What fun it is to share a fun day with like-minded people at a special location, sharing good times, laughter, and delicious, nutritious raw food wonderment. Here are some pics from our outing -- hopefully the first of many such unique outings blending the Pittsburgh raw group with the D.C. one.

We hope this also provides some inspiration for other meetup groups to consider holding joint meetups in some geographically central location.

If you're new to raw foods, you're probably aware that eating this way isn't exactly mainstream. And, while we've talked here before about the importance of connecting with others for inspiration and support, it's true that a lot of that lends itself to participation in virtual worlds such as Twitter, Facebook, Give It to Me Raw, and other communities, blogs, and sites where raw foodies hang out.

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

Day 6: Today is the final day of placing extra focus on the feminine qualities attributed to Goddess Lakshmi. For me, going within, shining light on the things that aren't so clear, the things that I've been avoiding, or the things that have been completely invisible is something I've revisited off and on my entire life. It's something that I often recommend to friends and family, as well. It's what has allowed me to continually improve my life (both physically, emotionally, spiritually, and intellectually), and something I'll always consider vital.

The more we search within for answers, the more we'll learn about our true selves. The more we understand ourselves, the more authentic we become in our interactions with others. The more authentic we are with others, the more others can feel comfortable around us. The more others become comfortable around us, the more they can experience their own authentic selves. And the more others experience their true selves, the more we all wake up and truly begin living a life of beauty, grace, vibrancy, and love.

Isn't it amazing how many different, stunningly delicious salad dressings there are in the world ! It's mind-boggling! There could easily be an entire blog devoted to nothing but raw salad dressings -- and I bet, in the right hands, such a blog could go on 5 days / week for literally years before truly exhausting the subject.

The world simply abounds with good recipe ideas -- and "abundance" is really the mentality you need to embrace when you're doing anything in the culinary world, raw or otherwise. The other side of the spectrum is the "scarcity" perspective, which is when you think, "Oh, I'd love to write a cookboook or create a recipe, but there are already millions of them out there and all of the great culinary creations have been done already."

One reason I keep going on and on lately about raw desserts and raw ice creams is best conveyed with an example. ?Here are the ingredients in Cool Whip, a commonly available whipped topping:

  • water
  • hydrogenated vegetable oil (coconut and palm kernel oils)
  • high fructose corn syrup
  • corn syrup
  • skim milk
  • light cream
  • less than 2% of:
  • sodium caseinate
  • natural and artificial flavors
  • xanthan and guar gums
  • polysorbate 60
  • sorbitan monostearate
  • beta carotene (color)

Wow, I had a chemistry set in 5th grade that had a lot of things that sounded like some of those items. It's actually mind-boggling to envision the industrial processes necessary to produce everything on that list -- not that it's entirely possible to do so. After all, among the list of ingredients are "natural and artificial flavors." Ever wonder what, exactly, those are?

While I was growing up in the Midwest, I had a rich uncle who lived out East in Philadelphia. I didn't know him very well at the time, but would often glean stories via the family grape vines of his business successes. After high school, I attended college in Northeastern Pennsylvania -- Wilkes University -- where, incidentally, I first met Wendi! :-)

Being out there, I got to visit my uncle from time to time, and dine with him and his family. ?Among other things, he was quite the gourmand. I'm not so sure what he'd have thought of raw foods, although I suspect he'd have appreciated the many gourmet efforts.

For the past twelve years I've been doing some monthly freelance work for a nonprofit company. I've done other work in addition to the work for this company, but for the past few years I've solely been working with them. The work is sweet---straight-forward desktop publishing for a legal advertising publication. I don't have to read, write, edit, research, or anything else---simply format the pages. The pay is great, too!

Well, I just received a call a few minutes ago notifying me that the publication will no longer be printed. I'm overjoyed for the trees---I wish all publications would go digital. However, since it's going digital, they won't be needing my services much longer.

A few of my friends have recently reached some special personal milestones in the raw food world. Congratulations go out to...

Sam: ONE YEAR RAW!!!

As Pure Jeevan blog readers probably know, we're big fans of running ongoing series. A good blog can never have too many, really. So today we mark the official kick-off of another super series. We're calling these articles "Pure Jeevan Guides."

Guides to what , you may ask. Well, to various topics of interest to raw foodies, of course!

Today's Jim's birthday!

This photo is from Saturday night. We had a sleepover birthday party to celebrate Jim's big day. The Pure Jeevan home was filled with loving friends, amazing raw food dishes, and vibrations from some fun group drumming!

Happy, happy birthday, Jim! May all your wishes come true and your life always be filled with health, love, laughter, and friendships! I love you!

Recently I've been to three potlucks in the span of four days. They've all been wonderful for different reasons -- one was a birthday party for a lovely young woman, Bethany, another was part of a women's circle that my friend, Melissa, invited me to attend, and the other was at my home as a meetup when Kevin and Annmarie Gianni were here visiting. Lots of fun, connecting with people, and raw foods to eat.

Sounds perfect, right? Well, something's been happening with me and raw foods over the past year. It became even more evident after eating at three different potlucks over four days. I've noticed more and more that when I don't eat something that I've created, I many times have reactions to the foods I've eaten. The reactions have ranged from flushed facial skin, slight headaches, hives, full-blown headaches, upset stomach, water retention, achy joints, etc. All signs of being sensitive to something I'm eating, right? I've narrowed it down to a few things, but it doesn't seem to be an exact science to knowing what's going to cause the reaction.

At home I know that I feel better if I don't consume garlic even though I love the taste and smell of it. When I eat too much of it I experience headaches and sometimes flushed cheeks. I gave up raw vinegar a long time ago because it makes my joints ache. Recently I noticed that whenever I eat Nama Shoyu I get a headache, flushed cheeks, and sometimes some hives. So, at home I can control my reactions to foods -- I simply avoid eating the things that sometimes trigger problems for me. I feel great most of the time because I eat more simply and my body doesn't experience any problems.