Baja Delish Tacos with Mango Salsa, and Caramel Apple-Stuffed French Toast From BUT I COULD NEVER GO VEGAN! by Kristy Turner

Can’t imagine living without cheese? Convinced that dairy-free baked goods just don’t cut it? Hate the taste of tofu and not a fan of boring salads? Finally, there’s an innovative vegan cookbook that refutes every excuse to cheat on or avoid a vegan diet. After trying these recipes from the blogger behind Keepin’ It Kind there won’t be any excuses left, only delicious, creative recipes that inspire and satisfy.

In But I Could Never Go Vegan! 125 Recipes That Prove You Can Live Without Cheese, It’s Not All Rabbit Food, and Your Friends Will Still Come Over for Dinner , Kristy Turner takes apart every excuse with her creative, bursting-with-flavor vegan recipes for every meal of the day—including dessert!

ButICouldNeverCoverOn Sunday, February 15 from 3-4 pm, Kristy Turner appears with But I Could Never Go Vegan! at Omnivore Books on Food, 3885a Cesar Chavez, San Francisco.

Recipes from But I Could Never Go Vegan!: 125 Recipes That Prove You Can Live Without Cheese, It’s Not All Rabbit Food, and Your Friends Will Still Come Over Dinner, copyright © Kristy Turner, 2014. Reprinted by permission of the publisher, The Experiment. Please support your local bookshop or purchase through our affiliate links with IndieBound or Amazon.


Baja Delish Tacos with Mango Salsa

Serves 2 to 3 Gluten-Free, Soy-Free, Nut-Free, Plan-Ahead

It’s time to turn your kitchen into a little seaside taco shack—the kind where surfers can run up from the ocean, grab a taco, then get back to riding the waves. You’ll practically feel the cool breeze blowing through your sun-bleached locks as you top these breaded chickpea fillets with fresh mango salsa. Plop yourself down to enjoy your light yet filling taco, and you’ll find yourself transported to the sandy beach with hot volleyball players knocking the ball back and forth. Just as you swallow your last bite, you’ll be ready to grab your board. Surf’s up!

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Down Time: 2 to 3 hours

BajaDelishTacosMango salsa

  • 2 mangos, pitted, peeled, and diced small
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 cup (135 g) diced red onion
  • 1/3 cup (15 g) chopped cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons diced jalapeño
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Salt to taste

Chickpea fillets

  • 1 cup (110 g) chickpea flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon kelp granules
  • 1/2 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried dill
  • Several dashes of black pepper
  • 2 cups (500 ml) water
  • 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup (250 ml) non-dairy milk
  • 3/4 cup (105 g) arrowroot powder
  • 1 cup (180 g) gluten-free brown rice bread crumbs (see tip)
  • Olive oil spray


  • 6 corn tortillas
  • 1 cup (50 g) shredded cabbage
  • 2 to 3 radishes, thinly sliced, optional
  • Sriracha Tartar Sauce (also in But I Could Never Go Vegan! ), optional

In a large bowl, mix the Mango Salsa ingredients. Chill until ready to use.

Line a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan with parchment paper. Set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together the chickpea flour, kelp granules, Old Bay, onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, salt, dill, and pepper.

Bring the water to a boil, then whisk in the chickpea flour mixture and reduce the heat to medium-high. Continue to whisk for 3 to 4 minutes, until the mixture has the texture of a very thick, lumpy pudding. Whisk in the oil and remove from the heat. Pour into the prepared loaf pan and use a rubber spatula to spread it evenly. Refrigerate at least 2 to 3 hours or overnight.

When the mixture has chilled and hardened, remove from the refrigerator. Use the parchment paper to lift the block out of the pan. Slice the block widthwise into 6 strips (fillets).

Pour the non-dairy milk into one shallow bowl, the arrowroot powder into another, and the bread crumbs into another. Using one hand for the wet ingredients and one hand for the dry, dredge one chickpea fillet in the milk and then in the arrowroot powder. Tap off the excess arrowroot powder, then dredge the fillet in the milk again, and finally in the bread crumbs. When fully coated, set on a plate and repeat with the remaining fillets.

Line a plate with paper towels. Heat a large frying pan, preferably cast iron, over medium heat for 3 to 4 minutes. Liberally spray the bottom of the pan with olive oil (or pour in just enough olive oil to very thinly coat the bottom and heat for 2 to 3 minutes). Place the fillets in the pan and cook for 3 to 4 minutes on each side, until crisp and golden brown all over. Transfer the fillets to the paper towels.

Respray the pan with olive oil, add 1 tortilla, and cook for 30 seconds on each side, until heated but still soft and pliable. Remove from the pan, place on a plate, and cover with a clean kitchen towel. Repeat with the remaining tortillas.

To assemble the tacos, sprinkle a couple pinches of shredded cabbage and radish slices (if using) into the middle of a heated tortilla. Top with a chickpea fillet and the Mango Salsa. Serve with Sriracha Tartar Sauce, if using.

Tip: Gluten-free brown rice bread crumbs make a perfect crust for these fillets. They can usually be found in the gluten-free section of your grocery store. Regular bread crumbs should work as well, but look for a variety with a finer crumb.

Variations: Switch out the chickpea fillets for Faux Fish (also in But I Could Never Go Vegan! )

Caramel Apple-Stuffed French Toast

Serves 4 to 6, Nut-Free

French toast on its own is a normal weekend breakfast, and chickpea flour and non-dairy milk make for a simple vegan version. When you stuff a delicious filling inside, you’ve got more of a special-occasion meal on your hands (or plate)—especially when that filling is warm, caramelized apples tossed in a rich, date-based caramel sauce, and even more especially when the French toast is dusted with powdered sugar and drizzled with extra sauce. One of my recipe testers made it for her husband on Valentine’s Day, and they thought it was the perfect celebration meal. Breakfast in bed, anyone?

Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time:
20 minutes

CaramelFrenchToastCaramel sauce

  • 10 Medjool dates, pitted
  • 2/3 cup (160 ml) non-dairy milk
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) water
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Salt to taste


  • 1 tablespoon vegan butter
  • 2 Granny Smith apples, cored and thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons coconut sugar or vegan brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

French toast

  • 1 cup (250 ml) non-dairy milk
  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) canned coconut milk or vegan creamer
  • 1/2 cup (55 g) chickpea flour
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Dash of nutmeg
  • Dash of salt
  • 1 large loaf of French bread, about 4 to 5 inches wide (not a baguette)
  • Vegan cream cheese
  • Cooking spray
  • Maple syrup, for drizzling
  • Vegan powdered sugar or powdered xylitol, for dusting, optional

In a food processor, combine the caramel sauce ingredients. Process until completely smooth, scraping the sides as necessary.

Melt the vegan butter in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the apple slices and coconut sugar; stir to combine. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the liquid is gone and the apples are softened and golden. Stir in the lemon juice and remove from the heat. Stir in 2 tablespoons of the caramel sauce.

In a large shallow bowl or baking dish, mix the non-dairy milk, coconut milk, chickpea flour, maple syrup, cornstarch, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Slice the bread into four to six 2-inch (5 cm) slices. Use a bread knife to make a slit in the top of each slice, keeping the sides and bottom intact, creating a pocket.

Carefully spread the cream cheese inside one side of each pocket, then stuff it with about ⅓ cup (80 ml) of apples.

Preheat the oven to its lowest setting. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Set aside.

Heat a large frying pan or griddle over medium heat. Spray generously with cooking spray. Take one “sandwich” and soak in the milk mixture, 15 to 20 seconds on each side. Place the soaked sandwich on the heated pan and cook until golden and crisp, 3 to 4 minutes on each side. Transfer to the prepared baking sheet and place in the oven. Repeat with the remaining sandwiches, spraying the pan again before each. Serve warm, topped with maple syrup, the remaining caramel sauce, or both. Dust with powdered sugar if desired.

Variations: Simplify the recipe by leaving out the caramel sauce and replacing the apples with uncooked strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, or even mango!

Make plain French toast by slicing regular-size slices of bread and leaving out the fruit and caramel altogether.

KristyTurnerKristy Turner writes: “I used to be one of those people who said ‘I could never be vegan.’ I was raised in a very ‘meat and potatoes’ family and though I became a vegetarian in my early twenties, I could not give up my love for cheese. I was even a Fromagier in a fancy cheese store for almost two years. One day, I made the connection and saw how violent the dairy and egg industries were and my whole life changed. For more information, you can read all about my vegan journey.

Things you should know about me: My husband is my best friend. My canine companion, Samantha, is my spirit animal. I am happiest when I am cooking, exploring, traveling, writing, and laughing. I can usually be found annoying people with Arrested Development quotes or trying to be clever while writing the About page for my blog. And I love run-on sentences and also starting sentences with conjunctions.”

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