The British Tv showgirls and “feel-good food” cookbook authors Hemsley + Hemsley disrupted with their first cafe at Selfridges in London. Yet, as with many strained food serving business, they were forced to shut down this little corner of healthy hedonism.
Still, their abundant cookbooks keep inspiring healthy lifestyle. To give you a better idea what they offer, my review of their nutritional philosophy follows within the cafe’s past offerings. Many of the dishes were included in their cookbooks and all gluten-free recipes on their website.
Tucked behind sexy lingerie, bikinis and pyjamas, powerfully signals what one should eat to proudly slip into one of these revealing pieces. Here, in the Body department, ladies relish in their chocolate brownies and high-fat coconut bars convinced of their good, even transformative, refined-sugar and gluten-free magic whip to beauty. Such a dream, when indulgence equals health is now marketed to all fans of gluten-free, paleo, plant-based, vegan, and above all no calories counting happiness seekers. Hemsley + Hemsley at Selfridges do not subscribe to just one of these dietary lifestyles, but offer diversified, naturally delectable pleasures that pepper up any day.
GRAIN & REFINED SUGAR FREE SUSTAINABLE SEASONAL
No hydrogenated vegetable oils are used in the cooking, your digestion is being boosted, and our Planet is spared of an unnecessary waste at Hemsley + Hemsley. Probiotics like kimchi, prebiotics like fibre in whole vegetables, plus encouraging you to chew like cows mulching grass to stimulate saliva and digestive enzymes before the food gets into your gut, were all scientifically proven to aid digestion. In a win-win state of mutual merriment, nose-to-tail (think bone broth, dripping/animal fat) and root-to-frond recipes encourage consumption of the entire produce, as our ancestors did it. Ayurveda guides many dietary principles for the Hemsley sisters, and their trip to India sealed their interest in the millennia-old holistic health system.
To prevent any spikes and ravines in your blood sugar levels, and thus preventing fatigue, Jasmine and Melissa Hemsley minimise even the natural sugars in all the recipes. Yet their most famous desserts like the bounty bar taste very sweet. My palate as a judge ruled that there is no way that the total sugar content (natural of course) is not quite high. So is the fat, be it from plants. If the desserts is all you are after at Hemsley + Hemsley. In the paleo/vegan ethos the “transformed” sisters claim: “We don’t believe in using calories as a means of measuring optimal dietary needs”. Their belief, not the facts measured by scientists. If you do not move and eat high calorie diet, you will become obese and that is not healthy. After a run or workout, savour them without any guilt, the gluten-free carrot cake (carrots, nuts and raisins) topped with lush, full-fat Greek yogurt cream in particular is ravishing! Their famous bounty bar (generous oil-oozing coconut enrobed in dark chocolate) is worth the occasional sin even for the staunch dieters.
I see more problems with their health claims though. The amateur home cooks and self-taught nutrition geeks even legally protect themselves on their website, and their quest for better digestion will not fit all. For example their use of chickpeas and beans may irritate many people’s bellies. Activating, or soaking foods in water “mimics germination and reduces the phytates, making them easier to digest and increasing the nutrients available”, but can still wreak a havoc in your tummy. Thus, follow your own gut for health, the rest is impeccably sourced.
No refined sugar, using only organic dairy and eggs, pasture-raised, hormone and antibiotic free meat, wild-caught fish, and seasonal vegetables if not certified organic sourced from small scale farmers not using pesticides.
For lunch, a Puy lentil and beetroot salad with cranberries, walnuts and mustard maple vinaigrette and the popular squash and spiralized beetroot noodle salad topped with spiced cashews impressed me. House cultured ketchup and siracha hot sauce accompany anything you desire.
On a chilly day, the concentrated bone broth with miso will keep the cold away. Served in a mug it feels very hygge. Their kimchi is more the sour kraut European style than the hot Korean original, but equally joins the fight against the bad microbes in your gut.
On the trend Bulletproof coffee blend with coconut oil (a ghee option at Hemsley + Hemsley) will kick your pre-workout mind, but I prefer the locally-based Rare Tea Company drinkable produce. Turmeric, activated charcoal, beetroot “love“, matcha or a classic coffee in a latte can be sweetened with low GI coconut sugar and your choice of full-fat dairy or a plant milk. Ucha bottled kombucha boosts your microflora.
The Hemsley sisters rule the British young food media with their California-style, wholesome, grain-free recipe books. Their recipes and sustainable sourcing values were brought to life inside Selfridges in their well-integrated café. The Hemsley + Hemsley Cafè also offered a healthier version of afternoon tea (gluten-free quinoa scones).
MUST HAVE: Bone and miso broth, trio of salads, Bounty bar. Skip the dry crab cakes, plus the really not a kimchi (it’s not spicy enough and fermented for long).