Jasmine and Melissa Hemsley are a sister duo who have been rewriting the rules of healthy eating. For the last four years they have been providing organic and nutritious food to celebrities and other clients from their London based food business. I have long been a follower of Hemsley + Hemsley, catching up with their latest healthy and seasonal recipes posted on Vogue. Now they have released their first cook book ‘The Art of Eating Well’ featuring recipes that are free of grain, gluten and refined sugar, whilst encouraging the use of high-quality organic saturated fats. This is music to my ears, as I have always been a believer of eating food as natural as possible, and allowing yourself a treat every so often. Rather than continually eating processed food labeled as ‘low fat’ or ‘zero-fat’, as I always wonder what chemical process has that been through to remove the fat content from that?
Having recently bought the cookbook, this weekend I tested out two of their recipes. Aubergine and Courgette Coconut Curry and one of my personal favourites – Sticky Toffee Pudding. Courgette, aubergine and tomatoes are all currently in season, making this a perfect mid-summer dinner.
Aubergine and Courgette Coconut Curry
1 cup (approx 200g) of red split lentils, rinsed
3 large onions, roughly chopped
2.5 inches of ginger (grated)
6 large cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
Optional: small pinch of ground chilli or a little fresh chilli
1 large aubergine, chopped into bite-size pieces
2 large courgettes, diced
4 large tomatoes, quartered
1 x 200g bar creamed coconut (at room temp this bar is ⅓ oil and ⅔ coconut solids. Use the oil for frying. Carefully chop or break up the coconut solids into a few parts so that they dissolve more easily).
1.8 – 2 litres of hot home-made vegetable/meat stock or hot water (depends how thick or saucy you want your curry)
The juice and zest of 1 lime or 1 lemon
2 large pinches of sea salt (or 2-3 teaspoons of Tamari (gluten-free soy))
1.5 teaspoons of maple syrup
1 handful of peanuts or cashews
1 handful of roughly chopped herbs such as fresh coriander, mint or basil
In a large wide pot, dry fry your peanuts or cashews for a few minutes to toast them, then set aside.
In the same pot, fry your onions, ginger, garlic and chilli in 1 tablespoon of coconut oil on a medium heat for 5 minutes, until soft (don’t let the onions and garlic colour).
Add your lentils, the roughly chopped coconut solids and then most of your hot stock or water stock and stir well.
This should be enough liquid for the coconut solids to dissolve but keep an eye on the liquid levels so that the lentils don’t stick and burn at the bottom.
After 6 minutes of cooking on a medium to high heat, add your aubergines and stir.
After a further 10 minutes, add your tomatoes, courgettes, lime or lemon zest, salt (or Tamari).
Add more hot stock or water if you think your curry needs it.
After 6 more minutes turn off the heat and add your lemon or lime juice, maple syrup and fresh herbs.Then stir and taste. You might need a little more Tamari/salt or lime/lemon juice to add sourness.
Top with the toasted nuts (roughly chop them if you like) and serve with fresh green leaves.
Sticky Toffee Pudding
I was really impressed with this recipe, it is delicious and dedicate without being too sickly-sweet. This dessert is gluten, wheat and refined sugar free, gaining the sweetness and flavour from nutrient-dense date and the body of the dessert is formed from ground almonds and coconut flour. However, I did make it that bit less healthy by dolloping a generous helping of dairy ice-cream…(highly recommended)
Serves 8-12 people
250g Medjool dates, pitted and roughly chopped
1¼ teaspoon baking soda
200ml boiling water
100g butter (room temperature/soft)
200g ground almonds
3 medium eggs
20g coconut flour
Optional: pinch of ground cloves
300-400ml boiling water
Use butter to grease a ceramic baking dish, or little ramekins, or line with parchment paper
Soak the dates in the hot water and baking soda and leave to soften for 10 minutes
Place the dates and their liquid into a food processor with the butter and ground almonds, and process until smooth
Add the eggs and ground cloves and sieve in the coconut flour. Process again until creamy
Pour the mixture into the prepared dish and bake for 45 minutes at 170C or until cooked through. You might need to cover the top with parchment paper if it starts to look too brown after 35 minutes. The pudding will slump slightly when it comes out of the oven
To make the sauce, don’t bother rinsing the food processor. Again, soak the dates in the boiling water before blending with the butter. Process just the dates and butter and then slowly add the soak water until your sauce is as smooth as possible. You can thin it with a touch more water and leave it warm or heat in a saucepan
To serve: Dish up the hot pudding and pour over the sauce and, for extra extravagance, add some dairy ice-cream or crème fraiche.