January is, of course, the month we ditch bad habits and embark on new ones – ones that are supposed to be healthier, better for our mental wellbeing, more efficient, economical and joy-bringing. Which sounds like quite a lot of hard work.

It’s also been dubbed ‘Veganuary’, and framed as an opportunity to give a plant-based diet a go.

So, if you’re intrigued by a veg-focused lifestyle, New Yorker Kim-Julie Hansen’s 28-day vegan plan might just get your New Year’s resolutions off to an impressive start…

The book: The 28-Day Vegan Plan by Kim-Julie Hansen

Who will love it? People who so far have been dragging their heels when it comes to attempting a vegan lifestyle, but are keen to try it properly. This book might offer the kind of push/support/culinary hand holding you need.

What is it trying to get us cooking? Vegan stuff, and in a regimented manner. The heart of the book is Hansen’s 28-day plan, which is broken down into weeks and days, with specific shopping lists, meal prep instructions and varied recipes for every meal, plus snacks, with detailed calorie counts and timings.

How easy is it to use? It’s very targeted, and very detailed, which means if you follow every planned meal to the letter, you won’t have to think at all or make any decisions yourself in regards to food for an entire month. But then, it’s also a little restrictive. What if you’re invited out to dinner? Or don’t get through your leftovers? It is well laid out though, and the recipes themselves are incredibly short and snappy, which makes them seem rather effortless in practice.

The best recipe is… the grapefruit and pistachio salad. Zingy, tart, fruity – it’d definitely zhuzh up your average packed lunch.

The recipe we’re most likely to post pictures of on Instagram is… the red velvet truffles: They’re all snowy on the outside and bright red within.

The dish we’re least likely to try is… the chickpea ‘tuna’ sandwich – why not just call it a chickpea sandwich? There’s no need to bring tuna into this.

Overall rating: 6/10 – its intentions are good, but the book requires a lot of forethought to get going with, and a whole month of making no plans with friends, which may be tricky.

Here’s how to make Kim-Julie Hansen’s coconut and kale rice noodle bowl…

vegan recipe
(2018 Best Of Vegan LLC/PA)

Ingredients:
(Serves 2 as a main, or 4 as a snack)

  • 1 sweet potato, peeled and diced
  • 1 large or 2 small onions, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 500ml veggie stock, or 500ml water mixed with 2tsp veggie bouillon paste
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1-2tsp grated fresh ginger
  • 250ml tinned full-fat coconut milk
  • 100g dried yellow lentils
  • 1-2tsp Thai curry paste (depending on how spicy you want it to be)
  • 1/2tsp paprika
  • 1/2tsp ground turmeric
  • 50g dried vermicelli noodles
  • 135g chopped kale
  • Pinch of ground black pepper
  • Handful of fresh herbs, such as coriander or Thai basil leaves

Method:

  1. Put the sweet potato, onion, garlic and 250 ml stock in a pan and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to medium as soon as it starts boiling and cook for about five minutes.
  2. Add the celery and ginger to the pan. Lower the heat to medium low and cook, covered, for another five minutes.
  3. Add the remaining 250ml stock, the coconut milk, lentils, curry paste, paprika and turmeric. Cook for 10 minutes.
  4. Add the noodles and kale and cook for five more minutes over low heat, stirring well so it doesn’t burn. Add more water if necessary, but not too much.
  5. Serve the soup sprinkled with the pepper and fresh herbs.

The 28-Day Vegan Plan by Kim-Julie Hansen is published by Bluebird. Photography 2018 Best Of Vegan LLC.