Blogging, Just For Fun, Veganiness

You’re Gonna Wanna Sneak this Peek

Go Jules Go Youre Gonna Wanna Sneak This Peek 27FEB2019

In early 2019, I hinted that it was going to be a jaw-dropping year. What I didn’t yet realize at that point was just how far one’s jaw could drop.

And I suspect we’re only just getting started.

Because.

I’M (ALMOST) HOMELESS, JOBLESS, AND ABOUT TO TRAVEL THE WORLD TO WORK ON MY PASSION PROJECT.

The Vegan Dollar website screenshot

By approaching life from a mindset of, “How do I want to spend my life?” instead of, “How do I want to spend my dollars?”, over the past several years, I eschewed convention, made big (tiny) moves and created the runway to chase my dreams.

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THERE ARE SHIRTS AND EVERYTHING.

I’m so excited to share all I’ve learned via The Vegan Dollar’s forthcoming YouTube channel, where I’ll review hacks and practical tips, and talk about the mind-blowing lessons I’ve internalized when it comes to spending, saving and turning the status quo on its ugly little head.

Do I know what I’m doing? Not really. Does it feel “too soon” to take the leap? Absolutely. Am I scared? Um, YES. Do I let those things stop me anymore?

HECK TO THE NO.

At the risk of sounding saccharine, it’s been both a bumpy and beautiful road to get to a place where I feel comfortable honoring my soul’s gentle (and sometimes not-so-gentle) nudging, and through The Vegan Dollar, I hope to empower others to explore and actualize their dream lives.

Starting March 13th, Uncle Jesse and I hit the open road. While there are so many exciting unknowns ahead, I DO know the coming months will include…

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Uncle Jesse stealing the spotlight (…literally).
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Vegan croissants and French lessons.
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Rollerblading in San Diego whilst blowing bubbles.
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Quality time with these hooligans unicorns.
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Nudity. Photo credit
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More woo-woo. So much more woo-woo.
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Sweat.
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Vegan food porn.
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Midnight celery snacks (please see aforementioned “nudity” descriptor).
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So much heart-centered living (…and ALL THE FRESH AIR!!!).

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Anything you want to see me cover on The Vegan Dollar? What does chasing your dreams look like?

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humor

SURPRISE! What I REALLY Got from My Masters Degree

What I REALLY Got from my Masters_GoJulesGo_titlegraphic_28NOV2018

‘Cause I don’t wanna lose you now, I’m looking right at the other half of me...”

I groaned, cursing my alarm. Wednesday. I quickly swiped my phone to silent. Even Justin Timberlake couldn’t convince me 6:15am looked good on a Wednesday.

Bleary-eyed, I got into the shower, wondering what work-appropriate pants might actually be clean and still fit. As the clock neared 7:00am, I started preparing my Commuter’s Survival Kit.

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I opened the fridge and reached for the half and half, suddenly pausing.

I stood there for what felt like days, vivid scenes rushing to mind, clawing for air, demanding to know how I could have been so naive. Maybe I could just go back in time and pretend everything was “normal.” What was normal? Who was I, and why did that person suddenly feel like a stranger to the woman standing in the middle of the kitchen with a twisted expression on her face?

Just hours earlier, I had watched a documentary on Netflix about healthy eating. Or so I’d thought when I’d hit play.

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Photo credit

Instead, I’d gotten the awakening of a lifetime. My entire worldview was upended, as if learning that everyone and everything I’d ever known had been in disguise.

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Hey! I’m the only one around here who gets to wear ‘stache glasses!

Puzzle pieces I’d never known I’d failed to connect suddenly formed a gruesome picture. And I was part of causing that gore.

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And this doesn’t even cover the half of it – like the cruelty. Credit

I poured a few tablespoons of creamer into my travel mug, throwing the remainder into the garbage.

That’s it. Never again.

At lunchtime I eyed the salad bar as though I’d never seen it before. My heart was racing. I felt scared. Alone. So if I don’t have the chicken, or the eggs, or the cheese…are those grains cooked with stock? Are there any non-dairy dressings?

I loaded a plate with greens, tofu, beans, and, Ooh! Nuts! That could work…

My internet browser exploded with new tabs. Vegan Recipes. Beginner Vegan. Why No Honey? Is Wool Vegan? Can I keep my leather hiking boots?

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Thankfully, I quickly stumbled upon resources like this one.

I felt like I was in The Matrix. Except instead of staring dreamily at Keanu Reeves, I was looking at everyone around me, wondering if I’d lost my mind. “They’re eating babies!” my new, red pill-swallowing brain shouted. “BABIES!”

Jules-in-the-Matrix

It was so profoundly disconcerting that I wasn’t sure I’d be able to function normally. (As if I was playing with a full deck to begin with!)

I spent the next month combating this dis-ease by learning everything I could about veganism, wondering how long it would take until someone caught on that I was ordering avocado rolls instead of my normal salmon sashimi. I had adopted the notion that no one liked vegans, and this latest epiphany triggered teenage Jules. What if no one wants to hang out with me anymore? What if everyone thinks I’m a judge-y a*shole?

I had been a vegetarian for all of my teen years, but by 19, had succumbed to latent peer pressure and returned to the Standard American Diet. At 34, I was terrified that I’d let that happen again.

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SAD, indeed! Photo credit

Credibility. I need credibility. And support. In one of the wisest decisions I’ve ever made (besides starting this blog, of course), I enrolled in a Masters degree program for Humane Education.

Essential Elements of Humane Ed
Photo credit

The Institute for Humane Education gave me everything I’d hoped it would and more. Because two and a half years later, I’m happy to report: My vegan flag flies loud and proud. And I promise – I’m not here to convert you.

But I am here for this:

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And this:

Goats

And this: 

I cannot overstate the impact going vegan has had on my life, nor the lightness of heart I feel at every meal, knowing that my decisions align with my values. The real epiphany, though? Realizing my choices matter. I matter.

You matter.

And we get the opportunity to express our true, loving, compassionate selves every day, through every action we take.

What a gift.

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Have you ever had a Matrix-y moment?

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humor, Just For Fun

Someone Tried to Steal My Emmy

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“I don’t know how to ‘rate’ how I’m feeling. I don’t even f*@%ing want to be here.”

Seven heads shot up and stared at the redheaded woman in our circle. A few of us giggled nervously.

“You all have these cool projects you’re presenting, and I just don’t know what I’m doing here.”

Alyssa’s eyes watered and inwardly, we all applauded. Finally. An honest answer.

GoJulesGo-PMbootcamp
Usually team-building events go more like this. Or this.

In an uncharacteristically social moment a few months earlier, I had accepted a friend’s invitation to a “Vegan Creatives” 5-day retreat on Cape Cod.

“I want to get a bunch of my vegan artist friends together to talk about our projects and brainstorm,” Shawna, the retreat mastermind, had explained. She and I had met the prior summer at my Masters program residency, where she had graciously overlooked my penchant for public urination.

Much like the cold sweats I experience when interviewing narcissists for school assignments, as the retreat neared, I began to shvitz. What was I thinking? I didn’t know the hostess or anyone going. Sure, I had my thesis project to present, but I was also in the throes of writing said thesis. Could I handle any more stress?

“JUST GO,” I told myself for the 9,000th time. “It’ll be good for you.”

DAY 1

Arrive at guest house. Meet three-legged, one-eyed dog and attractive vegans #1-7. Eat colorful food and receive unicorn name. Grow concerned that I seem to be having…what’s the word…fun. No. That can’t be it.

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DAY 2

Convince Alyssa she too is having, well, whatever these feelings are. Begin stroking each other’s hair. Watch Tracy feed pet bee sugar water. Try to take photo without Dakota wearing a bowl. Unsuccessful.

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DAY 3

Eat more colorful food, voluntarily touch beach garbage, and reevaluate entire existence. Can I vote using new unicorn name?

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DAY 4

Learn that not only do new best friends save animals, sing, write, paint, cook, act, travel, scale mountains, rollerblade with bubbles and have kickass blogs, but the hostess, Allison Argo, has won half a dozen Emmys. Attempt to steal one.

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DAY 5

Say goodbye. Ugly cry.

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Until Alyssa reminds me to snap the f$&@ out of it.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go tuck my Emmy into bed.

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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)

vegan-dinner-party-go-jules-go-titlev2

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.”

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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

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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)

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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

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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.)

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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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