As I write this, Wendi and KDcat have been en route to Portland for 39+ hours so far (including a long layover in Chicago)! Looks like they still have another 22 or so hours to go. What a monumental trip, eh ! Cross-country travel by rail really gives you a better appreciation for the distance, as compared with air travel or even highway travel. Imagine what it must have been like in the covered-wagon days!

So far, reports from the train have been not so wonderful. KDcat seems to be having a good time roaming around socializing. But, Wendi's experiencing some major motion sickness. Oddly, we never anticipated this problem -- which is incredible, as we spent more than a month planning this trip! But, it just goes to show you that you cannot anticipate everything in life!

Here's a letter from Wendi to the Pure Jeevan family. I prettied it up a little with some color and graphics. -Jim

Hi there, lovely Pure Jeevan family! I'll be away from the computer for a month, working on some deep healing. It's time to go within and really hear what my body and spirit are saying.

If you've been following us for some time, you'll know that we are continually working on projects that will either serve our raw food community or educate others about the health benefits of a raw food lifestyle. If you are new here, or just getting to know us, you can read a summary of what we accomplished last year and a summary of the projects we're currently working on. We're serious about our goal to inspire others to learn about and embrace the raw food lifestyle and community. I've always been someone who helps others, who senses in what direction they are headed and then offers inspiration to keep them moving. I love the work we do as Pure Jeevan and it is extremely rewarding to receive so much gratitude from many of you. But, guess what? Sometimes I get tired!

Sure, some of you may be saying, "But, wait! People who eat raw foods are supposed to be power houses of energy -- able to continually keep active and never run out of steam." Well, that is very true. So, I take it back. I'm not really "tired" like I said -- my body is able to wake up in the morning, easily fall asleep in the evening, and go about its daily work without feeling like it's run down.However, I am feeling like I need a rest from all that I've been doing. Maybe I don't need to sleep hours and hours, because my body isn't truly tired. None of my being is truly tired -- my body, mind, spirit, and emotions are feeling great, actually.

However, I still feel like I need a break from my routine. On top of that, I've been feeling uncomfortable in the cold weather even more this year than I did last year. It hurts all the way down, deep inside my bones. I feel like it will take a lifetime to thaw from the cold I've been feeling here in Pittsburgh. The sun rarely shines, and the snow and ice are brutal on someone eating only raw foods. My instincts told me two years ago that it was time to move to a warmer, sunnier climate, but that hasn't happened yet (even though we are patiently working on it, as Jim pointed out in an earlier post).

Here it is, the new year. I've never been excited about the end of one year and the beginning of the next, but this time it's different.So many things have changed in our lives here at Pure Jeevan, bringing us to this point in time--a time that we are ready for and fully embrace. This year is going to be RAWmazing!

Many plans and projects have been started over the past few years, and this is the year that will see many of them fully blossom. The beauty of these projects is that they are about so much more than just us, or just you, our lovely readers. Our mission is to help as many people as possible to wake up from a life that's only partially being lived.We believe there are many tools that can be used to fully wake up and embrace life; one of them is eating a raw food diet. We raw foodists know that there is a lot more to life than what we've been taught to believe and expect, and many of us are helping others learn this beautiful fact. We are shaking up many of the core beliefs on which most of us have based our lives. I strongly believe that many of us in the raw food movement can say: We Are The Ones! We are the ones who are here to make positive changes, to help others fully embrace life, and to have fun, fun, fun! Why waste even one more day of your precious life doing something you don't enjoy doing? It's time to have fun, to feel the love that exists within and all around us, and to help others experience the same! So, are you in ?Do you want to join us on this grand adventure of creating a blissful life for not only ourselves, but for the rest of the world, as well?

This is my version of a beanless hummus. One of my close friends adores the taste of Israeli Hummus and she thinks this tastes just like it. So, try it for yourself and let me know! Jim will eat this if he doesn't see me using the zucchini (he doesn't like the idea of eating zucchini for some reason). :-P

Hummus

3 cups of zucchini (peeled and chopped)

Since Pure Jeevan specializes in raw food weight loss, we receive a lot of questions about what is required in order to lose excess weight. Many individuals want to know if they need to go on a 100% raw food diet in order to release excess weight.

The answer is, "No, you do not need to switch to a 100% raw food diet in order to lose weight." If you're asking if a 100% raw food diet works better for losing weight than slowly transitioning and increasing your raw food intake, the answer is still, "No."

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:

Those consuming a raw food diet sometimes use a dehydrator to prepare raw food dishes. They do this at low temperatures, below the point of actually cooking the foods, to intensify flavors, reduce the amount of moisture in the dish, and sometimes to take the chill off something they'd rather serve a bit warmer than straight out of the refrigerator. There is a practice that we've seen, however, that is actually cooking the very foods were taking such great measures to consume raw! Let me share an experience I had when I first started eating raw foods, that will help explain how some of us may be cooking our foods by mistake.

In the beginning of eating raw foods, my entire family loved the Vegetable Stir-Dont-Fry I used to make (you can find that recipe in the free eBook you downloaded when you first visited our site). One day I created a double recipe so we could eat more the next day, without going through the process of preparing it again fresh. The following day I took the bowl of Stir-Dont-Fry out of the refrigerator and put it into the dehydrator to take the chill off. It wasn't warming up fast enough on such a low temperature, so I thought I'd just cover the dish a little bit to trap in some of the heat that seemed to leave each time I checked the dish and stirred it around. So, I took a plate and placed it on top of the bowl with about an inch, or two, opening.

We now have two more raw food snack companies sharing some of their goodies for the retreat gift baskets! A special thank you go out to:

As promised, here is the picture again of the Mexican meal I created the other day. It will be served at the upcoming 3-Day Raw Food Spiritual Ashram Retreat (only a few spaces left!). Since many of our readers can't make it to the retreat, I said I'd post some of the recipes here in the blog. I hope some of you will try to create the recipes and let me know what you think!

Continuing with our week of ways to keep a sharp mind, let's focus on the one widely accepted indicator for dementia or alzheimer's: heart disease. If one wants to dramatically reduce the chances of brain degredation, the first step to take is keeping the heart healthy.

The key advice most health specialists agree on when it comes to a healthy heart is the reduction (ideally eliminatain) of unhealthy fats in the diet. The unhealthy fats are usually seen as solid fats, like butter, margerine, and shortening. However, it's important to not overlook the fats that are also found in meats. By substituting unhealthy fats with something healthier for your heart (like extra virgin, cold-pressed olive oil), as well as transitioning to leaner meats if you are a meat eater, you will be taking some important steps in keeping your heart healthy, as well as your mind.