Happy Summer Solstice!

Well, it's officially summer here! This time of the year is extra special to us now that we're healthier. Not only is there an abundance of fresh, local organics to eat, but the sun also shows itself to us a lot more (Pittsbugh is ranked as one of the places experiencing the least amount of sunshine per year). The sun actually used to make me feel physically ill (I wrote a bit about that in an earlier post), but ever since I've switched to a raw vegan diet I find myself drawn to the healing sunshine.

Before switching to a raw lifestyle, we used to go on a lot of outings (picnics) and we'd also go camping. I remember a friend voicing concern when my diet was beginning to change to raw foods. She felt I wouldn't be able to go camping anymore and that things like picnics wouldn't be fun for someone eating a raw food diet. She thought I'd need access to a refrigerator in order to keep all my raw foods fresh and a kitchen where I could prepare the delicious foods she had been seeing me eat.

Jim here... Conventional wisdom says we shouldn't judge a book by its cover, right? Well, what about recipes? Should we judge them by their names?

When KDcat was young -- well before we followed a raw diet -- her friends sometimes scoffed at our typical vegan fare. After all, few kids would voluntarily eat "Pasta with Spinach Sauce."? But, we discovered, change the name and suddenly they're lining up for seconds. Instead of "Spinach Sauce," Wendi came up with "Jungle Sauce"! How exciting, right?

As Pure Jeevan blog readers probably know, we're big fans of running ongoing series. A good blog can never have too many, really. So today we mark the official kick-off of another super series. We're calling these articles "Pure Jeevan Guides."

Guides to what , you may ask. Well, to various topics of interest to raw foodies, of course!

It's always a journey.

That's basically my post today, boiled down into four words. From all I've read, from all of those I've talked with / emailed / interviewed, and certainly from all I've personally experienced, this is a key concept that, in my view, it's best to come to terms with as soon as you can.

Jim here... Thought I'd post a pic from Wendi's birthday last Friday. Shown above is the "birthday cake" -- more of a birthday treat, really. If it looks decent to you, here's the recipe:

The "cake" part:

Today's Jim's birthday!

This photo is from Saturday night. We had a sleepover birthday party to celebrate Jim's big day. The Pure Jeevan home was filled with loving friends, amazing raw food dishes, and vibrations from some fun group drumming!

Happy, happy birthday, Jim! May all your wishes come true and your life always be filled with health, love, laughter, and friendships! I love you!

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.

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In this video, Wendi talks with Leela Mata about the different branches of yoga and how diet and raw foods affect the practice of yoga. Of all the branches of yoga, Hatha Yoga is the most popular in the United States.Mata Ji explains that it is through the practice of Hatha Yoga, strengthening the body through the asanas (poses), that you awaken on a deeper level. You will become more open to connecting with your spiritual nature, to realizing more about yourself.

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?

I met Dr. Doug Graham in person at the Raw Spirit Festival. He has a soft, gentle voice but his message is anything but soft. He's straight-forward about diet and health being intimately related. Dr. D. invited me to be his guest this past Saturday at a doctors' convention where he boldly stated to his audience of doctors: "I'm probably not going to make you all that happy with the things I'm going to tell you."

There he was, standing in front of a room of doctors who have taken an oath to harm none. These doctors were there to learn about health and nutrition, but I don't think they had any idea about what they were going to learn from Dr. D. "What I say may fly in the face of what you've been taught," Dr. D. admitted. Many of the doctors leaned forward a bit, eyes and ears a bit more open at the thought of hearing something radical.

We're still busy researching cities in order to find our future home town!? Our original list of potentials is now more of less narrowed down to a few select areas. That's not to say that we're not still open to further suggestions. (See here for our desires in a new home town.)? At the moment, of the cities/regions remaining on our "active" list, the Ashland, Oregon area is looking fairly attractive. So, we thought we'd take a moment to ask a few questions about Ashland. But first, here's why...

Originally, we felt highly drawn to Corvallis, Oregon. It seemed like the absolute perfect place for us -- a phenomenal homeschooling / unschooling community (which is what first caught our attention), a progressive / artsy atmosphere, affordable land, and super-clean air. Great, right ! ?But then we looked at the amount of sunshine the city received ... hmmm, no improvement whatsoever over Pittsburgh (in fact, Corvallis is, unfortunately, equally as gloomy -- at 44% of the days having sun).