From morning rituals and early nights, to chilling with her dogs on Sundays, Jasmine Hemsley tells Gabrielle Fagan about her approach to keeping well and reveals her passion for scouring car boot sales for bargains
As one half of holistic food and cooking empire Hemsley + Hemsley, Jasmine Hemsley found success alongside her sister, Melissa. The partnership has been a winning formula. Their first book, The Art Of Eating Well, pushed Jamie Oliver and Mary Berry off the top of the Amazon charts in 2014, and follow-up, Good + Simple, was also a hit.
They've since opened a cafe in Selfridges, starred in their own Channel 4 TV show, Eating Well With Hemsley + Hemsley, and gathered some 300,000 Instagram followers.
Right now though, Jasmine (35) is temporarily flying solo, and her own book, East By West: Simple Recipes For Ultimate Mind-Body Balance, an ayurvedic-inspired cookbook, was published last year. Here, she talks about her well-being rituals and what makes her tick, why there are no wedding plans just yet, and losing her father.
Are you and Melissa going your own separate ways now?
"No, we're still working together a lot. We have our cafe in Selfridges (London) and are always talking about new projects, but we both had different ideas about a third book. She's more of a foodie and has done her own book, Eat Happy. I'm more into wellness. Exploring our own avenues is working out really well.
"We're very close and nowadays laugh about the fact that I can be the bossy elder sister as I'm five years older, although I reckon sometimes she's bossier than me!
"It's great working with family, as we're always very straight with each other and upfront. When we go home to see my mum, we revert to just being sisters."
What's at the heart of your approach to health and happiness?
"Over the last decade, I've embraced ayurveda, a gentle Indian holistic approach to living and eating, which has transformed my life. It's about getting in line with the circadian rhythm of the earth, eating home-cooked food with seasonal ingredients, limiting distractions when you're eating so you're mindful about what you're having, and generally aiming to get that elusive balance in life."
You got caught up in the backlash around 'clean eating'. How do you feel about that?
"I never used the term 'clean eating', and Hemsley + Hemsley never used it, so that was somebody else's idea. For there to be anything to write about, there seems to have to be extremes and hype, but that wasn't us. We're about nutrition and feeling good. It did, though, open a debate about eating whole foods and being mindful about eating, and people are more aware.
"My way of eating is really in tune with my background, as my Filipino mum made amazing eastern dishes fused with British produce. Her answer for any ailment or upset was: 'Eat, eat, eat!' There were lots of soups, stews and roasts, made with inexpensive fresh ingredients seasoned with herbs and spices, and all done in one pot or steamed.
"It's meat on the bone, natural fats, real butter and vegetables.
"I learnt the value of it when I left home to go to university and lived on takeaways and manufactured foods, and I never felt as unwell, had less energy and less feeling of well-being. That was the first catalyst for making changes in my life.
"I'm supporting Beko's Eat Like A Pro campaign as I hope to show parents that there's an easy, practical, healthy way to feed children home-cooked food, which doesn't take hours or cost a fortune - very like the food I enjoyed as a kid."
What's your daily health routine?
"I get up around 6.30am and straight away, tongue-scrape to clean away bacteria that can cause halitosis. Around three times a week, I also oil pull (swish a tablespoon of sesame or coconut oil in the mouth) for 15 minutes, to help get rid of more toxins.
"After a shower, I apply body oil, argan or sesame, to nourish my skin, and have a cup of hot water or a herbal tea.
"I do five minutes yoga and then around 20 minutes meditation, which is thought to be the equivalent of three hours' sleep.
"It's my secret for staying sane in a busy life, as it clears my brain of stress and allows me to reflect and gain perspective.
"Walking our three dogs in the park gets me in touch with nature, and I'll breakfast on porridge, eggs, home-made bread, or a dish I've prepared the night before in my slow cooker.
"Lunch is my main meal and I have a light supper around 6pm, as eating early is better for the digestion and helps me sleep better. I try to go to bed by 10pm. Two mornings a week, I do a one-minute body brush to boost circulation, the lymphatic system and soothe my skin."
Tell us about your fiance, photographer and creative director Nick Hopper - are you planning your wedding?
"We've been together 15 years, got engaged in India, and he's really the third member of Hemsley + Hemsley. He's basically the person that I've travelled this journey with, and he's done the photography for the Hemsley + Hemsley cookbooks and my new East By West book.
"We've pretty much lived more or less in each other's pockets since we met, as we often work together from home. At the weekends, we don't talk work and give each other space. On Saturdays, while he's at the gym, I'll do yoga, and Sundays we just chill with our dogs.
"I think the secret of a happy relationship is listening and trying to see life from the other person's perspective, and being compassionate.
"I'd love someone to organise our wedding, and then Nick and I could just turn up, because we never seem to get round to it ourselves.
"I don't want to turn into a bridezilla by organising one, but ideally I'd love an epic party. I'd definitely love children, so that's probably the next thing on my list."
What's been your toughest time?
"When my father, Jack, a lieutenant colonel in the Army, died aged 72 in 2014. He always encouraged me and my sister by telling us we could do anything we put our minds to. It was actually amazing to be with him when he passed.
"It brought home to me that in the west, we need to improve our understanding and relationship around death. Losing him has made me even more determined to live every day and appreciate it - but not in the western way of feeling you have to achieve something daily and you're only worth what you can show off."
What can't you resist?
"Car-boot sales, which are the best day out you can get. Mostly everything I have, from my furniture to my clothes, comes from them. Discovering and re-purposing things and finding bargains is eco-friendly and fun."
Jasmine Hemsley has joined the fight against childhood obesity in support of Beko's Eat Like a Pro initiative. Together, they hope to empower future generations to live healthier. For more information, visit beko.com