If you've been following us for some time, you'll know that we are continually working on projects that will either serve our raw food community or educate others about the health benefits of a raw food lifestyle. If you are new here, or just getting to know us, you can read a summary of what we accomplished last year and a summary of the projects we're currently working on. We're serious about our goal to inspire others to learn about and embrace the raw food lifestyle and community. I've always been someone who helps others, who senses in what direction they are headed and then offers inspiration to keep them moving. I love the work we do as Pure Jeevan and it is extremely rewarding to receive so much gratitude from many of you. But, guess what? Sometimes I get tired!

Sure, some of you may be saying, "But, wait! People who eat raw foods are supposed to be power houses of energy -- able to continually keep active and never run out of steam." Well, that is very true. So, I take it back. I'm not really "tired" like I said -- my body is able to wake up in the morning, easily fall asleep in the evening, and go about its daily work without feeling like it's run down.However, I am feeling like I need a rest from all that I've been doing. Maybe I don't need to sleep hours and hours, because my body isn't truly tired. None of my being is truly tired -- my body, mind, spirit, and emotions are feeling great, actually.

However, I still feel like I need a break from my routine. On top of that, I've been feeling uncomfortable in the cold weather even more this year than I did last year. It hurts all the way down, deep inside my bones. I feel like it will take a lifetime to thaw from the cold I've been feeling here in Pittsburgh. The sun rarely shines, and the snow and ice are brutal on someone eating only raw foods. My instincts told me two years ago that it was time to move to a warmer, sunnier climate, but that hasn't happened yet (even though we are patiently working on it, as Jim pointed out in an earlier post).

Let's take a quick look at a few dessert pictures, then compare and contrast, shall we First up is a small slice of some normal pastry:

Looks sinful, right It seems to proudly display its bready crust, its gooey chocolate center, some sort of butter-rich top layer coated with lovable little bits and bobs, and a liberal sprinkling of confectioner's sugar to make the whole thing cute as a wintry scene from one of those holiday specials hosted by the claymation likeness of Burl Ives. I'm sure it's delightfully rich, too. A tad small, though, eh ? It's probably all anyone can take of such decadence without worrying about clogged arteries or putting in extra time on the tread mill for the next three days.

In this video, Wendi talks with Leela Mata, spiritual leader of the Peaceful Valley Ashram, about her experiences with the raw food diet and a bit about a cob oven structure that was built on the ashram property. This is part 2 of a 5-part series featuring Peaceful Valley Ashram.

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!

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!

Wow, I just took a gander at the "Best of Raw" web site and saw that Pure Jeevan is nominated for all sorts of great things -- singling out Wendi, me, Pure Jeevan, this blog, and the All Raw Directory over at least eight different categories!

We really appreciate the nominations, so thanks so much to those who took the time to do that. We'd love it if you would vote for us for "Favorite Raw Blog." (You can do that now by going here.) Of all the things we were nominated for, that's probably the one we've really put the most effort into.

Jim here... A little over a month ago, we couldn't contain our excitement about an online contest to win the best job EVER -- living as caretaker of a tropical island in Queensland, Australia, on the Great Barrier Reef for 6 months (and being paid $100k for the task!).

The deadline has come for this and, as we promised, we BOTH applied. My video was the first to be processed. So, we posted a screenshot above, which you can click to go view it (or just click here) -- and also please vote and rate it a 5!!! (I've heard that the rating system can get a little screwy on that site -- that you need to wait for it to load and maybe mouse over the rating part first. But, a 5-star rating would really help, as would the traffic, even if you don't watch the entire video.

We tried it in the past, this most unusual fruit. While in Chicago recently, we decided to give it one more try! You see, the first time we tried it we were ... let's just say "not big fans" of the infamous durian. (Here's an episode of Kevin Gianni's Renegade Health Show, shot in our home, documenting that day.) It's a stinky fruit to most, although some claim to enjoy the bizarre odor (which is sometimes described as dirty sock and propane gas smell). If you can get past the smell to give it a taste, you'll be greeted by a taste as strange as the odor. Wendi describes it as a sweet onion pierogie, but each person seems to have a different opinion about this odd fruit.

In this current video our raw friend Debbie Gedayloo-Bennett, whom we met in Chicago, jumped at the opportunity to hang out for a bit of a durian experience. Debbie is on the pro-durian side of the fence that divides those who love and those who hate the alien-like fruit. Wendi was still sitting on the fence, not making up her mind after the initial taste with Kevin and Annmarie. Jim was adamantly sitting far from the love side of the fence, refusing to even attempt approaching the pro side. Debbie was a pro in opening this spiny fruit, so she agreed to open it while on video so that we could share the experience and knowledge with all of you.

Jim here...As vegans and vegetarians, we're familiar with what we believe is quite a lot of misinformation regarding our lifestyle. However, we've done the research and, for example, know how we get our protein (always a concern received from others), know the stats on B12 deficiency (another concern often cited by mainstreamers), and know our answers to other issues such as where we get our minerals from and whether we consume processed foods and sugars. Bucking the mainstream conventional wisdom emergent from within a world dominated by the Standard American Diet, we live defiantly as healthy examples of our chosen path. But, is there any wiggle room as far as what is and isn't healthy (for us, and for everyone)? What about some of the things that everyone "knows" is bad for you? With questions like those in mind, here's something unusual -- a full post developed from a simple Facebook update. (You are friends with Wendi and me on Facebook, right ) Yesterday, I posted the following:

Think of something that you think is bad for you, and then go to Google & type in "benefits of [that thing]" and see if there is a web site that is promoting that thing. I just did this for "caffeine" and read some thought-provoking ideas (that might all be utter BS, but are interesting nonetheless).

Here it is: Putting it all together. Here you'll see what we use for our taco shells and how we build up our taco. Quite often, we also make a raw sour creme using cashew nuts and lemon juice. But, for these tacos, it'll just be meat, salsa, and guac. Enjoy!