As one half of Hemsley + Hemsley, Jasmine has been part of a cultural shift in how we think about healthy eating. For her solo book, East by West, she uses Ayurveda to show the benefits of original comfort food. Jessica Jonzen caught up with her to discover more.
East by West is your first solo book. How did you find the experience of writing it compared with writing your previous books with your sister?
Just as much fun, frustration, hard work, sweat and tears! In some ways, it was much like the very first Hemsley + Hemsley book, detailing the philosophy, speaking to an audience who might not be familiar with the ideas – a real passion project. I shot East by West in the same studio opposite my flat, and I wrote and created from the same kitchen table. I travelled a lot for inspiration and to learn from Ayurvedic doctors. I also had the pressure of communicating an ancient philosophy and I’m happy to say I have received great feedback from all the people that matter.
How did you first get into cooking?
Watching my mum and aunties in the kitchen at home. When I was about nine, my mum had to work on Saturdays for a few months, and after being fed pork pies by our dad for lunch each week, I decided to take matters into my own hands!
How did the idea to go into business with Melissa come about?
Hemsley + Hemsley came about totally organically. I was working full time as a model and my interest in eating well had started to rub off on friends and colleagues. I’d started cooking classes and mentoring people in their kitchens and from there I got my first client. I was juggling both jobs for a while with the help of my other half, Nick – the photographer and one third of the business. Mel was on a sabbatical so I pleaded with her to come and help us and the rest is history!
How did you come to discover Ayurveda and how has it affected your life?
I first stumbled on Ayurveda through yoga in 2001 when I was modelling and looking for the answers to questions like why real butter and cooked food sat so much better with me than margarine, low-fat and raw food. I came across Ayurveda again eight years ago when I learned to meditate. Over the years, I’ve been implementing the things that made sense; eating slowly and mindfully had a huge effect on my digestion and overall relationship with food. Bringing dinner forward and not making it the main meal of the day improved my sleep – and therefore my mood and energy the next day. Understanding my ‘dosha type’ according to Ayurveda has also been helpful; knowing my personality and using recipes and lifestyle tips to help me bring balance has been a boon in the fast pace of modern life.
With such a vast amount to learn about the principals of Ayurveda, what do you suggest are the best foods and principals for people to start with?
Start cooking wholesome slow-cooked food as often as possible. It’s great for everyone’s digestion – after all, you are what you can digest. Take advantage of nature’s medicine cabinet and enjoy a sprinkle of herbs and spices regularly in your dishes and sip herbal teas throughout the day. East by West has lots of tips to help you tweak the recipe according to how you’re feeling.
January is traditionally the month when people detox and diet – what would your advice be for how people should approach their diet in the new year?
In Ayurveda, taking care of yourself is about rest, repair and love. At this cold time of year, it doesn’t mean juice diets, raw food and anything cold, like salads and smoothies! It’s about delicious, traditional, easy-to-digest food that warms you up, makes you happy and helps support your body to do what it does best. Ayurveda is the original comfort food!
East by West: Simple Recipes for Ultimate Mind-Body Balance by Jasmine Hemsley is out now, published by Bluebird (£25).
Want some Ayurveda inspo ASAP? Have a look at Jasmine’s recipes for cream of broccoli soup with seeds, pink pepper lamb hotpot with sautéed red cabbage and mint, and lemon basil almond drizzle cake.