My sister Jasmine and I started HEMSLEY + HEMSLEY, a business that's all about good food that makes you feel your best. Wellness begins from within and eating real, unprocessed, nourishing food allows you to live a healthier, happier and more energized life.
We love food, but keep it simple: one-pot cooking and batch cooking allow our ingredients do the talking. We choose ingredients that not only taste delicious, but do us good, all of which you can find in our book, The Art of Eating Well.
Here are our top 10 pantry essentials that we can’t live without.
Photo Credit: Nicholas Hopper
Apple Cider Vinegar
Choose raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar, also known as "with the mother." Peer into the glass bottle and you should be able to see a cloudy mass at the bottom — that's the "mother," a ball of living enzymes.
Raw (unpasteurized) ACV can help promote better digestion, aid with heartburn, help with calcium absorption and alkalize the body. We love it in salad dressings, dips and sauces, and it’s something our Mum always championed growing up.
Coconut oil is a saturated fat, which makes it heat stable — a perfect and tasty fat for stir-frying, baking and roasting as well as adding to smoothies and sweets. Made up of medium-chain fatty acids, it provides an easily obtainable energy source that doesn't spike blood sugar levels.
Like all natural fats (grass-fed butter, unrefined extra-virgin olive oil), coconut oil makes a meal satiating and helps to absorb the fat-soluble vitamins in your food. We love it with our veggies.
Coconut oil is easily absorbed by the skin, so its unique properties are enjoyed as part of our skin care routine too. It makes a deeply nourishing, chemical-free moisturizer for skin, lips and hair and an excellent, gentle, makeup remover. A pantry essential, but one you’ll also find it on our bathroom shelf!
We like to fry and roast with ghee (and coconut oil) and save extra-virgin olive oil and cold-pressed flaxseed oil for salad dressings and drizzling over ragus and stews when they’re being served up to preserve their nutrients.
Look for quality ghee from pasture-raised cows. Ghee is the rich fat from butter, and is packed with antioxidants to boost the immune system.
Mung beans are easy to sprout, delicious in salads and stir fries and the basis of Mung Dahl — a regular supper for us.
Soaked mung beans, cooked with medicinal spices, ginger, garlic, onions and soothing bone broth, makes for an incredibly delicious and immune-boosting dish that we stockpile in the freezer. Some days we enjoy them for breakfast, lunch AND dinner as a body and taste bud reset — or for any time when we're feeling a little less than our best!
Regular table salt is highly processed and bleached, and bears little resemblance to natural salts, like rock and sea salt, which are dried in the wind and sun. The enzymes are preserved as well as the trace minerals and elements, which will help make your food taste incredible!
Proper salt is the key to tasty food. Our favorite, Himalayan salt, contains the same 84 trace materials and elements found in our bodies. We also use it medicinally for gargling with warm water!
Seaweed and Sea Veggies
Our favorite dried seaweeds to keep in the pantry are dulse, arame, wakame — seaweeds (also known as sea vegetables) are rich in iodine, iron, magnesium and calcium and contain almost all of the nutrients found in human blood. They add “umami,” which is the fifth basic taste, and we like to add them to buckwheat noodles, stews, soups and salads.
Have you tried "sea spaghetti" (also known as thongweed or buttonweed)? The young shoots resemble asparagus in taste, and it grows in strands up to 3 meters long! Next time you’re east of the Atlantic — especially around the British Isles — seek this brilliant seaweed out. We love it cooked and tossed in pesto with a big salad for a proper seaweed fix.
We also use spirulina to make a blue-green icing to decorating our popular kitsch birthday cakes for clients — just mix it with warmed coconut butter and raw honey and drizzle it over to set.
Tahini is a sesame seed paste that's delicious in savory and sweet recipes alike and the basis of many of our recipes, like our Tahini Coconut Bliss Balls, mung bean hummus, spreads, snacks, smoothies and dressings.
Dark tahini made from unshelled seeds is more nutritious and has a stronger flavor than light, but light tahini is easier to incorporate if you’re just getting used to the flavor.
Properly fermented gluten-free soy sauce adds just a little depth to sauces, soups and stews, and isn't just for Asian dishes. It’s a traditional Japanese sauce made from fermented soy beans.
While similar in color and flavor to soy sauce, we go for tamari because it's gluten-free, and thanks to the higher concentration of fermented soy beans, is thicker and richer so you will need to use much less.
A great pick-me-up for the whole system, this detoxifying and anti-inflammatory bright orange root contains curcumin, known to have extremely potent medicinal properties.
Widely available in powdered form, add turmeric spice to soups, stews, juices, smoothies and, of course, your favorite curries and Asian dishes.