Jim here... Today Wendi is busy preparing for a multi-day activity that I'm sure she'll be writing about later this week. So, I thought I'd field a question we received recently (one directed specifically to me). We do receive a good deal of questions at our Raw Food Diet Question In-box (at Questions [at] PureJeevan.com), so feel free to send any in that you may have, and we'll definitely get to them all here in time. In any case, one reader writes:

As drawn as I am to a raw diet, being mostly cooked vegan right now, I can't help but come up against this each time: Since produce is, after all, mostly water, what did you eat while transitioning that didn't lead to shoving in lots of bread, potatoes, etc. Do you just eat lots and lots of, say, oranges, at one go? This has always been my raw downfall. I'm sure the answer is very simple.

Wow, this is a great question, and one with many possible answers! To begin, let's recognize that this isn't a question from a "SAD diet" eater. ?Being a vegan, alone, takes significant learning and (often) self-discipline to accomplish successfully. It's also, in my view, an excellent dietary and lifestyle choice for many people, regardless of whether they ever decide to try a raw foods diet. So, this question is rather advanced.

Today I'd like to do something different for Makin' It Monday. I'll tell you what we've eaten today, but I want to hear what's been happening in YOUR kitchen!

This morning I sliced up three bananas, drizzled them with some agave, sprinked a bit of Himalayan crystal salt on them, and then topped them with hemp seeds and sprouted flax seeds with cranberries and gogi berries. I love this breakfast because it feels like I'm eating something a bit complex and more filling than simply eating the bananas plain (which is how I almost always eat them). KDcat had a bowl of oatmeal (not raw), and Jim had a few pieces of fruit.

On this page, we'd like to share some information about vegetable juicers. There are a number of different kinds, and we'll try to offer some background on many of the leading ones. We're affiliates for some, so if you're in the market for one of the ones we discuss, please follow the links we provide (or click the juicer pics) and you'll help support Pure Jeevan. But, either way, we certainly encourage you to consume fresh, delicious, nourishing veggie juices regularly!

The Jay Kordich Juicer -- The PowerGrind

The PowerGrind Pro is a juicer put out by Jay Kordich, commonly known as the "father of juicing" by many in the raw food / living food world. In fact, our very first juicer was a "JuiceMan" model, purchased back in the early 1990s! But this is an entirely new machine, retooled from the ground up recently. At $289, it's a fairly high-end juicer (as compared with, say, department store models). However, it's certainly got the power and features to back up that level of investment. ?Head on over to the Jay Kordich web site for full details on the latest models.

The Hurom Slow Juicer

A year or two ago, when we still lived in Pittsburgh, we hosted the Monarch's (Matt & Angela) during one of their speaking tours. I remember Angela firing up their juicer in the morning and I thought (or possibly even said), "Wow, your juicer is broken!" I swore that something was wrong because it didn't sound like anything I'd heard before. But they then told us about what was then the newest juicer on the market -- the Hurom Slow juicer. It's garnered a lot of positive testimonials over the past few years, from quite a lot of juicing enthusiasts. While many of the features are nice, we imagine the the most important potential benefit would be the slower speed, which theoretically means less oxidation, less processing, and thus healthier juice. If we were in the market today, I've no doubt we'd try one of these, too (even at $359)! These juicers are available through our good friends at Natural Zing!

After leaving Salem, Oregon, Wendi and KDcat drove less than an hour to the city of Corvallis where they met up with their hosts the Zander's -- Joni, Steve, Bekka, and Stephanie -- a fellow unschooling family Wendi had come to know in an online forum. It was great to be in their company and we loved them right away,? Wendi wrote. ?Their home is absolutely beautiful on a really cute lot with plenty of plants and trees around ? including the most delightful flowers that smelled divine (I think they were called Daphne).

Corvallis is the city we ve mentioned multiple times -- the city that feels like it s the right fit for us. Well, it lived up to our dreams in just about every way. It s a progressive, hip town with a lot going on. The people are friendly, the weather is beautiful, the land is gorgeous, and there are lots of unschoolers. Access to fresh, ogranic, raw foods doesn't seem to be an issue anywhere in Oregon, according to reports from the road so far. While they've been away, we've talked quite a bit each night about what they're finding -- and fresh organic produce seems pretty much everywhere out west. "The west," wrote Jim Morrison, "is the best." (Surely he was a raw foodie.)

Jon Gold, owner of the Sunny Side Up Cafe (a vegan and vegetarian restaurant there) and an unschool father, put together a little gathering of unschoolers for KDcat and Wendi. They were able to meet some local unschoolers and ask questions. There was also a gathering one day at the cafe where KDcat was able to do some art at a table with some other unschool teens. It's definitely a creative, easy-going town with some fantastic people in it!

Today, for Thankful Thursday, I want to focus on a raw food related subject: Raw Recipe Books! Without the many mouthwatering, visually appetizing recipes that have been created and published, I don't know if I'd still be living a raw food lifestyle at this time.

About two years ago, when I made the decision to transition into a raw food diet, there were some fantastic raw food recipe books available. A few years before that, when I tried raw for the first time with a dear friend of mine, there were books available but none of them were truly gourmet meals. It's amazing how much things change in just a few years! The newer books are filled with colorful pictures of the most visually stimulating foods, which never looked like simple chopped up veggies arranged nicely on a plate. We have a page with many raw recipe books listed, if you'd like to see some of the ones that are available.

We ve covered this in the past here on the Pure Jeevan blog, but it s something that s being discussed again online in major news feeds. Since many people read and learn from such sources, especially Yahoo! News, there is potential for a lot of damage and misinformation to be ?learned? by many individuals. In a recent article on Yahoo!, we re informed in the ?Health Experts Main/HealthLine? category that consuming only healthy foods is an eating disorder. Those who desire a healthy body by consuming healthy (as opposed to unhealthy) foods are labeled as having ?orthorexia,? a supposed eating disorder that can be cured with cognitive behavioral therapy.

What does that mean, really? If we desire a healthy body, and all the vibrant energy that comes with it, then we are psychologically unbalanced? [Sarcasm to follow ] However, if we eat those same healthy foods, but also consume things like Kentucky Fried Chicken, McDonald s burgers, Wendy s French fries, or Skittles candies then we are balanced individuals and deemed psychologically healthy? What if we consume no healthy foods, preferring instead the Standard American Diet of fast foods, heavy meats and gravies, that includes few fruits or vegetables? Well, that s considered normal and of no concern in the least bit ? there is no eating disorder when consuming a diet like that. You can require caffeinated beverages to have enough energy to get through the day and that s normal, too. Die of a heart attack from such a diet and that s normal, too.

Tomorrow I'll finally be posting about the 3-Day Raw Food Spiritual Ashram Retreat that I organized. I took a few days to myself after the event, and then I needed to catch up on a lot of things (which included formatting an almost 150-page publication). It's hard to believe that two weeks have passed, already, since the retreat ended.

I have a lot of photos from the event! Some of the guests prefer to remain anonymous, however, so I can't share all of them with you. However, there are a lot that I can still post on a public page for you to view! I'm waiting to receive some more images from the ashram's camera. Once I have them, I'll be able to complete the photos pages and share images from that wonderful weekend.

BIG THANKS to one of the guests, Angel, who happily took my camera and captured images that weekend. I am extremely grateful that she did, and I'm also impressed with her creative gift with photography! The image she captured of another guest, Faye, is absolutely beautiful! I'm looking forward to sharing the pics with all of you!

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).

I receive many questions from our readers, and I am very happy to respond. I truly love helping others, but I don't do it just for them.When I was younger, many times I thought I was performing selfless acts of kindness whenever I'd help others. However, now I realize I am experiencing pleasure by helping others. I find it very rewarding, as though I am fulfilling my purpose in life.

Do you know what your life's purpose is? Do you believe there is such a thing These aren't rhetorical questions; I'm really interested in hearing your response. Well, I've known my life's purpose (actually, I have more than one) from a very young age, but it wasn't until recently that I began living it more fully. My purpose in life is to love others---to connect with others through an immensely deep and genuine love.One way I've found for spreading my love and realizing my purpose is by helping others.

When I answer questions for our readers, I speak from my heart. I think it's important to realize, however, that the answers we receive from others are *their* answers to similar questions. Maybe their answers will work for us, but maybe they won't.I've stressed this many times, but it never hurts to repeat it: Listen to others, hear what they have to share, but mostly listen to your own inner voice. We all have the answers deep within ourselves, even if we can't always hear them very well.

Welcome to Pure Jeevan's "Juice-a-Day Jamboree"! You're probably wondering, "What IS Pure Jeevan's Juice-a-Day Jamboree, anyway "? Well, it's simple:? It's an ongoing, informal, loosely organized "event" centered around juicing. Think of it as an interim step between (1) any kind of diet or lifestyle, from SAD to full-on raw, that does not include much regular juice, and (2) an all out juice feast where that's ALL you'd consume for a period of time. Basically, we're saying, "Let's just make this simple and accessible for everyone. Let's just make a goal to simply drink more fresh juice!"

Wendi and I have been thinking a lot about incorporating more juicing into our lives lately (which is something we've done off and on over the years but never stuck with long-term). One thing holding us back from doing it more often is the time requirement. When we juice, it usually takes a half hour or so from start to finish. I know it doesn't seem that complicated, but I suppose it's just the whole process of setting up the juicer, washing and peeling the produce, juicing it, setting the juice aside while we clean the juicer, doling out the juice into glasses, cleaning up the mini-mess that makes, and then sitting down to actually enjoy the juice.

Before officially starting the new year, I'd like to acknowledge the changes and growth that took place over the past year. It was a whirlwind of changes, sometimes so dizzying that I wondered what I was doing and occasionally questioned whether, or not, I was making mistakes with my life. I followed my intuition, however, and it served me well. I'm here today, remembering the past year and ready to announce plans for this new year that has just begun. It's a beautiful life, isn't it Even when things seem dark and like there is a lot of pain, there is a tremendous amount of potential for new growth and a brighter life than ever imagined.

I ended 2008, perched on a summit and ready to take flight. Before I fly, however, I'm standing still for a bit and enjoying the view. I feel like the entire past year consisted of climbing to higher and higher plateaus of an enormous mountain. While climbing to each new plateau I stumbled, held on for dear life, saw amazing things, and became stronger.When reaching each new plateau, I'd spread my wings and leap, circling the mountain's circumference. But, I wasn't strong enough to fly straight to the peak. It was a year of gradual growth and change -- and I found myself becoming stronger and stronger as I reached the summit.I'm certainly not the same person who started this climb. I have transformed into a more genuine version of myself, a younger and stronger woman emerging from a lifetime of guilt and fear. As I stand on this summit, I feel youthful and invigorated. What lies ahead may be unknown to me, but I know it's within my ability to fly to the highest heights of ANY mountain, to see and do and experience ALL that I desire. It's going to be an incredible future and I look forward to sharing it with all of you!

In recognizing all of the accomplishments of 2008, I think it's important to admit that it wasn't one steady climb to the point I'm at today.The few years prior to 2008 were almost like my training in mountain climbing. Last year there were a lot of tears shed, along with a releasing of physical and emotional baggage that was still clinging to me. I openly shared what I was going through, however, after learning that keeping things inside was slowly killing my spirit. I think if I had to sum up 2008 in just one sentence it would be: In finally releasing everything, I woke up as my true self.