When Wolfie doesn’t immediately run to the children’s section of the library, I try and browse the new releases. I love to see what new cookbooks catch my eyes, and which ones appear to be vegan. This beautiful cover caught my attention, and when sneaking a peak inside I was sold on all the gorgeous photos. But I knew there was the word “reset” in the title, and I was wary about the content. Would it be super orthorexic? Would it be super problematic? I checked it out to find out.
Wow, the publisher went above and beyond with the photos and graphics. I can safely say I get excited each an every time I open this book. There are photos for EVERYTHING! Photos of meal prep, photos of each day, each meal, and I think there might not be a photo for all the recipes in the back, but I could be wrong.
There are also a lot of text to the book, talking about veganism and helpful information for transitioning to a vegan lifestyle. Even in these sections there is a lot of thoughtful graphic placement to keep the interest of the readers. Even if I am just flipping through the book, I find myself stopping at the text to read it. So I can easily give 10 out of 10 for the graphics and photos in this book.
There is a lot to read in this book. Most cookbooks are designed to have the text separate from the recipes, and let’s be real, not many people are actually READING the books. Not the case for this. There is lots and lots of information, and it is easy to digest. That’s perfect for new vegans, and overall I have to say I agree with Hansen’s tone and message.
Buuuuuuuttt….. there are some red flags. There is some talk of detoxing, and that makes me feel icky. I have to say she gives a good answer to most of the problematic views on juice cleanses, but I think she gives too much credit to the idea. So close, yet so far away. Also Hansen quote Tony Robbins. Ugh. Why?! She actually quotes a lot of self-help people, which is fine, but they also give me icky feeling since, well, I feel most self-help people have their own fucked up issues and take advantage of vulnerable people. The last issue I found was talk about weight loss and gain. Overall pretty okay. It might be the authors way of addressing that most people picking up this book will be looking to loose weight.
Somewhere in my cookbook review this section disappeared, and that may not be a bad thing since almost all vegan cookbooks have the same set up. But it’s making a comeback since this book is so different from other cookbooks. This books has four major chapters, Getting Started, The 28-Day Program, Continuing with a Vegan Lifestyle, and Additional Recipes.
Getting Started focuses on shopping and kitchen tips. Hansen explains how to save money while shopping, lays down some ground work to follow the 4 week recipe line up. This is probably helpful to anyone who goes shopping just picking random things, or buying whatever is on sale. The 28-Day Program is laid out in order, she gives a list of things to prep, then has each day listed with what to make and eat. Each day has calorie counts of each meal, and has a breakfast, lunch, dinner, and one snack.
Then the second half of the book is Beyond Reset. Here there is a whole chapter on how to go vegan, talking about why to go vegan, what is plant based, how veganism is more than just food, etc. Then she has tons of recipes in the back, including staples like nut milks, smoothies, scrambles, and other meals. There are no calorie counts for these meals, which I think is Julie’s way of saying calorie counting isn’t the best way to design your meals, at least in the long run.
Well, if you didn’t know from my new years post, or me reviewing a dieting book, I am trying to loose weight. I did take a “week off” since I was starting to get crazy hungry, so I did try to follow week 3’s meal plan. The meal prep she sets up is just SOOOO much work, like more work than it is worth. She makes you do two days a week of meal prep a week; one huge day, and one smaller day. Some of the meal prep just seems pointless, like making rice or beans. But cooking rice one night doesn’t seem too much to ask. I guess I understand if you are working 9 to 5 and you want to just dump a whole bunch of stuff together and just eat. I also understand that you want quick meals for lunches so your morning is free. It also seems like some meals just seem lacking. Like there are tacos that are just sautéed veggies with chickpeas. And from reading some reviews online, many people who have tried the meal plan agreed.
That being said, I like how hearty she is with the calorie counts. Each day has about 2,000 calories. Some meals are 700 calories, and I smiled that her oat breakfasts were Susan sized, with a whopping 3/4 cup of raw oats. Some foods seemed like a lot of calories for what you are getting. Like 500-600 calories for a soup? It better be delicious!
Overall, I love the style of the book, and I love the idea. But I feel like some of the planning isn’t the best. For starters the meal plan is clearly for just one person. Sure you can just double the recipes, but that might not work so well. For example I was cooking dinner for me, my husband, and Wolfie, but the lunches and breakfasts were just for me. So doubling meal prep usually meant I had extras. And although she gives tips for saving money, I just can’t imagine it being a cheap grocery visit. Especially since all the ingredients will never be in season all at once. But I get it, you can’t please everyone unless you are making a custom menu.
But for most readers of the blog I think this book is a solid pass. The meal plan doesn’t seem tasty enough to justify going on the scheduled menu plan. The recipes in the back aren’t plentiful enough to justify the price, and there are lots of standard recipes that are great for new vegans, but I don’t need another recipe for oat milk. But did I recommend this book? YES! I actually recommended it to my Mother who is trying to eat more healthfully. This would give he a blue print to work with, and she largely eats separately from my Father.
Since this is set up as a meal prep book, the food is set up for an entire week. I did some of week 3, but I can safely say I did my fair share of meal swapping, last minute changes and the like. One thing I did notice was that I consistently ate less calories than listed in the book mostly because the serving was either too big, or because I didn’t have any avocados. I also found that since I had more calories to eat, I would eat extra snacks, or swap out the meals for something slightly different, like a burrito wrap instead of corn tortilla.
Turmeric Tofu Scramble on Corn Tortillas
Section: Week 3, Day 1
The recipe suggests making the scramble during food prep, but it was so easy to actually make that I just chopped the few veggies (green onion and garlic) and tossed the spices (turmeric and salt) in a container with the tofu. The morning of I just turned on the skillet, heated two corn tortillas, then sauteed the tofu. The amount of food she suggests is WAY too much for one tortilla, hence why I heated two up. Even then, I only used half of the tofu and salsa. So I saved it for another morning.
Tortilla Bean Salad
Section: Week 3, Day 2
This was pretty tasty. I made a few minor changes. I ate it as lunch on the first day so I could make the veggie mix that night as appose to meal prep day (the veggie mix was for the original planned lunch.) I took out the corn tortillas since I had some for breakfast, and I was suppose to have it for dinner. I didn’t use the coconut bacon, instead using the maple pumpkin seeds since I didn’t have any coconut flakes. I found the maple coating kind of rubs off, but still added a nice crunch. I liked the root veggies with the black beans making it a yummy bowl, making it a ratio of half cooked foods-half lettuce and collard greens.
Black Bean Tortillas
Section: Week 3, Day 1
First dinner of the week. Because of all the switching around, I noticed I was eating corn tortillas for breakfast, dinner, and lunch. Hmm… I had extra calories, and well, needed some variation in grains so I used a burrito wrap. Because of this, I left out the pumpkin seeds, but added some sriracha. The smoky ketchup really holds the recipe together. Overall yummy, though nothing to write home about. The wrap was just collard greens, black beans, cooked mixed veggies, and smokey ketchup.
Section: Week 3, Day 1
After a stressful day I ended up eating leftover pizza instead of this lunch, and making a smoothie instead of planned breakfast, so I pushed this to dinner. I cooked a serving of brown rice instead of white sushi rice, because it was barely any work for me (they joys of a rice cooker.) I think this helped, because I feel like a sticky short grain rice would of been weird. Otherwise, it was okay. I jazzed up the recipe by using a lot of hot sauce as it was very similar to the other black bean dishes.
Section: Week 3, Day 2
I am a little surprised by how much I actually liked these oats. I am not a fan of oatmeal, but I do love raw oatmeal (you take oat groats and use a food processor to blend it). So I shouldn’t of been surprised that I loved the taste of overnight oats. It was simple to make, though I felt like the peanut butter could of been left out. It barely left any taste or flavor, thought a few ripples didn’t get fully mixed in, which was tasty having those PB bursts. I also used strawberries instead of blueberries, because they were cheaper.
Blueberry-Banana Ice cream
Section: Week 3, Day 3
One of my favorite things about doing these sort of reviews is that I read every single page, and learn new things. This is a recipe I’ve probably made in the past, pretty simple, just two frozen bananas, 1 cup blueberries, and some milk. But from reading the book I took a chance and sliced the bananas as she suggested post freezing. It was really easy! And it helped make everything more smooth and even. My only complaint is that I needed 1/2 cup milk instead of the recommended 1/4 cup. I also didn’t really like the choice of nut- walnuts. I would of preferred granola or sunflower seeds, or fresh fruit.
Tofu & Rice Spring Rolls with Peanut Dip
Section: Week 3, Day 2/3
I made this, kind of for a dinner. It ended up being served sans wraps, and with some extra cooked veggie mix instead of the raw. Then I decided to serve this again as two lunches, as the book suggested. The meal plan has you make 10 rice wraps, eat 5 for dinner, then eat 5 for lunch with greens and seeds, which feels silly since there were already greens in the wrap.
When I actually MADE the wraps, I can say this- it was hard dividing up the food! Dividing lettuce, carrots, pepper, tofu and rice into 10 different wraps was overwhelming. Especially with rice paper because you can’t just build all ten at once. Because of this I didn’t make 10, I fell a little short and made 9. I also had to use more than just 1 cup of white rice, you use such a comically small amount of rice for each wrap, like less than 2 tbsp per wrap. The first day they tasted great, second day, the wraps were a little hard, but the rice INSIDE was rock hard. I would SKIP the rice for the wraps for the next day for sure.
As for the peanut sauce? Yummy. Yeah, it is a lot of calories, but we all forget sometimes that we still need fat in our diet, and dips taste awesome. I may suggest only using one lime, instead of two since sometimes it just felt too tart sometimes.
Turmeric Golden Latte
Section: Additional Recipes
I love this recipe. It easily makes up for the crummy Brownie recipe. I even will be copying this recipe before returning the book. It is super simple, sure, but when I can make a recipe from a book without playing with the ratio is a sign of a good recipe. I think the key is that she uses FRESH turmeric and just the right amount of sugar. I find people use zero or too much. I only added some ground turmeric for a little more yellow color. Thumbs up.
Double Chocolate Brownies
Section: Additional Recipes
Yikes. I would NOT put this as a “first time vegan” type of dessert. I get that these are suppose to be healthier recipes, but this rough. So much so I found a half eaten brownie when I got home from work. I asked my mother in law if she ate it, and she said that it was so bad she couldn’t finish it lol. Now, I’ve had some bean brownies in the past, with some fairly good results. The nutritional profile was decent, 10 percent protein, lots of healthy fats. But they are totally not the best tasting, especially since I’ve had better tasting bean based brownies.
Section: Additional Recipes
I love this dressing. The three ts stand for tahini, tangerines, and turmeric. She suggests using lemons if you don’t have tangerines, so I used a mix of orange and lemons. I also cut the turmeric to 1 teaspoon instead of a tablespoon to make it more friendly for guests. I love how well it coats the greens, a little goes a long way. I got 6 salads from this.