It's been a while since we've made any major design changes around here. So, we thought a redesign was in order -- and we're happy to announce that we're about 95% finished implementing the new look. It's live and working right now, so we invite you to take a peek.

So many things have changed and/or been updated, not the least of which is the general look and feel of Pure Jeevan. (We did base the new design on much of the look and feel we established many years ago. But, the site has now been modernized -- adding a third column, leveraging more complex style sheets, and integrating more with social media sites like Facebook, and quite a few behind-the-scenes programming updates.)

I have enjoyed including information about new people, companies, and sites here in our blog for you to meet each Tuesday. Today, however, I want to do something a little bit different. Instead of someone or something being introduced to you, I'd love for YOU to introduce yourself to ME!

Take the time for ME to meet...

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.

To help keep all of you inspired, we ve asked some remarkable individuals to share their raw food stories with you. Enjoy! (Today's "My Raw Story" is also a special installment for our Diabetes Awareness Week!)

Do you need to be 100% raw to release excess weight and regain your health There's no difinitive answer for that question because we are all unique. Sure, our bodies function pretty much the same way, but there are still enough differences that make it difficult to answer a question like that for it to be true for every single individual.

Most of us have heard of, or know, someone who doesn't eat a healthy diet, who smokes cigarettes and/or drinks alcohol, doesn't get enough rest, and also lives a stressful life---yet that person still has a healthy body and is over 80 years old. People like that seem to have resiliency built into their genes. Sure, who knows how long a person with such resilient genes could live or how vibrant a life that person could enjoy with a healtheir lifestyle. But, the fact remains that it seems no matter what a person's lifestyle is like, if you are born with resilient genes you are pretty much invincible to most illnesses.

A majority of the population isn't born with such impressively hardy genes, however. Most bodies can withstand the stresses of an unhealthy lifestyle until middle age. At that point, however, the body begins to show signs of ill health (excess weight gain, aches and pains, and the start of many diseases such as diabetes or high blood pressure). For a majority of those individuals, some healthy lifestyle changes can make a huge difference. Many individuals regain their health simply by changing their diets to include less fat and more vegetables, and by increasing their amount of exercise. Sure, it's a bit of work to make such changes, but if many people are committed to improving their health those simple changes can make a drastic difference in their lives.

"My biggest problems are starches... I grew up with them so they are emotional comfort foods."

Well, it's great that you already understand that your desire for starches is mostly coming from an emotional connection with those foods. You're already much more aware of your body and its cravings than many others who are trying to lose weight.

If you have a strong connection with starches, then go ahead and eat them in the beginning of your journey to better health. Simply start by adding more and more fresh, raw, water-rich fruits and vegetables. The more you consume healthy fruits and vegetables, the more your body will begin to crave them (no kidding!! You will actually one day crave a salad as much as you're craving starches right now!).

Okay, it's question day once again -- and we've received some great ones lately. Before I begin, just let me reiterate once more that Wendi and I can't give medical advice here. We're motivational, inspirational raw food / natural health writers and educators (considerably knowledgeable and experienced ones, I might humbly add!); not doctors.So, whenever we give "advice" (or, whenever our writing appears as such), what we really mean is, "Well, if that were me, this is what I would do." And, the rest is in the disclaimer that runs on all of our pages.

Not only do we not give medical advice because we're not doctors (as if that wasn't enough of a reason!), but we also know that each person is different and, as such, all symptoms and conditions are unique to each person's individual situation. If person A and person B are both experiencing high blood pressure, it could easily be two different things causing that -- and the treatments or approaches could differ tremendously. What might fix person A might kill person B! (Sorry person B. No hard feelings.)

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.

To keep all of you inspired while we are away, we've asked some

remarkable individuals to share their raw food stories with you. Enjoy!

Well, we've finally done it -- made the move westward to our new hometown, Portland, Oregon! It's been nothing but the kind of high adventure befitting such a move, not the least of which was a wheel literally flying off of our car while driving (don't worry, no one was hurt) just days before we were scheduled to leave. And, of course, everything during the past few weeks wound up costing about 10x what we'd planned. ?But, we're here! ?And, we're beginning to get settled.

As always, we've got some great things on deck for this blog in the coming near term, including many interesting articles and some fun video experiments we did involving live blood and electrical grounding. We also have some new exciting web site features to roll out, one completely new raw food site to unleash upon the raw foods community, and a whole new Pure Jeevan web site design to launch. For now, though, we'll probably remain off-line for a bit longer, as we organize and unpack things.

Our Pittsburgh home remains for sale. Naturally, we'd hoped to have sold it before making this move. But, we realized that we didn't necessarily have to wait for it to sell in order to move to Portland. So, we took the great leap of faith and moved here without that step completed. (It'll certainly be a happy day when that lovely home finds its new owners and caretakers!).

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).