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

When alternatives to the Standard American Diet are discussed, protein is on everyone's mind. There are many reasons why someone might want to eat a plant based diet, whether for allergy concerns, health reasons, or more variety. But nagging doubts often come up;? Are plant proteins adequate for athletes and body builders ? Are they really the preferred protein source of the human body ? Are they better than animal based protein or are they just consumed for environmental reasons ? To answer these questions, why not ask the experts:? triathletes, professional dancers, bodybuilders and extreme sport racers ? Here are the answers from some of the most competitive athletes in their respective fields.

Today is the beginning of the second three-day focus on the attributes of a different Goddess who is most worshiped during the Hindu celebration of Navratri. She is Goddess Lakshmi, bringer of wealth and good luck. Let's focus on the idea of wealth. When we first hear the word, many of us think about monetary wealth. However, there is a much deeper meaning ... that of abundance. Feminine energy has the ability to bring forth, to birth, abundance that is beyond the imagination, in every aspect of our lives. Female energy is fertile, able to create a beautiful life and future, shine forth and bring wisdom into view, all with grace and beauty. All of these are attributes of Goddess Lakshmi, qualities we all have within us. Qualities I celebrate within myself and within all of you (male and female, alike).

End of Day 3:

I started jumping up and down last night with excitement when I received a call saying that the bellydancing class I've been wanting to take at Khafif Studios has an opening! Yay!!!

(This will be my teacher, Berna!)

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).

I'm not sure I'm getting enough carbs 'cuz I eat very little grains or beans and I am always worried of overdoing fruit.

Well, rest assured that if you are consuming enough calories with your diet, and not exclusively eating fats and proteins, you are most likely getting enough carbohydrates. Carbohydrates exist in just about anything you can eat. By simply eating enough food during the day, you can easily meet your body's carbohydrate requirements.

There are two classifications of carbohydrates: simple and complex. Grains and beans fall under the complex category, while fruits fall under the simple category.

Jim here...As vegans and vegetarians, we're familiar with what we believe is quite a lot of misinformation regarding our lifestyle. However, we've done the research and, for example, know how we get our protein (always a concern received from others), know the stats on B12 deficiency (another concern often cited by mainstreamers), and know our answers to other issues such as where we get our minerals from and whether we consume processed foods and sugars. Bucking the mainstream conventional wisdom emergent from within a world dominated by the Standard American Diet, we live defiantly as healthy examples of our chosen path. But, is there any wiggle room as far as what is and isn't healthy (for us, and for everyone)? What about some of the things that everyone "knows" is bad for you? With questions like those in mind, here's something unusual -- a full post developed from a simple Facebook update. (You are friends with Wendi and me on Facebook, right ) Yesterday, I posted the following:

Think of something that you think is bad for you, and then go to Google & type in "benefits of [that thing]" and see if there is a web site that is promoting that thing. I just did this for "caffeine" and read some thought-provoking ideas (that might all be utter BS, but are interesting nonetheless).

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:

With this video, Pure Jeevan concludes coverage of the 2009 Raw Spirit East festival. We started off two Fridays ago covering raw food chefs, then moved on to raw lifestyle speakers and philosophers. The final piece of the gourmet raw pie would have to be the festival ambience, which is somewhat tougher to capture in a short video. But, I think this video does a reasonable job of conveying a lot of the scene "beyond the food." (But even if it doesn't, how many times do you get to see Charles Balcer hula-hooping on video )

Enjoy the video (and pics, below, too)!

Leaving Sin City, our fearless raw travelers headed south to Arizona for all sorts of raw food adventures. First up was a trip to Prescott Valley to meet Abi and Eli. Let's take a peek into Wendi's travelogue again, shall we

You probably haven't met our official tour guide yet. We call her Simone. She's a bit testy at times, but always gets us safely to our destination (although sometimes in rather roundabout ways). She added an extra one-time $89 fee to our trip budget, but we're very satisfied with her performance so far. You see, Simone is our trusty GPS unit!

Leaving Las Vegas, she guided us through the Hoover Dam area on our way to Arizona, a geographic area that I think would be better described as a "state of extremes." There, we experienced super hot, sunny days, freezing nights, snow outside even when it's sunny and hot, and also a bizarre experience we had in which some bananas actually froze and then nearly roasted all in the same day.

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."