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!

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. 

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)

life on the wagon

Swagsters!

I forgot to tell you about a very important event yesterday!… I bought my books for school!

Classes begin in exactly 3 weeks, and I can’t even explain to you how excited I am. This is really the start of something new for me, and for Markus for that matter. Once I’m finished, we’re really going to be on our way.  There’s so much to be excited about. I really have this feeling that the world is ours for the taking. 😀

Nerd Alert

So, in case I haven’t mentioned it before, I’m going back to school to get a degree in Economics. This first semester back I’ll be taking two Econ classes and two Geography classes (I’ve decided to minor in Environmental Geography). I was planing to take one more class, but have recently decided to stick to four classes, as I will still be working full time. Anyway… outside of the cost, buying school books is one of my absolute favorite things in the world. I love looking at the required reading and getting a peak at what we’ll be covering over the semester. Like this gem…

*swoon*

I wish I was joking about how excited I am to dig into this book. I just find it all so fascinating and pertinent. I sincerely cannot wait! My anticipation reassures me that I’ve made a smart choice by going back to school. 😉

But let’s get serious for a second…

I’d like to switch gears and share something with you all that I’ve kept quiet for a while. Sure, some people in my life know about this, but tonight I felt like I was ready to go public, as what began as a sad situation has transformed into a source of immense pride for me.

Swagsters, as of today, I have not had a drop of alcohol in 25 days.

Through the course of the last few years, I struggled a bit with over indulging in beverages of the alcoholic persuasion. While I wouldn’t say I was an alcoholic, I would say that I had problems with moderation when I did chose to drink. I know that there were times, many of them, that I drank alcohol as a way to cope with and escape from my life.

Over the years I’ve usually been able to catch myself before things got too out of hand, but recently, I realized that I was spending too many nights saying to myself, “Tonight is the night I prove to myself that I can drink with moderation.” And then I would proceed to get drunk. The next day I would feel ashamed, embarrassed, depressed, bloated, uncomfortable, tired and just generally ill.

25 days ago, I hit a low. 25 days ago I finally awoke to the realization that even though I enjoy the taste of wine and beer, I could no longer put it into my body. I realized that, for me, the consumption of alcohol was pure poison to my body, mind and spirit.

(Side note: This does not mean that I think no one should drink. I mean to say that I, personally, should not drink.)

The first few days after I quit, I was glad that I had done so, but I was still left with the lingering guilt, gastrointestinal discomfort and body dysmorphia that drinking brought into my life.

But then, the clouds started to lift away and the sun began shining down on me. I remember thinking for a while beforehand that I always felt like there was a cloud hanging over me, and I was beginning to think I might actually be depressed. But as the days of sobriety wore on, I finally began to realize: that cloud was laced with booze. Slowly, but surely, I started to find happiness again. My heart began opening up and I started to see the real beauty in the world around me.

This week, I have really been noticing the changes. Body dysmorphia is nearly a thing of my past. In fact, I’m growing immensely proud of my strong, healthy body. I’m reaping the benefits of my clean eating and exercise, instead of nullifying them with alcohol. (I’m starting to see abs, y’all.) I have more energy. I don’t need naps. My mood is more stable. I am able to better focus. Without the cloud of guilt and shame, my spirituality has been set free.

Today, I was truly struck with pride. 25 days ago I was as close to hating myself as I could possibly be. Yet, instead of hating myself, I chose to see the open window of opportunity. The universe was offering me a chance to make a change, and I took that opportunity.

And I am so proud of myself.

I have never felt this level of pride for something I have done. I suppose I wanted to share this all with you because it explains the place I’ve been in the past few weeks. It explains why I have spent so much time examining myself, my authenticity, my Truth, my Me-ness.

The Real Jenny is stepping up now, and showing herself.

That being said, I hope you all will stay this journey with me. I feel conflicted because I do not know what direction this blog will take. It will be transforming into it’s authentic self right alongside me. I worry that people won’t like what I say or write, but I am going to keep plugging along, in the hopes that my purpose will reveal itself.

What do you say Swagsters? Dive in with me?

falling off the face of the earth

Swagsters, I hope you know I haven’t left you or forgotten you!

Life has been crazy. I just ended an 11 day streak of work. The first half it was just dandy but by the last few days, I had no energy except to work, come home, eat dinner and go to bed. I was feeling so overstimulated by the noise, people and sights around me. All I wanted after work was dead silence, not to move or even open my eyes. Yesterday I didn’t even have energy for a positive attitude, and worse yet… I didn’t want to even try to be positive. It was that bad.

Today was supposed to be day 12 of work, but I gave my shift up. Yesterday showed me that body, mind and spirit… I needed a break.

So I slept in this morning and soon I’ll be headed to Pilates class. It’s going to be a total ME day. I’ve got I restore my swag levels, ya heard?

I hope you can all forgive my absence, but know that I’ll be back tomorrow with a brand new post for you!

Lots of love and a thumbs up to greet the day!

20120806-090913.jpg

photo dump: food prep

Swagsters!

….I’m tired.

It’s been a busy Wednesday so far! I am about half way into a 12 day stretch of work, so all my spare time right now is being spent keeping my home life organized. Markus had to be at work at 6 this morning, so we got up around 5:30. When I got back from dropping him off, I got back in bed for a bit, but couldn’t sleep, really, so I got up and went to have breakfast.

Initially, I had planned on going to BodyPump at 10 am, but last night my $6.49 dumbbell bargain steal was delivered by UPS! And since I just vastly prefer working out on my time rather than the gym’s schedule, I decided I would begin my home weightlifting workouts today! Today I started with back and shoulders. I did the following workout:

super sets: 3 sets, 15 reps each

I would love to tell you what I mean by “BodyPump rotator” above, but I have no idea what the real exercise is called. Hehehe. Total fail, I’m sorry… I’ll look into it and get back to you all. 🙂 I also started with a short plyometric warm up to get my body prepped. I just love weights! By the time I was finished, my shoulders were definitely burnt out.

After my workout, I put myself straight to the kitchen to start prepping all my food for the week.

Yesterday I did my grocery shopping at Whole Foods. If I calculated correctly, I shouldn’t need to restock at all this week, except for maybe bananas. I spent $53.90, a mere $3.90 more than my goal of $50. Woohoo! It was also a “heavy” grocery week, in that I needed some staples like apple cider vinegar and oats, etc, that bumped my total up. But those are things I won’t need to buy again for a while, so it’s all good!

the haul

One of the things I did this week was to buy dried chickpeas instead of canned. It is way cheaper. One bag costs about what 2 cans would, but you probably get somewhere around 4 or 5 cans worth of beans. #winning

So last night I soaked my chickpeas and this morning I cooked them while I worked out.

cook while you’re sleeping! rinse and soak your dried beans overnight.

it takes 1.5 hours to cook garbanzo beans. put ’em in the pot and leave ’em to do their thing while you do chores, homework or a workout!

I really enjoyed the process of getting these beans ready to eat. I likened it to baking bread. It’s a long process, yes, but you get to really understand how your food comes together and what goes into the bag or can of product you buy at the store. I find this very meditative as well: watching, noticing, staying aware of the state of your food. It’s beautiful.

Once my chickpeas were cooked, I decided to make a batch of hummus and Tone It Up! garbanzo patties.

mmmmhummusmmm

I used this recipe for my hummus. It’s pretty basic and quite yummy, but moving forward I will tweak it to be more my liking. (Read: more garlic! Less lemon! More tahini!)

Tone It Up! garbanzo patties from their nutrition plan!

I prepped these bad boys and then put them in the freezer. All they’ll take is a few minutes on a skillet and they’ll make a quick, delicious protein option. I did alter the recipe a bit, using almond meal instead of flax and adding curry to the flavor profile.

I used 3.5 cups of garbanzo beans between these two recipes, and I swear I still have another 2.5 cups left! I put those in the freezer as well, and will use them later this week or maybe even next week! (Can I get a woop woop for stretching that budget?!)

Next I made black bean patties, also from the Tone It Up! recipe plan. (Confession: this week I resorted to my Tone It Up! nutrition plan for lots of my meals. If you’re new to clean eating, or even if you aren’t, I highly recommend trying their plan out. They have some super awesome vegan recipes and I always consider it to be some of the best money I ever spent.)

yum!

I used my last can of black beans to make these, and a can only makes 3 patties, but that’s just fine. Next week you can bet I’ll be buying dried black beans and prepping them just like my chickpeas today!

Up next! Carrot salad is going to be a major player in my lunches this week. (This recipe, again, is from Tone It Up!… sorry if I’m alienating anyone, but these recipes are all so simple and if you really wanted something close to them, feel free to just google yourself a recipe… or buy the plan!)

carrot salad

I made several days worth of salad and that will be perfect for me as I head into the weekend at work. Such a simple and easy  lunch to take to work with me, along side a black bean or garbanzo patty!

At this point, I was famished. I was ready to actually eat some of the food I was making. So I whipped up this deliciousness:

Vegan Waldorf salad on a bed of spinach with a side of baked Japanese yam “fries.” So simple, so easy, so delicious.

I can’t even explain to you how good it felt to sit and eat. I’d been in the kitchen for over 2 hours by this point and my belly was so happy I had finally stopped tempting it with yumminess and finally gave it something to do. 🙂

And now you find me writing you this post from my side of the bed, with the blinds closed and the lights off. That can only mean one thing: it’s nap time. I have to work tonight and since I had such an early morning, I think a nap would only be wise.

Enjoy the rest of your day, Swagsters!