I remember my first Christmas as a vegetarian talking with my sister-in-law, who had asked what I was eating now that animals were off the dinner table. I listed the meals I was making, and as an attempt to show that I was still one of the gang and not so far out there, I capped the conversation with, “But I could never go vegan.” (Add that to the meals I was making; someday I was going to eat those words.) Not only was it an assurance to her that I wasn’t going to get too carried away with this thing, it was also a nod to the many foods I didn’t think I could live without.
Well, I’ve been vegan for over 7 years now, and so obviously I could, in fact, go vegan. But I still remember the time when that seemed impossible. I didn’t know what would replace so many of my standard, go-to meals.
Kristy Turner takes those worries head on in her debut cookbook, But I Could Never Go Vegan. She re-imagines the dishes that people have on their respective “couldn’t live without” lists and shows that there are kinder ways to create them. Each chapter is dedicated to the litany of excuses and reasons that people give for not going vegan.
Chapters include: I Could Never Give Up Cheese, All Those Special Ingredients Are Way More Expensive, Tofu Doesn’t Taste Like Anything, and It’s All Rabbit Food. With each section, Kristy highlights the ways that a person can be vegan and still eat foods that fill the same space holder. The book is packed with 125 recipes and loads of photos, including useful step-by-step instructional photos when necessary.
You may already know Kristy from her popular blog, Keepin’ It Kind. (And if you don’t, you should! It’s definitely worth checking out ASAP.) Kristy creates gorgeous food, and then weaves the recipes into her posts with beautiful storytelling. Her husband, Chris Miller, does the stunning photography for the blog and book. I’ve been a reader of Keepin’ It Kind almost since its inception, and I knew this book was going to be something really special. Kristy and Chris are also two of my favorite people in the world, and so I couldn’t be more excited and happy for them.
Since I received But I Could Never Go Vegan, I have been cooking a steady stream of dishes out of it. Usually when I’m doing a write-up on a cookbook, I like to make three things out of it, but this time I’ve gone far beyond that. Honestly, everything has been so mouthwatering, it was hard to stop. I kept thinking, “Just one more.” So I expect that there will be an update to come with more dishes that I’ve made, because this one is not setting camp in the cookbook cupboard anytime soon.
From the chapter titled Where Would I Get My Protein, these chickpea fries are made using chickpea flour, water, and spices to make a creamy porridge. It’s then poured into a parchment-covered baking dish and popped into the refrigerator to solidify. The process reminded me of cooking with polenta. After it had solidified, it was cut into fry shapes and baked until crisp on the outside and creamy on the inside.
The batter included kala namak, which I am kind of obsessed with, and resulted in a delicious and addictive snack. Plus, true to the chapter, each serving contains 20 grams of protein. When I couldn’t eat any more, I diced the fries and used them as croutons in salads later in the week.
Continuing the chickpea theme, I made these falafel tacos with sriracha tahini sauce. If you’re looking for a recipe to start with from this cookbook, this is a great place to start. (Don’t have the book yet? Kristy also has this recipe on her blog.)
The baked falafel are made with whole chickpeas, onions, garlic, and spices processed in a food processor. They are then drizzled with a spicy sriracha-tahini sauce, which made them messy and delicious in the best possible way.
From the chapter titled Vegan Cooking Is Too Hard, I made these chickpea omelettes. I am a big fan of savory breakfasts and often start the day with eggy tofu or a tofu scramble. These chickpea omelettes, made with chickpea flour, were a wonderful change of pace. I loved it that they were packed with vegetables, making them a healthy and filling start to the day. I served them with seitan bacon and toast. I dare say that I liked them even better cold, straight out of the refrigerator, as a snack.
From the chapter called Not Soup Again, I made this broccoli cheddar soup. Unlike a lot of creamy vegan soups, this one was made with a base of beans instead of cashews. The recipe calls for chickpeas, but I used cannellini beans because I had some on hand. For cheesy flavor, the recipe uses nutritional yeast flakes and miso.
Another favorite of mine was from the chapter titled, Can’t I Be Pescatarian Instead? These artichoke crab cakes with sriracha tartar sauce are a total crowd pleaser.
With chunks of artichoke hearts, Old Bay seasoning, scallions, bell pepper, and corn, they use whole foods in a way that is ingenious and totally unique. I’ve had vegan crab cakes made with zucchini, tempeh, jackfruit, Match meat, and more, but artichokes are winning this game.
I omitted the optional kelp granules from the recipe, because seaweed makes my stomach flip-flop, but I’m sure it would amp up the ocean-y flavor for people who like that kind of thing.
From the chapter called My Friends Won’t Want to Come Over to Dinner, I made Greek bruschetta with heart of palm tapenade & tofu feta. David and I were going to a little dinner party, and I brought this platter along as my contribution. They’re made with a mixture of olives, heart of palm, capers, and lemon juice, and then topped with homemade tofu feta. They were easy to make and used pantry-friendly ingredients.
David hopped in for a turn and made these salted caramel peanut butter bars from the chapter called You Can’t Bake Without Butter or Eggs. The recipe uses banana for binding, making for an almost banana bread-like flavor balanced with the taste of peanut butter and always-tasty almond extract. We had planned to share these with friends at the aforementioned dinner party above, but the party got postponed because our friends were sick. By the time the party took place a few days later, mysteriously all of the bars were long gone… Curious that.
The folks at The Experiment have offered one copy of But I Could Never Go Vegan for a giveaway. The giveaway is open to readers in the United States and Canada. Please make sure that I have a way of contacting you either by email or by blog. A winner will be chosen at random.
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