Patty and Denny

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.

This isn't one of our normal blog posts. It's more of a journal entry, than anything else.

You see, I'm a bit sad today. The Raw Spirit Festival in Santa Barbara, CA, started today and I'm not there. We've been working really hard on many raw food projects, trying to sell our home, etc. So, spending the time and money to travel to the other side of the country for a weekend event just didn't seem like a good idea.I don't think we made the wrong decision, but I do admit I was hoping that somehow the Universe would conspire in some magical way to arrange for me to attend the festival this weekend.

For those who have never been to a Raw Spirit Festival, you might wish that you could attend something so totally awesome---to be surrounded by raw foodies you've met online, to attend the various speeches and events at the festival, etc.---but you probably aren't feeling completely sad that you aren't there. To have attended a Raw Spirit Festival, had your entire life altered by the experience, and then to not attend the next one is almost heartbreakingly sad.

Any botanists or kale experts in our readership ? Take a look:

This "kale" is locally grown by an organic farmer. I tasted some in the store and bought a whole bunch because it was so delicious. Jim added 5 or 6 leaves to a smoothie for us a few days ago. But, today we were going to use it for kale salad. As I was washing the leaves, I saw these tiny tendril-like things sticking up. At first, I thought it was some strange kind of bug or egg, but then I noticed they were on many of the leaves and, out of some of these tendril-like things were growing MORE LEAVES! This is all happening on the flat surface of the kale leaf. I've never seen any leaf in nature that sprouted more leaves from the flat surface of a leaf. Take a closer look:

We tried it in the past, this most unusual fruit. While in Chicago recently, we decided to give it one more try! You see, the first time we tried it we were ... let's just say "not big fans" of the infamous durian. (Here's an episode of Kevin Gianni's Renegade Health Show, shot in our home, documenting that day.) It's a stinky fruit to most, although some claim to enjoy the bizarre odor (which is sometimes described as dirty sock and propane gas smell). If you can get past the smell to give it a taste, you'll be greeted by a taste as strange as the odor. Wendi describes it as a sweet onion pierogie, but each person seems to have a different opinion about this odd fruit.

In this current video our raw friend Debbie Gedayloo-Bennett, whom we met in Chicago, jumped at the opportunity to hang out for a bit of a durian experience. Debbie is on the pro-durian side of the fence that divides those who love and those who hate the alien-like fruit. Wendi was still sitting on the fence, not making up her mind after the initial taste with Kevin and Annmarie. Jim was adamantly sitting far from the love side of the fence, refusing to even attempt approaching the pro side. Debbie was a pro in opening this spiny fruit, so she agreed to open it while on video so that we could share the experience and knowledge with all of you.

Today we bring you the last of our personal video interviews conducted while at the Raw Spirit Festival (RSF East 2009). I'll have one other highlight reel to run next week, just to round out this series by showing some of the additional ambience there.

So, we've finally come to the "infamous Viktoras video"! I smiled as I wrote that because it was quite the topic of discussion around our camp site. You see, one of my fellow campers, Bethany Hagensen, was with me as we interviewed Viktoras (she filmed the interview, in fact) -- and, well... let's just say he strayed a bit from the expected raw food subject matter. I was worried that poor Bethany would be scarred for life after witnessing the discussion, but she did seem to get a good laugh out of it, and I suppose she's fully old enough to attend an R-rated movie.

Greetings, everyone! ?We've been away from regular blogging for what seems an *eternity*. When we left the airwaves, the raw food world was at total peace with itself -- bliss, harmony, sister- and brotherhood. Aside from rare, gentle disagreements among raw vegans on issues such as whether raw chocolate was mineral-rich or potentially taxing to your body's store of minerals, things were pretty much business as usual.

And then we moved away and took a little time off to regroup .. ?and NOW look at the state of the raw food zeitgeist: (1) long-term raw foodists just about everyhwere are now "eating a little bit of cooked food," (2) an enormous schism has emerged after the seemingly improbable development of many long-term vegans returning to meat eating, (3) informational summits and online meetings have been replaced by debates, and (4) let's face it, the supplements being discussed and sold are getting, well, much *weirder* than ever!

Just a quick announcement today:? I just pressed "send" on our gorgeously produced November 2009 e-newsletter. While we've done periodic newsletters in the past, we've now revisited our commitment to doing them regularly. So, each month going forward, we plan to send out a new e-newsletter.

And they're always crazy fun!? They're kind of like bouncing on a trampoline -- like flying, you know ? Nothing but care-free, transcendent happiness, soaring amid the tree branches, smiling ear-to-ear, gravity-defying hair flying every which way. (Okay, maybe they're not that much fun. But, they are at least generally enjoyable -- and informative!)

Ever since developing a personal conviction a few years ago that following a raw vegan existence was the best lifestyle for me, I've lived somewhat in conflict with the day-to-day corporate business environment in which I make my living at the moment. As we've directly stated many, many times, we're in the process of changing all of that. But, making such a huge change takes a long time because careers are in many ways very anchoring. We may write more about that process because it's true that going raw (or, really, adopting any kind of diet outside of what most other people eat) can lead to significant changes in your life. Between Wendi and me, I think we've gone through pretty much all of them, and there's certainly value and relevance in sharing most of those things here. Today, though, I thought I'd share what I call my "$75 Salad Story."

In the business world, "networking" is among the more prevalent activities anyone does. It's pretty much always going to involve food , right? It's always a breakfast briefing, meeting a client over lunch, or attending a dinner party (complete with a cocktail hour). ?The deck is more or less stacked against you at these things because, let's face it, they're usually set up to provide what most people perceive as a pleasant experience. And, quite often, that means a certain degree of culinary decadence / indulgence -- invariably at venues that have never heard of raw chocolate or raw apple pie (which, to me, is 10x more appealing and exciting than the ubiquitous "chocolate fountain").

Jim here... Whether you've had the pleasure of knowing Wendi for decades as I have, or have only recently met her, I think you'll be absolutely stunned by this inspirational video. It demonstrates, in undeniable pictures, the power of raw and living foods -- and not only the physical healing that takes place when you adopt this lifestyle, but also the height to which this lifestyle helps lift your spirit. When Wendi showed this video to me recently, I literally couldn't speak. Tears began streaming down my face half way into it. It was the most beautiful expression of the past few years that I could imagine. She's a beautiful shining star, and I'm honored to be a part of her life. Hope you enjoy this video:

Original Comments

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

Last time on Raw Foods 101 we answered the question, "Why should you soak nuts / seeds before eating them."? Naturally, many readers then asked the next logical question, "How LONG should I soak them before eating " Great question!

Don't forget:? You're soaking the nuts and seeds to "wake them up" as would happen in nature. When seeds are soaked in the springtime rain, they wake up and begin to sprout. When this happens, the nutritional content of the nuts and seeds changes (they become an even greater powerhouse of nutrients).

Jim here... Wow, we haven't posted in a few days. That calls for some action! Hmmm... how about taking a look at some delicious mini pizzas Wendi whipped up the other day:

We went absolutely nuts for these little "pizzas." They were both tasty and fun. If memory serves, I believe she made them by taking slices of firm roma tomatoes, spooning on some improvised pesto sauce that she whipped up, sprinkling on some chopped basil leaves, sprinkling on some "cheese" that she made with ground Brazil nuts, garlic, and salt, and then topping each "pizza slice" off with a half cherry tomato. No recipes necessary here; just take a look at the picture & go try it!