Driving to work today, we noticed that McDonald's has launched its latest product aimed at the health-conscious demographic. In case you haven't heard, you can now purchase fruit smoothies at Mickey D's! Sounds like real progress, right? Well, let's take a closer look and see if they're really as healthy as they sound.

McDonald's is not exactly known as a healthfood destination. After all, a typical lunch at the Golden Arches these days might well include something like an Angus Bacon & Cheese, Large Fries, and a Large Coke. ?Together, that's 1,600 calories, 64 grams of fat, and 2,400 mg of sodium, 99% of which is from highly cooked, highly processed, non-organic, factory-farmed, nutrition-barren source materials . (Add on another 75 calories and 550 more mg of sodium if you plan to go through, say, five packets of ketchup along with those fries.) (Source) And, some people eat that daily!

Today we're running another installment of our "Thankful Thursday" series. This time, we're especially thankful ... for YOU, the Pure Jeevan family! Who'd have thought, less than two years ago when launching this blog, that we'd make thousands of connections with others looking for inspiration on their raw food journey !!? It's simply astounding -- and we're still actually "just getting started."

As always, we're thrilled to provide information and inspiration. It's counter-intuitive, when you really consider it; "raw foods" may be just two simple words, yet there always seems to be more and more to talk about, more people to interview, more success stories to highlight, more recipes to contribute, more tips and tricks to share, more personal reflections to offer.

Do you need to be 100% raw to release excess weight and regain your health There's no difinitive answer for that question because we are all unique. Sure, our bodies function pretty much the same way, but there are still enough differences that make it difficult to answer a question like that for it to be true for every single individual.

Most of us have heard of, or know, someone who doesn't eat a healthy diet, who smokes cigarettes and/or drinks alcohol, doesn't get enough rest, and also lives a stressful life---yet that person still has a healthy body and is over 80 years old. People like that seem to have resiliency built into their genes. Sure, who knows how long a person with such resilient genes could live or how vibrant a life that person could enjoy with a healtheir lifestyle. But, the fact remains that it seems no matter what a person's lifestyle is like, if you are born with resilient genes you are pretty much invincible to most illnesses.

A majority of the population isn't born with such impressively hardy genes, however. Most bodies can withstand the stresses of an unhealthy lifestyle until middle age. At that point, however, the body begins to show signs of ill health (excess weight gain, aches and pains, and the start of many diseases such as diabetes or high blood pressure). For a majority of those individuals, some healthy lifestyle changes can make a huge difference. Many individuals regain their health simply by changing their diets to include less fat and more vegetables, and by increasing their amount of exercise. Sure, it's a bit of work to make such changes, but if many people are committed to improving their health those simple changes can make a drastic difference in their lives.

Jim here... Conventional wisdom says we shouldn't judge a book by its cover, right? Well, what about recipes? Should we judge them by their names?

When KDcat was young -- well before we followed a raw diet -- her friends sometimes scoffed at our typical vegan fare. After all, few kids would voluntarily eat "Pasta with Spinach Sauce."? But, we discovered, change the name and suddenly they're lining up for seconds. Instead of "Spinach Sauce," Wendi came up with "Jungle Sauce"! How exciting, right?

Jim here... As you may have noticed, Pure Jeevan was offline for the past week. I wish this absence had been for some pleasant reason that I could now write about. But, in truth, it was because my mother passed away last Thursday afternoon. It's not easy to write about so soon afterward; we're all painfully unprepared to describe my mother using the past tense. Her passing still just doesn't seem real to me or to anyone who knew her.She was without a doubt a remarkably beautiful, happy, and loving person who, for 65+ years, really made a difference in a lot of people's lives.

Beyond her ties to Wendi, KDcat, and me, she was also known to some Pure Jeevan family members as well as others in the raw food community. She appeared here just a few months ago to share a raw hummus recipe. And, I know she had visited and/or joined a few other raw foods sites during the past two years. She really did have an interest in it, and always loved her veggies and a good salad. In fact, she was one of those people who actually ate fairly healthfully, relatively speaking, yet still faced serious health challenges.

Jim here with another exciting edition of Weird Wednesday. You know, each time I say "weird," I don't always mean the same thing. Sometimes "weird" means odd or strange. Other times it means funny or ironic. It might also mean unusual or out-of-the-ordinary. Come to think of it, the definition of weird is also weird.

Today, I was thinking about an old friend, Jim Banholzer. He lived next door to Wendi and me when we first moved to the D.C. area in 1991. We all lived in a small "garden apartment" complex in Falls Church, Virginia. Our roommate at the time worked as a leasing agent there, which qualified us for a decent rental discount. I think we paid $800 or so for the place, an upscale 2-bedroom townhome close to the community pool. Jim lived next door with one of the more unstable people I've ever met (and, trust me, that's saying something).

Just a quick post on what may or may not be considered "weird" for our inaugural "Weird Wednesday" post. According to a few web sites I checked, around 3% of the population (and I'm assuming this means U.S. population) is vegetarian. It looks like maybe 1% (possibly a little more) is vegan. Of every 100 vegans, how many do you suppose are raw foodists? (Actually, I'm asking; I didn't find any solid answer to that.) Maybe 1 of every 100 vegans? What do you think?

Here's a painfully unscientific, yet still slightly educated guess:

Here's part two of Wendi's travelogue from Sedona:

After leaving ChocolaTree Cafe, and interviewing the lovely Kelly, we went to the famous Sedona Airport vortex spot, but there was no parking, so we drove to the top of the rock/mountain and there was a farmer's market going on. We took a quick video of what was happening up there, to share on the blog. There was a cool musician playing: Vighas Kendzia, who plays piano, native flutes, sax, and more. He's from musicfromthegarden.com and I told him he'd be on our site. So, if you made it here to check out the video, welcome, Vighas! :-)


From there, we headed out to find a vortex spot that Kelly described. I'm not sure if we found the exact spot, but we really enjoyed the place we found. We ate our lunch there and it was DELICIOUS! The water, the trees, the large boulders, the fresh air...it was a very special place. We then drove to one of the more well-known hiking/vortex spots: Bell Rock.The hike in is a bit over a mile, then there is the climbing (which isn't really recommended by the park officials, but it's absolutely necessary to fully experience Sedona!). I gave KDcat some space to explore the area a bit on her own, as this was a very special time for me a few years ago. There is a certain energy and cleansing that happens when visiting Sedona. If any of you are going through changes in your lives, or feel like there is a shift that needs to happen, I highly recommend visiting Sedona for a few days. KDcat felt some powerful personal healing, which didn't surprise me at all. It's a place I'd love to visit every few years, or so, as it definitely holds some sort of healing energy. Maybe it's just the views, or the peacefulness of being away from everything. Whatever it is, I highly recommend visiting Sedona and climbing around on the rocks!



Some of you know about my love of Sedona, AZ, especially those who were following the Pure Jeevan blog a few years ago. It was a visit to Sedona in 2008, for a Raw Spirit Festival, that my life dramatically changed once again. This time it wasn't the food that was healing me, but it was related to the raw food lifestyle. I felt healed on many levels while there in Sedona, surrounded by the beautiful red rocks, cool and sandy earth beneath my bare feet in contrast to the warm sun on my skin, and embraced by a vibrant, loving community of like-minded individuals.
There's a certain magic to Sedona, if you believe in such things (well, I suppose it's there even if you don't believe). ;-) ?For me, I believe that we can many times find scientific reasons to explain much of the magic in this beautiful world, but that doesn't have to diminsh the experiences we have. Sedona is known for its powerful vortex energy, which has a way of stirring up our own energy systems and bringing about healing, balance, awakenings, etc. ?Is this energy measurable through science, or is it more metaphysical in nature? I don't know and to be honest, it doesn't matter to me. There were life-altering changes that took place while I was in Sedona in 2008 which rippled out beyond me and touched the lives of those very close to me, as well.

Here's a quick video of a Sedona Farmer's Market and a clip of KDcat and I at an area we claimed to be flowing with vortex energy, even though it wasn't necessarily one of the more touristy vortex destinations.

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!

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).

It's Friday already! Today marks a whole week of exploring just a little bit of the All Raw Directory. We hope you've enjoyed the exploration so far, and also that you're inspired not only to use the A.R.D., but to contribute to it as well -- adding not only your own links, but any other raw foods links you think others would enjoy. The mission, after all, is to gather and maintain a current, comprehensive, community-run, categorized, searchable, 100% free-to-use resource guide to every single raw and living foods link in existence.

To accomplish this goal, the A.R.D. launched with 20 main categories, arranged alphabetically from Blogs to Vlogs. Of the 20 categories, 19 are rather straightforward (blogs, books, equipment, etc.). But one stands out as special: