BOOK REVIEW: Hemsley + Hemsley Good + Simple, Jasmine and Melissa Hemsley

by - April 21, 2016

This is the second pretty book from healthy eating queens, Jasmine and Melissa Hemsley - the pretty sisters that made the spiralizer last year's must-have kitchen gadget.

But it's not just all nice dresses, lipstick and fluff, I cooked a straight three weeks from this book and think it may have even changed the way I eat for good. Although I thought I ate quite well before, this is a different way of cooking for me that I, and thankfully my family, are really enjoying. Hey, I'm not throwing the bread bin and pasta cupboard out anytime soon but what I have learnt brings a greater nutritional balance to my table which can only be a good thing.

There is a section at the front of the book about their principles of eating well which is sensible, sound advice, then some sort of "reboot" eating plan that personally I just skimmed through as it doesn't suit my lifestyle. What I do like is this movement toward a more positive and nutrition based food attitude rather than faddy diets. Even exercise is leaning towards fit over thin. It's all good.

The title, Good and Simple rings true; there is nothing in here that is particularly tasking to make and everything is nutrition focused. Healthy eating in the current fashion can be quite expensive with cult ingredients but the recipe lists in this book are generally sensible with only a handful of health food shop items. You won't find the need to source any obscure Bulgarian grain that is only harvested by moonlight on the last day of October, thankfully.

As we all know, low fat cooking is so old hat. It's all about eating with nutrition and health in mind but I still have a slight calorie conscious hangover from the 90s that was bothering me during making the quinoa kettle porridge. 8 tablespoons of coconut oil as well as energy packed nuts, dried fruits and coconut, I dread to think of the tally at the end. Still, it was easy to prepare and what parent of small children wouldn't want a grab and go breakfast that isn't a slice of toast? This really did keep me powered until lunch, which for someone that gets up at 5.30 these days (darn you baby!) is no mean feat.

For such a simple recipe, I was most surprised by the quick dahl. It was absolutely delicious and packed with flavour. Even the "you're not turning me vegan are you?" husband loved this. Also, I wasn't sure about serving it with a raw white cabbage slaw but the textural contrast and sharp notes was the ideal partner to the dahl. I've made this four times so far and my fondness isn't waning.

The fish curry again was straight forward. Luckily I have quite a decent larder so didn't need to buy anything special for the curry paste and I made enough to freeze for next time. The coconut milk and tomato based sauce was thick, silky and indulgent with good flavour. Cauliflower rice is something I've turned my nose up at before but now trying it I'm totally on board. I didn't miss real rice at all. Who'd have thought it!

Broccoli rice was another new one on me and good with a simple salmon dish. Also heros of the mid-week were a chicken tray bake with watercress salsa verde and a fiery quinoa biryani.

I'm really loving raw and alternative baking so was keen to try the date and tahini "fudge". The texture was melting, really lovely but the flavour was so soapy from the coconut oil. I have a feeling it was the brand I was using though as I've sourced a much milder version now. Still, the teeny tiny squares stored in the freezer satisfied any sweet cravings I had and the bitterness of the dark tahini I used suited my taste.

Some of the recipes are a bit too simple, the sprout salad was dull, liver and bacon quite standard, I have no need for sandwich recipes and a slice of cucumber with cream cheese on or roasted sprout on a stick won't be featuring at any of my dinner parties anytime soon.

However their version of pesto has come in handy with my own cooking for jazzing up some dishes and the sauces and dips section are also worth trying.

Luckily I'm not really one for dessert or sweet things but was surprised by the amount of cakes and desserts included. See you don't have to swear off the treats!

The book was well laid out and attractive but does contain a few issues. I found some inconsistencies like the recipe method not mentioning one of the listed ingredients and I get really irritated by abbreviations in recipes. EVOO, ACV... it makes the content seem unfinished. 

Will eating these recipes make you as pretty as a H+H girl? No. But the book contains sound ideas for sustainable healthy eating which is a welcome break from the kale and chia brigade.

Hemsley + Hemsley Good + Simple is published by Ebury Press and costs £25.

I received a copy for review but all words and opinions are my own.

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