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 knows...you 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.

The Environmental Working Group publishes something really useful called the Shoppers Guide to Pesticides. In it, they offer two handy lists: (1) The Dirty Dozen -- conventionally grown produce items that contain the most residual pesticides, and (2) The Clean 15 -- conventionally grown produce items that contain the least residual pesticides.

While we believe that organic is always best, there nonetheless are times when most of us (for whatever reason) consider purchasing or consuming conventionally grown (meaning "sprayed with pesticides") produce.

Recently, the wife of a friend of ours decided that she wanted to lose 20-25 pounds. As far as we know, she follows pretty much a "Standard American Diet." We've heard that she doesn't care for red meat, but she does eat other meats, plus a good deal of dairy (which, we believe, she regards as a healthy food choice). She's apparently tried a number of exercise regimens, and a few fad diets, with no luck on losing these 20-25 pounds. (Frankly, we haven't seen her many times, but would not have guessed that she had 25 pounds to lose. But, we'll save "self image" as a topic for for further posts.) In any case... Frustrated, she decided to see a hypnotist!

Our friend accompanied his wife to the initial consultation. He said it was actually interesting. The hypnotist basically sits you down and walks you through some fundamental psychology, demonstrates a few of the primary principles of suggestion (e.g., showing you how easy it is to, say, imagine the sourness you would experience when biting into a slice of lemon), and then lays out how the program works.

Jim here... Here's an interesting way to finish out the week: Today just happens to be my one-year "rawniversary." That's right, for the past full year, I've existed as a 100% raw food vegan.

Sure, I'd been "high-raw" for a couple of years prior to September 18, 2008 -- and it was during those high-raw years when the bulk of my weight came off and when I kissed prescription meds goodbye (I'd been on powerful beta-blockers for my heart and blood pressure).

Jim here... Just a brief, fun post for the weekend... We just saw the movie Scott Pilgrim vs. the World a few days ago. ?It's a great movie, for many reasons. But, vegans will get a real kick out of one scene involving a character named Todd Ingram, who has super powers. ?Why? ?... Because he's a vegan! ?We won't spoil the scene, though. But, if you're a vegan, or know a lot of vegans, you should get a pretty good laugh from this! I think they nearly had to throw Wendi and me out of the theater, as we were laughing so hard (especially Wendi). ?Enjoy. :-)

I love this video, in which Wendi interviews our new Portland-based realtor, Bill Futrell. It's a nice interview, but I love the way Wendi's enthusiasm for raw foods rubbed off on Bill almost immediately. There's even a moment in here in which Bill starts talking about Natural Zing. We thought for sure everyone would think we put him up to that, but he did it absolutely spontaneously! So, thanks Bill for helping to support our Snack Sponsor. Anyway, here's what he had to say about Portland, about where we'll fit in, and about his first exposure to raw foods:

One thing I can tell you for sure: Portland is WAY more expensive than Pittsburgh. A year ago, I invested a ton of time reading about low-cost cob houses, straw-bale construction, Earth-ship homes, homes fashioned from "obtanium," thatch roofs, off-the-grid systems, igloos, you name it -- anything DIY-oriented. (Okay, well not igloos; that was a joke. Even though igloos are probably pretty neat-o.) I'm sure we'll get to many of those types of projects one day still. But for now, as you can see, we're going to put down roots in a really great city out West. We're doing it with intention, though, and in harmony with our mission to help ourselves and others obtain the highest levels of health and happiness.

Hey there, everyone! Thanks for visiting Pure Jeevan. We want our welcome article, for now, to be this article on Vitamix blenders. There are certainly a few essential elements (e.g. good knives, cutting boards, a good food processor, etc.) to any raw food kitchen, and one of them is an awesome high-speed blender. Yes, there are many great blenders in the world, and yes there are a few decent top-of-the-line models on par with Vita-Mix. But, at the end of the day, our recommendation is the Vita-Mix (and yes, it's better than Blendtec, in our view). Here's a crazy video Jim did a while back for a Vitamix contest:

Note: That "free shipping" code, below, is no longer active. We'll let you know when we get a new free shipping code. For now, we hope you enjoy the video. :-)

We purchased ours 15+ years ago, and have subjected it to at least daily use (if not many times per day most of the time!) -- and it's still going strong. If you don't understand why a Vita-Mix is different from even a high-end blender from a department store, it's basically the sheer power. These things can pulverize pretty much anything -- time after time, without blowing out the motor. For example, you can make ultra-thick, healthy, raw ice creams day after day all summer long, and the machine will keep on working for years (and, in our case, we're almost ready to say "decades").

We used to be an affiliate w/ them, and are reapplying to be one. For now, we hope you like the video, above.

THE TOUR IS COMPLETED! For pictures, videos, and commentary about their adventures, check out the Trip Dashboard!!

For those of you who've been following our plans for a few years, you know we've been preparing for a cross-country tour for a long time. The plans have expanded, contracted, changed dramatically, but the core of the idea has always been there: we plan on relocating to a new city and we need to find the right place for Pure Jeevan to settle. In order to do that, a big cross-country tour is in order. So, the exciting news is that we're leaving in a couple of weeks to check out some of the cities/towns we're thinking might be a perfect fit for Pure Jeevan! The sad news is that all of us can't make the trip. Jim will be holding down the fort here in Pittsburgh (i.e. the house still hasn't sold and he still needs to keep his corporate job so we can pay the mortgage).

Yesterday we began a discussion of adding protein powders into your diet (for those who feel that they want or need to do this). One of the easiest ways to get this powder into your body is to add it to your morning smoothie. ?Now, if you're not into the habit of having a morning smoothie, step #1 is to get into that habit. ?(Actually, I don't just "have" morning smoothies; I thoroughly enjoy them!)

Now, you'll notice that smoothies made with protein powder taste quite a bit richer than what you might be used to. So, I want to start with a smoothie that I found to be somewhat light tasting. In fact, I'd even call it "The King" of smoothies. ?:-)

Jim here... Back in November of 2010, my friends Joe Prostko, Heather Harris, and I decided to replicate an unusual experiment we'd heard about. Reportedly, some people with health issues had found improvement in their live blood samples after simply grounding themselves for a period of time. We all thought it was interesting enough to try on ourselves, so the above video is the result. ?Since it's 8+ minutes long, I'll spare you any suspense: The results were absolutely inconclusive. (However, we did have fun with it, as you'll see.)

NOTE: The site I'd posted the video on, BlipTV, seems to have gone out of business. Will have to see if I can find the video again and post on youtube.

Here's Wendi in Portland interviewing Wes Hannah, one of the owners of Blossoming Lotus, a vegan restaurant that also serves a lot of delicious raw foods. Wendi said it's worth a trip to Portland just to eat there!

[Sorry about the video quality there. I was having some trouble editing this on an old machine. Wendi took the good one with her on the trip!]