I've received countless emails over the past few days, thanks to Kevin Gianni's video (below) about the potato pancakes I made for he and Annmarie when they were visiting. In many of the emails you were thanking me for the free eBooks, but some of you had questions (and even some concerns) about sweet potatoes. I've answered you all individually, but I thought it might be a good idea to spend some time discussing the sweet potato a little more. Here's the vid, and then I'll include some of the questions I was asked:

Welcome to Episode FIVE! Today we're focusing on our old friend the WALNUT. Since it's officially fall, walnuts are in season right now. What better time to enjoy one of nature's tasty, heart-healthy treats?

Some health/nutrition summary info: Walnuts provide a great source of protein, fiber, B vitamins, Vitamin E, anti-oxidants to help prevent cancer, and Omega 3s to help your heart and vascular system. They also help lowering your cholesterol and blood pressure, and contain numerous beneficial amino acids and polyphenols (compounds linked with reduced risk of heart disease and cancer).

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I was grocery shopping in Giant Eagle with a friend the other day; I was just there to keep her company. When we left the Nature's Basket area (where they sell organics and more natural items), I felt a strange feeling. I hadn't realized it, but over the past two years I stopped shopping in the other areas of the store! I told her that by the time we hit the packaged shelves of the Nature's Basket area, I'd already be done shopping and my cart would be filled. We had a good giggle and went on shopping.

Anyway, that has since brought my attention to the shopping carts of those around me. We do about 5% of our shopping in Giant Eagle (last minute things that we've run out of, that don't merit a trip to our Food Co Op), so lately I've found myself in Giant Eagle looking into the carts of those around me. I'm not judging anyone, I'm just curious. On average, just about everyone has a small bunch of bananas in their cart. There are the occasional carts with something like a cantaloupe, a bag of apples, and once I saw a single tomato and a bag of lettuce. The rest of the carts have been filled with packaged foods. There is next to no living food in the carts.

Let's stay sharp by learning about brain power! Did you know that the less exercise your brain receives through reading, learning new things (like you do here on our blog!), playing games, and contemplating puzzles the more it is likely to become weak and not serve you well into your centenarian years? Scientists have been trying to figure out ways to improve the brain's function and have learned a lot, but are still uncertain what causes Alzheimer's Disease, or any other form of Dementia.

If you ve ever known someone who suffers with a loss of mental capabilities, you know how sad and sometimes scary that can be. Last week, Jim posted a blog that touched a bit on the subject of Alzheimer s Disease. He wrote in that article, ?I want better than just a small chance that I ll live healthfully for a full lifespan. I want to stack the aging deck in my favor. ?Eating a healthy, raw food diet is something Jim was hoping to use in order to stack the deck in his favor of a life free of memory loss and full of vibrant health.

Jim here... Many people write to us asking whether we own pets and, if so, whether they are raw, too. Well, I wish I had a straight answer for you, but I think the answer is better told via a dedicated blog post.

As I'm writing this, part of me is tempted to include this post in our "My Raw Story" series. You see, Julia (pictured above) had some serious health issues just after we adopted her from a local rescue shelter, and we're still relatively early-on in our attempt to understand and reverse these issues.

Today we're running another installment of our "Thankful Thursday" series. This time, we're especially thankful ... for YOU, the Pure Jeevan family! Who'd have thought, less than two years ago when launching this blog, that we'd make thousands of connections with others looking for inspiration on their raw food journey !!? It's simply astounding -- and we're still actually "just getting started."

As always, we're thrilled to provide information and inspiration. It's counter-intuitive, when you really consider it; "raw foods" may be just two simple words, yet there always seems to be more and more to talk about, more people to interview, more success stories to highlight, more recipes to contribute, more tips and tricks to share, more personal reflections to offer.

Here's an older post, from August 2008, about modifying one's diet to experiment with attaining even greater health. ?I know the before/after pics, alone, are inspirational enough to live a raw vegan lifestyle!

*blows kisses to everyone*

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Last year when I organized a raw food spiritual retreat at an ashram, I met some very lovely people. Two of those individuals were Patty and Denny (you can visit their blog to say hello to them). They were new to gourmet raw foods, so they were enthusiastic learners at the retreat. When they returned home after the blissful weekend, they began using their new raw food knowledge. Here are some excerpts of emails I have received from them since the retreat last year:

Well, you said you're motive in putting on this retreat was simply to pass on this valuable information and to help others; you were very successful where we're concerned - it is no exaggeration to say that you have changed our lives forever.

We've been almost 100% raw since the retreat. ... We're so excited about this new way of eating that we bought a new Vita-Mix. ...We can actually say that this has been our most notable and enjoyable dining experience - ever, in our entire lives! No one would ever put that much work into something if it were just for money; it is obvious that you did it from your heart. We feel blessed to have received such a gift.

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.

Today's post isn't specifically about raw foods. But, we wanted to post a few videos highlighting some interesting research by an Italian doctor named Tullio Simoncini, who just might be onto something HUGE! Dr. Simoncini treats certain cancer patients with ordinary sodium bicarbonate (baking soda), based on his premise that cancer is a fungal problem and that a solution of baking soda is anti-fungal. Naturally, he's been vilified by the medical establishment for making such a seemingly simplistic claim. But, what if he's right?

Here at Pure Jeevan, we're very much into health research -- not so much with an aim to cure any specific disease or ailment, but rather to understand ways in which our bodies can become what we like to call unbalanced, as well as the ways in which we might return our bodies to proper balance, when necessary. In this way, I suppose that we, like many in the natural health world, feel that the body is amazingly capable of healing itself (in many circumstances) as long as the body is able to find a favorable state from which it can properly do what it naturally wants to -- which is to return the body to an optimal state of health.

Medical doctors don't buy into this theory very much. ?However, it's certainly ironic how, where certain areas of standard medical practice are concerned, what I described above is exactly what doctors do. Take something like a broken bone, for example. A doctor does not normally attempt to surgically repair the bone itself. Rather, the standard and time-honored practice is to set the bone (say, with a cast), and then to let your body heal the break naturally, on its own, making those skeletal connections as only the imponderably complex, ever-evolving wisdom of the human body can facilitate. (True, doctors do often intervene these days with surgery for broken bones. But, their aim there is mainly to position the bones for proper healing, and/or to do things like insert pins in an attempt to improve functionality after healing. Either way, the procedure here still relies on the body's ability to eventually heal the problem.) Standard medical knowledge in this area is without question outstanding -- and this is why most people in the natural health world have little problem with going to see a medical doctor for emergency treatment.

I'm still working on the dishes that will be served at the upcoming 3-Day Raw Food Spiritual Ashram Retreat (only 2 spots left!). Today, I worked on the Sandwich Fixin's that will be served for lunch on one of the retreat days.