Review & Giveaway: But I Could Never Go Vegan

But I Could Never Go Vegan by Kristy Turner: Review & GiveawayI 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.

Chickpea fries from But I Could Never Go Vegan by Kristy TurnerSince 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.

Falafel Tacos from But I Could Never Go Vegan by Kristy TurnerContinuing 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.)

Falafel Tacos from But I Could Never Go Vegan by Kristy TurnerThe 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.

Chickpea Omelette from But I Could Never Go Vegan by Kristy TurnerFrom 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.

Broccoli Cheddar Soup from But I Could Never Go Vegan by Kristy TurnerFrom 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.

Artichoke Crab Cakes from But I Could Never Go Vegan by Kristy TurnerAnother 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.

Artichoke Crab Cakes from But I Could Never Go Vegan by Kristy TurnerWith 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.

Artichoke Crab Cakes from But I Could Never Go Vegan by Kristy TurnerI 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.

Black Olive Bruschetta from But I Could Never Go Vegan by Kristy TurnerFrom 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.

Salted Caramel Peanut Butter Bars from But I Could Never Go Vegan by Kristy TurnerDavid 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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Disclaimer: Post contains an Amazon affiliate link.

Vegan Food Gifts Giveaway

Grooming Avon & JezebelAnd just like that, the holidays are over! Christmas was a low-key affair at our house. Avon, our 6-month-old kitten, is prone to getting into things that he shouldn’t. So we knew that a tree would quickly be climbed, the lights would be chewed on, and the ornament hooks would be swallowed. Instead, we put up a wreath, and that was it.

I usually get into making Christmas cards and sending them out, but this year I took a pass on Christmas, and you know what? It was wonderful. When Christmas was over, there were no ornaments to pack up or boxes to put away. I simply found room in my cupboards and closets for gifts, and that was that.

Sleepy AvonSleepy Avon 2Since Avon is endlessly interested in ribbons and string, I put off wrapping presents until Christmas Eve when I could just transport wrapped gifts to our car outside. David and I filled the day making food for Christmas, so that we wouldn’t have to spend any of the holiday in the kitchen. David baked a few pies, and I worked on some handmade Christmas gifts.

Vegan Food Gifts by Joni Marie NewmanThis year I gave two handmade gifts, both from ideas/recipes in Vegan Food Gifts by Joni Marie Newman. Vegan Food Gifts came out in 2012, and it’s been on my wish list ever since. It’s filled with the best kind of presents – thoughtful, usable, and made with love.

The book opens with pretty ways to package gifts like making your own envelopes, bags, and boxes. There are printable recipe cards, hang tags, and labels with illustrations by vegan artist, Kurt Halsey.

The recipes include sweet things to give that are fully prepared like Cool Lemon Cookies, Orange Chocolate Linzers, and S’more Brownies. Then there are gifts that the recipient can make with compiled ingredients. That chapter is called “Just Add Water.” In that chapter there are recipes like Sweet Lemon Iced Tea, Double Chocolate Chip Cookies, and Southwestern Three Bean Soup. Each recipe includes ideas on the best way to gift it (i.e. in a box, bag, or jar).

Pasta Basket - Vegan Food GiftsOne of the gifts I made for my cousin was from the chapter on themed gift baskets. I was inspired by the Pasta Party-themed basket. I put together a basket of my favorite polenta, the pasta from a local pasta maker that has been my obsession this year, and a shiny new colander. I included one of the infused olive oils from the book, using a jar I found at TJ Maxx and a chalkboard label from Kidecals.

Infused Olive Oil - Vegan Food GiftsThe infused olive oil I chose was Sun-Dried Tomato, Garlic, and Basil Olive Oil. It’s so simple to make. Just pour olive oil into a bottle along with sun-dried tomatoes, fresh cloves of garlic, and dried basil. I didn’t get to taste it for myself, but it smelled wonderful. It can be served over pasta or salad, used as a dip for bread, or sautéed with vegetables.

Bloody Mary Mix - Vegan Food GiftsThe other gift I made was for my dad, and it was from the chapter on homemade liqueurs, infusions, and mixers. I made the recipe for Bloody Mary Mix. Bloody Mary’s were one of my favorite drinks before I was vegetarian. It’s like a drink and a snack all in one – an adult version of tomato soup with celery, pickles, and olives. Unfortunately, most Bloody Mary’s include non-vegan Worcestershire sauce, which is made with anchovies. This version, though, uses vegan Worcestershire sauce. It also includes fresh lemon and lime juice, which made it taste bright and flavorful. It was one delicious Bloody Mary! (Yes, I did get a chance to try it before giving it away. Priorities.)

The recipe includes a printable recipe card, so that the recipient knows how much vodka to add when making the drink. I took the book to a local print shop and had them print it out on cardstock, along with printing a gift tag for the Pasta Party basket.

Celery Salt - Vegan Food GiftsAlong with the Bloody Mary Mix, I included jalapeño stuffed olives for garnish and celery salt for salting the rim of the glass. I like to use and repurpose my jars.  So for the celery salt, I just used a clean jar that had formerly been used for saffron, got celery salt from the bulk bins, and added a chalkboard label to the outside.

There are so many more gifts that I can’t wait to give from Vegan Food Gifts. It’s loaded with ideas that would be perfect for birthdays, holidays, host/hostess gifts, and presents for people who have a new baby in the house or on the way.

Joni has offered a copy of Vegan Food Gifts for a giveaway! You can start planning now for birthdays and Valentine’s Day. The giveaway is open to readers in the U.S. and Canada. A winner will be chosen at random. Good luck!

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I received a complimentary copy of Vegan Food Gifts and complimentary labels from Kidecals. The thoughts and opinions are totally my own.  Post contains Amazon affiliate links.