Eating good & simple with the Hemsley sisters

Front slider dish: two versions of Chia Puddings with mixed berries & Coconut chips and one with banana and roasted pumpkin seeds
Front slider dish: two versions of Chia Puddings with mixed berries & Coconut chips and one with banana and roasted pumpkin seeds

Hemsley & Hemsley’s  food creations make me want to embrace each season. Look & feel, texture, smell and presentation always get us into the mood for healthy cooking. When IRMA met Jasmine and Melissa Hemsley this week, we had to share favorite food addresses in London, tips and tricks and of course a chat about their latest new book coming out this week also in German language. The London-based sisters have their own food show on TV and their columns at British Vogue and we cannot wait to start cooking healthy menus from their latest book, the German version of their bestselling GOOD & SIMPLE: „Einfach gut essen – jeden Tag“ by EDEL Publishing.

How did you get inspired to become a cook?
Melissa & Jasmine Hemsley: Inspiration comes from a whole host of places! We love to travel and to eat different cuisines and then try out new flavour combinations. We come from a British/Filipino background, so we love Asian and European food and grew up in army barracks in Germany – so there was a lot of sauerkraut on the menu which we still champion in our cooking and recipe books today! Friends, clients and readers ask us to reinvent their favourite dishes and we pride ourselves in turning them into better-for-you versions. Rather than just mimicking nostalgic dishes such as bread with a blend of other processed ingredients and chemical additives, we use whole foods, otherwise we’re just swapping one baddy for another! So for example in our new book #GoodAndSimple, we have an incredible Flaxseed Bun recipe which is protein rich, super satisfying and works with savoury toppings like a fried egg or avocado and sweet ones too, like our BBtella. It’s a healthy Hemsley twist on a classic childhood chocolate and hazelnut spread. Free from refined sugar and full of fibre, protein and vitamins, ours is made with black beans and tastes even closer to the original, rich and dark chocolate spreads that you’ll find in Italy. Kids (and adults) will love it, and they don’t have to know that it’s good for them!

A dish that makes you instantly happy, looking radiant and feeling good after you have had it?
Melissa: A soup made with a base of bone broth! It’s frugal, easy to make, highly nourishing and super soothing – not to mention delicious! Our golden elixir for digestion, skin, hair and nails, it really does a body good from the inside out. Soothing on the gut and restorative, soup in general is brilliant, it’s good for the soul and gives you a tummy-warming glow!
Jasmine: Traditional comfort foods made with whole foods are very stress relieving which is why they got their name! Our Quick Coconut Dahl from Good + Simple is just the ticket when I’ve had a day of it because it’s rich and creamy and easy to prepare in bulk and freeze in portions for a rainy day. I’ve got a sweet tooth, so dessert would probably be involved if I needed a pick me up. Something like our Chocolate Orange Bar with Clementines which is delicious with a cup of fresh mint tea. It’s an easy no-cook dessert that you can make and freeze for later.

You just had your book presentation at Cafe 57, which is located in the Hearst Tower in New York City. What did you suggest for lunch and what is an ideal lunch dish to go back to work afterwards and feel energized?
Melissa & Jasmine Hemsley: We made our spicy one tray chicken thighs with watercress salsa verde and spicy ruby slaw. It’s a simple dish that takes little effort and little washing up too and is a great way of getting lots of vegetables in in a delicious easy way. Watercress is one of our favourite greens so we always blend it into our favourite dressings and pesto! For packed lunches, one of our favourites from our new book #GoodAndSimple is our Reinvented Noodle Pot 3 Ways. We give you different options to suit your taste or mood, each one balanced with satisfying fats, energizing protein and delicious vegetables as well as aromatics like herbs or miso. It’s the ultimate ready meal: all you need is a large heatproof glass jar with a lid and access to a kettle. Perfect for a cold day when you want warming up or if it’s a hot day, make a salad version with the dressing at the bottom so that come lunchtime all you have to do is tip it upside down onto a plate!

What do you suggest to take with you on a plane travelling long distance if you do not like airline food? And do you have a nutricious health tip for a frequent traveller?
Melissa & Jasmine Hemsley: We love to make our own meals to eat on the plane. Quinoa kettle porridge is a great meal on the go. All you need to do is transport in a jar and fill up with hot water, also great for hotel room breakfasts. You could also not bother with the hot water and simply sprinkle it onto yoghurt. Take some whole veggies, fruits and some nice cheese to snack on and maybe pack a quinoa vegetable salad and some homemade hummus (which won’t leak like a salad dressing) to fold through. Pack a lemon to pimp up your water with some Vitamin C as well as refresh and hydrate you. If you’re not travelling by plane, having a stainless steel flask with a veg-based smoothie is a great portable hit of nutrition to keep your energy levels up when you don’t know where your net plate of greens is coming from!

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Which are the five ingredients you should always have in your fridge?
Melissa & Jasmine Hemsley: 1. Apple Cider Vinegar: Raw (unpasteurized) ACV is an alkalizing food which can also promote better digestion, aid with heartburn and help with calcium absorption. We love it in salad dressings, dips and sauces, and it’s something our Mum always always had in the cupboard when we were growing up.
2. Cauliflower: It’s not the most sexy vegetable but we’re such fans of the cauliflower and all its many guises in our food that it stands out for us as a vegetable that deserves recognition. Part of the same family as kale and broccoli, we use it to reinvent lots of popular dishes and sides where you might use potato or other starchy foods. Grate it to make cauliflower rice, cauliflower tabbouleh or a speedy cauliflower mash, it’s super versatile and the perfect vegetable packed side dish.
3. Bone Broth: We always have this in full supply in the fridge and freezer. It is a fantastically frugal ingredient that makes for sustainable, healthy home cooking and it’s also a great way to enjoy more protein on the cheap. We drink it plain or with miso (see below) stirred in or add it to soups, stews, sauces and even add a few tablespoons to scrambled eggs!
4. Lemons: We start our day with a glass of warm water and a squeeze of lemon juice. Full of Vit C, it’s antibacterial, detoxifying and alkalising. Lemons are a staple for adding to dressings, squeezing over freshly grilled fish and of course, to make our caffeine-free homemade brew, Pep-Up Tea. Including turmeric, cayenne and ginger, it’s one of the most popular recipes from our first book The Art Of Eating Well.
5. Quality fermented Miso paste: Bursting with rich, umami flavours, miso is a gut-loving ingredient which is not only good for you but adds instant flavour to dressings, soups, sauces and simply mixed into a hot mug of bone broth for a quick, savoury snack.

What do you eat in a regular day?
Melissa & Jasmine Hemsley: Like with many small businesses, every day varies for us. We could be on a photo shoot, recipe developing and testing, curating a menu for a large event, cooking for a private client, on the road for our book tour doing talks and demos or even hosting a cookery class. This means the food we’re eating could vary too, but here’s an example of a Saturday or Sunday:
First thing upon waking: Warm water with fresh lemon juice and a little turmeric. Morning: Quinoa Kettle Porridge with grated apple and goji berries, Quinoa Courgette Toast with butter or eggs anyway – even with kimchi! Lunch: Leftover meat stew, Big Green Frittata or Slow-Cooked No-Fry chicken Curry with Cauliflower or Broccoli Rice. Supper: Mung Dahl or a quick soup like our Minestrone which we’ve had in the freezer. We are big fans of batch cooking as a little preparation on the weekend (something we like to call a Sunday Cook-Off) means all we need to do is heat up our food and throw in some spinach or greens at the last minute. In the most frugal and efficient way we’ve created something to eat that’s comforting, delicious and easy to digest.
Snacks or sweets: A bit of both – Multiseed Crackers with Cashew Ranch Dip and a piece of Tahini Date Fudge or even a small bowl of leftovers, like our Green Goddess Noodle Salad. (Recipes in Good + Simple)
Favourite beverage: Water is always the best drink but also Pep-Up Tea because it gives you a boost without caffeine or a rich and creamy Lavender and Carob Bedtime ‘Hot Chocolate’.

IRMA travels the world, writes and illustrates the life she lives.

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