Yesterday, I posted a question on Facebook and was met with some wonderful responses. The question was essentially, "If you're a trying to run a health-conscious household, and if you truly believe that most sugary candy is actually damaging to people's health, then what should you give away to all of the little trick-or-treaters who visit on Halloween night "

I got some great responses! Raisins, fruit leathers, glow sticks, etc. Thanks to those responses, I went out and bought about 60 glow-stick bracelets (the kind that you snap and then they glow brightly for 6 horus or so). I think the kids will think these are neat, and will all want to wear them. I also picked up a bunch of small juice boxes with 100% juice in them. (They're pasteurized, of course, but at least it's not sugary junk.) So, between all of that, I think I'll make it through the night without getting egged.

This is the first installment of a new series that we plan to run occasionally here on the Pure Jeevan blog. The series is called "Raw Foods 101" (the same name as our free eBook that has now been read by more than 5,000 people around the world!). Raw Foods 101 will become the latest addition to our category list (available along the right side of our sidebar). In time, clicking on Raw Foods 101 will deliver a plethora of raw food tidbits.

So, where should we start? ... How about the topic of soaking nuts and seeds ! This is a question that comes up repeatedly in emails sent to Pure Jeevan.

Today we talk about ways to lessen one's chances of developing dementia, aside from dietary changes. Other than eliminating foods from our diet that may hinder brain function, or adding foods that enhance brain function, what can we do to keep our minds sharp as we age?

The first action step you can take to keep your mind healthy is to physically exercise the rest of the body. By keeping our limbs and muscles active, we are not only enhancing the flow of oxygen throughout our bodies, we're continually working our brains, as well. Every move you make requires a message from your brain to be sent to your muscles. So, the more you move, the more you're exercising that part of your brain.

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.

The other day, before grocery shopping, I didn't have a lot of food in the house. When that happens, I usually take a look at what I have and then try to come up with something tasty. It's kind of an art form, to create something out of next to nothing. I think I learned the art from my mother, who had to make things stretch on a very minimal budget.

Here's what I created, and it turned out great!

For today's Makin' It Monday, we're not really making something, but rather sprouting something! We tend to go through periods of time when we are sprouting a lot, consuming sprouts on salads, sandwiches, and inside whatever dishes we can add them to at the time. It seems appropriate for this time of year to start sprouting, again.

Have you ever sprouted seeds? The first time I ever sprouted, I used a nut milk bag that I kept dangling over the kitchen sink. I put some seeds into it, let them soak overnight in a bowl of water, and then rinsed them in the morning. Every time I was in the kitchen, I rinsed them again and let them drip into the sink until the next rinsing. It's important to keep the seeds moist and rinsed. It was thrilling to see the tiny little sprouts when they first began emerging from the seeds!

Yesterday, we covered the concept of "unsubscribing" from unhealthy practices. This was of course based on the common Internet practice of subscribing and unsubscribing to various things like newsletters and email lists. I receive quite a few of these each day, many raw foods ones and many non-raw ones. Among the non-raw, one that has been interesting to me lately is called the Art of Non-Conformity, penned by Chris Guillebeau. Basically, Chris' site chronicles his adventures in reaching his personal goal -- to travel to every country in the world! Along the way, he writes about all sorts of out-of-the-box things, as the blog name implies.

Today, he posted something that is remarkably insightful and applicable to our subject matter here, even though his context was completely different. The entry, entitled simply "Before and After," discusses the drinking water problems in much of Africa, focusing for the moment on Liberia. Atop the piece (the "before" picture) is a muddy water hole, the only source of drinking water for one village. The next picture (the "after" shot) shows a different, very happy village obtaining fresh, clean water from a newly installed well. Chris closes his article with the following quote:

Before we moved to Portland, Oregon, land of all things fresh and organic within walking distance, we had to drive quite a distance to reach the food co-op (the only place that had a good selection of organic produce and other raw food necessities). So, we only went shopping about once a week. It took a lot of trial and error to find ways to keep our weekly produce fresh for about a week.

We learned which fruits and vegetables stay fresh the longest, and which go bad the fastest. Based on this, we stocked the refrigerator accordingly (and used up the produce accordingly, as well). The fruits and veggies that stayed fresh the longest were stored in the backs of the shelves (things like carrots, beets, broccoli, cauliflower, apples, etc.). Next we stored the greens that lasted a pretty good amount of time (like kale and collards). And in the front of the shelves and in the door, we stored the more delicate greens (like lettuces and herbs).

Quick note: Jim here... So strikingly pervasive is the "winter blues of 2010" that I suspect many of my friends will think this is about them. But, it's just some thoughts, really -- not in response to anything or anyone in particular. (In fact, if anything, it's in response to something related to our dog, which we'll no doubt write about at some point.)

I sense that there is a useful blog post on the topic of "raw during tough times." However, after pondering the topic at length, I'm just not exactly sure what to say about it. I do know that quite a lot of people come to feel disappointed in themselves for straying from the healthiest path. It's a story I've read over and over on raw web sites and blogs, perhaps more frequently in the winter. It starts out the same: Someone goes raw, gets all fired up about it, and soon starts feeling youthful and vibrant again. The high lasts for a while, but then ... something happens. They slip back to cooked foods -- or worse, to junk foods. Sometimes the process repeats itself for years.

I'm still doing my nine-day mono meals for Navratri. Since it's Makin' It Monday, instead of actually makin' a recipe, I'm dreamin' about it! After talking with my sweet friend Melissa, I thought I wanted to eat spinach pie when I end my mono meals. She was talking about it, shared how she was going to create it, and my mind was filling with the image of spinach pie, the smell and taste of it, and I wanted it right then.But, we don't have any spinach in the house right now. Since I end my mono meals after tomorrow's lunch, and don't have time to buy spinach at the food co-op, I decided to dream some more about what I'll be eating for tomorrow's dinner.

Then it came to me. I want beet pasta! Not just any beet pasta, but beet pasta topped with a creamy alfredo sauce! I picture it in my mind; I can imagine the taste of it, the texture, and it's so delicious. I think I want something green with it, too. Perhaps I'll start with a small salad. Ooh! Yes, that's what I'll do!

You're in for a treat with this recipe. Our Guest Raw Chef this week is Shivie Kaur, half of "The Cook and Butler" duo of TeamRaw. Wendi shot this video a few weeks back in San Francisco during Pure Jeevan's recent cross-country tour! While there, Shivie and her partner Cemaaj created and served a delicious gourmet meal for Wendi and KDcat. The blog post from that visit was here. So, here's Shivie sharing with you how to make an easy and delicious raw salad dressing!