Giveaway Junkie, humor

Is it…could it be…the BEST. BIRTHDAY. EVER?!

Marlon-bundo-giveaway-go-jules-go

THE DAY HAS COME, Chipmunks!

The day everyone showers me with attention, compliments, and permission to drink at 9 AM I announce the winner of my latest giveaway!

For this contest, I asked you to (pretty please) leave a comment describing your ideal birthday, with bonus points awarded for mentioning chipmunks. This particular commenter nailed it. I love word-y puns almost as much as I love sneaking “water” into the movies.

And thus, the winner of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver’s “A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo” is…

SHENRYDAFRANKMAN!

Go-Jules-Go-birthday-giveaway-winner-2018Congratulations, SHENRYDAFRANKMAN! I’ll be in touch to send you your delightful spoils.

Oh. What’s that? You’re wondering what my ideal birthday would look like? That’s so sweet of you! I hadn’t really given it much thoug—

Go-Jules-Go-2018-dream-birthday-Darren-Criss-1Go-Jules-Go-2018-dream-birthday-Darren-Criss-2Go-Jules-Go-2018-dream-birthday-Darren-Criss-3Go-Jules-Go-2018-dream-birthday-Darren-Criss-4Go-Jules-Go-2018-dream-birthday-Darren-Criss-5Go-Jules-Go-2018-dream-birthday-Darren-Criss-6Go-Jules-Go-2018-dream-birthday-Darren-Criss-8Go-Jules-Go-2018-dream-birthday-Darren-Criss-9Go-Jules-Go-2018-dream-birthday-Darren-Criss-10Go-Jules-Go-2018-dream-birthday-Darren-Criss-11Go-Jules-Go-2018-dream-birthday-Darren-Criss-12Go-Jules-Go-2018-dream-birthday-Darren-Criss-13Go-Jules-Go-2018-dream-birthday-Darren-Criss-14Go-Jules-Go-2018-dream-birthday-Darren-Criss-15Go-Jules-Go-2018-dream-birthday-Darren-Criss-17Go-Jules-Go-2018-dream-birthday-Darren-Criss-18Go-Jules-Go-2018-dream-birthday-Darren-Criss-19

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Photo Credits: Darren CrissChipmunksKetchup dogOreo dogBanana dogPopcorn dogTater tot dog; Justin Timberlake

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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!”

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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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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 

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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

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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.

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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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PSAs

What Is She Doing NOW?

When I was 7 years old, I asked my dad, “What am I?”

No, I wasn’t some sort of existential genius baby, I just wanted to know where I stood. We decorated a tree every December, but we’d stopped going to church and never said grace like our cousins. Were we Christian? Methodist? Protestant? Something cool like Catholic where you could unload all of your wrongdoings onto a man sitting in a box?

“You can be whatever you want to be,” my dad replied.

Oh great, I thought. No pressure!

I floated through the next decade asking myself, “What do I want to be?” But I could never decide. The question was too big for me.

In fact, the question never became anything less, but eventually I cobbled together a set of beliefs based on what seemed like the best of ABC’s Friday night line up the best.

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Photo credit

In May 2016, when I upset the earth’s balance by foregoing all things bacon and cheese, I never anticipated that my DIY belief system would experience another revelation as a result: Financial independence. Like most people, I assumed I would have to work until my liver gave out and nothing short of suing Quaker Oats for destroying the roof of my mouth would save me.

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But over time, as I started finding ways to up my environmentalism game, I realized I was accidentally saving money.

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Best accident ever.

By moving to a 300-square foot apartment in November, that suddenly became a lot more money.

The old plans didn’t make sense anymore.

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And by that I mean working until you die.

I started poring over my accounts and listening to investing podcasts. I rejiggered my portfolio and took a hard look at every expense. I argued with Comcast for two hours to get the best deal. In the process, I asked weird questions like, “How many bottles of wine much money does a person really need?” and “Do I care who cuts my hair?” and “What the hell is in that UV nail gel anyway?”

The less stuff I had, the less I wanted. But then came the really scary part. If I actually achieved financial independence, I’d be responsible for creating a world that didn’t revolve around making money. Once again I’d have to ask: What did I want to be?

This is a very privileged question to ask, I realize. And I’ve got a ways to go. And I really like my job. And I’m not just saying that because my boss sometimes reads this blog. But in the meantime, I’d love to know:

If you never had to earn another dime, who would you be?

Uncle-Jesse-portrait-Jan-2018
Sorry, “Pet Portrait Professional” is already taken.

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Animals, Chipmunks Forever, Veganiness

Save the Earth! It’s the only planet with chipmunks.

Last fall I lost my mind and decided to go back to school. I’m now halfway through my Masters degree in Humane Education a.k.a. Learnin’ How to Save the Planet.

Of course, we all know I really just want some more of those fancy letters to add to my work signature.

Go-Jules-Go-signature

Over the past year, I’ve struggled to find humor while bearing witness to the countless atrocities detailed in the coursework. I even considered throwing in the towel on higher learnin’ altogether. But speaking of towels (wait for it) – there’s still hope! On top of the recent move to tiny living, here are some of my favorite ways of ensuring the world’s chipmunks will have many, many years left to thrive:

1. (S)wipe Left on Paper Products

No, no, no. I’m not asking you to trade your TP for twigs. But getting into the habit of using dishtowels as napkins is the gift that keeps on giving! Who wants to dry their hands with 18 pieces of tissue paper anyway?

napkins
WHAT ARE YOU MADE OUT OF?? Necco wafers and sadness???

I love using soft, fluffy hand towels as much as…

2. Bag Lady

I’m obsessed with my reusable bags. Remember this?

home-alone-shopping-bag-fail-o

No more once you switch to sturdy, waterproof bags!

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This is 1/4 of my collection. I may have a problem.

3. From K-Cups to More-than-OK-Cups

Not only do they make gobs of compostable products for any coffee machine, they also sell reusable Keurig K-Cup pods that you can fill with your own coffee, then compost the grinds, for a totally waste-free caffienating experience.

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This is New Jersey. We drink cawfee.

4. Got milk? Yeah, and it’s nuts!

Swapping out any one dairy (or meat) item at any one meal for a plant-based option instead is a HUGE win for woodland critters and humans alike. I know, I know. “BUT CHEESE,” you’re thinking. Thankfully, the plant-based options for milk and cheese are becoming more convincing than ever – check out Chao cheese if you don’t believe me. (For more on the implications of eating dairy, which I know can be confusing – shoot me a note. And here’s a great article with lots of cool charts emphasizing the impact of small dietary changes.)

nut-milk-bag
Then you too can search “nut milk bag” without hesitation at work.

5. Compostest with the Mostest

By far my proudest accomplishment in 2016 was making this composting bin with Babs:

Babs-composting
Booya.

Since then, I’ve upgraded to an item that’s marketed as “the most beautiful composter in the world.” By tossing all of my raw produce, coffee grinds and compostable packaging in there, these bad boys have cut down my garbage by a whopping 75%!

HUED-640-composting-bins
So beautiful, no?

6. It’s the Little Things that Count

Plastic straws, paper receipts, those little stickers on your fruits and vegetables – they really add up! Say “no thanks” when you can and hopefully these items, much like Scott Baio, will soon become a thing of the past.

scott-baio-trump-socks
“Global warming” – chyeah right! He doesn’t even need pants! Photo credit

7. This is Us. Not Buying New Sh*t.

Learning about the materials and energy required to produce every single new consumer good was enough for me to reconsider buying that battery operated armpit hair braider. Even recycling itself -turning those plastic Sprite bottles into a rug, for example- can demand intensive resources. Choosing refurbished or borrowed items will make you the Kevin to Mother Nature’s Kate.

This Is Us - Season 1
I hope you’re not using those wafer napkins to dry your tears. Photo credit

8. Do you have your permission slip?

Because it’s field trip time! Visit your local farm sanctuary and be amazed by the animals’ stories. Did you know chickens experience REM sleep and teach calls to their babies before they’re born? They even purr! So cool!

Dolly-the-Llama
Just imagine what I could tell you about Dolly the Llama!

9. Cabbage Patch Pets

Remember how Cabbage Patch dolls came with those nifty adoption papers? There’s a lot to be said for adoption – skip the breeders and pet stores and scoop up a rescue.

Jules-Cabbage-Patch-costume
I don’t know why you assumed I DIDN’T have this photo.

10. Fork You

Switching to reusable utensils (and dishware) was a “sacrifice” that played in my favor! I dine like a queen at work:

work-lunch
What’s with the bubbly, you ask? It’s Tuesday!

11. Warm Fuzzies

The best thing you can do for chipmunks? Love. Love them, love yourself, and love the land we share.

Chipmunk Smiling
She said “nut milk bag.”

P.S. – Yes I did.

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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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Food, Uncategorized

My Most Shameful Guilty Pleasure OF ALL TIME a.k.a. Little Slice of Man Meat (no, this isn’t the one where I talk about Daniel Radcliffe in Equus. Nice try, though)

    You might be thinking this is the post where I finally talk about the fact that I own Season One of “Laguna Beach” on DVD and have watched it, in its entirety, on two separate occasions. Or maybe this is the one where I put up a picture of when I dressed as Doogie Howser for Halloween. There’s a good chance, you think, that I’m about to tell you how much I love guillotines.
    You’re wrong.
    While all of those things are indeed shameful guilty pleasures of mine, I have one that goes FAR BEYOND any I’ve just mentioned. In fact, I can’t believe I’m going to talk about it now, but, as promised… Let me start by telling you about something that happened last weekend.
    Last Saturday night, my husband and I were, true to form, hanging out watching T.V. Somehow, the topic of Jonathan Taylor Thomas came up. 

    “Is he younger than you?” my husband asked, trying to imply that this was another one of my creepy obsessions with the Teen Beat contingent.

    “No,” I promptly replied, adding, “He was born on September 8th, 1981!” I then quickly pulled up his profile on imdb.com, confirming my credibility.

    I realized it had been a long time since I had thought about Mr. Taylor Thomas, or trolled (and possibly contributed to…) fan fiction sites about said star of yesteryear. Rest assured, this is not the mystery guilty pleasure of which I speak. The confession, while absolutely J.T.T.-related, is far more disturbing.

    You see, when I was 13, like most 13-year-olds, I was a tad…boy crazy. Emphasis on the crazy. Because real-life boys never paid me any mind, I had to turn my focus toward the more famous variety. Any normal Jonathan Taylor Thomas fan might have been satisfied with plastering their bedroom walls with posters (oh, I did that, too), but not me. Even meeting him at a taping of “The View” wasn’t enough.

    I decided to become a vegetarian.

    Why, you rightly ask? For one reason, and one reason only. You guessed it. J.T.T. wouldn’t be caught dead gnawing on a turducken or snarfing down a White Castle sack of 10.

    Do you understand what I’m saying here? I gave up McDonald’s french fries for this kid, because they were made with beef flavoring. And guess how long this nonsense lasted? 5 and a half years! My entire teenage life! That’s just…just… there are no words.

    Now, please, I beg of you, post a comment sharing at least one of your most shameful guilty pleasures. I’ll be here in my closet, amongst the skeletons, not enjoying a Boca burger.