I thought I'd put another fun week together here at Pure Jeevan while Wendi is away (although, actually, ALL of our weeks are fun-filled here!). This week, I thought I'd discuss herbs, spices, and essential oils. Of course, I can't cover those enormously important (and huge) subjects in-depth over the course of just one week, so I created that little banner (above) so that we can re-use it from time to time.

Herbs are fascinating, aren't they ? Sometimes, you don't even consciously know why you use the ones you do but, invariably, there's a reason. Sure, sometimes recipes call for a specific flavor. But, often, there are other reasons as well -- such as to support digestion, or to provide a warming or cooling sensaiton. This type of thing is critical in ayurvedic principles, as we touched on recently on this blog, where the spices could be present for digestive or medicinal purposes, or of course as a preservative.

Jim here... "Do I Need to Eat a Certain Percentage of Raw Foods to Call Myself a Raw Foodist " This seems to be a common question among some people interested in pursuing a raw and living foods lifestyle. I fielded such a question recently online, and thought I'd recap my own answer here, somewhat edited for enhanced clarity:

I know what raw foodism means. And, if you're here, you probably do to, or at least you're interested in it and know the basics. But, to the mainstream population, raw is absolutely unheard of, totally out of the box -- relatively speaking. So, let's begin by taking a look at who in the world has potentially heard of RAW. Let's start more broadly and then hone in.

I'm going to be including questions and answers more often on the blog, since we've had a lot of emails from many of you saying you found last week's Q&A helpful and fun to read. I have many questions I've been saving to share with others, and more come in daily. Don't be shy if you have a question about anything that you think I'd possibly be able to help you with. Simply send me an email asking, and I'll reply to you personally. Questions that I feel might have a more general interest may be shared here on the blog (with the questioner being anonymous).

[Please email questions to me, rather than post them here on the blog: WendiDee [at] PureJeevan.com.]

Aren't these videos wonderful ? Today we have yet another special Raw Spirit interview for you -- the mega-talented Markus Rothkranz. What can I say about Markus? He's a true inspiration, a man who truly lives by his heart and inspires thousands of others on a daily basis. He's actually very tough to interview because he's so interesting and self-actualized, you really just want to hang and chat with him (but then you remember that you're on film and you should probably get back to asking questions that people will appreciate).

Markus gave a great talk just prior to our interview, and made several points that resonated with me personally -- topics such as the way fear pervades our world and why it's best to live more intuitively, following your heart as much as possible. I've always held some strong personal views about the way that people tend to limit themselves in this life (perhaps from having spent way too long in the corporate world). Markus is not one of those people. I get the sense that he gets up each morning and truly basks in his limitlessness. And we're all similarly capable, in my view. You just have to shed that fear that is sold to you at a young age, and then take action on your passions. Yes, YOU can do anything you put your mind to! And if you're doing that AND living a life in true accordance with your conscience... well, WOW!

Today for "Take the Time Tuesday," we'd like you to take the time to meet Mimi Kirk, whom many of you may know as the winner of PETA's "Sexiest Vegetarian Over 50" contest last fall. If you're interested in longevity, and how diet influences the way we look, act, think, and exist, then you'll definitely want to listen closely to what this vibrant woman, who is 71 years young, has to say. We spoke with Mimi for nearly an hour this weekend, and are happy to share her inspiring interview with all of you. Below, you can listen right here, or download a podcast MP3 version.

When you're young and learning the letters of the alphabet, anything that starts with the same letter as your name becomes really special. Well, ever since I was a child and saw a Winnebago RV with the giant "W" on the side, I've been enchanted with the idea of one day owning one and traveling the world (at that age, I didn't realize I'd have to cross oceans to see everything).

If you've been following us for a while, you'll know that I was bringing that vision to life. It took years of convincing, but Jim was finally ready for such an adventure and together we began making plans. For more than two years we've been preparing to tour the country, while teaching about raw foods along the way. Our lives changed so dramatically when we found a way to heal our bodies (and more), a way that can also help others, and we just couldn't sit still. We feel called to spread the word about the raw food diet so others can at least hear that there's another way, that there's something different to try in their quest for health. I knew that crossing the country in an RV, planting the seeds about a raw food diet along the way, would be an efficient way of spreading the word.

Jim here... I'd like to mainly talk about organics today, but thought I'd wrap that subject into a longer, rather quirky piece on ranking produce on some sort of a scale that would indicate how awesome (or awful) it is. See what you think...

Have you ever thought of arranging produce into a sort of "heirarchy of quality"? Well, I'm not going to attempt to do that here, but I would like to discuss the concept for a moment in order to at least explain what I'm getting at. While I've not yet attempted to do this exercise, I nonetheless occasionally envision a large chart or something that conveys my feelings about how I personally rank the quality of fruits and vegetables I put into my body. This all probably sounds vague, so let me share some examples.

Man must cease attributing his problems to his environment, and learn again to exercise his will - his personal responsibility. ~Albert Einstein.

Jim here with another wonderful edition of Weird Wednesday. Here's something I find a little weird about food (and, I apologize in advance if this comes off a little preachy).

See, I work in an office and sit rather close to the corporate kitchenette. Routinely, people bring in junk food to set out for everyone -- cookies, donuts, cakes, pastries, pies, candy bars, nut rolls, cheesecakes, summer sausages, cheese cubes, fondues, etc. The thought seems to be that, in putting these things out for everyone, you're showing you care for them.Offering large servings of concentrated fats and refined sugar is viewed as a favor, as an altruistic service for your fellow coworkers. But this odd fact isn't even the weird aspect of my post (although, now that I think of it, that is pretty weird).

Sorry for the strange behavior of this site over the past few weeks, friends. As a former professional web programmer, and always a?bit of a mad hacker, I'm usually really great at keeping the web end of Pure Jeevan running very smoothly.

But, this is a Wordpress blog -- and so you have things like plugins and widgets and themes and updates, all interacting (and sometimes conflicting) with one another. I've noticed lately that this blog home page has developed all sorts of peculiar issues, not the least of which is a very slow-loading tendency.

We get asked from time to time about whether we like to use protein powders and, if so, which brands we like. As you'll no doubt notice after getting into raw foods for a while, raw foodies (just like quite a lot of health-conscious people) often get into various powdered food additives. Some purists are against their use, of course. But, we're not so dead set against them. We do, however, believe that, if you're going to put something into your body as part of a health program, you should be conscious about it.

A few months ago, Wendi decided that she wanted to add some protein into her diet in the form of a protein powder. She did quite a bit of research at the time into the various brands available, charting out which ones were raw, which ones had various ingredients, and so forth. It was a fairly in-depth study, done for personal reasons unrelated to Pure Jeevan's blog articles. So, we never mentioned it before.

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.