Do you need to be 100% raw to release excess weight and regain your health There's no difinitive answer for that question because we are all unique. Sure, our bodies function pretty much the same way, but there are still enough differences that make it difficult to answer a question like that for it to be true for every single individual.

Most of us have heard of, or know, someone who doesn't eat a healthy diet, who smokes cigarettes and/or drinks alcohol, doesn't get enough rest, and also lives a stressful life---yet that person still has a healthy body and is over 80 years old. People like that seem to have resiliency built into their genes. Sure, who knows how long a person with such resilient genes could live or how vibrant a life that person could enjoy with a healtheir lifestyle. But, the fact remains that it seems no matter what a person's lifestyle is like, if you are born with resilient genes you are pretty much invincible to most illnesses.

A majority of the population isn't born with such impressively hardy genes, however. Most bodies can withstand the stresses of an unhealthy lifestyle until middle age. At that point, however, the body begins to show signs of ill health (excess weight gain, aches and pains, and the start of many diseases such as diabetes or high blood pressure). For a majority of those individuals, some healthy lifestyle changes can make a huge difference. Many individuals regain their health simply by changing their diets to include less fat and more vegetables, and by increasing their amount of exercise. Sure, it's a bit of work to make such changes, but if many people are committed to improving their health those simple changes can make a drastic difference in their lives.

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...

What fun it is to share a fun day with like-minded people at a special location, sharing good times, laughter, and delicious, nutritious raw food wonderment. Here are some pics from our outing -- hopefully the first of many such unique outings blending the Pittsburgh raw group with the D.C. one.

We hope this also provides some inspiration for other meetup groups to consider holding joint meetups in some geographically central location.

If you're new to raw foods, you're probably aware that eating this way isn't exactly mainstream. And, while we've talked here before about the importance of connecting with others for inspiration and support, it's true that a lot of that lends itself to participation in virtual worlds such as Twitter, Facebook, Give It to Me Raw, and other communities, blogs, and sites where raw foodies hang out.

Mistakes are bad, right Well, not always. Here's an example of a great one, and it's something that demonstrates a conviction I have about raw foods! You see, in all of this talk of moving to Portland, I made a huge gaffe recently in my thinking about finances.

You see, I was pondering the terms of a home loan one afternoon -- percentage rates, down payments, monthly payments, tax escrows, etc. It was all really dry, boring material. Suddenly, I thought to myself, "Wow, here we are about to buy another house, after owning this one for so many years. In less than 10 years, we would have owned this one outright, but now we'll be starting over again with a 30-year mortgage."

Back when we ate cooked foods (especially way back when our menu was not exclusively vegan), parmesan cheese seemed to be a staple of our existence (especially for Jim). We'd sprinkle it liberally on pasta dishes, salads, soups, and more.

As is typical for many raw foodies, you often realize after going raw that it was not always necessarily the food itself that you craved (no matter what it was); often it was simply the texture, the spices, the various flavors and tastes, etc. And that realization leads raw chefs to wonder whether the same experience can be recreated using only raw ingredients.

On March 6, Wendi and KDcat arrived around dinner time at their next location, Grants Pass. We've known their hosts as online friends, so it was a real treat to meet them in person. Rebecca Leaverton, her hhusband Dominic, and their twins Aubrey and Sebastian live in a beautiful home in one of the more beautiful places W&K have visited in Oregon (and that's saying something, as EVERY location in Oregon has been absolutely beautiful). Grants Pass is surrounded by the most breathtakingly gorgeous mountains, close and ever-present no matter where you are in the city. If we ever do decide that city living isn't for us, Wendi said she'd love to live in the mountains surrounding Grants Pass!

Here's some video... In the first clip, Wendi shares a raw traveling trick she came up with -- kind of a high-energy, super-fast sandwich. Then Rebecca (aka SuperfoodGirl -- from demonstrates one of her favorite pieces of kitchen equipment, the V Slicer. (Wendi loved it and says we need to save up and get one when she returns from the trip.) And then we couldn't resist a few moments of footage of Rebecca's twins out exploring the kale and wheat grass in? theback yard.

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="Perfected Raw Vegan Potato Pancake Recipe!"][/caption]

I've done it, I've done it, I've DONE IT!!!? I've perfected a recipe for raw vegan potato pancakes! My friend Melissa shared her potato pancake recipe with me and, like always, I had to play around with it (I rarely go by a set recipe). Had it not been for her original recipe, I wouldn't be writing this post! So, thanks, Melissa!!

In the next day, or two, I'm going to type up the recipe and send it out to all of our subscribers. So, if you haven't signed up recently for either our newsletter or the two free eBooks, do it soon! In addition to the potato pancakes recipe, I'm going to share another amazing recipe I created for Jim's birthday this past weekend: Raw Vegan Ice Cream Cake!! YUM!

Jim here... During one of our marathon sessions at a Border's book store, I recall reading somewhere about the notion of a fruit's "intention" to be eaten. It's been a few years since I've read that, but I immediately resonated with the notion that many fruits, nuts, vegetables, and seeds are actually evolved to be eaten by other living beings and, therefore, to consume them (or their fruits and seeds) is to participate in a wonderfully nonviolent act that is in perfect harmony with a kind of primordial Earthen symbiosis. Whether these plants, vines, trees, etc. feel a conscious intention to have their fruit eaten by others is a matter of metaphysical conjecture. But, within the context of discussing vegetarianism, the argument is certainly relevant and fairly strong.

If you walk up to a farm animal, it may be impossible to estimate what's going through its mind, but I feel intuitively that it isn't, "Please kill me and eat my flesh." In other words, there's no "intention" present in that scenario. On the other hand, it's very easy to imagine that a tree produces fruit, knowingly or not, in order to produce offspring. Throughout the entire evolution of that tree, part of that reproductive process has involved animals (including humans) eating the fruit and then "redistributing" (which is a nice way of putting it, I suppose) the seeds naturally.

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!

Here it is, the final stop along our 40-day cross-country tour, Chicago, IL, before returning home to Jim! It's been an incredible time, meeting so many wonderful people, seeing so much natural beauty across the country, deciding where we'll relocate once our home sells, tasting incredible raw foods along the way, and spreading the word about the raw food lifestyle whenever an opportunity presented itself!

Below you'll find the final notes I wrote about our tour, along with some videos and pictures of our final stop in Chicago, Illinois.

We definitely arrived in Chicago refreshed and ready for some adventures. So, we headed directly downtown to search out a new raw food restaurant that our friends Kathy and Danny Living had mentioned to us.

RAW, the newly opened restaurant by Polly Gaza and Carole Jones, is situated inside the Ogilvie Train Station in a recently constructed French Market food court. When we figured out how to get into the market, we were impressed. It's a nice concept and has a fun feeling to it, just strolling along a market place (all while inside a large building housing a train station) that seemed as though it was almost outdoors. When we found the new RAW restaurant, we were thrilled. The colors, decorations, and displays were all very well done. We had to wait a while to talk with the owners, since the restaurant was doing some great business when we arrived. You can see a video we took of the owners, below, and find out more about the restaurant on their web site: Chicago Raw Food. The video was edited down because the sound quality wasn't very good, but you'll hear some inspiring thoughts from Carole about manifesting your dreams and how she and Polly simply manifested the restaurant by beginning with their thoughts. Carole advises: Live Your Passions!

After leaving the restaurant, we headed straight to Borrowed Earth Cafe to visit with our friends Kathy and Danny Living. For those of you who don't already know them, Kathy and Danny are incredibly loving people who are down to earth and doing some incredible things with their lives (manifesting along the same lines that Carole touches on in the video, above, and also inspiring others along the way to live their dreams and treat the planet with kindness). We first met Danny and Kathy last year during a visit to Chicago, and we immediately loved them. If we hadn't met them last year, our route back home during this tour wouldn't have included a stop in Chicago. However, we did meet them and I wanted to spend more time with them so a stop in Chicago was added to our trip itinerary. I love their energy, their soft and gentle loving nature, and to top it off the raw foods they serve in their Borrwed Earth Cafe are delicious. So, KDcat and I were looking forward to spending time with them again (and Jim was sad to miss out on seeing them this time).

When I told Danny and Kathy that we were coming in for a visit during our tour, they asked if we'd be interested in talking to their raw food meetup group. We agreed, of course, and they introduced us to David Hanley, a member of their large group. David hosted us for our stay in Chicago and we had a nice time getting to know him. He's into stairclimb racing, yoga, software development, loves fixing homes (like Jim does), raw foods, and so much more. In his home, David has a massage chair that KDcat really enjoyed a lot. David drove us to our talk at the meetup, where we met with even more incredible people. It was a large group, so we met at a Whole Foods meeting room not very far from the cafe. There were a lot of questions from those attending the talk, which I always enjoy. It's nice to meet so many people who are interested in learning a about ways they can improve their health.

That evening, we shared with David the generous amounts of raw foods that Kathy and Danny had sent home with us for the evening. We enjoyed things like Borrowed Earth's World Famous Salad, Burrito Loco, Sweet Potato Quesadilla, a green smoothie, some cheese cake, and the most incredible raw apple pie I've ever tasted. I'm not kidding about that statement, either. I used to consider myself queen of the apple pie back when I baked my foods, and this raw apple pie that Kathy and Danny have created was even more delicious than my best baked apple pie. If you don't believe me, it's worth a trip to Chicago just to check it out! Absolutely DELICIOUS! Maybe if enough people ask, Kathy and Danny will share the recipe with all of you through one of our special guest chef editions of Makin' It Monday!

Before leaving Chicago and heading toward home, we stopped by Borrowed Earth Cafe once more to spend a little extra time with Kathy and Danny. We had great fun together and as much as KDcat and I were looking forward to being with Jim again, we wished we had more time to spend with Kathy and Danny. While there, we talked a lot about the power of intention and creating our futures. Danny also brought out some tuning forks and balanced my energy using them. Let me tell you, that was some powerful healing he was doing. After he was done, I felt euphoric and grounded all at the same time. I was filled with even more love than I normally feel flowing within and without my body. Wow! When I told Jim about it, we agreed that we'd like to learn more about tuning forks, too.

Danny and Kathy are always a wealth of knowledge and inspiration and I was sad to leave their company. Before going, they sent us out the door with even more delicious raw foods to feed us until we returned home. There was even some leftover to share with Jim when we arrived home the following evening!

Below, you'll see a video we took while visiting Borrowed Earth Cafe last year during our visit to Chicago. You can see in this video how incredibly sweet Kathy and Danny are, but you can tell even better by meeting them in person, yourself. If you're in the Chicago, IL, area, be sure to stop by and introduce yourself to them!

So, that ends our tour! After Chicago we headed back to Pittsburgh to be reunited with Jim. The next time we cross the country, we'll be doing it together as a family. Being apart like we did it this time (which was necessary for budgetary reasons) took away from some of the fun we could have all experienced together.

Again, it was such a joy meeting so many of you as we visited different cities and states. Thanks, again, to everyone who hosted us and showed us a great time in your little part of the country! It's a trip we'll never forget, and one that will always bring fond memories to mind.

Lots of love to all of you,



p.s. Don't forget to show support of our Trip Snack Sponsor, Natural Zing, who made the snack portion of this trip possible! Thanks, again, Helen and Jeff! We love you both!

We hope you ll check out our generous snack sponsor for the trip, Natural Zing, who made our travels extra enjoyable! They have the best selection of raw food snacks, supplies, and appliances for a raw food lifestyle!

It is with heartfelt gratitude that I reach out to say thank you for all of the lovely birthday wishes from all over the world.

As many of you know, I've been working on all aspects of myself---continuing to grow healthier in all ways (body, mind, spirit, and emotions). After a lifetime of feeling that I wasn't worthy of my own attention and affection, I learned to love myself. That was a huge thing for me and I am still overjoyed to acknowledge who I am and proudly proclaim that I love myself.

I'm not perfect, but I'm perfectly me---allowing myself to blossom more fully into who I am as the days go by. I've been openly sharing my journey because I know that I'm not the only person who has lived a life without self love.I receive emails from so many of you saying that you can relate to what I've been through, the pain I've suffered on all levels. You've shed tears and thanked me for my story because it has helped you see more clearly your own self. With open arms, and an open heart, I love all of you. It brings me great joy to know that through sharing I am able to help you grow and blossom more into your own beautiful selves. Imagine a world where we all know and love ourselves for the lovely individuals that we all are! What a beautiful and fragrant garden there would be!

Do you know the saying about freely giving out love because you never run out of it? Well, that's definitely true! There's something else that happens, however, the more you share love: it comes back multiplied more than you ever could have imagined! That's what happened to me on my birthday--I was overwhelmed with a flooding of love coming in from all over the world!