Hemsley + Hemsley On Healthy Living & Their New TV Show

If you haven't heard of the Hemsleys, where have you been? Within the space of just a few short years, the London-based sisters, Jasmine and Melissa, have founded a healthy eating empire which began humbly as a bespoke food service, catering for fashion events and private clients. The now unavoidable Hemsley + Hemsley umbrella encompasses two best-selling books, the spiralizer that swiftly became a kitchen essential, a just-opened cafe in Selfridges' shiny Body Studio plus a new TV show, which started last week on Channel 4.

If you're tired or uninspired by the whole "clean eating" revolution sweeping Instagram and the world of yummy mummies and fitness bloggers, the Hemsley sisters are here to show you that a healthy approach to food doesn't mean eating sawdust and a third of a grape for breakfast. We caught up with our favourite foodies to discuss their ever-expanding brand and asked them for a few tips to improve our meals this summer.

How have you adjusted to your new schedules juggling a prime time TV show and the new spot at Selfridges? Were you nervous about the scrutiny you might be under with your first cafe and being on national TV?
Yes, it’s been a busy 2016 so far and we’re still mid book tour for our second book, Good + Simple! We’re loving our new cafe and have settled in nicely – we’re there most days of the week, enjoying our painstakingly picked menu with favourite dishes from both books plus a few new ones. It was hard whittling it down from over 300 recipes...

Now it’s all the fun stuff, enjoying interviews with TV press in our new space, working out the summer menu with seasonal dishes and meeting all the people that come to eat in the cafe. Were we nervous? Kind of, but so much was happening we didn’t have time to sit at home and twiddle our thumbs and overthink it which is always a good thing!

How does your show differ from other food programmes and can we have a taster of any treats to come?
Eating Well With Hemsley + Hemsley really gets to the heart of our philosophy while keeping it fun. Not only do we show off our favourite recipes and how easy they are (no chef skills required!), we explore and explain how important eating real food and cooking with real ingredients is. We make provenance, sustainability, sourcing good-quality ingredients, eating seasonally and nose-to-tail eating (so not wasting any part of the animal) part of the story to achieve an overall sense of wellness from your food. Each episode is designed to share recipes for every possible occasion: refreshing foods for a hot day when you just can’t be bothered to cook and warming hearty foods for cold day suppers. We’ve got kids’ parties, dinner parties and cocktails, baking, nostalgic comfort food and eating on-the-go, as well as meals that are perfect for getting ahead on a busy week and getting energised.

We don’t tell people what to do. We’re just sharing our love of good, real food at a time when processed foods have become the norm!

You are key proponents of championing recipes based on natural fats, meat, fish, dairy, and seasonal fruit and veg, pulses, nuts and seeds. How do you feel about the recent backlash against "wellness evangelism"?
In many ways it’s great because it sparks discussion and actually helps spread the word to people who might not have found us otherwise. We don’t tell people what to do – we’re just sharing our love of good, real food at a time when processed foods have become the norm.

What's your most trusted quick and easy mid-week meal?
Jas: At the moment it’s probably our Flaxseed Buns which I make a big batch of and freeze. I’ll take one out, toast it and fill it with whatever I fancy – typically a fried egg and watercress, or butter and honey if I fancy something sweet. The recipe is from our book Good + Simple – it’s a brilliant gluten- and grain- free bake with a lovely doughy texture. Made with just a handful of ingredients and full of protein it really fills you up. They’re on the menu at our cafe in Selfridges too so if I’m feeling particularly lazy, I’ll just grab the salmon burger to go.
Mel: Soup always saves the day for me. It’s the best way to use up any vegetables that are about to spoil too. If I’ve made lots and am having leftovers, I spruce it up by added a dollop of pesto or some crunchy, toasted seeds. Always made with a base of bone broth too, for added protein and depth of flavour.

What would be your main tips for someone looking to overhaul their eating habits this summer for a healthier approach?
Jas: For starters, make sure you’ve got some essentials, because small changes can have a big impact and will mean you develop good habits. Two must-have summer ingredients of mine are lemons - adding a squeeze to warm water in the morning or over salads and for our invigorating Pep-up Tea, which we like to drink chilled in the warmer weather (recipe from The Art Of Eating Well) and coconut oil – for cooking, frying, baking, desserts, smoothies and even on our skin and hair. We store it at room temperature and always know when summer has arrived because it goes from solid to liquid and white to clear which makes the jar look empty! Makes a great after-sun too.

Mel: And of course there are several other things that go with food that are also free, cheap and easy to implement in order to get back in touch; sleeping more, chewing your food better (this will improve your digestion) and making sure that you’re well hydrated.

What were your biggest challenges with the show and did you feel at ease in front of the camera?
Luckily we have each other so the load is always halved and it meant there was lots of laughter and hilarious outtakes. The running joke was that our recipes are so easy that two of us making them actually made them look complicated. And our poor director kept saying really – is that it? We grew up with cooking shows, from Ainsley Harriott's Ready, Steady Cook to Gary Rhodes and Keith Floyd, so creating our own has been dream come true. Jamie Oliver’s production company, Fresh One TV produced so we were in more than good hands.

Who have been the biggest influences on your career and which emerging foodies or entrepreneurs are inspiring you now?
Ooh well we’re a bit of a mish mash because we draw influence from everywhere. For Melissa, it’s the chefs like Rick Stein and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and food writers and enthusiasts like Clerkenwell Boy (who has a drool-worthy instagram) as well as business women like Arianna Huffington. Jasmine is heavily inspired by gut health and traditional cultures and cuisines and excited about new breakthroughs in understanding genetics, microbiome and exactly why some ancient principles still apply to us today. So everything from Ayurveda to Dr Tim Spector’s The Diet Myth as well as the work of Mark Hyman, Chris Kresser and countless homemakers and wellness warriors with blogs set to inspire and get us back into the kitchen.

Follow Hemsley + Hemsley on Instagram @hemsleyhemsley

Watch Eating Well With Hemsley + Hemsley on
Fridays at 7.30pm on Channel 4

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