Daughters of Nigella: Fashionable women in UK promoting healthy eating

British food blogger-turned-author Ella Woodward in the deli she recently opened in London.
British food blogger-turned-author Ella Woodward in the deli she recently opened in London.PHOTO: NEW YORK TIMES

A group of fashionable women in Britain are making a career of promoting healthy eating

NEW YORK• Ella Woodward is a food celebrity in Britain, where her first cookbook, Deliciously Ella, named after her website, has had record sales since early last year.

She is one of a group of fashionable young women in Britain who are making a career of promoting healthy eating, including Jasmine and Melissa Hemsley, Amelia Freer, Anna Jones and Natasha Corrett. The Guardian has called them "the queens of greens"; The Telegraph named them "the superfoodies".

One could also think of them as the Daughters of Nigella, the logical successors to Nigella Lawson, the food personality known for her lush desserts, sensuous presentation and high-profile split from art dealer Charles Saatchi.

British food culture, long maligned for its blandness, has changed in recent years.

Star chefs such as Yotam Ottolenghi have popularised farm-totable cuisine.

In London, cold-pressed juice shops seem to outnumber Starbucks and an artisanal porridge cafe, 26 Grains, has become a destination for members of the glamour industries.

For now, a primer to these avocado advocates.

Ella Woodward, 24

Background: Woodward grew up in London, the daughter of supermarket heiress Camilla Sainsbury and politician Shaun Woodward. In December, she and her fiance, golfer-turned-financier Matthew Mills, opened the Mae Deli in Marylebone.

Signature dish: Her sweet potato brownies made with sweet potatoes, ground almonds, buckwheat, dates, raw cacao, maple syrup and salt are both popular and controversial, with online reviews calling them, alternately, "divine", "horrible" and "you will be disappointed".

Jasmine Hemsley, 36, and Melissa Hemsley, 30

Book: Good And Simple: Recipes To Eat Well And Thrive (Clarkson Potter) Background: The sisters grew up in Kingston upon Thames in southwest London, eating food that was influenced by "our mum from the Philippines fused with Granny's cooking", said Jasmine Hemsley, a former model. "We ate a lot of old-school soups and stews, in no way fancy and without romanticism."

Signature dish: Cauliflower crust pizza with Parma ham, arugula and Parmesan shavings.

Anna Jones, 36

Book: A Modern Way To Eat: 200+ Satisfying Vegetarian Recipes (That Will Make You Feel Amazing) (Ten Speed Press)

Background: During a childhood spent in California and then Surrey, England, Jones was "inside making a lemon mousse while other kids were out playing on the swings", she said. She eventually became food celebrity Jamie Oliver's food stylist.

Signature dish: "I love my salad with kale, coconut, miso and roasted tomatoes, but most popular with my readers are the recipes that are the simplest, the twists on classics, like my veggie burger," she said.

Amelia Freer, 40

Book: Cook. Nourish. Glow.: 120 Recipes That Will Help You Lose Weight, Look Younger, And Feel Healthier (Harper Wave)

Background: Freer, who grew up in England near the Scottish border, is a former assistant to the Prince of Wales.

Coming from a small town to London, "to have a shop where you could buy lattes, croissants, ready-made sandwiches, I was like 'Woo hoo' and would buy breakfast on the way to work and my evening meal on the way home", she said.

A doctor suggested she change her diet and she eventually went to school for nutritional therapy and has since attracted a clientele of mostly actors and musicians, including singer Sam Smith, who credits her with his recent weight loss.

Signature dish:"I call it food assembly," she said. "Grab a protein like salmon and four or five vegetables and assemble it into a salad."


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 11, 2016, with the headline 'Daughters of Nigella'. Print Edition | Subscribe