Every day I receive countless emails filled with questions about the raw food diet, my own success with reducing nearly 100 pounds and regaining health, and pleas for help by many who feel like they've hit bottom and there's no way up. Some emails have me in tears, because I can completely relate to what many of you are going through. I feel your pain, frustration, desperation.

One thing I've always been good at is listening, truly listening to what others are saying (and being an empath allows me to know what some are saying, even when they many times aren't verbalizing it). Another thing I've always been good at is intuitively knowing how to help others who are asking for advice. Jim used to joke that he wanted me to go into business running an advice column because ever since he's known me, I've been the person everyone comes to for help and advice. So, when I receive so many emails asking for help, it feels natural for me to reach out and connect with those needing help. It's what I do best well, that and spreading love!

Jim here... "Do I Need to Eat a Certain Percentage of Raw Foods to Call Myself a Raw Foodist " This seems to be a common question among some people interested in pursuing a raw and living foods lifestyle. I fielded such a question recently online, and thought I'd recap my own answer here, somewhat edited for enhanced clarity:

I know what raw foodism means. And, if you're here, you probably do to, or at least you're interested in it and know the basics. But, to the mainstream population, raw is absolutely unheard of, totally out of the box -- relatively speaking. So, let's begin by taking a look at who in the world has potentially heard of RAW. Let's start more broadly and then hone in.

If you like raw cauliflower and fresh mint, I recommend you try this dish! Jim and KDcat don't like raw cauliflower much, so this dish wasn't a big hit with them. I, however, consumed the entire dish before the end of the day! I LOVED it!

Hi everyone! It's Wendi here, back to updating the blog and giving Jim a much-needed break. ;-) He did an amazing job with all he did while we were away (his full time corporate job; assisting me with a part-time computer job; keeping the house ready for realtors and potential buyers to stop by; dealing with some sad issues around our dog, Julia; connecting with our hosts and those requesting meetups/talks across the country; catching up with KDcat and I for a bit each evening to hear how we were doing; collecting pictures/videos/notes from me to then go through and create blog posts for all of you; helping friends fix up their attic into a useable place; and so much more)! He missed us a lot, and we missed him a lot, too.

So, here we pick up from where we left off with our travels yesterday...

It wasn't easy leaving Arizona. KDcat and I both wished we had more time to play on the rocks in Sedona. But, we'll keep that for a time when all three of us (next time with Jim) can be there to experience the wonder of that beautiful place. So, it was off to New Mexico! Since our host in Albuquerque was going to be busy until the evening, we slept in a bit before leaving Arizona.

In Albuquerque, NM, we stayed in the home of the beautiful Darshanie, who was out of the country visiting her daughter and attending the wedding of her brother. I met Darshanie at the Peaceful Valley Ashram a few years ago (the same ashram where I held a raw food spiritual retreat). She's one of Leela Mata's beautiful and talented daughters, creating candles which she sells as well as offering intuitive readings [click here to learn more about Darshanie]. It was wonderful to be invited to stay with Darshanie during our travels, and I was a bit sad that she wouldn't be there when we arrived, but who would ever miss out on the chance to attend an Indian wedding ! If you're ever invited to attend one, consider it a huge honor and accept the invitation. Indian weddings are breathtakingly beautiful in so many ways.

Here's some coconutty video footage from our Florida Keys excursion. First up is some footage of Randesh, from www.TheGuana.com, who obtains fresh coconuts for Charlie Wilson's Key West restaurant, Help Yourself (see yesterday's blog post).Notice that Randesh uses a proper piece of equipment -- a large machete (or cutlass) -- which makes short, easy work of opening these precious gifts of nature! In the video footage following that, you'll see how comically difficult it is to open a young coconut when you lack the proper equipment. We actually went out looking for a machete, but could only find a large chef's knife at a local K-Mart. Yep, they were sold out of machetes! (Ironically, the chef's knife -- the heaviest one the store had -- cost about $17, while plain old machetes run just $10 or so at most hardware stores. Next time we'll keep looking...)

We've been extremely busy, but KDcat and I did take some time to make some dehydrated food the other day. We rarely ever use the dehydrator, so we've been eating different foods than we normally do and enjoying it.

We didn't take pictures of everything, but here's a list of what we dehydrated:

* kale chips

This past weekend we had the pleasure of Rhio and her partner, Leigh, visiting with us. Rhio was in town for a presentation on Genetically Engineered foods (more about that here) and she took the opportunity to spend some time with us. It was a lovely weekend and we talked about all kinds of things (yes, even non-raw food things!), laughed a lot, enjoyed delicious raw foods, and got to know each other better.

While they were here, Rhio and Leigh agreed to allow us to interview each of them for this blog. Since we needed to keep the interview under ten minutes (the maximum time allowed on most video sites), we decided to ask questions about topics we had already touched on with Rhio and Leigh during their stay--things we thought might be interesting for all of you to hear about.

He's the newest rising star in the Raw Food world.

Take the Time to Meet

We don't always announce birthdays of friends and family here. But this particular individual is an integral part of the raw food community and we want you all to meet her!

Today is the birthday of the radiantly beautiful Penni Shelton! For those of you who don't know Penni, she's an incredible woman; she's got a heart of gold and is filled with love and compassion. She has been a loving friend of Wendi and member of the Pure Jeevan family for a very long time.

KDcat and I returned from the ashram last night filled with peace and motivation to move forward with our current goals (more about this in the upcoming newsletter). However, we also returned to a home with next to no produce in it (well, compared to what we normally have available). What to do? There's no way to run to the co op today (only one car in our home) or this evening, so it's time to be creative. Let's take a look at what Pure Jeevan has in the fridge and on the counter, and we'll see what we can create!

* Huge bunch of broccoli

I had to write an update after my grocery shopping today! Remember I said just yesterday that sometimes people comment about the amount of produce we are buying? Well, a sweet older woman saw all of the bananas going into our cart and she asked, "What are you going to do with all of those bananas " You already know the response I gave: "Eat them!"

One of the really nice workers at the food co op commented that he can eat about eleven bananas sometimes. I told him, and another friend we saw shopping at the same time, that I can do that now, too. I explained how I used to get full on just one banana when I ate cooked foods. But, now that my system is so much cleaner and healthier, I can consume 10-11 bananas in a day (bananas should be covered with brown specks to truly be ripe and digestable). I don't remember the maximum I ever ate in a day--it's somewhere in my Going Raw journal, I'm sure. It might have even been more than 10 or 11 when I was going through my major banana-eating phase. Now I eat about 4-6 bananas a day, which doesn't seem like a lot to me (but in the past I would have wondered about all of those bananas in someone's cart, too!).