Welcome to Day One of "Dressings Week" here on Pure Jeevan. After finding out that KDcat took it upon herself to film a segment of "Makin' It Monday, Guest Raw Chef Edition," I decided that we should probably spend an entire *week* focusing on salad dressings.

Okay, my Raw Fu 100 Day Challenge is set!

I'm going to transition to the 80/10/10 version of raw. I'm doing it gradually, however. For the first 10 days, I'm eating no fats before dinner. Then with dinner, I'll eat as much fat as I desire, but I will be conscious of how much of it I'm consuming. For the second 10 days, I'm going to continue the same as the first week, but I'm going to reduce my fat in the evening to half of what I normally would eat. I haven't made set plans for the final sets of ten days, but I want to be following 80/10/10 by the beginning of the final week.

Why 80/10/10? Because when I read about it, and I talk with others who follow it, it seems to make sense and work for others. After almost two years of raw foods, I am doing great with 90 pounds left behind, but I've been stuck at a weight that isn't really my ideal (I'm currently 137 pounds and I'm only 5'4"). I'm happy with myself, but my goal is to be as healthy and vibrant as I can be, to live a very long, fulfilling, energetic life.

Here's an impromptu interview with Matt Miller, the gourmet raw foods chef from Maggie's Mercantile, a vegan/raw restaurant in Pittsburgh, PA. We met Matt @ a recent Raw Foods Meetup here in Pittsburgh. In the video, we discuss Matt's famously addictive raw blue corn chips -- deemed by yours truly as the "holy grail" of raw foods. Below, I'll go over the ingredients, etc.

Happy Summer Solstice!

Well, it's officially summer here! This time of the year is extra special to us now that we're healthier. Not only is there an abundance of fresh, local organics to eat, but the sun also shows itself to us a lot more (Pittsbugh is ranked as one of the places experiencing the least amount of sunshine per year). The sun actually used to make me feel physically ill (I wrote a bit about that in an earlier post), but ever since I've switched to a raw vegan diet I find myself drawn to the healing sunshine.

Before switching to a raw lifestyle, we used to go on a lot of outings (picnics) and we'd also go camping. I remember a friend voicing concern when my diet was beginning to change to raw foods. She felt I wouldn't be able to go camping anymore and that things like picnics wouldn't be fun for someone eating a raw food diet. She thought I'd need access to a refrigerator in order to keep all my raw foods fresh and a kitchen where I could prepare the delicious foods she had been seeing me eat.

Jim here... Thought I'd cross-post a discussion I put up on Give It To Me Raw yesterday.

Recently, I saw an article advocating a ban on banana consumption based on the premise that, if you don't live in the tropics, you have no business eating tropical fruit. Pointing to transportation costs and the related environmental impact of such transportation, the article argues that, by eating bananas, you're contributing to the destruction of the environment.

What a fun weekend we'll be having! We leave later today to visit some friends in Virginia. Sweet little Rhia (a niece's daughter) will be turning one year old and there will be a huge party for her. I'll be wearing a sari, there will be lots of Indian food to tempt me back to the cooked side of life (but, never fear, I am strong!), and we'll be staying up very late enjoying the party Saturday evening.

Mohtarama, Wendi, Mamta, Deborah

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.

Continuing on, again, with Wendi s San Francisco travelogue:

After leaving Pete and Blessing, we had a little time before our next meeting. So, KDcat and I explored San Francisco a bit. We saw the largest rainbow flag we've ever seen, experienced the steep hills (much steeper than the ones in Pittsburgh), and checked out an overview spot called Twin Peaks. Our San Francisco host taught us later that evening about how to "curb" your car and always apply the parking brake (which is necessary in a place with such steep hills).

Later we met up with Shivie and Cemaaj, who heard we'd be in town and invited us to visit them for a raw meal? in their home. Wow, what a delicious and beautiful meal we were served! Shivie and Cemaaj are gentle, loving people with a true gift for preparing and serving gourmet raw foods. We were honored to be invited to visit with them and loved them both instantly. They were a lot of fun getting to know, and very generous (sending raw foods with us before we left to eat and share with our San Franciso host). Cemaaj is also a gifted musician and taught KDcat some rhythms on the djembe African drum, which she quickly learned and enjoyed very much! Cemaaj is a gifted teacher and great with kids. It was fun watching him ease her into the instrument, which she now says she'd love to own and practice on!

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.

Yesterday, I posted a question on Facebook and was met with some wonderful responses. The question was essentially, "If you're a trying to run a health-conscious household, and if you truly believe that most sugary candy is actually damaging to people's health, then what should you give away to all of the little trick-or-treaters who visit on Halloween night "

I got some great responses! Raisins, fruit leathers, glow sticks, etc. Thanks to those responses, I went out and bought about 60 glow-stick bracelets (the kind that you snap and then they glow brightly for 6 horus or so). I think the kids will think these are neat, and will all want to wear them. I also picked up a bunch of small juice boxes with 100% juice in them. (They're pasteurized, of course, but at least it's not sugary junk.) So, between all of that, I think I'll make it through the night without getting egged.

Even though it's not time to share everything with you about the life-changing events going on with us here at Pure Jeevan, I'm going to try harder to squeeze in a few minutes once in a while to update this blog with other information. I miss coming here and connecting with all of you. Thank you for so many lovely emails that you've been sending to me. I will be responding to all of you very soon. Please forgive me for taking so long to respond, but once we fill you in on everything that's been going on, I think you'll understand that it's difficult to find time to keep up with email and blog writing, among other things.

The latest news, as far as raw foods go, is that I'm having a love affair with a particular fruit. When I was transitioning to raw foods over two years ago, and also during the first few months of eating 100% raw foods, I was in love with young Thai coconuts. I couldn't get enough of them and they did some amazing things for my body---the most amazing was lowering my cholesterol to a healthy range within one month! After many months of consuming at least one coconut per day, however, my love affair ended. I still loved those Thai coconuts, but they just weren't as attractive to me anymore.