reformation

Dear Swagsters,

I, Jenny of Tofu Swag, do solemnly promise that moving forward I will blog on a regular basis. It won’t be every day. But it will be at least once a week.

There. I said it. No take backs.

In the time that I’ve been away, I’ve been doing a lot of self-work. (Read: A LOT OF YOGA.) Sometimes you just have to prioritize and make sure you’ve balanced the most important things in your life before you can spice it up with some of the other stuff. My hope is that I’m finally getting there. The beginning of autumn has been a whirlwind, and sometimes so much change can be overwhelming, especially for a girl like me (and maybe like you!).

Remember that old tv show “Out of This World”? (Hello, I’m dating myself right now.) So, if you don’t remember, it’s this girl named Evie and her dad is from outer space or something like that, and he talks to her through this glowing prism that she keeps in her bedroom. The fun thing about Evie is she has this special power where she can put her fingers together and time stops:

What I’m saying is, to all things that I could do this to, I did. (Also OMG why isn’t TV this good anymore?!)

Anyway.

I missed you guys.

So I’m amidst a reformation. But really it’s more like I’m getting back to me. I have learned a big lesson this autumn and it has a lot to do with priorities, motives and honoring Me by releasing myself of “should.”

I’m going to save you the long drawn out thing, but the point I’m moving towards is that part of my struggles with maintaining this blog is that it wasn’t exactly Me. It was what I thought Me “should” be. Blech. Sustainability comes purely from your center. You can keep up a farce for a while, but when the going gets tough, you’ll lose the energy to put on a show. And that’s what happened to me.

So I have some big-ish plans for this here little bloggy. It’s all in the works and details remain to be ironed out, BUT, my sincerest hope is that what I’d like to do will come to fruition and I can begin sharing with you all a very special part of what I believe is my life’s purpose. 🙂

In the mean time, as previously stated, I promise to be a more regular presence here. So keep checking back!

See you soon!

Jenny

the return of swag

Helloooooo Swagsters.

It’s been a while, huh? Thanks to everyone for your support during the rough time my family has recently been through. I can’t tell you enough how much that support made life easier to get through amidst a great deal of sadness. I’d prefer not to focus too much more on this, if that’s okay. We’ve all been working hard to start healing and move forward.

Allow me, instead to update you on other parts of my life. There was a lot going on at one time, and not all of it was bad!

School started!
It was a rough adjustment, given that I was still mourning my family’s loss, but I think it was very helpful to have a place to put my energy and a distraction from my sadness. I’ve quickly found that school is my happy place right now. I love being in my classes, even the ones that I would have previously considered “boring.” I think a big part of this is that I’m older, more mature and have had more experiences in life than I did the first time I was in school. I have a much greater appreciation for learning, and the opportunities that education has to offer. I’ve lived the “adult” life, paying my bills and working for a living in a job that doesn’t really allow me to reach my full potential. I am not taking college for granted this time. I see this as my chance, my opportunity to make life better.

Also, as I get older, I really see how affected our lives are by politics and by economics. As a younger adult, being still supported by my parents, it was hard to care about politics and the state of the economy. Now, as I’ve been supporting myself for half a decade, I’ve been affected by health care regulations, by the credit crunch, by decisions of elected officials. Subsequently, I find everything I’m studying, from Geography to Political Economics to be extremely relevant. Understanding the world around us in an informed, educated way is absolutely necessary. I might warn you ahead of time to expect to hear me talking about things like this more often. As much as I enjoy talking about food, exercise and personal growth, I am feeling a deepening urgency to have conversations about societal change, and to take part in it.

At any rate, I’m in love with academia, and so happy to be a part of this world today. I’m obsessed with my classes and I don’t know that I’ve ever felt more sure about what I’m doing. Economics is something I loved studying. It’s one of those things that just clicks in my brain. It’s such a dynamic field of study and can be useful in so many different fields. I’ve already decided that I want to get my master’s degree once I finish here and I’m so thrilled with a program I found that fits what I want to do to a T!

FitFluential!
I was recently accepted as a FitFluential ambassador! I’m thrilled to be a part of this community on a more interactive scale. I’m extremely proud to be able to promote a healthy, happy, fit, vegan lifestyle to a broader audience, and I sincerely hope I will serve you and the FitFluential organization well.

Vegan Outreach!
Literally, as I was walking to the campus library to sit and give you all this update, I passed a girl who was handing out pamphlets. It turns out, she is working with Vegan Outreach and trying to organize a group of students on campus to promote the cruelty free life. I have always admired the work that Vegan Outreach does and I was so, so pleased to run into this girl and to find this grassroots movement getting started on my campus! I got her information and I’ll be emailing her today. I am extremely interested in being more of an active vegan advocate, and really hope to be an integral part of this movement growing more popular.

These are the major things going on right now, my friends.

Life’s really busy and I’m working to establish a new routine. All in all, I really believe life is headed in the right direction.

How was the end of your summer?
Tell me something exciting that’s going on in your life!

absence

I’m sorry I haven’t been around. I have had lots of folks ask me when I’ll be posting again, and it is my intention to do so. However, right now, all my time is spent with my family. All my energy and creativity is given to prayer. My family needs me and I need to be with them.

Until I return, if I could be so selfish as to ask you, swagsters, to please keep my family, especially my sister and her unborn son, in your thoughts and prayers. We need everything positive that you have to offer us.

Thank you to everyone who has continued to support me despite my absence. It means more than you can possibly know.

Jenny

how to be a vegan on a budget

Swagsters!

Life’s been busy again, I worked a fair amount of doubles in the past few days. Pretty unlike me, but I’m trying to do as much as I can before school starts!

Yesterday I went grocery shopping for the week, as I do, and I got a pretty nice haul for $53.22 (without even using my friend’s discount… I felt like I was cheating the system using it! 🙂 )

a week’s worth of yumm!

A few people asked me how it is I am making this happen, especially when I am shopping at Whole Foods. So, today, that’s what I’m going to share with you!

One of the things that really grinds my gears is when people tell me they can’t be healthy or vegan because it is too expensive. This is one big reason why I have embarked on this budgeting adventure. I want to dispel this myth! It does not have to cost a lot to eat clean, or vegan, or both. Instead of all your money, what it really takes, is a little bit of planning, and maybe even some self-discipline.

Here’s what I do:

1. The night before I go grocery shopping, I make a menu plan for the upcoming week. I refer to my Tone it Up! meal plan, I look at recipes I’ve pinned, etc, and I come up with 3 meal options for each main meal I eat.

2. When I’m choosing recipes to make, I look for those that use just a few whole ingredients. I also look for recipes with overlapping ingredients. It’s easier and cheaper to buy something that you can use in several recipes as opposed to on ingredient for only one meal. Keep it simple =  keep it cheap.

3. I consider what I already have in my house. Maybe this week I have some left over ingredients, or I still have a large tub of cooked beans in my freezer. I’ll use those instead of buying more ingredients. This will help you waste less, too, and that’s a big bonus!

4. When I get to the grocery store, I shop produce first, like most of us do, and I follow one strict rule: weigh everything. This will help you see how much you’re buying and can help you keep on track if you have a budget goal. If you want to take it to the next step, keep your phone’s calculator on hand, and keep a running total of what you’re spending. I do this regularly, just to make sure I’m not about to overspend.

5. Do not buy more produce than you can consume in one week. Veggies and fruit will keep for about a week in the fridge. When you’re buying produce, especially veggies, buy them in servings. For instance, when I’m buying veggies for dinner, I think to myself, I want x-days worth of brussels sprouts, so I count out x-servings and no more. If I’m buying broccoli, I buy crowns. 1 crown =  1 serving. No more than I’m planning to eat!

6. Stop buying canned beans! One of the biggest ways I’ve started saving money is to buy dried beans and cook them myself. One pound of dried beans costs about the same as 2 cans of cooked beans, yet you get about 5 cans worth of beany goodness. It may seem overwhelming to cook your beans, but it’s very rewarding and so much of it can be done while you’re doing other things in your house.

7. Stop buying veggie burgers and hummus! Make your own with the beans you’ve cooked! You can end up making more  burger patties than you need, so you can just freeze them and save money next week by not needing to buy a protein source! As for hummus, it’s so easy to make and so much cheaper.

exhibit-A

8. Stick to your menu plan. Do it as best you can. Sometimes I’ll refigure things a bit and make a recipe I wasn’t planning, but I always use ingredients I have on hand and I make sure that it won’t leave me short by the end of the week.

9. Freeze stuff! If it looks like it won’t end up getting used, throw it in the freezer before it goes bad! It saves waste and it’ll be there to save you money later!

So those are my main rules to follow. I don’t really coupon, as most of what I buy is produce or store brand. Certainly it is also helpful to look for things that are on sale. If I normally buy 365 brand, but Pacific almond milk is on sale, then Pacific brand it is. If a certain fruit is on sale, I may buy that instead of what I was planning to snack on, etc.

Let me also address the fact that I do purchase things that are, by all standards, expensive. My tub of protein powder costs $20, then there’s my psyllium husk ($9) and my chia seeds ($12-$15) that I keep as a part of my diet. (The latter two ingredients are essential to my personal digestive health, so I refuse to give them up.) However, because I am budgeting the rest of my week so well, I give myself the ability to afford those “luxuries.” Furthermore, those three things tend to last me a while (about 3 weeks to a month, each). They are certainly not weekly ingredients, so they don’t add up as much as one might think.

So there you have it. This is how I plan and budget my week of food and how I also can do it at Whole Foods. I am a happy, healthy, well-nourished, clean-eating vegan and I do not spend an arm and a leg on my food!

I hope this helps and of you out there that are trying to budget and plan.

Let me know what you do, if you currently shop on a budget! I love to hear new things I can do to save a penny here or there. 

Lemon Cream Overnight Oats

Well, Swagsters… this is becoming a pattern. Yet again I greet you with so much gratitude. Thank you all for such a positive response to my previous post. I wrote it for all of us, to bust the myth that makes so many girls (and guys) believe they have to do anything outside of what is true to them in order to achieve success. When you are in line with your true energy, you are in line with universal energy and when you ride that wave, you can only meet happiness, peace and success!

Let’s switch gears a little bit and bring it back to the NOMS.

I have a new recipe for you!

The other day I was looking through my pinterest food board (feel free to follow me here!) And I came across this tofu based lemon cream dessert that I had pinned a while back. As we are still in the full swing of summer (although my mind says, “August?! Let’s think about fall now!”), seeing that made me yearn for something light and delicious.

And then it hit me: Lemon Cream Overnight Oats. What a refreshing way to start the day, right? Well it turns out, that is very right.

summer in a bowl

I took a couple tries to get it right, so now, without further ado, I present to you:

Lemon Cream Protein Overnight Oats

Ingredients (1 serving)

  • 1/2 banana
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 packet stevia
  • 2T lemon juice
  • 1T vanilla brown rice protein powder
  • 1/4 cup rolled oats
  • 2T chia seeds
  • optional: 1/4 cup berries of choice

Instructions

    For the Base

    • In a blender or food processor, add banana, almond milk, stevia, lemon juice and protein powder. Blend until smooth.
    • If you don’t have or want to use a blender, start by smashing up the banana really well. Next, add the banana to the stevia and protein powder. Finally, add the lemon juice and then, very slowly, add the almond milk, stirring the whole time to avoid clumping.

    Make Them Oats!

    • In a sealable tupperware cup or container, combine oats and chia seeds. Add your base to the top of the dry ingredients, stir until mixed well, cover and place in the refrigerator overnight.
    • In the morning, top with berries and enjoy!

    This recipe is so delicious. It’s light, yet very satisfying. It kept my hunger at bay for 3 hours! I love the convenience of overnight oats too. They take no time at all to prep at night and then in the morning, all you have to do is take them out of the fridge! Once school starts (in 17 days!!!!), I can totally see myself depending on these oats on my early mornings. There’s nothing as awesome as cutting corners in the morning, right? 🙂

    Pretty simple post for you all today, Swagsters. I’m writing to you from the bookstore near my work, but I’m off now to head home, lift some weights and make a meal plan for this coming week!

    I don’t know about you, but I love Mondays!

    How was your weekend?
    What’s your favorite go-to breakfast?

    how to get results

    Swagsters-

    How many ways can I say “thank you” before I feel like you understand the depth of my gratitude?

    Thank you so much, again, for all your love, well wishes and congratulations. I feel like this has all come at such an amazingly, stars-aligned time for me. I had been questioning myself as a blogger, questioning my purpose and direction, and wondering if I even had pertinent things to share. Then suddenly things seemed to explode with positivity and affirmation, and I feel so much more founded in the belief that wherever this goes, I’m on the right path. So thank you all, again, for your encouragement. I literally wouldn’t do this if it was for me alone- I seek connection, community and even companionship from this venture, and having that returned to me is outrageously affirming.

    Addressing “The Question”

    During my recent 15 minutes of fame, right after all the love , I received the following question several times over: “What are you doing to get those results?!” After meditating on it alone and consulting with my best/blogging friends/resources, Heather and Cait, I figured out how I felt I could best answer this inquiry.

    If you’re sticking around to hear me tell you exactly what I eat, and what I do for workouts and how I devote every living, breathing minute of my day to this endeavor, then you probably don’t want to read any further, as I am not going to be telling you that.

    But, why not?

    The truth is, my life does not revolve around those things alone. The truth is… J’adore La Vie.

    I am devoted to creating a life that I am proud of, a life that I love and a life that suits ME. I am devoted to upholding mindfulness and intuitiveness throughout my days. It’s the devotion to these things that yields me results, physically, mentally and spiritually.

    What does that mean? 

    It means that I eat foods that honor my body and make me feel good. It also means that when my friend comes to town, we share a tub of SoDelicious ice cream and literally almost eat the entire thing while watching Fashion Police. It means that some mornings I workout hard, and some mornings I eat breakfast first and other mornings I am gentle with myself or I skip a workout all together.

    It means that sleep is a major priority in my life. Well-rested Jenny is a happy Jenny and, subsequently, a happy world around me.

    It means that I meditate most days. It means that I spend time blogging and, if so inspired, I will journal. I take solace in the quiet parts of my day, reflecting or reading or just allowing myself the opportunity for aural detox. I take a minute every day to give myself praise for a job well done, big or small. I make space to give myself love.

    It means that I make time for my most uplifting friends, doing things that make us feel good and proud and nurtured.

    It means that I take care of the practical side of my life. I’m working on my budget and finances and trying to get myself in a more comfortable place. I’m going back to school to give myself more opportunities to find a job or a career that I love and that fulfills me.

    In a nutshell, what I have done to get results in my life is to take control of my life. It is mine, and for all I know, it is the only one I get. In the grand scheme of things, we, as humans, don’t have time to waste. If you want something, tell yourself you deserve it and go after it.

    Now I don’t mean that I tell myself what I “should” be doing. I mean that I check in with myself, I strive for authenticity and I do what feels good and natural.

    And this, my friends, is how I get the ultimate result, to say, ” J’adore La Vie.”

    J’adore La Vie is a campaign that was originally launched by (the previously linked and mentioned) Heather at For the Love of Kale. I want to be an ambassador for this campaign and I want you to join me!

    I challenge you to devote your life to authenticity, peace and self-love. I challenge you to make your life yours. Eating a clean healthy diet and exercising are merely a fraction of this equation.

    If you want results, tell yourself you deserve results and then go after them!

    What are you devoted to in your life?
    What makes you say, J’adore La Vie? (tell the world on twitter with #jadorelavie)

    speechless gratitude

    Swagsters, yesterday was OUT OF CONTROL.

    I got a wild hair yesterday morning and decided to send a progress photo to my trainers over at Tone It Up!, Karena and Katrina. I’ve been following their plan since March, and I love it. They taught me how to eat in a healthy way, in a way that I could be proud of and in a way that left me feeling sure I was properly nourished. They also inspired me to get off the cardio machine and start weight training. And last but not least, the community they have built has brought so many amazing people into my lives. I’ve honestly never been part of a community of women that is so supportive and inspiring in my entire life. I swear to you, nothing has been the same since I joined this plan. Every part of my life has become more enriched thanks to them. I highly recommend joining the team to any girl who wants to manifest a happy healthy life for herself!

    Okay, off my soapbox. (Disclaimer: This is my own opinion of K&K and the Tone It Up! plan. They did not ask me to review or opine in anyway. I’m just that happy with these ladies. ❤ )

    So the picture. I decided to send it not because of the physical side alone, but because I was proud enough to do it at all. Does that make sense? I didn’t want accolades for the physical changes, I was just so pleased to be willing to share. The physical changes mean nothing if I hadn’t grown strong enough mentally to appreciate them and my hard work.

    So I sent them this picture via Twitter and Instagram:

    woohoo!

    And much to my surprise, and pleasure, my trainers tweeted me back!

    *starstruck*

    I was so excited that they were as proud of me as I was. What a blessing!

    The rest of my morning was mostly spent responding to encouraging tweets from this wonderful community. I felt very lucky and blessed. The sun was shining down on me.

    That afternoon I was off to work. Shortly after I got there, my phone started blowing up. I had texts and missed calls and facebook messages and tweets like crazy. What was going on?! I thought. When I read the first text I got, I was directed to this:

    say whaaaaa????

    My trainers had featured me on their facebook page! And they mentioned my blog!

    I was floored. I wanted to run out of my job immediately and spend all night tweeting and facebooking my appreciation and gratitude.

    And last night I looked at my blog statistics and saw this:

    average day?

    Oh you know… from 50-something views to over 800. NBD.

    Now, the next day, I am still riding the high of gratitude. This journey would be nothing without the support of my trainers and this community. This is what makes it fulfilling. The encouragement, support, love and kindness from everyone that responded to these posts yesterday is why I keep doing what I’m doing. When I’m feeling impatient, unmotivated and down, I can always turn to this community and I will immediately be uplifted.

    I wish words could even do justice to love that has filled my heart right now. The love that came from you all. The love that I’d like to give right back.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you.

    In the yoga world, there’s an exclamation that is used to celebrate something with lots of love: Jai!

    That’s what my heart is screaming right now. Jai! Jai! Jai! Namaste! Jai!

    Much love to all of you, my Swagsters. You’ve really given me new life, new purpose, new affirmation, and I owe you everything I have.