Driving to work today, we noticed that McDonald's has launched its latest product aimed at the health-conscious demographic. In case you haven't heard, you can now purchase fruit smoothies at Mickey D's! Sounds like real progress, right? Well, let's take a closer look and see if they're really as healthy as they sound.

McDonald's is not exactly known as a healthfood destination. After all, a typical lunch at the Golden Arches these days might well include something like an Angus Bacon & Cheese, Large Fries, and a Large Coke. ?Together, that's 1,600 calories, 64 grams of fat, and 2,400 mg of sodium, 99% of which is from highly cooked, highly processed, non-organic, factory-farmed, nutrition-barren source materials . (Add on another 75 calories and 550 more mg of sodium if you plan to go through, say, five packets of ketchup along with those fries.) (Source) And, some people eat that daily!

A few years ago, my dear friend Melissa and I decided to split the cost and order a raw food home study course (then known as The Dr. Ann Wigmore Program).Let me tell you, this was not a cheap program that we purchased, but at that time there wasn't as much free information available on the Internet like we now have.

Was it worth the cost? Well, kind of. Since we had both been reading and learning so much about raw foods (she had actually been raw for a long time many years before), much of the information wasn't new to us. However, if someone was newly learning about raw foods, the program would probably have been fantastic. The quality of the materials we received wasn't great (photocopies of photocopies that were sometimes difficult to read, and some videos that were blurry or difficult to hear), but at least we had a lot of information at our fingertips.

Even though it's not time to share everything with you about the life-changing events going on with us here at Pure Jeevan, I'm going to try harder to squeeze in a few minutes once in a while to update this blog with other information. I miss coming here and connecting with all of you. Thank you for so many lovely emails that you've been sending to me. I will be responding to all of you very soon. Please forgive me for taking so long to respond, but once we fill you in on everything that's been going on, I think you'll understand that it's difficult to find time to keep up with email and blog writing, among other things.

The latest news, as far as raw foods go, is that I'm having a love affair with a particular fruit. When I was transitioning to raw foods over two years ago, and also during the first few months of eating 100% raw foods, I was in love with young Thai coconuts. I couldn't get enough of them and they did some amazing things for my body---the most amazing was lowering my cholesterol to a healthy range within one month! After many months of consuming at least one coconut per day, however, my love affair ended. I still loved those Thai coconuts, but they just weren't as attractive to me anymore.

At a recent raw food meetup, I was surprised that so many raw foodies aren't aware of the raw almond controversy. Maybe most of our Pure Jeevan family members aren't aware of the fact that most almonds are not raw. It's sad, but very true. In 2006 a mandatory almond pasteurization ruling was created. The rule was passed sometime in 2007, I believe, and since then it's been near impossible to purchase truly raw almonds. Maybe pasteurized almonds don't seem like a big deal to most people.

Raw almonds are alive, yet dormant until they are soaked. Once soaked (or moistened in the springtime rains when outdoors), they sprout to begin growing into almond trees. Once soaked and sprouted, the nutritional content of the nuts change significantly. They are alive and filled with protein and so much more!

Leaving Sin City, our fearless raw travelers headed south to Arizona for all sorts of raw food adventures. First up was a trip to Prescott Valley to meet Abi and Eli. Let's take a peek into Wendi's travelogue again, shall we

You probably haven't met our official tour guide yet. We call her Simone. She's a bit testy at times, but always gets us safely to our destination (although sometimes in rather roundabout ways). She added an extra one-time $89 fee to our trip budget, but we're very satisfied with her performance so far. You see, Simone is our trusty GPS unit!

Leaving Las Vegas, she guided us through the Hoover Dam area on our way to Arizona, a geographic area that I think would be better described as a "state of extremes." There, we experienced super hot, sunny days, freezing nights, snow outside even when it's sunny and hot, and also a bizarre experience we had in which some bananas actually froze and then nearly roasted all in the same day.

Today, and every day, I am thankful for lovely Mother Earth. Where would we be without Mother? May we always care for her in a gentle and loving way.

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This weekend is Mother's Day, so today's Thankful Thursday is dedicated to the memory of my own mother, Elizabeth.

Hey there, everyone! Thanks for visiting Pure Jeevan. We want our welcome article, for now, to be this article on Vitamix blenders. There are certainly a few essential elements (e.g. good knives, cutting boards, a good food processor, etc.) to any raw food kitchen, and one of them is an awesome high-speed blender. Yes, there are many great blenders in the world, and yes there are a few decent top-of-the-line models on par with Vita-Mix. But, at the end of the day, our recommendation is the Vita-Mix (and yes, it's better than Blendtec, in our view). Here's a crazy video Jim did a while back for a Vitamix contest:

Note: That "free shipping" code, below, is no longer active. We'll let you know when we get a new free shipping code. For now, we hope you enjoy the video. :-)

We purchased ours 15+ years ago, and have subjected it to at least daily use (if not many times per day most of the time!) -- and it's still going strong. If you don't understand why a Vita-Mix is different from even a high-end blender from a department store, it's basically the sheer power. These things can pulverize pretty much anything -- time after time, without blowing out the motor. For example, you can make ultra-thick, healthy, raw ice creams day after day all summer long, and the machine will keep on working for years (and, in our case, we're almost ready to say "decades").

We used to be an affiliate w/ them, and are reapplying to be one. For now, we hope you like the video, above.

A Bit of India in Pittsburgh s Back Yard?

During an intense personal journey in recent years, I ve discovered that the more I m able to know my true self, the more my perception of the world changes. As a result, my surroundings have changed as well ?people, places, directions. At one point, internal and external changes happened so rapidly, it was difficult to fully process anything; I felt overwhelmed.

Amid urges to explore so many new directions, all at the same time, it became impossible to focus. My initial instinct was to flee to India, where I could peacefully stay at an ashram and process all that was transpiring in my mind. Although circumstances kept me from traveling abroad, I knew I needed to simplify. That s when I remembered an old issue of Point of Light I d kept. I dug it out and quickly flipped through the pages? There it was: Peaceful Valley Ashram & Retreat, located just north of Pittsburgh!

I'm going to be including questions and answers more often on the blog, since we've had a lot of emails from many of you saying you found last week's Q&A helpful and fun to read. I have many questions I've been saving to share with others, and more come in daily. Don't be shy if you have a question about anything that you think I'd possibly be able to help you with. Simply send me an email asking, and I'll reply to you personally. Questions that I feel might have a more general interest may be shared here on the blog (with the questioner being anonymous).

[Please email questions to me, rather than post them here on the blog: WendiDee [at] PureJeevan.com.]

Here it is, the final stop along our 40-day cross-country tour, Chicago, IL, before returning home to Jim! It's been an incredible time, meeting so many wonderful people, seeing so much natural beauty across the country, deciding where we'll relocate once our home sells, tasting incredible raw foods along the way, and spreading the word about the raw food lifestyle whenever an opportunity presented itself!

Below you'll find the final notes I wrote about our tour, along with some videos and pictures of our final stop in Chicago, Illinois.

We definitely arrived in Chicago refreshed and ready for some adventures. So, we headed directly downtown to search out a new raw food restaurant that our friends Kathy and Danny Living had mentioned to us.

RAW, the newly opened restaurant by Polly Gaza and Carole Jones, is situated inside the Ogilvie Train Station in a recently constructed French Market food court. When we figured out how to get into the market, we were impressed. It's a nice concept and has a fun feeling to it, just strolling along a market place (all while inside a large building housing a train station) that seemed as though it was almost outdoors. When we found the new RAW restaurant, we were thrilled. The colors, decorations, and displays were all very well done. We had to wait a while to talk with the owners, since the restaurant was doing some great business when we arrived. You can see a video we took of the owners, below, and find out more about the restaurant on their web site: Chicago Raw Food. The video was edited down because the sound quality wasn't very good, but you'll hear some inspiring thoughts from Carole about manifesting your dreams and how she and Polly simply manifested the restaurant by beginning with their thoughts. Carole advises: Live Your Passions!

After leaving the restaurant, we headed straight to Borrowed Earth Cafe to visit with our friends Kathy and Danny Living. For those of you who don't already know them, Kathy and Danny are incredibly loving people who are down to earth and doing some incredible things with their lives (manifesting along the same lines that Carole touches on in the video, above, and also inspiring others along the way to live their dreams and treat the planet with kindness). We first met Danny and Kathy last year during a visit to Chicago, and we immediately loved them. If we hadn't met them last year, our route back home during this tour wouldn't have included a stop in Chicago. However, we did meet them and I wanted to spend more time with them so a stop in Chicago was added to our trip itinerary. I love their energy, their soft and gentle loving nature, and to top it off the raw foods they serve in their Borrwed Earth Cafe are delicious. So, KDcat and I were looking forward to spending time with them again (and Jim was sad to miss out on seeing them this time).

When I told Danny and Kathy that we were coming in for a visit during our tour, they asked if we'd be interested in talking to their raw food meetup group. We agreed, of course, and they introduced us to David Hanley, a member of their large group. David hosted us for our stay in Chicago and we had a nice time getting to know him. He's into stairclimb racing, yoga, software development, loves fixing homes (like Jim does), raw foods, and so much more. In his home, David has a massage chair that KDcat really enjoyed a lot. David drove us to our talk at the meetup, where we met with even more incredible people. It was a large group, so we met at a Whole Foods meeting room not very far from the cafe. There were a lot of questions from those attending the talk, which I always enjoy. It's nice to meet so many people who are interested in learning a about ways they can improve their health.

That evening, we shared with David the generous amounts of raw foods that Kathy and Danny had sent home with us for the evening. We enjoyed things like Borrowed Earth's World Famous Salad, Burrito Loco, Sweet Potato Quesadilla, a green smoothie, some cheese cake, and the most incredible raw apple pie I've ever tasted. I'm not kidding about that statement, either. I used to consider myself queen of the apple pie back when I baked my foods, and this raw apple pie that Kathy and Danny have created was even more delicious than my best baked apple pie. If you don't believe me, it's worth a trip to Chicago just to check it out! Absolutely DELICIOUS! Maybe if enough people ask, Kathy and Danny will share the recipe with all of you through one of our special guest chef editions of Makin' It Monday!

Before leaving Chicago and heading toward home, we stopped by Borrowed Earth Cafe once more to spend a little extra time with Kathy and Danny. We had great fun together and as much as KDcat and I were looking forward to being with Jim again, we wished we had more time to spend with Kathy and Danny. While there, we talked a lot about the power of intention and creating our futures. Danny also brought out some tuning forks and balanced my energy using them. Let me tell you, that was some powerful healing he was doing. After he was done, I felt euphoric and grounded all at the same time. I was filled with even more love than I normally feel flowing within and without my body. Wow! When I told Jim about it, we agreed that we'd like to learn more about tuning forks, too.

Danny and Kathy are always a wealth of knowledge and inspiration and I was sad to leave their company. Before going, they sent us out the door with even more delicious raw foods to feed us until we returned home. There was even some leftover to share with Jim when we arrived home the following evening!

Below, you'll see a video we took while visiting Borrowed Earth Cafe last year during our visit to Chicago. You can see in this video how incredibly sweet Kathy and Danny are, but you can tell even better by meeting them in person, yourself. If you're in the Chicago, IL, area, be sure to stop by and introduce yourself to them!

So, that ends our tour! After Chicago we headed back to Pittsburgh to be reunited with Jim. The next time we cross the country, we'll be doing it together as a family. Being apart like we did it this time (which was necessary for budgetary reasons) took away from some of the fun we could have all experienced together.

Again, it was such a joy meeting so many of you as we visited different cities and states. Thanks, again, to everyone who hosted us and showed us a great time in your little part of the country! It's a trip we'll never forget, and one that will always bring fond memories to mind.

Lots of love to all of you,

Wendi

XOXOXO

p.s. Don't forget to show support of our Trip Snack Sponsor, Natural Zing, who made the snack portion of this trip possible! Thanks, again, Helen and Jeff! We love you both!

We hope you ll check out our generous snack sponsor for the trip, Natural Zing, who made our travels extra enjoyable! They have the best selection of raw food snacks, supplies, and appliances for a raw food lifestyle!