Quick note: Jim here... So strikingly pervasive is the "winter blues of 2010" that I suspect many of my friends will think this is about them. But, it's just some thoughts, really -- not in response to anything or anyone in particular. (In fact, if anything, it's in response to something related to our dog, which we'll no doubt write about at some point.)

I sense that there is a useful blog post on the topic of "raw during tough times." However, after pondering the topic at length, I'm just not exactly sure what to say about it. I do know that quite a lot of people come to feel disappointed in themselves for straying from the healthiest path. It's a story I've read over and over on raw web sites and blogs, perhaps more frequently in the winter. It starts out the same: Someone goes raw, gets all fired up about it, and soon starts feeling youthful and vibrant again. The high lasts for a while, but then ... something happens. They slip back to cooked foods -- or worse, to junk foods. Sometimes the process repeats itself for years.

(Note: This is a closely-related piece to an earlier post ?entitled "Practice Is Your Key to Going Raw." I'll include a link to that article, below.* This one focuses more on recognizing your current level of progress.)

These days, I spend most of my free time cleaning up our fixer-upper home in Portland, so I haven't been going to the gym or regularly running as I had in the past. ?Hopefully, the house work is sufficient physical activity for me -- it sure does generate an appetite most days!

Many times we are asked about our grocery bill---how much do we spend each month on eating a raw, vegan diet? It's not something that's easy to answer, though. If we just blurted the amount out, people would be shocked (at a minimum) and insist that there's no way possible they could ever eat a raw diet because they can't afford it.

Our monthly expense at the grocery store has continued to climb since I first began eating raw foods. At this point, now that Jim is eating 100% raw, as well, our monthly expense has more than doubled from the time when it was only me eating 100%. That's a huge increase in money being spent each month. But, you know what? It's okay! Yes, I said it's okay that our expense has more than doubled and I'll tell you why after you take a look at what we purchased last week for our home.

Jim here... When you consider the agricultural and marketplace practices that affect the food we eat (e.g., pesticide use in the fields, widespread irradiation afterward, and the contamination of produce from various sources -- not to mention some of the disturbing potentialities we face in terms of further governmental intervention into the food chain), it leads one to the conclusion that, if we really want to eat the best food ever, growing it yourself is a great solution. It's also cheaper to grow your own and, in my opinion, more fulfilling than purchasing it (if you have the time and space to manage it, that is).

With all of these concerns (and more) in mind, we've launched a new series of interviews called "Know the Growers" in which I'll be interviewing organic farmers around the world on best practices in the field. Initially, we'll be publishing them every few weeks, most likely. Once we sell our home and are "full-time Pure Jeevan karma yogis," we'll be publishing them weekly (along with resuming our daily video series Know Your Food). I'll be publishing these organic farming interview transcripts on NaturalNews.com under their Citizen Journalist program.

Since our child was exposed to a large variety of vegetables and fruits at a young age, she has always enjoyed consuming them in myriad ways. When children's exposure to fruits and veggies has been limited, however, they don't always like consuming things that are so different from what they've grown accustomed to eating (and this many times carries into adulthood).

It's vital that children be exposed to a variety of foods, as often as possible, while growing up. For the vast majority of children, however, that has not been the case. Packaged, processed, and fast foods are a standard part of our society; we don't think twice about serving such foods to our children. Everyone is doing it, it's affordable and convenient, and they like it!

Today we welcome Leela Mata from the Peaceful Valley Ashram (www.LeelaMata.com) for another episode of Pure Jeevan's Makin' It Monday "Guest Raw Chef" edition. In this episode, Leela demonstrates how to make a delicious summertime chutney.

Since Marigolds are seasonal, and likely available only in certain areas, please consider them optional. Perhaps substitute another edible flower of your choice (and let us know if you do!). Aside from making this tasty recipe (which we later enjoyed on a salad), Leela also makes some important points about intuitive eating and intuitive recipe creation. Here's the vid:

When we found out that there was a raw foods restaurant in Key West, we knew we'd visit for sure. So, after a wonderful lunch of some of their raw staples (raw tacos and peanut noodles), it was no surprise to us that we found ourselves drifting back toward Help Yourself after the sunset celebration at Mallory Square (the main nightly Key West sunset viewing celebration). When we arrived, we asked to interview the owner, Charlie Wilson. She'd just left after working a very long day at the restaurant. But, an emplyee called her anyway and she graciously agreed to come talk with us! So, here's a bit of that conversation:

To keep all of you inspired while we are away, we've asked some

remarkable individuals to share their raw food stories with you. Enjoy!

Jim here... About an hour ago, I purchased $68 worth of ice cream from a local supermarket. Bet you thought you'd never read something like that here, eh ? Well, don't worry -- Wendi and I haven't suddenly decided to binge on dairy products. You see, in my corporate job, I'm often the event organizer; today that meant ice cream gopher.

For some raw foodies, that scenario might seem rather cruel. You may be thinking: Isn't it tough to have to go purchase nine tubs of ice cream, two jars of maraschino cherries, two bags of marshmallows, four containers of flavored syrups, two cans of whipped cream, and numerous boxes of waffle cones ? No, it's not cruel at all. To me, it's now the same as running out for, say, office supplies.

As we mentioned in one of our first blog posts, Pure Jeevan met with Leela Mata at her Peaceful Valley Ashram to discuss the details for some 3-day Raw Food Spiritual Retreats for you during 2008! The details are finalized and we are proud to announce our first 3-Day Raw Food Spiritual Retreat, that will be held at the ashram from May 23-25, 2008. We've set this retreat up so that it's as affordable as possible. There's a significant savings if you sign up early, so be sure to check it out!

Some very special companies have delicious treats for those attending the retreat.

Here's a basic recipe that can be used to create any nut milk!

Nut Milk

1 cup of nuts or seeds?