens and explain how happiness starts within
Live The Process: Hemsley + Hemsley is a family business. Did your parents stress the importance of eating well?
Hemsley + Hemsley: Mum and dad were pretty old fashioned and junk food was rarely on the menu. It wasn’t so much that mum talked about “eating clean” and avoiding pesticides and preservatives or anything like that; she just more or less cooked everything from scratch. Our parents were both sticklers for eating proper meals and avoiding waste. We rarely ate out at restaurants, but loved trying new foods from different cultures from local shops and delis while at friend’s houses or when traveling. Mum taught us the pleasure in savoring food, so, if we were given sweets or cake, she would encourage us to have one or two and save the rest for the next day when we would enjoy it more. (Dad, on the other hand, would tease us that if we didn’t eat it, he would!) Mum was also very conscious about ensuring we were getting the right nutrients, so we had to take vitamin tablets and orange flavored cod liver oil. In our house, every ailment was fixed with a nap and a good meal.
LTP: Is there one ritual you each practice daily to take care of your mental and physical well-being?
H+H: Meditation has made our lives better in many ways and it allows us to feel relaxed, calm and focused. It’s clearing and clarifying and an important tool in looking after the mind and allowing it to regenerate.
LTP: Was coauthoring a cookbook always part of your goal? What impact do you hope it will have on your readers?
H+H: Five 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.
Then, within two weeks of launching our own blog, we were asked to contribute recipes to Vogue UK. Our clients, blog readers, friends and family were so enthusiastic about us compiling all our tips, tricks and recipes together into one beautiful book. We created The Art of Eating Well as a go-to guide for people to use as the foundation of eating and feeling well, by championing good food.
LTP: What are some of your favorite recipes from The Art of Eating Well?
H+H: There are about 160 of them and we only included recipes we adore, so it’s tough to pick! Some of our favorite delicious and nutritious sweet treats are our Black Bean Brownies and Avocado and Lime Cheesecake (free from gluten, grain and refined sugar). We also love the soothing and restorative mung dahl made with bone broth, the unbelievably good Pablo’s chicken (baked almond crusted chicken) and Courgetti (spaghetti made from zucchini) with ragu. As for sides, we love cauliflower rice, broccoli and pea mash and Quicker Than Toast (a genius zucchini salad that takes less time to make than toast). It’s healthy food, but not as you know it. It’s so delicious that you forget that it’s good for you.
LTP: What does happiness look like to you?
Melissa: A lovely plate of delicious nourishing food, eaten outdoors in sunlight with people we love.
Jasmine: I don’t know what it actually looks like but it feels like a warm glow, a contentedness in everything you do. My friend and mentor Susie Pearl wrote a book called, Instructions for Happiness and Success, and she says that happiness is an inside feeling not an outside manifestation. Work on your inner landscape with the right choices and fuel your body with good thoughts, good feelings and good food.
LTP: What does it mean to you to "Live The Process" and how do you do that every day?
H+H: We’re big believers in balance and finding the time to look after our bodies and ourselves. This is vital so that we are equipped to take each day as it comes, to calm our nervous systems or fire them up when necessary and quickly reset. As well as twice daily meditation, we love yoga in all it’s forms and make sure to get up and outside for at least 20 minutes every day for a brisk walk, a good run or some good old-fashioned dancing. We love nature. Living in a big city means we have to make the effort to find it, but it does do you a whole world of good. We’re lucky that in London we are surrounded by beautiful parks, so it’s our goal to get to them on a regular basis.
We embrace change and remember that we are ever-evolving. You can’t always control the situation you are in, but you can have a say in how you think, experience and learn from it.
Find more information on Hemsley + Hemsley here.