Food

Cheap & Easy Vegan Meals: My (Current) Top 3

As the final weeks of my Masters Program commence, I’ve been slacking in other areas…like the kitchen.

The good news?

It means I have some more cheap and easy go-to vegan “recipes” to share! (For more vegan food hacks, click here and here.)

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1. CREAMY PUMPKIN STUFF

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1 can pureed pumpkin + 1 can full fat coconut milk + 1 onion (+ other veggies if you’re feelin’ fancy) = angels singing Justin Timberlake songs

STEP ONE: Sautee a roughly chopped onion (any kind) in a saucepan over medium high heat until the onions are translucent.

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STEP TWO (OPTIONAL): Add your other favorite vegetables like broccoli, cherry tomatoes, and/or baby spinach. I even added black beans to this batch!

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STEP THREE: Dump in your canned pumpkin and coconut milk. Stir and let it simmer for a few minutes (it’ll likely thicken up a bit).

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STEP FOUR: Season to taste. Some of my favorites with this combo include: white pepper, curry powder, garlic salt and nutmeg.

Voila! Now you can: 1) eat as is as a creamy pumpkin soup, 2) pour it over rice, gnocchi or pasta, or, 3) make a potato bowl.

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As a potato bowl – with some cauliflower added.
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Over gnocchi.
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Just make sure to save some pumpkin for the pooch.

2. PESTO-MARINATED…ANYTHING

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1 container of any pesto-like thing + vegan protein (veggies, tofu, tempeh, etc.) = Jason Bateman being Jason Bateman-y

This new Zhoug Sauce from Trader Joe’s (pictured above) is my everything. Basically it’s a cilantro pesto, minus the cheese, with a very respectable zing.

Slather your “pesto” (however much you please!) over your vegan protein and then roast the crap out of it (for vegetables I do up to an hour, for tofu, 30 minutes, both between 350-400F, stirring or flipping halfway). The grill works great, too!

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You can eat this as is…

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…over pasta…

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…or hey, maybe put it on…

3. PITA PIZZAS

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1 pita + your favorite toppings = frolicking baby goats in sweaters

I have so many pictures of pita pizzas, it’s bordering on concerning. (In fact, I’ve already featured them here, but they’re so easy, fun and versatile that I felt they deserved a stand-alone mention.)

My go-to “sauces”:

Some of my favorite toppings include:

Bake directly on the oven rack for 8-10 minutes @ 350F and you’re (literally) golden.

Any kind of pita should work – when I’m feeling healthy, I use whole wheat.

pita-pizza-1Speaking of healthy, for anyone counting calories, even my vegan cheese-a-rific version comes out to less than 500 calories, so it’s a fantastic alternative to any frozen pizza (serving size = 1/3 pizza? Are they kidding?).

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And there you have it! A few recipes you can whip up without breaking a sweat, and still feel like you’re fully adulting!

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Or not.

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HAPPY NOSHING!

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Food, humor, Veganiness

Save Time & Money with MORE Vegan Food Hacks!

MORE VEGAN FOOD HACKS

I’ll be honest, Chipmunks. I’m shocked that my first vegan food hack post wound up being one of my most popular ones ever. Usually I write something, my mom reads it, and I move on. That post gets new views and likes every day, even two months later. Whether you’re reading this because you love me food, love saving money/animals/the planet, or any combination of the above, I’m so glad you’re here. BECAUSE…

I HAVE SO MANY MORE (VEGAN) FOOD HACKS!

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You can just go ahead and hold onto these.

They’re so cheap. And so easy. And so yummy.

And? We’re on the heels of my 2-year veganniversary (May 17, 2016…not that I’m keeping track of the spiritual awakening that completely turned my world inside-out or anything), so what better time to celebrate a few more?

Let’s do this.

MORE VEGAN FOOD HACKS

Heads-up: My recipes are very informal because I want to encourage you to experiment! Most of these are really hard to mess up, so let your vegan flag FLY. And if you do mess up? You get to blame me! 

1. Orzo is a fun word

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  • 16-oz package orzo
  • 1 jar (about 8.5 oz.) oil-packed sun dried tomatoes (chopped or julienned)
  • Salt (to taste)

That’s right. One 99-cent package of orzo (tiny, scrumptious, basmati rice-shaped pasta) + a jar of julienned sun dried tomatoes in olive oil (about $3.00 from Trader Joe’s) = all you need for several filling meals. Just cook the pasta according to the instructions, strain, and then dump in the jar of sun dried tomatoes, oil and all. DONE. (Okay. You’ll probably want some salt.)

Don’t live near a Trader Joe’s? Check out the food aisle at TJ Maxx/HomeGoods – you’ll often find great deals on things you can stock your pantry with like sun dried tomatoes, condiments, seasonings, nuts, coffee/tea – even almond butter!

For other cheap additions, stir in a some baby spinach (it’ll wilt just from the heat of the pasta), sautéed onions and garlic, and/or any other vegetables that tickle your fancy (asparagus? Zucchini? Cherry tomatoes?). Speaking of fancy, if you want to splurge, add some pine nuts!

You can serve this hot, cold, or room temperature, and it’s a great make-ahead meal for a picnic or party.  Or, try mixing in some vegan mayo (Hellmann’s is my favorite) and turn it into a traditional cold pasta salad with celery, red onion, mustard and dill!

2. InstaPot: What Can’t She Do? (Refried Beans Recipe)

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By using that magical hummus recipe I mentioned in my first vegan food hack post as inspiration, I created my own InstaPot “refried” bean recipe. This is so, SO, *SO* much better than refried beans from a can, and it yields a ton = mega savings.

Don’t have an InstaPot? You can do this on your stovetop, just plan for a 1-2+ hour bean-cook time. (Less if you soak the beans overnight.)

  • 16-oz. bag dried pinto beans
  • However many cups of water it takes to cover said beans
  • Your favorite seasonings, e.g., 1 bay leaf, 1-2 peeled garlic cloves, 1 onion (peeled and quartered), 1-2 spicy peppers (stems cut off), and a teaspoon each of smoked paprika, salt, pepper, oregano, etc.
  • 1/2 c. reserved cooking liquid (see instructions)
  • 1/4-1/2 c. your favorite oil
  1. Rinse off your beans and dump ’em into your InstaPot (IP).
  2. Cover with water, leaving about two inches of extra water on top of them (those suckers grow faster than my waistline after Thanksgiving).
  3. Add whatever seasonings make you smile from the suggested list above – or come up with your own!
  4. Set the IP on manual for 38 minutes (this is the magic pinto bean number – they will be extra soft), and make sure to turn off the IP when the timer sounds. Feel free to use those 38 minutes to catch up on my blog.
  5. After about 10 minutes post-timer, you can manually release the pressure valve without melting your face off.
  6. Strain the beans and any other veggies you added (garlic, onion, peppers, etc.), reserving the cooking liquid. If you used a bay leaf, discard/compost that.
  7. Put the beans in a food processor, along with any other veggies you used, and blend.
  8. Add about 1/2 cup of the reserved cooking water, then slowly add about 1/4 c. of oil while the food processor is on. Do all of this while everything’s still warm, and you’ll be AMAZED by the results. So light! So fluffy!
  9. Give it a taste, and then add more of the cooking water, oil and/or seasoning as needed to light your tastebuds on fire. If it seems thin, it will firm up once it cools.

Like I said, this makes a ton, but it’ll keep all week. You can eat it cold, reheat it and serve with tortilla chips, make a layered bean dip, spread it on tortillas (#foreshadowing), or just eat it on a spoon! Heck, one time I used it as the “sauce” for a Mexican pita pizza (pictured below), adding green chiles, tomatoes, corn, cilantro and vegan cheese!

3. You Get a Tortilla, You Get a Tortilla, Everybody Gets a Tortilla!!!

Tortillas

I buy these tortillas from the refrigerated dairy section of Stop & Shop for $1.49. Eight, succulent, giant, versatile blankets of magic for less than $1.50. The possibilities? Endless.

Here are a few of my favorites:

Quesadillas

 

  • 1 tortilla per quesadilla
  • Your ‘main’ filling of choice: ~1/2 c. refried beans, hummus, mashed potatoes (sweet or regular), or meat substitute
  • 1/4-1/2 c. vegan cheese (optional)
  • 1/4 c. sautéed veggies/greens (optional)

I’m telling you, just about anything will work in quesadillas if you have a pasty-bean-like-filling; you don’t even need cheese, although I’m in love with Trader Joe’s vegan mozzarella and Follow Your Heart.

Once you add your fillings to one half of the tortilla, fold over, and toast on a large nonstick pan (no greasing necessary) on medium-high heat for a couple of minutes on each side.

Last week I microwaved frozen vegan meatballs and mashed them up, added some vegan mozz, put them in a quesadilla, and used marinara sauce for dipping. Italian ‘dilla – BAM!

Enchiladas

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Shhh… this is actually manicotti, but when you make enchiladas like I describe below, it looks pretty much like this!

Enchiladas are more labor intensive (because of prepping the filling), but they’re GREAT for leftovers/work lunches, and I’ve got an awesome hack coming up here.

  • 4 large tortillas
  • Filling:
    • ~2 cups of your grain of choice (rice, couscous, bulgur, quinoa, etc.)
    • ~2 cups of your veggies of choice – cooked (spinach, zucchini, mushrooms, onions, peppers, etc.)
    • ~1 to 1 1/2 cups prepared vegan meat (optional), e.g., soy chorizo, “beef,” etc.
  • 1 jar marinara sauce (anything from 10 to 24 oz. will work)
  • About 1 teaspoon each (or to taste): oregano, crushed red pepper, chili powder, paprika, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder
  • 8 oz. vegan cheese (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Prepare your filling and distribute it evenly among the four tortillas, wrapping each into a burrito.
  3. Place four burritos in a 9 x 13 pan.
  4. Now for the hack! Aside from the dirt-cheap tortillas, you can buy ANY marinara sauce and just add your favorite Mexican seasonings (suggested list above) and VOILA! Enchilada sauce for about a buck.
  5. Pour your genius sauce over your burrito babies and feel free to top with vegan cheese.
  6. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until nice and bubbly. (If you’re worried about the cheese burning, you can cover the dish with foil for the first 15 minutes.)

One time I boiled a head of cauliflower and blended the sh*t out of it and used that as a topping, too (swirled like in the photo above). Funky-smelling like cheese, healthy, delicious. Oh, cauliflower, you are the Justin Timberlake of vegetables: limitless potential.

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I knew I’d work this photo in eventually. (JT’s Man of the Woods tour. March 2018, Madison Square Garden.)

Chickpea salad wraps

  • 1 can (about 15 oz.) chickpeas (a.k.a. garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed
  • ~1/4 c. your favorite vegan mayo
  • 1/8 c. finely chopped red onion
  • 1/8 c. finely chopped celery
  • 1 t. dijon mustard
  • 1 T. red wine vinegar (optional)
  • 1 T. relish (optional)
  • 1 T. fresh or 1 t. dried dill (optional)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Think tuna salad, but swap out a can of chickpeas for tuna! The above are really just suggestions meant to play around with – go crazy! I mash the chickpeas a bit with a fork so they’re even more “tuna”-like.

I love to make wraps out of this with those bargain tortillas, topping with lettuce, tomato, and/or sprouts. You could even skip the mayo and just use oil and vinegar though it would cause me to reevaluate our friendship.

Hellmans-vegan-mayo
My lifeblood.

I could go on and on about tortillas, but I’ve still got two more hacks to go! (And hey, aren’t you supposed to be working?)

4. Carrot-Ginger Soup

 

Feel a cold coming on? Want comfort food that won’t require wearing yoga pants for the next week? This is one of my absolute favorite soup recipes, and I just realized how cheap and easy it is. To make it vegan, simply swap out the butter and milk with plant-based options. (Earth Balance and Westsoy unsweetened soy milk are my favorites, respectively.) To make it even easier? Buy baby carrots – no peeling or chopping necessary!

5. You Say Potato, I say Potatohmygod

Ohhh, are we ever ending with a bang here, Chipmunks! I often keep a container of whole, roasted potatoes in my fridge so that Uncle Jesse (the dog) and I can enjoy them in myriad ways throughout the week. Here are just a few:

Pierogi quesadillas

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I have my friend Christine to thank for this miracle. (Remember Christine? The mastermind behind the vegan dinner party?) When she first found out I went vegan and had me over, she made this as an appetizer and blew us all away!

  • Tortillas (1 per quesadilla)
  • Your favorite potatoes, roasted or boiled (1 per quesadilla)
  • Vegan butter spread (e.g., Earth Balance) – about 1 T per quesadilla
  • Plant-based milk (optional) – about 1/8-1/4 c. per quesadilla
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Other optional fillings: vegan cheese, sautéed onions, peppers, spinach, jalapeño, tomato, scallions, cilantro – you can’t go wrong!
  1. Mash up potatoes with a fork and add non-dairy butter, milk (if using), salt and pepper. I use yukon gold potatoes and leave the skins on (mmm yeah that’s right).
  2. Add any other optional fillings, spread that sh*t on one half of a tortilla, fold over, and toast on a nonstick pan over medium-high heat. No greasing the pan necessary. It takes about a minute or two on each side – watch it closely!
  3. Serve it with whatever you’d like: Salsa, vegan sour cream, ketchup, hot sauce, etc.

Roasted sweet potatoes with creamed spinach

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Sound a little weird? Good. I like pushing you outside your comfort zone.

  • 3-4 sweet potatoes
  • 1 onion (any kind), roughly chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ~12-oz. baby spinach (roughly chopped, if desired)
  • 1/4-1/2 c. your favorite vegan “cream” (Cashew cheese? Non-dairy milk, sour cream and/or cream cheese? Tahini? They all work!)
  • Nutmeg, salt, pepper and crushed red pepper to taste
  • 1-2 T. nutritional yeast (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. Wash and prick sweet potatoes with a fork and pop ’em in the oven (usually takes about 1 hour).
  3. While the potatoes are roasting, sauté the onion and garlic over medium heat in a large nonstick skillet (use whatever you prefer to sauté: plant-based butter spread, oil, water or stock).
  4. Once the onions are translucent (5-10 mins), add the baby spinach a few handfuls at a time, letting them wilt.
  5. Now the fun part. Add 1/4-1/2 cup of your vegan cream of choice. My favorite (and arguably easiest) is half tahini, half unsweetened soy milk. Tahini is ground-up sesame seeds, and it’s delicious. It’s also mild in flavor so you don’t have to worry that it’ll outshine your garlic and spinach. They usually sell it in a jar right by the peanut butter, typically on the top shelf.  It can be a little pricy (don’t pay more than $7.00 if you can help it), but a little bit goes a long way in things like dressing, hummus, and the wacky recipe I’m giving you right now. My favorite is Whole Foods 365 brand. I’ve gone on so long about this that I kind of want to make a “The More You Know” video.
  6. Add your seasonings, tasting as you go (a little nutmeg is usually all you need).
  7. Dump that gloriousness on top of your roasted sweet potatoes and have at it! (Pssst. This keeps well as leftovers for a few days.)

Potato casserole

Do you watch Counting On? It’s one of my favorite guilty pleasure shows where the parents have 867 kids, all the women wear long skirts, don’t dance, and make some really f#@$*& delicious-looking food.

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They look kinda like this.

One of those foods is “tater tot casserole.” That is the inspiration behind this much somewhat healthier, vegan version. Thank you, Duggar family.

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  • 4-5 your favorite potatoes, cut into 1-inch (ish) cubes – I use Yukon gold and keep the skins on
  • 1 or 2 onions (any kind), peeled and roughly chopped
  • ~1/4 c. oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • ~15 oz. can black beans
  • 8 oz. your favorite vegan cheese -OR- 1/4 c. nutritional yeast + 1/4 c. walnuts ground together
  • Optional: 1/2-1 c. corn, chopped tomatoes, wilted greens and/or spicy peppers, etc.
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Toss potatoes and onions with oil, salt and pepper, and roast on a baking sheet in a single layer for about 35-45 minutes. (Check on them and give a stir about halfway through. You’ll know they’re done when the potatoes are fork-tender.)
  3. You could seriously stop here and just eat all of it while standing in front of the oven, leaning through the doorway to catch the new Tig Notaro stand-up special on Netflix. No? Okay. Carry on.
  4. Rinse and drain the black beans and add those to the cooked potato-onion mixture, combining into a 9 x 13 pan.
  5. Add any other optional fillings from the list above – or your own invention!
  6. Top with vegan cheese or walnut/nutritional yeast combo and bake for another 15 minutes, or until the cheese is your desired bubbly, golden brown-y-ness.
  7. Don’t tell anyone you made this, because you won’t want to share.

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Happy Cooking, Chipmunks! I love you as much as I love carbs.

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Food, humor, PSAs

Sleeping With the Frenemy

I graduated therapy recently.

What? You didn’t know that was a thing?

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Hang on. Is it NOT a thing?

After about two and a half years on the couch, including a brief affair with hypnotherapy, I was released.

But Go Jules Go, you’re probably thinking. You? Therapy? How can this be? Is it the chipmunk thing? ‘Cause that’s been making me kind of uncomfortable for a long time now.

It’s true, friends. This hilarious, blonde bombshell you see before you has some clumps in her mascara.

GOGP_Chipmunk_SecondHusband_tree
Also the chipmunk thing.

At first I felt uneasy being set free. Who would I talk to? And then I remembered you!

GoJulesGo gets ready for BlogHer'12

The thing that made me realize my therapist was right, that I was indeed ready to stand on my own two, massive, massive, size 11 feet, was the fact that I had made friends with my demons. I’d invited them onto that couch with me, and instead of trying to suffocate them with one of my therapist’s oversized pillows, we started chatting.

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Once we got to know each other, we realized we had so much in common!

The one demon in particular who led me to therapy was an old friend frenemy. FOOD.

jules-impossible-burger
That basic b*tch.

When I’m stressed, angry, sad, wondering why Darren Criss still hasn’t returned my calls, you name it, I’ll let it build and build and then the sun will set and suddenly I’m surrounded by crumbs, salt and shame. Even positive things, like embracing an ethical vegan lifestyle, running a marathon, going back to grad school, and making the move to tiny living, brought monumental anxiety.

Every moment in my personal history, a history rich with love, laughter, beautiful sights and broken hearts, is colored by whatever I happened to weigh at that time. Give me any year back to 1991, when I was 9 years old, and I can probably provide an exact number – and exactly how I felt about that number.

During my first couple of years in therapy, I thought I could fix whatever the hell was wrong with me. I knew food was a merely symptom, but for goddsakes, I was in my mid-30s now, surely time to turn a corner here. Then I realized: My issues were never going away, least of all this one.

And that’s what has made all the difference.

My issues and I can sit side by side in this life, sometimes in companionable silence, other times in a raging battle, and everything is going to be O-KAY. It’s how I relate to them, how I deal with them moment to moment, that really matters. Why not pull my darkest parts into the light where I can admire and understand every ugly lovely inch of them? They are part of me, after all.

Besides, if I’m going to fret over anything, it should be the fact that Darren Criss STILL hasn’t called me back.

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My love has only had time to mature, Darren!

“I remember how panicked I was when I first came here,” I said to my therapist on our second to last visit, gazing between her cluttered desk and oversized necklace. “It’s not that my issues have gone away. It’s just that I feel so much differently about them. So much calmer.”

She nodded. “Does that feel like progress?” 

“If that’s not progress, I don’t know what is,” I replied.

So now that I’ve invited my favorite frenemy over to spend some quality time, I’ve decided (s)he needs a name.

I’m thinking Osama binge Laden. Yes? No?

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Any other frenemies out there you’d like to introduce?

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Food, humor, Wipe the Drool

Host a Vegan Dinner Party Even if You’re Not Vegan (and most of your friends aren’t either)

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A few weeks ago, I received a group text from my friend Christine:

“Ladies! I have perfected a vegan menu! When are you coming over?!”

Christine is not vegan. None of my local friends are vegan. I put my phone down and walked away. When things this good happen, I get very suspicious.

After a moment, I decided to reply. I downplayed it so as not to make her feel too much pressure:

“YES YES YES A THOUSAND YESSES! P.S. – I’m blogging the sh*t out of this.”

DISCLAIMER: This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission if you purchase the linked product, at no additional cost to you. I only ever link to products that I truly love. Like this.

And thus, Chef and Tofu Goddess Christine and I bring to you:

How to Host a Vegan Dinner Party Even if You’re Not Vegan (and most of your friends aren’t either)

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Don’t worry. We’ll talk you through it.

STEP ONE: FIND FRIENDS.

STEP TWO: TELL THEM YOU’RE HOSTING A VEGAN DINNER PARTY.

STEP THREE: FIND NEW FRIENDS.

STEP ONE: PLAN MENU

Christine saw my post about vegan food hacks and suddenly remembered the power of The Almighty Peanut Sauce. (If you have vegan friends who also have nut allergies, you should rethink your friendship. Or you can use tahini.) This spoke to her overall philosophy when it comes to menu planning:

I thought it would be best to work with ingredients or dishes that are inherently vegan, instead of trying to make something ‘meat-esque’ and working with unfamiliar substitutions. Embrace and love the ingredients for what they are! If we are honest with ourselves nobody really loves cauliflower when it’s trying to be rice, or mashed potatoes, or (for the love of Pete) pizza crust. Have at it with those things, but embrace cauliflowery goodness and don’t play with our emotions when it comes to pizza crust. And zucchini is a delicious vegetable, but it will never be spaghetti, ever.”

APPETIZERS

Pan-fried vegetable potstickers a.k.a. gyoza (yup, the kind you find in the frozen section of any grocery store)

InstaPot hummus with veggies and pita chips (this recipe will change your life)

Olive tapenade (…from Trader Joe’s because for crying out loud you can’t do everything)

As you’ll soon see, this entire menu contains items you can make ahead, or drunkenly quickly prepare on the stovetop while you sip your mango and raspberry infused sparkling rosé. Who wants to host a party and have to worry about how long it will take your soufflé to rise? Christine pan fried the potstickers to crispy perfection while we chatted and snacked on the other items.

MAIN COURSE

Noodles with peanut sauce

Lettuce wraps with tofu, mushroom and water chestnut scramble

Both of these recipes continue to make your hosting duties a breeze because you can make the entire noodle dish ahead and serve chilled or at room temperature, and you can even make the lettuce wrap filling ahead of time (or at least do all of the chopping). Christine chose angel hair pasta for the noodle dish, a decision I will shamelessly mimic from here on out. So light! So tender!

Ethnic cuisine tends to contain lots of naturally vegan dishes, and will help you create a cohesive menu. How about spring rolls and a Thai coconut curry (this curry paste is my everything) or pineapple fried rice? Or samosas (the Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods versions are vegan!) with a dal (lentil) makhani or saag (spinach) tofu? Remember: Coconut milk, nuts, potatoes, and spices are vegan friends who make everything delicious!

Nervous about tofu? Pro tip #1 from Christine:

Squeezing tofu is one of those things that sounds intimidating, like rinsing quinoa or soaking beans. How will you know if you squeezed it too much? Or not enough? Am I still a good vegan friend and Earth-lover if I’m wasting a bunch of paper towels on my tofu? What would Mr. Whipple say about all that squeezing? In truth, it’s not that bad and it’s hard to do it wrong. If you don’t quite squeeze it enough for a recipe like this one, any excess liquid cooks off anyway. So I thought this recipe was a good entry point into My First Experience with Tofu.”

mr-whipple-charmin
I assume my invitation is just lost in the mail?

DESSERT

Coconut cashew milk rice pudding 

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This pudding was so good that even though we were stuffed from going back for main course seconds, we housed it. It’s easy to make ahead and totally company-worthy, especially when paired with pretty glasses and freshly cut strawberries.

Still feeing nervous? Christine’s pro tip #2:

If you’re not sure about ingredients, Google is your friend. I was excited to find this Vegan Condiments Guide so I could be sure that all the ingredients would work. That’s also where I learned that honey is not vegan. Bees are animals, too! (The more you know… cue the shooting star and rainbow.) Your vegan friends will think you are next-level if you know that honey isn’t vegan, and use agave syrup instead. Rock star status!”

HollywoodStar_gojulesgo
Hang on, Christine. Way ahead of you. Photo credit (prior to extremely necessary annotation).

STEP TWO: SET THE MOOD

I suggest it look something like this:

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Christine says:

Vegans tend to love the planet a bunch, so if you want to try something new that might be easier to sustain than your new-found vegan dining habits, splurge on some cloth napkins and work them into your daily routine. You’ll feel extra fancy and reduce waste all at the same time. One averagely messy eater can use a cloth napkin for a few days before sending it to the hamper until laundry day.”

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STEP THREE: ALL THE SMUGNESS!!!!

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“Did I mention I’m not even vegan?”

And that’s it, folks! Easy peasy Charmin squeezy!

A special thank you to Christine for hosting such a fabulous feast and sharing your recipes and tricks with the blogosphere! I’m only a little mad that you’re a better vegan cook than me.

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Animals, Food, humor, I'm Going To Chop My Ear Off Any Day Now, Uncle Jesse

That Time I Ate Dog Food

DISCLAIMER: This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission if you purchase the linked product, at no additional cost to you. I only ever link to products that I truly love. Like this.

Guess what? Today is Uncle Jesse’s 8th birthday!

And I thought, “What better way to honor him than to steal his food?”

As luck would have it, our latest shipment of V-Dog plant-based kibble just arrived!

V-dog-kibble-30-lb-bag
30 lbs. Also the exact amount of weight I’ve gained since entering grad school.

Two weeks ago, I mentioned that this was one of my favorite vegan food hacks, albeit one enjoyed by my fur baby and not so much me.

Uncle-jesse-eating
Until (spoiler alert) NOW!

I was keenly aware of the bag’s poundage, and my own, as I lugged it up two long flights of stairs and into the tiny apartment.

In a recent post, I said that this plant-based kibble smelled so “decent,” and Uncle Jesse loves it so much, that I might actually try it myself. And that if I did, I would, of course, blog about it.

Because why stop at peeing on houses when you can still sink a little lower?

pee-cottage

Well, I don’t know about you, but I’m getting hungry.

…If this goes viral, I’m not sure how I’ll feel about it.

If you’d like to celebrate how much we love our furry families, and every kind of love, I hope you’ll consider doing what I just did and buy a copy of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver’s new children’s book, “A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo.” Proceeds go to The Trevor Project and AIDS United. (And if you really want to geek out, check out the line-up on the audio version!)

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Food, Lists, Veganiness

Save Money and More: My Top 5 Vegan Food Hacks

Everywhere I turn, I hear people say, “How can I be more like Go Jules Go? What’s up with this vegan thing? What do you eat? Do you save money?”

I’ve only been vegan for two years, but I’ve been a foodie for 35 and counting, which means you can be dang sure I’ve found a way to eat fabulous fare even after parting ways with my old standbys, cheese and bacon.

Whether you’re interested in improving your health, spending less money, or putting your dollars towards preserving the planet and protecting animals, just a few vegan food choices here and there can truly rock (y)our world (and your wallet).

DISCLAIMER: This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission if you purchase the linked product, at no additional cost to you. I only ever link to products that I truly love. Like this.

Go Jules Go’s Top 5 Money-Saving Vegan Food Hacks

1. Frozen potato and onion pierogies

pierogies

Poppy’s brand pierogies are currently EIGHTY CENTS a package at my local New Jersey ShopRite. Caramelize an onion, maybe toss in some bell pepper or spinach, and put your carb-o-phobia on hold while you enjoy this filling meal for two. (I dip mine in ketchup…shhh.)

2. MUNG BEANS (yes, they demand all caps)

mung-beans

I buy these little green gems in bulk from Whole Foods and, when combined with onion, garlic, ginger and coconut milk, you have yourself a fine ass curry. They taste like a delicious split pea-bean hybrid, and they’re a nice change of pace from your standard lentils and legumes. (In fact, Just brand is coming out with a vegan scrambled egg liquid made out of mung beans!)

3. Peanut (satay) sauce 

peanut-sauce-bowl-2

Need I say more?  Use some of that leftover fresh garlic and ginger from your mung bean curry, and – bam! Put over pasta, stir fry, rice/grain bowls, even raw cabbage/veggies for a salad… you can’t go wrong. You can prepare ahead of time if you’re entertaining (it’s a major crowd-pleaser) and it even freezes pretty well. My go-to recipe is a lot like this, with some lime juice and cilantro thrown in.

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When it comes to peanut sauce, the sky’s the limit! (With Sriracha hearts because I’m a show-off.)

4. Banana ice cream

banana-ice-cream
What? You think it looks like… YOU’RE SO IMMATURE.

Do you like watching freezer-burned bananas turn into creamy dog doo deliciousness? This “recipe” is that magical! Peel a couple of ripe bananas, cut them into chunks, and pop them in the freezer for a few hours. (I don’t recommend leaving them in there for more than 24 hours.) Then, put them in a food processor and let it go. Wait at least a minute or two, and you’ll have yourself some silky smooth banana fro-yo. You can add chocolate chips, peanut butter, cocoa, strawberries, your lost dreams of ever working on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, whatever. It’s miraculous! (AND cheap. AND healthy. You’re welcome.)

5. V-Dog kibble

Uncle-jesse-v-dog

Hear me out. After gobs of research and learning that vets prescribe plant-based kibble to dogs with skin conditions, I switched my 8-year-old pooch, Uncle Jesse, to V-Dog. (Whereupon he immediately rejected the old stuff.) That was over a year ago and he’s crushing it, with a flawless bill of health from his normal vet. While this decision wasn’t financially driven, it turns out V-Dog costs about half of what I was spending on high-end animal-based kibble. (It smells so decent I might actually try it. If I do I promise to blog about it.)

vegan-Uncle-jesse

And because I love you – a bonus hack!

6. InstaPot Hummus

InstaPot
KNEEL BEFORE ME AND BEHOLD MY AWESOME POWER TO ROAST, RICE COOK, STEAM, PRESSURE COOK, STERILIZE, SEAR, SAUTEE, AND SLOW COOK!

If you’re one of the proud new owners of an InstaPot, the countertop multi-cooker on crack and Amazon’s #1 Christmas gift for “The Person You Care About But Also Resent Because They’re Implicitly Forcing You to Feed Into the Consumerist Machine to Prove Your Affection,” this recipe is for you! My manager who totally reads this blog and did I mention she is the cat’s meow? sent me this amazing InstaPot hummus recipe using dried chickpeas (a.k.a. garbanzo beans). The trick is using the warm, cooked beans and cooking liquid to whip ’em into a pillowy bean dream after they’re done in the iPot (I’m trademarking that). Grab a bag of dried chickpeas for about $1.00 and don’t do what I did yesterday, which is cave to convenience.

hummus-rip-off
Guess how much. No, no. Just guess. FOUR DOLLARS. FOUR. DOLLARS!!

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Have you tried (or would you try) any of these? Have any other plant-based hacks?

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Food, PSAs, Veganiness

I Have Tasted the Impossible!

I grab my shirt and pull it away from me. The Manhattan skyscrapers have formed a barrier, trapping the early August humidity and dashing any hope that a breeze might dry the sweat running down my back.

“Do you think we’ll get a table?” my sister asks.

It’s 11:45am on Saturday and we’re part of a line snaking down 8th Avenue and 22nd Street. In 15 minutes, they’ll open the doors to Chelsea district’s Momofuku Nishi.

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We can already taste the succulent red meat and pan-fried char, our mouths watering at thoughts of the secret-sauce-and-blood-soaked bun.

Today, we would taste the impossible.

Beefy, melt-in-your-mouth… vegetables?

That’s right. Today we would sample the acclaimed brainchild of Patrick Brown, founder and CEO of California-based start-up Impossible Foods. According to all accounts, Brown had managed to create a plant-based burger that sizzled, bled and -hopefully- satisfied just like its meat-based counterpart.

Despite enjoying many bacon and cheese-smothered burgers in my day, I’ve always been a fan of veggie burgers. The ones that tasted like vegetables, that is. The more a veggie patty tried to disguise itself as meat, the more it seemed to fail.

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Until (spoiler alert) now.

Using a combination of science and more science, Impossible Foods attempted a feat no man nor chipmunk had yet mastered: Making vegetables actually mimic meat. How did they do it? Through reverse-engineering taste and including loads of something called heme. Heme is what peanut butter is to Reese’s cups, what cherry Chapstick is to a Katy Perry song, what Miss Piggy is to Kermit.

It’s the stuff that makes something what it is.

heme
Or, you know, if you want to be all LITERAL about it, it’s an “iron-containing compound of the porphyrin class that forms the nonprotein part of hemoglobin and some other biological molecules.” (Credit: Wikipedia)

Brown combined heme -the thing that gives beef its meaty, bloody flavor- and a number of plant products (namely potatoes, soybeans, and coconut) to achieve the Impossible Burger. A longtime vegan and accomplished biochemist, he wanted to make a veggie burger for people who loved meat. After all, who would forego succulent, savory bovine for lentils and chalky carrots?

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Us, apparently.

And we’re not alone:

Impossible Foods surveyed 600 “hard core middle America burger lovers” about their eating habits and asked them whether they’d choose a plant-based burger if it was identical—in taste and cost—to the beef version. Nearly 70% said they would. –Wall Street Journal

But with production costs still too high to actually offer the Impossible Burger to the masses, you have to wonder: is it worth all of the trouble? I mean, cholesterol aside, is there really anything that bad about sticking to the traditional?

cost-of-beef
According to NPR, this is what goes into producing a single beef patty. Photo Credit

With plans for a slow but powerful movement, Impossible Foods is piloting their burger in limited quantities in places like New York City, and soon, San Francisco. Within five years, we can expect to see some pretty happy cows, but for now, some pretty happy humans:


Do you think the Impossible Burger can do the impossible? Would you try it?

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