We're into soft foods and treats these days, because Jim recently had a wisdom tooth extracted (KDcat insists he is less wise for having done so). We've been having a lot of fruit smoothies! I made a big mistake and created a smoothie with a grapefruit for the juicy part (I normally only use oranges). I don't care for grapefruit, because the bitter part just isn't appealing to me. However, I thought for sure that bananas and frozen berries would override the bitter taste of the grapefruit. It didn't, so I added some agave to the mixture and blended it again. Nope--still bitter. So, I asked Jim to taste it (he LOVES grapefruit) and he thought it was fantastic. He consumed the entire pitcher of the bitter concoction.

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").

Many people have asked us about the Raw Spirit Festival (RSF): What is it? When is it? Where is it? Will we be going ? So, we wanted to take a moment to answer those questions.

[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!

Pardon the video quality there. A.J. and I shot that video at night and, although it looked decent on the camera's preview screen, the actual video came out almost totally black!? However, with a bit of video processing, we were able to salvage it. It's not optimal video, but it's at least watchable (and, hey, also conveys a little of that nighttime festival feeling).

A quick note about veganism before I share some additional info... As we've stated here many times, Pure Jeevan advocates a raw vegan lifestyle. What do we intend that to mean, exactly? Well, strictly speaking, veganism excludes all animal products, both in terms of diet and lifestyle.

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!

Jim here... Since we posted Wendi's two-part series on pasta-making techniques (part 1, part 2) last week, I thought I'd follow up with an additional novel use for the spiralizer -- super-delicious, blazingly fast, ultra-low-fat sweet potato chips! We've done some really great things with sweet potatoes before. (Anyone signed up as a member of the Pure Jeevan family has likely already received our prized sweet potato pancake recipe.) But, these chips are amazing because they satisfy that unmistakable urge for crunchy, healthy snacks -- and in record time. Friends, if you have a dehydrator and sweet potato on hand, you could literally be enjoying these things in under three hours. So let's get going!

As Wendi demonstrated in the videos last week, you can easily make "rounds" using the spiralizer by simply making a vertical slice throughout your vegetable prior to placing it on the spiralizer. So, if we were looking down at the sweet potato, the cut (which goes all the way down the length of the vegetable) would look like this:

Today we thought we'd introduce you to a common wild edible known as Purple Deadnettle (or, more dramatically, the Purple Archangel). Watch the video and let us know if it grows in your area, and if you've tasted it!

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.

I was standing in line at the grocery store the other day and plopped a package of chicken wings up onto the conveyor belt. The cashier made some sort of smalltalk -- I think she asked whether I liked wings -- which prompted me to say, "Oh, the chicken is for my dog, Julia."

She looked at me, eyebrows raised. "For your dog "

Jim here... Here's an interesting way to finish out the week: Today just happens to be my one-year "rawniversary." That's right, for the past full year, I've existed as a 100% raw food vegan.

Sure, I'd been "high-raw" for a couple of years prior to September 18, 2008 -- and it was during those high-raw years when the bulk of my weight came off and when I kissed prescription meds goodbye (I'd been on powerful beta-blockers for my heart and blood pressure).