In this special five-part series, Joanna Steven uncovers where some top vegetarian athletes get their protein. Here's part five, focusing on Tonya Kay's take on this issue.

AVOCADO

Professional dance is of most challenging sports requiring athletes to perform at expert levels of flexibility, strength, coordination and emotional fitness in order to entertain their audiences. Having been vegetarian since age 7, Tonya Kay has built her glorious professional dance career entirely on a vegetarian diet.

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.

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!

Last year when I organized a raw food spiritual retreat at an ashram, I met some very lovely people. Two of those individuals were Patty and Denny (you can visit their blog to say hello to them). They were new to gourmet raw foods, so they were enthusiastic learners at the retreat. When they returned home after the blissful weekend, they began using their new raw food knowledge. Here are some excerpts of emails I have received from them since the retreat last year:

Well, you said you're motive in putting on this retreat was simply to pass on this valuable information and to help others; you were very successful where we're concerned - it is no exaggeration to say that you have changed our lives forever.

We've been almost 100% raw since the retreat. ... We're so excited about this new way of eating that we bought a new Vita-Mix. ...We can actually say that this has been our most notable and enjoyable dining experience - ever, in our entire lives! No one would ever put that much work into something if it were just for money; it is obvious that you did it from your heart. We feel blessed to have received such a gift.

Jim here... Yesterday I promised to hypnotize you, so here it is (below). This is something I published elsewhere long ago, slightly modified. Interestingly, in the original version, I'd made reference to various cooked food items -- for example, describing the smell of fresh-baked muffins as comforting. Well, as pleasant as that smell may be to everyone, I just thought it would be odd to include it here on a blog devoted to raw foods.

I think, by the way, that next week I may post a piece on aroma and how it dovetails with raw foods. I'm sure there are interesting things to write about that topic. For now, I'll simply point you to the funny hypnotism picture, below. While it characterizes hypnotism as a sort of mystical power wielded over another's true will, that's definitely not the case. As you'll see, the text below is really just a very innocent, very calming, relaxing suggestion. Read it seriously and see if you aren't relaxed and happy afterward. Have a great weekend!

We have something special for today s Makin? It Monday! Remember Terilynn, the brilliant chef behind The Daily Raw Caf , whom we introduced you to not long ago? Well, this weekend she posted a recipe challenge open to anyone willing to participate. We here at Pure Jeevan are always up for an adventure, so thanks for the challenge, Terilynn!

The rules were simple: Use the list of possible ingredients, create a raw vegan food dish, and send pictures and information about your dish to The Daily Raw Caf . Here s the list for the challenge, with the items we didn t have available crossed out:

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!

This pie is amazing and exactly like a traditionally cooked pumpkin pie! I took a few different pie recipes and altered them until I came up with this recipe.

Pumpkin Pie

Filling:

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.

Jim here with another intriguing installment of Weird Wednesday.Look, I'm a hugefan of gigantic, mondo salads. If you (well, not raw foodists but most SAD-diet Americans) were to visit our house at lunch time, you'd likely think that the individual salads on our table are as big as the salads bowls put out for entire families (for those few families, relatively speaking, that serve any salad at all these days, that is).

Seriously, when I have enough prep time, I like to pile 'em high with organic green leaf (though I'll take red leaf or romaine frequently), tomatoes, carrots, onions, peppers, apple slices, pepitos, sunflower seeds, raisins -- basically everything but the kitchen sink.

Just a quick notice that we've posted our December 2009 newsletter. Each month, we email a link to our newsletter to all Pure Jeevan family members. (If you're not receiving that, you're mising out on a ton of awesome raw inspiration and information. You can click here to sign up -- it's free!)

We'll be back tomorrow to continue our coverage of the Chicago raw food scene. As I've been saying for a few days now, you won't want to miss these great interviews!?