Jim here... Many people write to us asking whether we own pets and, if so, whether they are raw, too. Well, I wish I had a straight answer for you, but I think the answer is better told via a dedicated blog post.

As I'm writing this, part of me is tempted to include this post in our "My Raw Story" series. You see, Julia (pictured above) had some serious health issues just after we adopted her from a local rescue shelter, and we're still relatively early-on in our attempt to understand and reverse these issues.

Who's been making small changes and feeling a bit brighter lately, since we've been talking about brain health? Today, let's continue focusing on some things we can actively do to minimize our chances of developing memory problems like Dementia or Alzheimer's in the future.

Yesterday we focused on heart-healthy tips to increase brain function (since heart disease seems to be linked with Alzheimer's) and I shared a heart-healthy recipe with you. Today, we'll focus on inflammation.

Today we welcome Shea Lynn Baird from Monday Night Live. As you may recall from a few weeks ago, Wendi and KDcat visited with Shea and her husband Stephen during their 2010 Trip. While there, they all attended a raw food meetup, and Shea brought a wonderful Thai salad. She shared this delicious creation with all of you in this special guest raw chef edition of Makin' It Monday, below:

Well, we've always found the herb SAGE to be delightful in so many ways. That's why we've grown it here and elsewhere for years. Such a lovely, fragrant, sturdy, resilient herb, it's truly one of the easiest plants to communicate with -- and YES!, it truly IS a meaningful dialogue when you step out into the garden and sit among a patch of sage. All you need to do is listen carefully, and sage will speak its sage herbal wisdom to you.

I was wondering how sage came to be known as "sage" -- when all of the sources I had handy simply listed its technical name, salvia, along with its common name. Enter the great Wiki for an answer:

To continue with our Summertime Raw series, we took a trip to Pittsburgh's Frick Park to enjoy the beautiful day. Before leaving, we packed another meal to show you how easy it can be to eat a raw food diet while away from home.Frick Park was wildly popular among dogs; we saw canines of all shapes and sizes -- all playful, yet calm in comparison to our lovely Julia, a rescued blue Doberman. Joogie enjoyed the outing very much because she was able to snack on cucumbers (a favorite treat), chase after a few joggers (we're teaching her that this isn't proper doggy behavior), knock the cooler out of Jim's hands when we were leaving (which broke a few of our best glass dishes), and lick the faces of a few new furry friends. We've been to many parks, but we have a feeling this is now Julia's favorite. ?

In yesterday's blog and video post, we showed you how easy it is to simply grab fresh fruits and veggies and head out the door for an outing. In that show, no refrigeration or preparation was necessary. However, we also know that many of you are new to raw foods, and perhaps eating simple chopped produce isn't so appealing for you compared to traditional foods you'd normally eat while in a park. So, today's goal is to demonstrate how simple it can be, making it easy for you to stick to a raw food lifestyle and not feel tempted by the cooked foods that may be around while you're out enjoying the summer with friends and family. So, today's video is about stepping it up to the next level.

I'd like to talk with you about diet and experimenting. I've been learning about natural healing and foods/health since I was a very young woman. Somewhere along the line I knew that what I was eating was either making me feel better, or worse, and that food was related to health (it was more than just to fuel the body). It was with this knowledge that I stepped into the realm of natural healing and stumbled around for most of my life.I've learned about vegetarianism, herbs, the negative effects of dairy on the body, veganism, essential oils, Ayurveda, harmful chemicals in and around our foods, and so very much more. I don't claim to be an expert on any of these topics, they are just part of my overall bank of knowledge and experiences from which I pull to live as healthy as possible.

I've never been the kind of person who takes others' beliefs and adopts them as truth for myself. I need to investigate, try things out, find out what does and doesn't resonate with my own set of beliefs and experiences. Well, the same goes with my diet. When I first started eating raw foods, I didn't eat them because I knew they would cure me of my overweight and other health problems. Sure, it made a lot of sense and seemed like it would work, but I needed to try it out for myself. It turns out that there's a LARGE amount of truth in what is being written and taught about raw foods. However, there is quite a bit of conflicting information about raw foods being shared by "experts", as well, and it can get confusing.

The lovely Bunny Berry (see yesterday's post congratulating her) has cooked up created an amazing and fun community to encourage others to take a 100-Day Raw Food Challenge!

This morning as I was driving from the beautiful Carnegie Mellon University campus to a business meeting outside the city, I had to take a detour at one of Pittsburgh's many bridges. It was a little frustrating because I had hoped to arrive at my destination early enough to grab a green tea at a coffee shop. But, these little delays happen. I'm glad this one did, though, because I soon passed a small yoga studio (called Pratique) where an interesting window decal hangs. It reads: "Yoga is my health insurance."

Many kudos to the clever people at Pratique who apparently crafted this catchy and spot-on message. While this is a raw foods site, not a yoga site, the message is equally apropos here. It essentially means, in my view, that we all have the opportunity to profoundly affect our own health and well being.

In our family, we're currently facing the realistic prospect of taking a literal approach to this concept, dropping formal health coverage! Quite literally, we feel that maintaining a health plan is (almost) a complete waste of money. I'm not posting this to start a debate as to whether those who follow a healthy diet should or should not buy into a plan. (I know all of the related arguments already: Yeah, but what if you cut your arm and need stitches Save that for Facebook or, at least, some other time.) I'm more concerned with reiterating one of our key messages here at Pure Jeevan -- our unwavering ?conviction that physical health and diet are tightly connected. Wendi knows this, I know this, our child knows this, YOU know this... But why doesn't everyone acknowledge it?

Here's another brief video from our travels. Since time for editing is limited, I think I'll just run some more of the shorter vids this week and then get into the longer, more in-depth interviews next week. So, this is a short, fun conversation I had with Steve, who tends the raw juice and smoothie bar at Cousin's Incredible Vitality raw restaurant in Chicago. Here's the vid:

Hey everyone!? What a wonderful Thursday we have going here... After all, it's nearly 3:30 p.m. where I am, which means that the day is nearly over and it'll soon be Friday! Time sure does fly... Right now, it's still a beautiful fall here (in Pennsylvania, with the gorgeous leaves nearly at their changing peak) but, in seemingly no time, we'll be looking at winter in these parts.

When I announced Wendi's leave of absence a while back, I invited people to send in any questions that I might answer here on the blog. Fellow raw foodie Joanna Steven asked me on Facebook -- I'm at Facebook.com/Rawfood -- what our routine is for transitioning into winter. Well, I think she already did a fine job of covering that topic, here. But, I'll offer my own two cents here, as well, as I find it interesting.

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.