Sometimes a cookbook arrives at exactly the moment it’s needed. Just as I’ve been getting back into the routine of weekly batch cooking and weekend meal prep, I’ve also been exploring my friend Kim-Julie Hansen’s new book, Vegan Reset.
The book is a 28-day roadmap for exploring veganism, and while I’m usually a little resistant to any nutrition or plant-based guide that’s presented with time limits, this one has defied my expectations. The guidance here is anything but short-term, and it’s one of the more comprehensive introductions to veganism that I’ve seen.
Beyond that, it happens to be chock full of batch cooking guidance. Each of four weeks the book maps out is organized according to what’s being batch cooked; the subsequent days mix and match the batch cooked staples in order to form meals and snacks. This is pretty much exactly how I do much of my own batch cooking, albeit with my own adjustments and improv.
What stood out to me as I read the book, though, wasn’t all of the smart and practical guidance—and there’s so much of that, from a primer on cooking whole grains to kitchen appliances and essentials—but rather Kim-Julie’s emphasis on health as a multi-dimensional state. She includes tips for breathing exercises, journaling, and meditation.
She’s also brave and candid in sharing her own story, which includes the unexpected loss of her father when she was twenty, childhood bullying that left deep scars, and emotional eating patterns that took years to untangle. I especially enjoyed her sections on self-love and self-care, and her words about healing old wounds, especially as they relate to one’s relationship with food:
Every time someone told me that I was strange, that I wasn’t good enough, that I was too big, too weird, too different, too fat, it left its mark on me, and I ended up believing all the things they said. Not only that, I started saying them to myself as well. I started using food to numb not just the negative emotions, but all emotions. But by doing that, I never really allowed those emotional wounds to heal—instead, they stayed with me for years.
I can relate to so much of this; I used both eating and restriction in the same way for so long.
While the book is presented as a doorway to a fresh start, Kim-Julie stresses veganism as a lifestyle. She covers the environmental benefits of reducing meat consumption, powerfully explains the ethics that have motivated her to maintain the lifestyle for years, and touches on vegan personal care, socializing, and the challenges of being vegan in a non-vegan world. She’s clear about the potential health benefits, but she’s also straightforward about the fact that the diet isn’t a panacea or a straight path to healing for everyone—honesty that I appreciate.
For all of the book’s scope, it’s still very much a cookbook, and a wonderfully accessible cookbook at that. All of the batch cooking ideas, from simple stewed lentils to roasted root vegetables to flavorful cooked grain mixes and dressings, are great. I can’t wait to welcome herbed lentils, peanut tofu, and smoky ketchup into my life soon. At the end of the book are more time-consuming (but still realistic) recipes, including a lovely coconut and kale rice noodle bowl, butternut or sweet potato mac, and homemade dark chocolate nut butter cups (yum!).
Since I’m in a very practical cooking mode, I’m sharing one of Kim-Julie’s simple, batch-cooking enabled recipes: her corn & tomato soup, which is perfect for this time of year and comes together in less than twenty minutes.
The trick to the recipe—aside from a lot of smart streamlining—is the cooked veggie mix that’s part of its base. Kim-Julie includes some sort of straightforward veggie sauté as part of each week’s batch cooking agenda; as simple as it might sound, this has never occurred to me, and I love the idea. The cooked veggies can be added to bowls, pastas, tacos, and more, or they can be thrown into a soup, as they are here.
Aside from the veggies, the soup is a simple mix of tomatoes, corn, and broth. I’m sharing the vegetable mix (which I modified a little) and the soup, and I hope you’ll enjoy them both as much as I have!
Kim-Julie Hansen's Corn & Tomato Soup
For the Cooked Veggie Mix (makes 4 servings):
- 1 large onion chopped
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 zucchini diced
- 1 bell pepper diced
- 1 cup Brussels sprouts halved
- 2 celery stalks chopped (I substituted shredded cabbage, because it's what I had)
- 2 carrots chopped
- 2 green onions chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- Pinch of ground black pepper
For the Corn & Tomato Soup (makes 1 generous or 2 small servings):
- 1 serving Cooked Veggie Mix above
- 1 cup corn kernels
- 2/3 cup diced tomatoes
- 1/2 cup veggie broth
- Sea salt and ground black pepper
- 1 avocado diced
- Fresh herbs of choice for garnish
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- To make the Cooked Veggie Mix, sauté the onion and garlic in the oil in a large pan or pot over medium to high heat for 2 minutes. Add all of the remaining ingredients and cook for another 7 minutes. Let cool and store in an airtight container in the fridge.
- To make the soup, cook the veggie mix, corn, tomatoes, and broth in a pot over medium to high heat for 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Top the soup with the avocado, herbs, and a drizzle of olive oil.
The soup could be easily loaded up with some extra toppings (a scoop of quinoa or barley, some cubed tofu) to become a full meal. It’s also a terrific and easy side. I had it this very afternoon for one of my packed lunches; it was the perfect vegetable-rich side to keep my hummus sandwich company.
If you’d like a chance to explore Kim-Julie’s smart meal prep ideas and passionate words about veganism, then you’re in luck: she and her publisher are offering a free copy to one of my US readers. You can enter below to win, and I’ll announce the winner on this widget in a week.
And if you’re at all curious about my meal prep now that the DI has started, feel free to follow along on the ‘gram! I’ve been posting all of my weekend batch cooking projects each Sunday evening, and I’m sharing a lot of my packed lunches & snacks as the weeks go by, too.
We’ll see if I can sustain the organization when my next rotation begins, but for now, it feels great to have reconnected with weekly meal planning.
Speaking of all that, a new day of work is ahead of me, so it’s time to sign off. Wishing you a good one, friends.