In a previous Take the Time Tuesday entry, we introduced you to three fantastic raw food snack companies who have offered to donate samples of their products for our upcoming retreat. If you haven't heard about the 3-Day Raw Food Spiritual Retreat, yet, there is still some space for you to join us from May 23-25, 2008! We ve set this retreat up so that it s as affordable as possible. There s a significant savings if you sign up early, too, so be sure to check it out!

Each individual attending the retreat will receive a gift basket filled with delicious raw food treats from some truly fantastic companies. Keep an eye on the retreat page to see other companies that will be sharing delicious raw food snacks with those attending the retreat! Today, we'd like you to...

Here's an impromptu interview with Matt Miller, the gourmet raw foods chef from Maggie's Mercantile, a vegan/raw restaurant in Pittsburgh, PA. We met Matt @ a recent Raw Foods Meetup here in Pittsburgh. In the video, we discuss Matt's famously addictive raw blue corn chips -- deemed by yours truly as the "holy grail" of raw foods. Below, I'll go over the ingredients, etc.

Basically, Matt said that, to make these chips, you would:

Jim here... As you may have noticed, Pure Jeevan was offline for the past week. I wish this absence had been for some pleasant reason that I could now write about. But, in truth, it was because my mother passed away last Thursday afternoon. It's not easy to write about so soon afterward; we're all painfully unprepared to describe my mother using the past tense. Her passing still just doesn't seem real to me or to anyone who knew her.She was without a doubt a remarkably beautiful, happy, and loving person who, for 65+ years, really made a difference in a lot of people's lives.

Beyond her ties to Wendi, KDcat, and me, she was also known to some Pure Jeevan family members as well as others in the raw food community. She appeared here just a few months ago to share a raw hummus recipe. And, I know she had visited and/or joined a few other raw foods sites during the past two years. She really did have an interest in it, and always loved her veggies and a good salad. In fact, she was one of those people who actually ate fairly healthfully, relatively speaking, yet still faced serious health challenges.

Today we welcome an up-and-coming raw chef, Sam, from DebbieDoesRaw for the first of Pure Jeevan's new Makin' It Monday "Guest Raw Chef" editions. Sam will demonstrate how to make a simple Peach Pudding, which she tells us is the invention of her very good friend Anthony from Rawmodel.com. We think Sam did a super job! Don't you ! Sam, you're welcome to guest-host on our blog any time you like.

While I was growing up in the Midwest, I had a rich uncle who lived out East in Philadelphia. I didn't know him very well at the time, but would often glean stories via the family grape vines of his business successes. After high school, I attended college in Northeastern Pennsylvania -- Wilkes University -- where, incidentally, I first met Wendi! :-)

Being out there, I got to visit my uncle from time to time, and dine with him and his family. ?Among other things, he was quite the gourmand. I'm not so sure what he'd have thought of raw foods, although I suspect he'd have appreciated the many gourmet efforts.

Before officially starting the new year, I'd like to acknowledge the changes and growth that took place over the past year. It was a whirlwind of changes, sometimes so dizzying that I wondered what I was doing and occasionally questioned whether, or not, I was making mistakes with my life. I followed my intuition, however, and it served me well. I'm here today, remembering the past year and ready to announce plans for this new year that has just begun. It's a beautiful life, isn't it Even when things seem dark and like there is a lot of pain, there is a tremendous amount of potential for new growth and a brighter life than ever imagined.

I ended 2008, perched on a summit and ready to take flight. Before I fly, however, I'm standing still for a bit and enjoying the view. I feel like the entire past year consisted of climbing to higher and higher plateaus of an enormous mountain. While climbing to each new plateau I stumbled, held on for dear life, saw amazing things, and became stronger.When reaching each new plateau, I'd spread my wings and leap, circling the mountain's circumference. But, I wasn't strong enough to fly straight to the peak. It was a year of gradual growth and change -- and I found myself becoming stronger and stronger as I reached the summit.I'm certainly not the same person who started this climb. I have transformed into a more genuine version of myself, a younger and stronger woman emerging from a lifetime of guilt and fear. As I stand on this summit, I feel youthful and invigorated. What lies ahead may be unknown to me, but I know it's within my ability to fly to the highest heights of ANY mountain, to see and do and experience ALL that I desire. It's going to be an incredible future and I look forward to sharing it with all of you!

In recognizing all of the accomplishments of 2008, I think it's important to admit that it wasn't one steady climb to the point I'm at today.The few years prior to 2008 were almost like my training in mountain climbing. Last year there were a lot of tears shed, along with a releasing of physical and emotional baggage that was still clinging to me. I openly shared what I was going through, however, after learning that keeping things inside was slowly killing my spirit. I think if I had to sum up 2008 in just one sentence it would be: In finally releasing everything, I woke up as my true self.

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!

Pure Jeevan hosts the Pittsburgh Raw Food Meetup this Sunday, November 2, at 3:00 p.m.! Click here for details and a map link. We hope you can make it. We'd love to spend time with you!

Original Comments

Below, we have included the original comments from this blog post. Additional comments may be made via Facebook, below.

Within the raw food community, a controversy seems to have been brewing for the better part of a year! The topic: Agave nectar (also called agave syrup). Surely by now most people know what agave nectar is. For anyone who doesn't, it's a thick liquid sweetener made from, you guessed it, the agave plant.

In general, the production of tasty agave nectar involves heating the plant to a certain temperature (which varies widely according to which manufacturer is making it and which species of agave is used). The extent of this heating constitutes a significant part of the controversy (as most raw foodists believe that heating any food over a certain temperature, usually somewhere between 105 and 118 degrees fahrenheit, renders it "dead").

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

YELLOW PEA POWDER

In the spring of 2005 this natural body builder became a champion bodybuilder - all on a strict? vegan diet. Robert Cheeke, an activist/athlete raised on an Oregon farm, went vegan when he was 15 years old and transitioned to full on vegan only two months later. Winning titles in Portland, OR and competing at the Natural Bodybuilding World Championships held in California, Robert maintains his intense mass building workout regime on a 100% animal-free diet.