You know that old saying about a picture being worth a thousand words? Well, today we want to add a thousand words to your daily informational intake.

Take the time to meet

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:

We're heading out of town again! This time we'll be visiting Leela Mata at her Peaceful Valley Ashram, the location of the first raw food spiritual retreat I held last year.

Here's a video I took of Leela Mata last year:

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We've promised many of you that we'd share some ideas for the whole family (especially the children), so here's one idea that might prove particularly popular. In a household of two former English majors, it's only natural that we've always adored and admired alliteration. So, we may be biased to believe that these "Breathtakingly Bejeweled Blueberry Banana Breakfast Bowls" will be as beloved by your beauteous bellies as they are by ours. See what you think!

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:

Hey everyone!? I hope you're doing well. We started out the week with a great video from Joe, Tracey, and Heather. I thought I'd stay with the video blog format for a while, as I've been capturing some outstanding stuff here in Chicago. (We're here until Thursday.)? Well, a few of the vids are "okay," but the bulk of them are absolutely amazing, so be sure to check in every day for these great Chicago vids. (BTW, I'll dub this series, "The Chicago Raw Food Scene," although partially misleadingly so, as the videos are not always *about* Chicago, per se. Rather, we shot all of the videos *in* Chicago. So, pardon the slightly misleading banner graphic.)

Hi everyone. Did you miss me on Friday? Was your entire day absolutely hinging on evaluating the quality of the raw salad dressing recipe that you very rightly expected to see demonstrated right here? ... and then I posted nothing at all! Well, missing one day isn't so bad, really. I think it's the first one I've missed since Wendi stepped away from the blog temporarily. Anyone want to guess what happened? ... Yep, a nasty case of the flu took me down!?

O, my raw friends, I thought I was a goner Friday -- thought for sure I had th' deadly swine. But, being the resilient, nearly infallible raw foodie that I am, I totally kicked it's porcine rear end, and am now supercharged and ready to rock and roll once again here on Pure Jeevan's blog!

Ever since developing a personal conviction a few years ago that following a raw vegan existence was the best lifestyle for me, I've lived somewhat in conflict with the day-to-day corporate business environment in which I make my living at the moment. As we've directly stated many, many times, we're in the process of changing all of that. But, making such a huge change takes a long time because careers are in many ways very anchoring. We may write more about that process because it's true that going raw (or, really, adopting any kind of diet outside of what most other people eat) can lead to significant changes in your life. Between Wendi and me, I think we've gone through pretty much all of them, and there's certainly value and relevance in sharing most of those things here. Today, though, I thought I'd share what I call my "$75 Salad Story."

In the business world, "networking" is among the more prevalent activities anyone does. It's pretty much always going to involve food , right? It's always a breakfast briefing, meeting a client over lunch, or attending a dinner party (complete with a cocktail hour). ?The deck is more or less stacked against you at these things because, let's face it, they're usually set up to provide what most people perceive as a pleasant experience. And, quite often, that means a certain degree of culinary decadence / indulgence -- invariably at venues that have never heard of raw chocolate or raw apple pie (which, to me, is 10x more appealing and exciting than the ubiquitous "chocolate fountain").

As raw foods enthusiasts for many years, Wendi and I have had the pleasure of patronizing raw food restaurants literally from coast to coast. Between us, we've been blessed to have sampled a more diverse spread of raw gourmet foods than have most people. (We hope that many others get to do this as well!)

From time to time in anyone's raw journey, it seems inevitable that thoughts crop up about opening a raw restaurant. For some, it's likely no more than a passing fantasy; for others, it may well become a firm business goal. We believe this is a fine and noble goal -- one that we'd like to see more people accomplish!

Last time on Raw Foods 101 we answered the question, "Why should you soak nuts / seeds before eating them."? Naturally, many readers then asked the next logical question, "How LONG should I soak them before eating " Great question!

Don't forget:? You're soaking the nuts and seeds to "wake them up" as would happen in nature. When seeds are soaked in the springtime rain, they wake up and begin to sprout. When this happens, the nutritional content of the nuts and seeds changes (they become an even greater powerhouse of nutrients).

Jim here... An unusual occurrence prompted this post, and I'm unsure as to whether it's significant. I've talked about some of my favorite non-raw items before -- things that were tough to leave behind as I embarked upon this raw foods journey. I think I covered pizza in a relatively recent post.

Corn chips were another. In fact, after Wendi went 100% raw and I more or less began to follow her dietary choices, I clung to corn chips for dear life for quite a long time. I began eating a LOT of salsa in those days. Sometimes, that would be all I'd eat for lunch -- just an entire jar of salsa and a bag of corn chips (though, by then, I'd at least usually buy the organic ones and, quite often, a baked variety of chips as well).

When I finally decided I'd be better off transitioning to an all raw lifestyle, I figured my love affair with corn chips had come to an end. Farewell beautiful chips, I thought. I'll never forget our delicious crunchy time together. And that was that. I never looked back.

But then, at a local raw foods pot luck, I met a raw chef who had more or less perfected a raw corn chip recipe. Could it be , I thought. Has this delicacy returned to me after all, as though via some sweet culinary destiny? Ahh, my friends, that was a glorious day. Chips and salsa had returned to me in an enlightened raw form. I could enjoy them once again, guilt free. And enjoy them I did -- usually using a local shop's "Peruvian Purple Corn" (a living, sproutable, dried corn product).

Alas, fate stepped in once again. "Thou may partake of these crisps any time thou wishest," fate boomed. "Yet, in order to do so, thou must prepare them thine self using thine Vitamix and requiring an enormous flax-sticky mess with extended clean-up time, and thou must have parchment paper available at all times, and thou must exercise great care and patience in using your Excalibur, for these chips must dry for many an hour before ready."

Yeah, it was a bit of a chore to produce them. So, as the novelty of chip making and eating wore off, I slowly decreased the frequency of going through the messy, time-consuming hassle of preparing them. Until yesterday, it had been literally months since I made a batch. But... we'd ordered a few pounds of the corn from Natural Zing lately, and I found myself with some extra time the other night. So...

Now, I'm going to pause for a minute for a tangent on digestion. I know a great majority of people, it seems, complain of various digestive disorders. As a result, we have many raw foodie specialists schooled in the nuances of food combining. Oddly, I never paid much attention to these discussions, nor offered input on these matters, because they simply weren't relevant to me.

In fact, I likened my own digestive system to some kind of nuclear powered garbage disposal. It didn't matter what I ate; digestion wasn't a problem for me. So, for example, I'd routinely finish off heavy meals, and then follow them with a huge slice of juicy watermelon (a major no-no according to common wisdom). It just never bothered me.I always joked that, even though I'd been raw for ages, I could still probably go eat a Big Mac (not that I would) and be unaffected by it.

So powerful was my stomach acid that, admittedly, I sometimes privately *worried* whether this might mean something was wrong with me. I mean, shouldn't some of the things I was eating make me sick? Was it "good" to not be made sick by what is generally regarded as poor food combining choices? Do people commonly suffer from problems of efficiency as well as deficiency ? I still do not really know the answer to these questions, and suspect the answer is rather complicated, anyway. Fortunately, it doesn't matter now because...

Something finally made me sick!? I'm laughing now about that, but I spent most of the evening in terrible stomach pain after having over-indulged in some of those (in)famous raw purple corn chips.

So, what happened ? That's an interesting question for me. Here are some possibilities: (1) Perhaps my hyper-active digestive system *was* in fact a problem, and now it's beginning to normalize. Perhaps, had I been healthier all along, I would have been made sick by some of my food choices, but now my health is improving!? (2) Perhaps it's a fluke and I simply shouldn't have eaten mass quantities of corn and flax so late at night. (3) Perhaps my body is improving in its ability to communicate with me, and/or that I'm getting better at listening, and that the message here is that corn is not something my body gains nourishment from -- at least, not in this dried-reprocessed-redried form. After all, some leading raw food authorities, like Gabriel Cousens, aren't fans of corn (even fresh corn!).

Oh sure, there may be other explanations (e.g., "a bad batch of corn"). But, I'm actually most interested in #3, above. Even though this is an extreme example (more intense than it needed to be), I'd like to think that I'm getting better at knowing what I'm being nourished from and what I am not. I'd like to think that this is a latent sense that can be developed, much like our ability to know things by feeling and intuition rather via pure rationality all the time.

But, with food, I think it's a matter of inventorying your physical sensations head to toe, and also as a whole. How is the food you're eating making you feel? Do you feel satisfied or still hungry? Do you feel light or is the food sitting kind of heavily? Do you feel energized or dragged down? How's your mental clarity? Do you feel spacey or more grounded? Do you feel noticeably happier or more sad than before? How are all of these things mapping out over time? Is your weight moving in a positive direction for you? Are your illnesses improving? Food is medicine, after all; it has all of these effects and many more!

For now, I think I can safely check purple corn off of my own personal list of foods that make me feel good. I suspect my old assertion about "being able to eat a Big Mac without any side effects" no longer applies -- and maybe this is a good thing. I think perhaps it signals some progress in my journey toward optimal health.

In any case, I think this kind of purposeful introspection is healthy, and something we should all strive to do more often.How about you? Had any similar experiences? What have you learned from them?

Original Comments

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On April 15, 2009, essie wrote: