Meet our creative, intelligent and simply brilliant friends who inspire KITRI in every single way.
This month’s KITRI spotlight is wellbeing and nutrition guru Jasmine Hemsley. A former model and passionate foodie, Jasmine co-founded company Hemsley + Hemsley with her sister Melissa in 2010, taking the health and wellbeing world by storm with a holistic (and not to mention delicious!) approach to food.
Now a bestselling author, TV presenter and co-founder of the Hemsley + Hemsley Café at Selfridges, Jasmine recently launched her first solo book East by West, a celebration of Ayurveda, an ancient system based on the belief that balancing mind, body and spirit is key to good health.
With the festive season in full swing, we sat down with Jasmine to talk dream dinner parties and to find out how she applies her holistic approach to wellbeing during a time of parties, mince pies and chocolate.
We’d love to know more about your career journey so far…
Where do I start! I’ve been working in the wellbeing industry for the last seven years, but prior to that I was modelling for 10-15 years after studying product and furniture design at University – so quite a varied but creative career! I’ve always been intuitively interested in food and wellbeing, but my passion for it was really ignited during my modelling career, when I was travelling a lot and needed to feel energised and good in myself, but the ‘health consensus’ at the time was all about eating low calorie, low fat food that just didn’t make me feel good. I was looking for answers and this led me to Ayurveda, a five-thousand-year old philosophy of life originating in India, with the same routes as yoga. It’s the inspiration behind my latest book East by West and is something I’m incredibly passionate about.
It’s on our Christmas list! How did the book come about?
What started off as a bit of a sabbatical ended up with this really strong desire to share Ayurveda with more people. I was very conscious that unless you’re a yogi or meditator, you might not have come across it and it’s the mother of natural medicine. I took a lovely six-week trip to India with my partner and the idea for the book was born! After coming back from India, I was offered an amazing opportunity to launch a 3-month pop-up in Mayfair serving Ayurveda-inspired dishes. I then wrote the book this year.
We love your healthy approach to food and wellbeing. How do you apply this during the festive season with all the parties, mince pies and Christmas treats on offer?
For me it’s all about balance. I love my food, I love eating and I love the festivities, but I’ve learnt that food is so much more enjoyable when you’re hungry! It’s tough, especially when you feel like the cheese or mince pies are staring at you, but I always tell myself that it will still be there in ten minutes’ time. The other things that I recommend are ginger as it’s great for stimulating digestion and boiling fennel seeds to make a strong tea as that’s great for indigestion.
You are hosting a festive dinner party. What’s on the menu?
I’d start with my delicious golden spoons; they’re my little turmeric, black pepper, honey and coconut oil concoctions. They dye your tongue yellow which is always a fun conversation starter! I’d also serve Mulled wine because it’s Christmas, it’s full of spices which are like nature’s medicine cabinet and hot drinks are great for digestion. For the starter I’d serve apple and ginger juice shots with a teaspoon of a spice mix that I make from fennel, turmeric and black pepper. You pop that in your mouth first and you get this aromatic spice explosion. I’d then do sharing platters of sesame roast chicken with a tomato and ginger gravy and lots of roasted veggies.
I’d also serve my jack Zac ‘n’ Cheese, a lighter version of mac and cheese that’s made from brown rice or quinoa pasta with sauce made from reduced red lentils, carrot, cottage cheese, mustard and spices as well as a nice fragrant butternut squash dhal. For pudding I’d serve a gorgeous cardamom and saffron cheesecake with a toasted chickpea flour base; it’s delicious!
Sound’s amazing! Who’s on the guest list?
- Maya Angelou, the American actress and poet who I love.
- Pharrell Williams, because I have a bit of a crush on him!
- David Attenborough who I also have a bit of a crush on thanks to his amazing voice!
- Lauren Bacall, because she’s just amazing and my other half has the heart eyes for her. I’d love to be in that era of black and white movies, it feels so Christmassy.
- Livia Firth, because I love what she’s doing with the 30 wears campaign. It’s brilliant especially at a time when there’s so much throw away fashion.
- Paul Hawken, the author of ‘Drawdown’. He’s looked at all of the data from all over the world about Global Warming and I feel like he’s got the answers for us to really look at. Not just the ‘turn your TV off at the mains advice’, but stuff that will really make a difference on a global scale.
What’s on the playlist?
My music knowledge is rubbish, I know what I like but I’m rubbish at retaining it, so Spotify is my go to! I’ll be getting ready and decorating the house to ‘It’s beginning to look a lot like’. Then I’d ask my friend Taylor Kelly to make a playlist for dinner and I’d ask my DJ friend Andrew Dax to do a ‘get the party started’ playlist. After that I’d call on my friend Andy Cobliniksey Kobelisnky, who’s an amazing yoga teacher to do an ‘unwind, jump in the bath then bed’ playlist.
Now for the all-important question – what will you be wearing?
Christmas is a time for glitter, sequins or something shiny! I’ll be wearing KITRI’s turmeric coloured Carla Satin Trench Dress on Christmas Day because I really love the colour! I can wear it over jeans if we’re going quite causal or belt it and put some heels on with some statement earrings if we’re dressing up.
Do you have any other tips for entertaining over the festive season?
Start early! Get people around for dinner early otherwise you eat late, you get to bed late and then you’re not feeling great for the rest of your holidays. I also recommend one pots and lots of prep beforehand so it’s less stressful in the kitchen. I’ve got a friend who can make a cocktail, pan fry fish and talk to everyone at the same time but that’s just not me!
When it comes to serving, I’ll call in a few friends to help me lay it all out and I opt for sharing platters so people can help themselves. Another tip is to have lots of water with orange rind, or something festive like pine and cranberry and rosemary dotted around because people will always be asking for it. You want people to go home and wake up feeling great, not incredibly dehydrated and awful!
What is the best advice you’ve ever been given?
Stop worrying and start living. Our brains are trained to be trying to figure out the future or remembering everything from the past, so we’re always worrying about something! I remember the first time I started to try to apply this philosophy. It was over a problem that I can’t even remember now, and I remember consciously thinking that I can stop feeling physically upset because there’s nothing I can do about it. I’ve been quite surprised at how you can let those worries go.
Finally, what’s next?!
I have some exciting collaborations coming up in the New Year, I’m also writing a book with Susie Pearl who’s one of my mentors, she helps me stop worrying and start living! We’re writing a book called ‘True You’, which will be coming out in Autumn next year, so I’ll be finishing that over Christmas and the New Year. It’s a fun and holistic approach to wellbeing, encouraging you to follow your own heart.
There’s a reason we say ‘good vibes’, ‘sleep on it’ and ‘gut instinct’ – those are snippets of knowledge that have always been there and are important to listen to. The book will be a great way for people to feel supported, I’m looking forward to writing it!
You can buy Jasmine's book East by West here
Image credit: Nick Hopper