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.

We're going to be running the above banner for a few days as we bring you highlights of the raw food scene in the beautiful Florida Keys.

Is cacao dangerous or is it a super food? Anyone who's been learning about raw foods knows about raw cacao (check out a recent episode of Know Your Food: Cacao). It's raw chocolate without all the processing and additives normally included in the chocolate bars many buy from standard grocery stores. In its raw form, cacao has different nutritional components than typical processed chocolate. Many claim that raw chocolate is filled with mega doses of nutrients, making it a super food, and therefore extremely healthy for the human body. Others claim that even in its raw state, cacao is a stimulant that taxes the human body and cacao is more like a poison than a food. I've heard murmurs about negative effects of cacao for many years, but that was always subdued by the vociferous praise of cacao.

Recently, my friend Kevin Gianni (The Renegade Health Show) spoke out about cacao and his experiences with it. Kevin is well known in the raw food community, so his words came as a shock to many people. He explained in his video (below) that he developed a rash on his stomach. After much investigating and diet changes, he came to the conclusion that cacao was causing the rash (eliminating the cacao caused his skin to clear). He also stated that cacao had been stripping his body of vital minerals. Kevin pointed out that he was simply sharing his own experience with cacao, possibly shedding some light on a subject that may need to be further investigated. He advised others to take a look at their own reactions to the food, to see if they are experiencing any problems.

As you read this, calming violins open a familiar tune and that sweet mellifluous voice of Etta James soon enters your mind: "At laaaaaaaaassssst. My looooove has come along....." Great tune, right ! Well, it's appropriate here because, at LAST, here's the long-awaited Episode #9 of Know Your Food! That's right, friends, today we're going to explore the wondrous FIG in all of its sweet, soothing glory. One taste and happiness blossoms within you, washing over your entire being... We only wish that the following video was as professionally rendered as this paragraph of evocative prose... (but, we promise we'll get there one day).

In case you missed the actual nutrition info in that video (what little there was, LOL), here's the transcript:

I started writing on a raw food forum about the oranges coming in today. But, I was on my way out the door and I had more to say about them than I realized, so, I figured I'd paste what I wrote, so far, and add to it here in our blog. ;-)


(organic oranges and grapefruits)

Hi there, Pure Jeevan family! ?Jim here... A few weeks ago, I'd been reading about Bibi McGill, the guitarist and musical director for Beyonce. It was a fascinating piece (linked to below, actually) and, to my complete surprise at the time, touched on her fairly serious interest in raw foods -- and, wouldn't you know, she also lives right here in sunny Portlandia!

Soon, I realized that I'd seen her name around town before -- and Wendi did, too! There are these absolutely addictive kale chips, you see... (We like to get them at our local food co-op from time to time because they're truly something special.) ?But, until recently, we didn't piece it all together -- that one person manages to produce this distinctive brand of raw snacks, teach yoga classes here in Stumptown, AND somehow also tour the entire globe as lead guitarist ?for world-class acts like Beyonce and Pink!

(Note: This is a closely-related piece to an earlier post ?entitled "Practice Is Your Key to Going Raw." I'll include a link to that article, below.* This one focuses more on recognizing your current level of progress.)

These days, I spend most of my free time cleaning up our fixer-upper home in Portland, so I haven't been going to the gym or regularly running as I had in the past. ?Hopefully, the house work is sufficient physical activity for me -- it sure does generate an appetite most days!

What better way to start our Fun-Filled Friday than by celebrating Jim's birthday ! He worked for half the day and now he's home for a long weekend. So far we've had a nice lunch (cashew/macadamia cheese with red peppers and celery) and birthday pie (mango and pineapple!) after singing "Happy Birthday" to him! This evening we'll have veggie stir-not-fry, since that's what Jim has requested. I prepared it earlier and it's in the dehydrator to marinade and get a bit warm.

One reason I keep going on and on lately about raw desserts and raw ice creams is best conveyed with an example. ?Here are the ingredients in Cool Whip, a commonly available whipped topping:

  • water
  • hydrogenated vegetable oil (coconut and palm kernel oils)
  • high fructose corn syrup
  • corn syrup
  • skim milk
  • light cream
  • less than 2% of:
  • sodium caseinate
  • natural and artificial flavors
  • xanthan and guar gums
  • polysorbate 60
  • sorbitan monostearate
  • beta carotene (color)

Wow, I had a chemistry set in 5th grade that had a lot of things that sounded like some of those items. It's actually mind-boggling to envision the industrial processes necessary to produce everything on that list -- not that it's entirely possible to do so. After all, among the list of ingredients are "natural and artificial flavors." Ever wonder what, exactly, those are?

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!

We get asked from time to time about whether we like to use protein powders and, if so, which brands we like. As you'll no doubt notice after getting into raw foods for a while, raw foodies (just like quite a lot of health-conscious people) often get into various powdered food additives. Some purists are against their use, of course. But, we're not so dead set against them. We do, however, believe that, if you're going to put something into your body as part of a health program, you should be conscious about it.

A few months ago, Wendi decided that she wanted to add some protein into her diet in the form of a protein powder. She did quite a bit of research at the time into the various brands available, charting out which ones were raw, which ones had various ingredients, and so forth. It was a fairly in-depth study, done for personal reasons unrelated to Pure Jeevan's blog articles. So, we never mentioned it before.