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!

On this lovely Valentine's Day, I am focusing on how thankful I am for LOVE! I'm not into the whole this-is-the-day-you-are-supposed-to-show-love thing, though. I think love is something that should always be around, felt, and shared. Every day is a new day to express the love you have in so many varied ways, why hold it back for one special day a year?

Wendi's initial observation about Santa Rosa was that, at first glance, it seemed similar to many of the places they'd visited in Oregon. However, once the sun came out, she said you could feel that California sunshine starting to warm up your body. This is Northern CA, so it's not overly hot; it is, however, much sunnier and a bit warmer than the parts of Oregon they visited.

Wendi and KDcat were hosted by a lovely couple, Shea Lynn Baird and Stephen Barlow (and their adorable dog, Bella, pictured above). You might be familiarwith Shea already, as she and her husband launched the popular Monday Night Live series, broadcast Monday nights from Cafe Gratitude. Shea is a long-term raw foodist, so Wendi interviewed her and asked some questions about what she's been doing. It's a really great, highly interesting interview. Wendi also asked Shea to offer some helpful advice for our Pure Jeevan family members. I think everyone will enjoy the video:

Jim here... As I may have mentioned a while ago, I joined a gym recently. I figured, with Wendi and Bailey living on the other side of the country, I might as well find something healthy to do with my alone time until I'm able to join them soon (aside from my seemingly never-ending quest to rid our household of 13 years of rampant accumulation). I joined on a whim, actually. There's a gym near my home called Planet Fitness. Honestly, I have no idea how they make money. A membership costs just $10/month -- and it's a Wal-Mart-sized place, too, absolutely packed with state of the art machines. (Actually, it's a franchise, so there could very well be one near you.)

In any case, it had been a while since I'd been inside an actual gym. I've certainly remained relatively active, of course. But being in a gym is a little different -- and certainly has its plusses and minuses. On the minus side, I've always kind of felt that, if you add up all of the time it generally takes to get (1) get ready to go to a gym, (2) drive there, and (3) drive home -- say, a half-hour, total, for those things -- then you could probably better invest that time in just going for a run for a half-hour, leaving straight from your home. From a time management standpoint, I'm not crazy about gym memberships (meaning not that physical exercise isn't worth the investment of time, but rather that there are ways to accomplish the same results in much less time).

For some odd reason, I've had the privilege of "doing Thanksgiving" with a lot of different friends and families over the years. Because of this, and of course just from talking with others and reading things others have posted, I'm fairly certain that Thanksgiving means different things to different people.For some, it's their favorite annual holiday and fills them with joyous memories of Thanksgivings past and incredible anticipation of Thanksgivings to come. Some historian friends of mine seem fascinated by the historical aspects of the holiday -- the whole story of the pilgrims, etc. On the other end of the spectrum, I've actually encountered a few people who take offense at the very idea of this holiday (and they've got some convincing reasons to protest the wider celebrations)!

While all holidays are certainly "food-centric" by tradition, it's arguable that no other holiday (at least here in America) can match Thanksgiving's reputation in terms of feasting. It's kind of funny when you think about it because many holidays (or, "holy days") are actually traditionally observed by abstaining from food. So, there are fasts, and feasts. I think the majority view, based on my own sampling of various friend and family traditions, seems to be: It's mostly about having a huge meal. Yes, there is certainly an undercurrent of being thankful out there. A few families I've been with have had traditional, almost ceremonial, activities that went along with the meal (e.g., going around the room, taking turns stating what you're grateful for).

Jim here... Here's a short video from last Saturday when we were out distributing literature about reversing diabetes naturally and the raw foods lifestyle. In it, we interview a local man, R.T., who had stopped to talk with us, went on his way, and then returned again to where we were standing a few moments later rather astounded.

You see, he'd seen a "before / after" flyer showing Wendi's "pre-raw" pic next to her "raw" pic and couldn't believe the two pics were of the same woman!? Many people who have significant weight to lose (or, like R.T., know someone who does) wonder whether losing so much weight will result in saggy skin. He was so amazed at the transformation, he decided to come back and ask. So, here's the raw answer to that question...

This retreat has been planned for quite some time, and we are very excited about it! It's going to be three days of feeding your body, mind, and spirit. We've kept the cost as low as possible, so that more people can afford to take the time to get away for some quiet time.

All the food is organic and raw, prepared for you with lots of love! There are yoga sessions, meditation, and even a beautiful bonfire if the weather is nice. I've taken some personal retreats at this ashram, myself, and it is so peaceful (it is called the Peaceful Valley Ashram, after all). ;-)? We've created a schedule of suggested activities, but everything is optional. This is a great opportunity to simply get away and calm your mind.

Here's Part Two of our interview with Hatice Yavuz, co-owner of Cousin's I.V. raw restaurant in Chicago. Yesterday we talked a lot about Cousin's restaurant and the stories behind that (as well as some interesting notes about European and Turkish culture and attitude toward raw foods). Today we'll get into some of the effects experienced by many after going raw -- things like raw food detox and the strengthened connection between mind and body. Interesting stuff!

When we were heading out of town, I said that this trip might be a bit difficult on Jim because it's his first time being exposed to our friend Mamta's Indian food while he's 100% raw. I created some rich, delicious dishes to keep him satisfied, so that the temptation wouldn't overpower him. I expected no problems for myself, since I've been raw for more than three years and have been exposed to this temptation before without any problems.

Well, guess what? The cravings are here! You see, Mamta is THE BEST Indian food chef EVER. We've eaten literally thousands of Indian meals over the years, and even enjoyed it while touring India for nearly a month in the 1990s, but nothing has ever compared to Mamta's skill at creating the most delicious food on the planet. As usual, she sent home lots of food when we left this weekend -- this time all for KDcat, who is so very happy she's not eating 100% raw foods. I don't even know how many different dishes came home with us, but their aroma has been extremely tempting.

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In this video, Wendi talks with Leela Mata about the different branches of yoga and how diet and raw foods affect the practice of yoga. Of all the branches of yoga, Hatha Yoga is the most popular in the United States.Mata Ji explains that it is through the practice of Hatha Yoga, strengthening the body through the asanas (poses), that you awaken on a deeper level. You will become more open to connecting with your spiritual nature, to realizing more about yourself.

A worker at our local Food Co Op was talking about making his own dehydrator. I mentioned that I saw a link to a site that told about how to create one and I'd share it with him. When I found the link, just now, I thought maybe some of you might be interested in checking it out, as well.

?The page isn't vegan-friendly (there is ground meat in the one picture), but if you've been wanting a dehydrator and don't want to spend the money on the more expensive ones...this might be a great option.