After our Oklahoma stop, we had back-to-back visits with family. During our 40-day tour, we had a great time at every place we stayed. There's something extra special about being with family, however. KDcat especially loved this part of the trip, where she could stay up late and sleep in every morning.

Our first stop was St. Louis, Missouri, to see Grandma and Grandpa Dee, and Aunt Jeanne. We did some shopping at Whole Foods, bought lots of organic produce, and prepared some raw dishes to share with everyone. We purchased a young coconut and KDcat used Grandpa's hatchet to show everyone how to open a young coconut. Jim's mother learned to make raw hummus, without chickpeas, and even agreed to be a guest chef for a Makin' It Monday raw food recipe video! So, we'll be sharing that with all of you in the near future! Aunt Jeanne loved the hummus, as well as the raw tacos we created. She seems to have a liking for raw foods, so who knows...you may be seeing another Dee online sharing info about raw foods in the future ! Grandpa is always a fan of apple pies, so he thoroughly enjoyed the pie we created during our visit. Grandpa and KDcat also spent some time talking about music, a passion for both of them.

Our second stop was Geneseo, Illinois, to visit with Aunt Cindy, Uncle Ray (who had to work during our visit), and cousin Destiny. KDcat and Destiny don't see each other very often, so this was a real treat. Destiny's a sweet girl who became a vegetarian over a year ago (she's the only vegetarian in her home)! That's a huge thing to do when you're just a young teenager and we're proud of her for taking her health into her own hands (and for saving the animals!). We took a lot of pictures while visiting. In the photoset, you'll see that somehow a monkey crawled onto KDcat's back and hung around with her most of one day (in which she was dressed up in quite the outfit!). That monkey found its way into all kinds of interesting places (in a park, playing on the slide, swing, etc., and even in the house playing the piano -- and I caught him trying to steal some of my bananas!). The weather was beautiful during our visit, so we spent a lot of time outside, walking and enjoying the beautiful time together. At this stop we created a raw apple crumble, which Aunt Cindy later modified with blueberries. We're gently nudging her to make a video of the recipe she created, so we can all see how it's made! It sounded delicious.

Over the next few months and the coming year, you'll be witnessing the continued growth of Wendi Dee and Pure Jeevan in ways you might not ever have imagined! So, stay connected and let us know your thoughts about the changes that are (and will be!) taking place. We're not here for ourselves, we're here for all of you and for those who don't know about us (yet!). We have a mission: to share our stories and inspire others to fully embrace their lives and be all that they could ever desire (including healthy, happy, and vibrant)!

This is a long post, even though I tried to keep it brief. It's mostly a personal entry, but I wanted to share things so that you know a bit about what's going on with me and Pure Jeevan, now and in the near future. I'll break it up a bit with some more photos from Raw Spirit, the most therapeutic and life-changing event of my life.

======Wendi Dee's Growth======

We began this series with one possible psychological explanation of obesity, moved on to a possible philosophical explanation, and will now cover one that could be both of those, or could find classification within the emotional and/or spiritual realms. ?Wendi has often told me of hearing Dr. Gabriel Cousens speak in Sedona, Arizona, a few years ago. One remark in particular stuck with her. This may be a slight paraphrase, but Dr. Cousens said:

"There's never enough food to feed a hungry soul."

As we all know, physical hunger happens when our bodies need food -- when our stomachs are literally empty and aching for fuel to sustain our life. But, what about non-physical types of "emptiness"? Surely, we experience a kind of hunger in these cases as well.

Jim here... It's not often that we're able to recommend a movie that's perfectly relevant to the raw food lifestyle. But, if you're a raw vegan and haven't seen The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, we highly recommend this film. Not only is it wonderful, but it's also, for much of the film, a nice metaphor for living the raw foods lifestyle.

I thought I'd put another fun week together here at Pure Jeevan while Wendi is away (although, actually, ALL of our weeks are fun-filled here!). This week, I thought I'd discuss herbs, spices, and essential oils. Of course, I can't cover those enormously important (and huge) subjects in-depth over the course of just one week, so I created that little banner (above) so that we can re-use it from time to time.

Herbs are fascinating, aren't they? Sometimes, you don't even consciously know why you use the ones you do but, invariably, there's a reason. Sure, sometimes recipes call for a specific flavor. But, often, there are other reasons as well -- such as to support digestion, or to provide a warming or cooling sensaiton. This type of thing is critical in ayurvedic principles, as we touched on recently on this blog, where the spices could be present for digestive or medicinal purposes, or of course as a preservative.

Jim here... Yesterday, we talked about exceptions -- those non-raw food items that raw foodists sometimes allow themselves to eat. I listed mine, and a number of people here and on Facebook noted some of their own. (Seems a lot of us enjoy olives, by the way!) It struck me today that a natural follow-up to a list of exceptions would be a list of non-exceptions -- basically a list of things I personally never ever ever ever consume.

This makes sense, right? I suppose all people generally have three basic lists: (1) those things we eat regularly, (2) those things we eat sometimes, and (3) those things we never eat. Hopefully, none of us keep these lists etched in stone, as diets are dynamic things that tend to evolve over time. A few of the items I'll list below may only apply to my current practices, while others (like refined sugar) I hope to permanently exclude. So, let's see:

Persimmons are a tad unusual, aren't they? Perhaps they're simply uncommon. After all, few major grocers carry them regularly (at least, not in our area). But, occasionally, they crop up as a specialty, limited-quantity offering. That's more or less how we obtained some recently. Wendi *loves* them, so we quickly snatched up a few at our local co-op last week. Here's the vid (below). Note the strange lack of a video still image. I'm not sure if it's a YouTube glitch, or if I made some sort of error in rendering. But, the video works just fine, so you'll just have to take a small leap of faith here and click that play btton! [UPDATE: Nevermind, YouTube fixed it.]

Thanks again to Bethany Hagensen and Janet McKee for being our special guests for this episode. Once again, the link to their documentary, "Bethany's Story," is www.BethanysStory.com.

Getting Lyme Disease after regaining my health on the raw foods diet was a tough thing to accept. How could a body cure itself with a raw food diet, yet then fail to even recognize and destroy the Lyme bacteria? So many individuals have recovered from awful diseases, including cancer, by eating a raw food diet. Why, as a raw foodist, has my body been unable to easily eliminate this lyme disease?

I know Jim and I weren't the only ones wondering this. Many of you have voiced concerns, as well. Questions have been asked about how healthy my raw diet has actually been. Have I been cheating and eating cooked foods? Have I been eating too many packaged raw food snacks? Am I drinking alcohol? What have I been doing *wrong* with my diet in order for this to happen in my body? Here are some answers:

Jim here... Since we posted Wendi's two-part series on pasta-making techniques (part 1, part 2) last week, I thought I'd follow up with an additional novel use for the spiralizer -- super-delicious, blazingly fast, ultra-low-fat sweet potato chips! We've done some really great things with sweet potatoes before. (Anyone signed up as a member of the Pure Jeevan family has likely already received our prized sweet potato pancake recipe.) But, these chips are amazing because they satisfy that unmistakable urge for crunchy, healthy snacks -- and in record time. Friends, if you have a dehydrator and sweet potato on hand, you could literally be enjoying these things in under three hours. So let's get going!

As Wendi demonstrated in the videos last week, you can easily make "rounds" using the spiralizer by simply making a vertical slice throughout your vegetable prior to placing it on the spiralizer. So, if we were looking down at the sweet potato, the cut (which goes all the way down the length of the vegetable) would look like this:

Wow, I just took a gander at the "Best of Raw" web site and saw that Pure Jeevan is nominated for all sorts of great things -- singling out Wendi, me, Pure Jeevan, this blog, and the All Raw Directory over at least eight different categories!

We really appreciate the nominations, so thanks so much to those who took the time to do that. We'd love it if you would vote for us for "Favorite Raw Blog." (You can do that now by going here.) Of all the things we were nominated for, that's probably the one we've really put the most effort into.