Why the Hemsley sisters love a warm diet

The stylish Londonites make a (very convincing) case for healthy, belly-warming meals.

While many of us are programmed to eschew winter’s warm comfort foods, the London-based Hemsley sisters are asking us to embrace them. Melissa, a former marketing manager, and Jasmine, a former model, are self-taught chefs who recently penned their first cookbook, The Art of Eating Well.

The sisters also run a bespoke catering company, Hemsley + Hemsley, and their clients range from bold-faced names to families and fashion houses. Their philosophy is simple: bring food back to the basics, and embracing real food—and yes, real fat.

Their cookbook is packed with the classics, including roast duck, fish pie and brownies, but they are reworked to be free from grain, gluten, refined sugar and high starch, and are alkaline-friendly. Big fans of nourishing bone broth, their staples also include coconut oil, avocado and quinoa.

The sisters spoke with Q about their favorite warming winter recipes, and strategies for healthy eating when the temperature plummets.

Q: Comfort food has such a bad rap. How exactly does it warrant a place in a fit person’s diet?
A: Stews and soups, such as our Chicken Tinola and Broccoli, Pea and Basil Soup, are the perfect belly-warming foods. They are also great for keeping you hydrated when there is less of a desire to drink water and are perfect for batch cooking. Warming, one-pot dishes such as our hearty Mung Dahl, which we’ll have for breakfast, as well as classics with a twist like Sausage and Cider Stew and Sri Lankan Lamb Curry with Cauliflower Rice, are incredibly satisfying.

We use our vegetable spiralizer all year round to ensure we have plenty of pasta-type dishes which are based on nourishing vegetables as opposed to glutinous pasta that can leave us feeling bloated. Plenty of natural fats like grass-fed butter and ghee, coconut oil and dripping are also key ingredients for the winter months—sustaining and satisfying.

Q: What are some of your go-to power foods in the winter?
A: We love eating chicken livers; chopped up and added to a sauce they not only add the nutritional benefits but great flavor too. It is also a mindful way to eat that reduces waste and celebrates the whole animal.

We love to make sure the food we eat is in season and winter-time means divine Brussels sprouts, which, roasted in coconut oil, are the perfect winter vegetable. Bone broth is a champion all-rounder that we enjoy January through to December.

Q: Trendiness aside, what is the appeal of bone broth?
It’s packed with vitamins, minerals, collagen and keratin, making it amazing for skin and digestion. It’s a gut-healing, easy-to-digest source of nourishment and energy that doesn't make you crash or give you caffeine-like jitters. It’s very easy to make; just beef, lamb or chicken bones, water and a long simmer.

What’s more, it’s the bonus from enjoying a Sunday roast; enjoy the meat and save the bones for your broth. Bone broth is the essence of goodness that only animal foods can offer. Potent, enriching and overflowing with health benefits.

Q: Your cookbook encourages the use of natural sugars and fats. Why is this important?
Eating natural foods is half the battle when it comes to health, including your skin, weight and mood! So it’s important to look to real foods first and foremost to nourish ourselves. Natural sweeteners such as raw honey and pure maple syrup are whole and come with complex flavors as well as nutrition which means it’s a completely different kind of food to straight up processed sugar and artificial sweeteners. We use real saturated fats, such as clarified butter (ghee) and coconut oil, because they are heat stable, meaning that their chemical structure is not readily altered or oxidized when used for cooking.