If you’ve ever made a zucchini noodle, gnawed on refined sugar-free chocolate fudge, or dug a fork into a mason jar salad, give a nod to all the health bloggers and wellness sites out there, but mostly thank the Hemsley sisters. Jasmine and Melissa Hemsley—known more commonly as Hemsley + Hemsley—launched their brand in 2010, focusing on flavor and relying less on gluten, grains and refined sugar. Lovers of cooking and eating, the Hemsleys began as healthy cooks and caterers for private clients and events, but soon proved to be working towards a larger goal.
To improve their clients’ relationships with food, the Hemsleys emphasize the importance of digestive health, and are generally on a mission to make eating well a joyful experience. Their first book, The Art of Eating Well, solidified the Hemsley + Hemsley name as a go-to for all foodstuffs related to making healthier choices, without perpetuating a culture of deprivation. The ladies’ sophomore book is Good + Simple, which dives deeper into their aim to “coach people away from fad diets and unhealthy eating towards an appreciation of the power of real food, properly sourced and correctly prepared.”
The ingenuity behind the Hemsley + Hemsley philosophy is that these women understand that in order to maintain any sort of lifestyle, (“healthy” or otherwise) the methodology must be simple enough to participate in not just often, but every day. Jasmine and Melissa do not suggest that their audience throw out all evidence of bread in their kitchens and become spiral-slicing, grain- and refined sugar-free droids. But they do want to advocate that their practice is attainable enough to introduce into anyone’s routine. Yes, there is a green juice recipe in this book, and zucchini noodles aplenty; but flip a few pages and you’ll find pulled pork and plum clafoutis.
Further, there’s a notion to emphasize a deeper thought process behind eating and cooking: The food we put into our mouths shouldn’t just taste good and look good, it should be thoughtfully sourced. Their holistic approach to food is broken down to three simple words—delicious, nutritious, sustainable. H + H uses a 15-principle guide, which I find to be refreshingly contrary to the plethora of touters of Health-with-a-capital-H that are so easily lumped together:
- Gut instinct
- Boil your bones
- Forget calories, think nutrients
- Meat and two veg
- Going against the grain
- Fat is your friend
- Sweet enough
- Drink to think
- The real deal
- Know your onions
- Prepare, chew and combine
- Be mindful
- Stress less
- Tune in
- The “better than” rule
I won’t go into what each point means, but I hope you read through them if you find yourself a copy of the book. (In fact, read through all the text that doesn’t precede a recipe. They have something to say; something I can’t paraphrase in a short review.) The very fact that there are so many “principles” affirms that the Hemsleys understand there’s more to eating than one defining term for everything one puts in their body. Relying on food guidelines rather than restrictions is not only more attainable, but makes for happier eaters.
In addition to the recipes, Good + Simple includes advice for stocking a kitchen, two weekly menu plans (and shopping lists!), and suggestions for lifestyle habits like having a nighttime routine, drinking water, and making time for gentle exercise.
Good + Simple is a cookbook you can actually cook from, which can be a rarity these days. The following recipe is the first I cooked from this book, and I strongly recommend it—for dinner tonight, lunch next week, or for any upcoming potlucks. While I was slightly turned off by the title, (“green goddess” dressing is a thick, mint-colored substance I truly despise) the photos led me to believe I was not going to be puréeing anything creamy. It’s a fresh and immensely flavor-packed dish that was as satisfying to put in my mouth as it was to look at. After three servings for dinner, I went right back to the (plentiful) leftovers for the next two days. The recipe is a keeper, as is the book.
Green Goddess Noodle Salad [from Hemsley Hemsley Good + Simple, by Jasmine Hemsley and Melissa Hemsley, serves 4 as main]
10 ounces buckwheat (soba) noodles
1 tablespoon extra-version olive oil
10 ounces broccoli florets or purple-sprouting broccoli, asparagus, or green beans
1 medium green cabbage or bok choy, leaves shredded
1 meduim fennel bulb, thinly sliced
1 cucumber, halved lengthwise, seeds scooped out, and flesh chopped
4 spring onions, finely sliced
1 large avocado, sliced
2 handfuls fresh greens (watercress, baby spinach, lettuce, leftover cooked kale)
1 small handful of nuts (cashews, peanuts, or almonds) or seeds (sesame, sunflower, or poppy)
4 handfuls fresh herbs (cilantro, mint, or basil), roughly chopped
Grated zest and juice of 2 limes or 1 lemon
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, grated
1½ -inch piece of fresh root ginger (unpeeled if organic), finely grated
2 teaspoons tamari
A pinch of cayenne pepper or chili flakes (optional)
Sea salt and black pepper
Cook the buckwheat noodles in a large pan of boiling water according to the packet instructions (about 7 minutes). Use two forks to tease the noodles apart during the first minute of cooking.
When they are tender, drain and rinse under cold water for 15 seconds. Drain again and then toss in the EVOO in a large serving bowl to stop the noodles sticking together. Set aside.
Using the same pan, after a quick rinse, steam the broccoli (or other vegetable), covered with a lid, in 4 tablespoons of boiling water for 4 minutes until tender.
Whisk all the dressing ingredients together in a bowl or shake in a jam jar with the lid on. Season to taste with salt and pepper, then drain.
Add the raw vegetables, spring onions and avocado to the noodles with the greens and steamed broccoli. Pour over the dressing and mix everything together. Top with the nuts or seeds, toasted in a dry pan for a minute if you like, and the fresh herbs.
NOTE: I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for this review. Check out this review on their website too!