This Thursday I want to give a special "Thank You" to Kevin Gianni. He was on my list for a Take the Time Tuesday introduction, but I didn't want to wait until then to tell you about him. I've been following Kevin's work on the Internet since he hosted The Raw Food World Summit last year. You can tell when you hear him speak that he's a genuinely nice, intelligent, caring person. He's honestly listening to what people are saying, trying to absorb the plethora of health information that's available. He asks a lot of interesting questions, too. He then takes what he has learned, condenses it, and shares the knowledge with the rest of the world. He does all of the hard work for us! For this, I wanted to give a special thanks to him.

Today we talk about ways to lessen one's chances of developing dementia, aside from dietary changes. Other than eliminating foods from our diet that may hinder brain function, or adding foods that enhance brain function, what can we do to keep our minds sharp as we age?

The first action step you can take to keep your mind healthy is to physically exercise the rest of the body. By keeping our limbs and muscles active, we are not only enhancing the flow of oxygen throughout our bodies, we're continually working our brains, as well. Every move you make requires a message from your brain to be sent to your muscles. So, the more you move, the more you're exercising that part of your brain.

Continuing on, today, with Wendi's San Francisco travelogue:

While on our walk, Pete pointed out that in the building on our right there are some amazing kale chips being produced. Kale chips ! I asked if he was referring to raw food kale chips and he nodded. Of course, I had to investigate and find out who was producing them and possibly meet the person. Well, what a treat we were in for!

One of the workers directed us to an office nearby where we met a lovely woman named Blessing. It turns out, Blessing is the producer of the kale chips we received from our Official Snack Sponsor during our tour, Natural Zing. Not only does Blessing produce some of the most popular kale chips in the raw community, her company is also the manufacturer of the famously delicious "Raweo" cookies (which you can find on Natural Zing's site)!

We just returned from the East End Food Co-op, where we answered raw food questions for two hours. We were still answering questions on our way out the door, and would have stayed longer but the place was closing. ;-) So, if anyone from this evening stops by our site and you still have questions, just comment here (or send me an email) and I'll be happy to answer them.

I'm more of a one-on-one kind of person, so I was a bit nervous about sitting in front of everyone to answer questions. Jim and KDcat were there to help me, of course, otherwise I probably wouldn't have been there at all. Once people started arriving, I was comfortable. The first people who entered the room were super sweet and I could tell they were genuinely nice people. Then little by little the room filled up, and I was surprisingly comfortable.Maybe in addition to all of the other positive changes in my life, my self confidence is getting better, too!

Hey there, everyone! Thanks for visiting Pure Jeevan. We want our welcome article, for now, to be this article on Vitamix blenders. There are certainly a few essential elements (e.g. good knives, cutting boards, a good food processor, etc.) to any raw food kitchen, and one of them is an awesome high-speed blender. Yes, there are many great blenders in the world, and yes there are a few decent top-of-the-line models on par with Vita-Mix. But, at the end of the day, our recommendation is the Vita-Mix (and yes, it's better than Blendtec, in our view). Here's a crazy video Jim did a while back for a Vitamix contest:

Note: That "free shipping" code, below, is no longer active. We'll let you know when we get a new free shipping code. For now, we hope you enjoy the video. :-)

We purchased ours 15+ years ago, and have subjected it to at least daily use (if not many times per day most of the time!) -- and it's still going strong. If you don't understand why a Vita-Mix is different from even a high-end blender from a department store, it's basically the sheer power. These things can pulverize pretty much anything -- time after time, without blowing out the motor. For example, you can make ultra-thick, healthy, raw ice creams day after day all summer long, and the machine will keep on working for years (and, in our case, we're almost ready to say "decades").

We used to be an affiliate w/ them, and are reapplying to be one. For now, we hope you like the video, above.

Here's a picture I took at Portland's Saturday Market last week. We've been pleasantly surprised to find that artichokes grow rather well here in the Pacific Northwest. We don't recall seeing them much back East, but many of our neighbors grow them (both for the artichokes and, I suspect, as ornamental plants).

I suspect that some raw foodists tend to overlook artichokes because they're so traditionally linked with the image of something steamed, stuffed with breadcrumbs, and drizzled in butter -- so, "cooked," "breaded," and "dairy" all together in one recipe! Being half Italian, I grew up eating them this way. My mother almost never said "artichoke"; she always called them an Italian word that sounded like "ga-GO-che-lee." ?She made them just a few times per year, and they were always a huge treat (and we'd often fight over the hearts -- by far the best part!).

Within the raw food community, a controversy seems to have been brewing for the better part of a year! The topic: Agave nectar (also called agave syrup). Surely by now most people know what agave nectar is. For anyone who doesn't, it's a thick liquid sweetener made from, you guessed it, the agave plant.

In general, the production of tasty agave nectar involves heating the plant to a certain temperature (which varies widely according to which manufacturer is making it and which species of agave is used). The extent of this heating constitutes a significant part of the controversy (as most raw foodists believe that heating any food over a certain temperature, usually somewhere between 105 and 118 degrees fahrenheit, renders it "dead").

Wow, what a stressful weekend! We spent pretty much the entire past two days going through the dozens and dozens of suggestions we received in response to our July 30 post concerning our move (in which we asked for help in finding the perfect new place to live). We listed every city suggested to us, as well as a number of cities we specifically wanted to consider. Then we attempted to gather data from the Internet to rank these cities. Here's a HUGE snapshot to show our progress. (I'll explain a few things below.)

As you can see, we ranked each city according to many criteria. These included the number of sunny days per year, average high and low temperatures, air quality (higher #s better), water quality (higher #s better), Superfund statistics (an indication of the general toxicity of an area -- higher #s better), land prices, crime rate (the numbers "x / x" indicating scores from 1 to 10, lower #s being better, for "personal" crimes and "property" crimes), and finally a "liberal / conservative" ratio based on voting records for that town.

We may never fully comprehend the mysteries of life and death. One thing is for certain, however, with both we experience tremendous amounts of emotion.

At this moment, we are experiencing extreme sorrow after the still birth of our niece, Elizabeth Marie. She was named after my mother who died a few years ago. During this period of tremendous grief, we will be spending time with my dear sister and her family, offering our love and support.

Here's a fun story, with a fun, inspirational, and at least partially dietary conclusion. As I mentioned yesterday, Wendi is in Portland this week. Can you guess what she's doing there? ... She's attending a very important event -- something that merited getting on an airplane with almost no notice (and, wow, are those last-minute airfares pricey!). Still not sure? That's okay; I'll let the cat out of the bag: We found a new home!!

We've been talking about moving to the west coast for literally years now, so it's about time, right? ?In recent times, we've really begun taking action on things in a much more profound and immediate way than ever, and it's been working out amazingly well. This home purchase was just the latest instance of it. We basically saw an opportunity and immediately went for it, without hesitation, and before we knew it we were sending paperwork back and forth across the internet to our realtor.

Short post today... We're currently dealing w with a pesky kitchen drain issue that's wreaking havoc in our household. Fortunately, a very talented and power-tool-weilding local plumber just fixed the problem. In the process, he seems to have applied those power tools to our bank account -- $175 for less than one hour's work!? (Ouch!) And the kicker is that the current state of our kitchen is "absolutely atrocious."? I'm serious... we're at like DefCon 5 in terms of the disastrous nature of that room -- and as you well know, for a raw household, that's probably 10 times more frustrating than it is for others. (I smell a whole post coming soon on this topic ...)

Today, we mainly just wanted to say that, at the end of our post yesterday, we briefly asked what you would like to see more of here at Pure Jeevan. We have received some great comments and emails in return, and have decided to devote tomorrow's post to responding to / addressing some of the suggestions we received. So, if you have any further thoughts to share about raw foods content you'd like to see more or less of, please let us know either by commenting below, or by email. Wendi is at WendiDee [at] Pure Jeevan.com. Jim is at Rawdiant [at] gmail.com.