It's been an interesting week for us here. We've looked at a handful of ways that people may either become obese, or sustain an obese body -- all largely for reasons outside of dietary intake. The three situations we looked at included maintaining weight as a defense mechanism (Tuesday), becoming obese through worrying about becoming obese (Wednesday), and obesity as basically a physical manifestation of a non-physical longing (Thursday).

Without a doubt, these are just three out of hundreds of possible non-physical contributors to poor health. The idea was merely to start a thread on these things, opening people's minds to possibilities that perhaps they'd never seriously considered.

We're going to be running the above banner for a few days as we bring you highlights of the raw food scene in the beautiful Florida Keys.

Jim here... As you're probably aware, Sunday marks the summer solstice here in the northern hemisphere. While the Pure Jeevan family certainly includes many raw foodies living in the southern hemisphere (*nods to our friends in Oz and beyond currently heading into winter*), the majority of our readers will equate Sunday with the official kick-off of much longer, much hotter days. So, we'd like to provide some topical, tropical inspiration for you.

How do you feel about heat Personally, I used to *hate* it. I thought I knew what real heat was, too, having grown up in St. Louis where the summers can be brutal. But, Wendi and I traveled to India once (so far!) and, wow, THAT was real heat. I clearly remember standing on an airport tarmac in a place called Trivandrum, just 8 degrees north of the equator, almost in shock over how hot it was there.

Pizza Delivery at Pure Jeevan s home ! Yep, and it s not raw pizza, either. Maybe sometime in the not-so-distant future we ll be able to order delicious, life-giving raw pizzas for delivery to our home, but that time hasn t come. Even if it was possible today, I have a feeling we d still be ordering the greasy pizza that s going to be arriving here later today.

You see, today is KDcat s 14th birthday. As much as she knows about health, nutrition, and the harms of consuming dairy, she has made a decision that she wants to order a pizza for her birthday and have it delivered. When she told me of her birthday wish, a very big part of me wanted to review how unhealthy such food is, but the other part didn t want to bring guilt to her decision of eating pizza on her birthday. I know she completely understands about foods and health, especially about how harmful dairy can be for her body. She was determined to have pizza, so I d rather she enjoy it than to eat while feeling guilty about it the entire time.

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.

Jim here... Wow, how awesome is it that today's Makin' It Monday falls just one day after Mother's Day -- and that we had ?a very special guest edition ready to post featuring ... ?my awesome mom! ??!!! ?I love my mom so much ... she's the best mom ever! And you'll love watching her demonstrate how to make 100% raw hummus. Mom might be 100% Italian, but she makes a pretty mean 100% Lebanese raw hummus, which is a pretty popular dish in my family. Here's the vid!

As you can see from yesterday's post, Pure Jeevan keeps extremely busy during the year. What's up for 2010? Let's just say... more amazing information, inspiration, education, motivation, and cutting-edge health features! This post will be considerably shorter than last year's counterpart. In January 2009, we ran a 3-part series on looking back and looking ahead. While that was super-productive from a planning perspective, a few important points come to mind as we ponder the same issues once again:

A partial group picture from the retreat.

The 3-Day Raw Food Spiritual Ashram Retreat was a success! All my time and effort that went into creating the event was well worth the experience. When Leela Mata and I discussed a possible raw food retreat about a year ago, I had no idea how to go about creating such an event. I have never done anything like this, so I approached it by asking myself: "What would I want if I was attending a raw food spiritual retreat " From there, I created a retreat that I would love to attend, myself. In fact, when it was completely organized and guests began signing up, I wished that an identical event existed that I really could take part in, as well!

We had a wonderful weekend that started with a raw food potluck in our home (through the Pittsburgh Raw Food Meetup group). There were about twenty people and so many lovely raw food dishes! I haven't checked the camera, yet, but I hope someone remembered to capture some pictures of the food and guests. It was all very yummy, including the beet pasta I made with a cream sauce. I also made some carob peppermint sweets that KDcat formed into bite-sized balls and arranged them on a platter. A friend of mine told me that the people who show up for raw food potlucks tend to be genuinely nice people, and she was right. It was a pleasure meeting everyone and I look forward to next month's meetup.

The rest of our weekend was spent with our guest, Devaki, who just left a few minutes ago to return to the ashram. She played some beautiful music on the harmonium and she and some other lovely guests filled our home with the beauty and energy of Kirtan chanting. Some of the chants were in English, too. I thought I wouldn't like them as much, but they were just as beautiful as the Indian ones. One of my close friends who was here for the Kirtan told me that I was glowing after the chanting! I love the blissful feeling that comes from chanting and meditation.

(Note: This is a closely-related piece to an earlier post ?entitled "Practice Is Your Key to Going Raw." I'll include a link to that article, below.* This one focuses more on recognizing your current level of progress.)

These days, I spend most of my free time cleaning up our fixer-upper home in Portland, so I haven't been going to the gym or regularly running as I had in the past. ?Hopefully, the house work is sufficient physical activity for me -- it sure does generate an appetite most days!