It turns out that planning a 40-day/40-night cross-country trip is a LOT of work! (Who knew ??!) Wendi and I seem to be spending every waking moment planning this thing, which may explain why we've missed a day or two's posts here on Pure Jeevan. But, we're gearing up for something absolutely amazing -- and it all starts next week!? So, if there is a quiet day or two this week, just keep in mind that the rawsome content is going to be absolutely insane here starting late next week and continuing through March into early April!

Today, we wanted to extend a huge thanks to Jeff and Helen Rose, owners of Natural Zing, for offering to sponsor the snack portion of Wendi and KDcat's trip. Jeff and Helen understand that, being a raw foodie, it can be a little tough to be on the road for such a long time. Sure, Wendi and KDcat will probably be snacking on a lot of fresh fruit, but it's also nice to have some packaged raw goodies as well while you're traveling. So, Wendi and KDcat will be loading up on some of their favorites -- botija olives, Love Force breads, Gopal's power wraps, some nut butters, some raw chocolates, and more. So, in thanking Natural Zing, we'll be running banners and so forth along with our content during Pure Jeevan's trip.

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 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.

Today, we'd like to take the time to introduce some raw athletes who continually inspire others. There is a huge misunderstanding about the need for protein in our bodies, especially within the world of competetive sports. Many believe that without large amounts of protein we can't be strong, we can't build muscle. Raw athletes are proving that a vegan diet not only supplies enough energy to sustain the human body during competition, it also allows them to many times outperform competitors who are half their age.

Who Would Win

Recently I've been to three potlucks in the span of four days. They've all been wonderful for different reasons -- one was a birthday party for a lovely young woman, Bethany, another was part of a women's circle that my friend, Melissa, invited me to attend, and the other was at my home as a meetup when Kevin and Annmarie Gianni were here visiting. Lots of fun, connecting with people, and raw foods to eat.

Sounds perfect, right? Well, something's been happening with me and raw foods over the past year. It became even more evident after eating at three different potlucks over four days. I've noticed more and more that when I don't eat something that I've created, I many times have reactions to the foods I've eaten. The reactions have ranged from flushed facial skin, slight headaches, hives, full-blown headaches, upset stomach, water retention, achy joints, etc. All signs of being sensitive to something I'm eating, right? I've narrowed it down to a few things, but it doesn't seem to be an exact science to knowing what's going to cause the reaction.

At home I know that I feel better if I don't consume garlic even though I love the taste and smell of it. When I eat too much of it I experience headaches and sometimes flushed cheeks. I gave up raw vinegar a long time ago because it makes my joints ache. Recently I noticed that whenever I eat Nama Shoyu I get a headache, flushed cheeks, and sometimes some hives. So, at home I can control my reactions to foods -- I simply avoid eating the things that sometimes trigger problems for me. I feel great most of the time because I eat more simply and my body doesn't experience any problems.

Jim here... Here's a compilation of vids from my little Flip camera, all taken over our weekend roadtrip to Washington, D.C. It's not all strictly raw-food related, but does include some raw tips. First up, you'll see our rawsomely packed food coolers. Between using ice and frozen fruits, everything kept cool just fine.

Early in the video, Wendi shares a handy tip for keeping your smoothies cool on the road. If you're going to drink your smoothies right away, you might have little concern for keeping a drink cold. However, we had eaten breakfast already and knew we wouldn't want to get into our smoothies for another hour or so after leaving. Frozen berries to the rescue! (Just make sure to hunt down a large glass bottle with an opening large enough to pour frozen berries into.)

The new Vitamix container arrived within two days (they knew we were hard core Vitamix users and put the container in the mail the day we ordered it to replace the broken one). So, what was the first thing we made in our shiny new container (after washing it, of course)? A DELICIOUS coconut smoothie!

"Only somebody who really takes the time to understand [Pure Jeevan's Salsa's*] potential can then coax it into its fullest expression. Then, I mean, oh its flavors, they're just the most haunting and brilliant and thrilling and subtle and ... ancient on the planet." ~ Miles Raymond in "Sideways" (2004) (*slightly modified).

Jim here... Over the weekend, I'd made a string of videos for Pure Jeevan using my handy-dandy new phone. To my great surprise, when I went to post them to YouTube, they all came out sideways! So, I'm sorry, friends... you'll have to endure (if you so choose) a somewhat disorienting video, below. But, hey, at least it reminded me of that wondrous quote from the movie Sideways! I imagine Paul Giamatti describing one of my own recent creations this way -- a sort-of half-raw, yet still very healthy delight that I like to make sometimes.

My reason for featuring a less than 100% raw recipe is two-fold. First, I'd been discussing transitioning to raw (see yesterday's post). And, adding more raw into your non-raw diet is a great way to transition. I believe that raw sauces are an excellent way to achieve this, as I'll explain in the video. Second, if you do prefer a 100% raw dish, then you can simply replace the beans with something else -- perhaps sprouted beans, or maybe your own invention from the dehydrator.

As some of you already know, along with regaining my physical health I've also been working on every other aspect of my overall health and being. I don't just want a healthy body---I want the whole package (vibrancy and bliss inside and out, in every way possible).

One area of my mental health that has been slow to heal is my self confidence. I continue to work on it in many ways and have made some tremendous progress over the past year, or so. I feel worthy of so much more than I ever did before.Many people never doubt their self worth---they have a good sense of who they are and assume that others see them as they are, as well.

Thanks to everyone who has offered, so far, to help us out with our project (mentioned in yesterday's post). If anyone else thinks they'd like to help, we're looking for as many people as possible! We'll fill you in soon, just be sure to send us your email addresses if you haven't already done so. Thanks!

Here are more pictures of some of the foods we've been eating. Over the past year, we've pretty much been eating simple foods (except for the time I was preparing meals for the Raw Food Retreat). However, recently KDcat has been doing some extreme yo-yo eating between raw foods and packaged/unhealthy cooked foods. The back and forth has been causing her to experience a bit of a tummy upset. So, I've decided to make our meals a bit more exciting for her---so she'll possibly not feel so tempted by all of the colors and artificial flavors of the packaged "foods" she's been eating.

Talk about color...check out this salad I made earlier today:

Today I'd like to do something different for Makin' It Monday. I'll tell you what we've eaten today, but I want to hear what's been happening in YOUR kitchen!

This morning I sliced up three bananas, drizzled them with some agave, sprinked a bit of Himalayan crystal salt on them, and then topped them with hemp seeds and sprouted flax seeds with cranberries and gogi berries. I love this breakfast because it feels like I'm eating something a bit complex and more filling than simply eating the bananas plain (which is how I almost always eat them). KDcat had a bowl of oatmeal (not raw), and Jim had a few pieces of fruit.

I'm pretty sure I've said this before, but I'm thankful for so many things that it could take me a very long time to list them all. Today, however, I'm focusing on how thankful I am to have loving, supportive friends in my life.

When I was a child we moved a lot (every two years, on average). I continued to move a lot even after college, when it was no longer my mother making the decisions about moving.Why am I telling you this on a Thankful Thursday ?Because all of that moving around when I was a young child partly shaped the way I made friends.