A few of my friends have recently reached some special personal milestones in the raw food world. Congratulations go out to...

Sam: ONE YEAR RAW!!!

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").

Driving to work today, we noticed that McDonald's has launched its latest product aimed at the health-conscious demographic. In case you haven't heard, you can now purchase fruit smoothies at Mickey D's! Sounds like real progress, right? Well, let's take a closer look and see if they're really as healthy as they sound.

McDonald's is not exactly known as a healthfood destination. After all, a typical lunch at the Golden Arches these days might well include something like an Angus Bacon & Cheese, Large Fries, and a Large Coke. ?Together, that's 1,600 calories, 64 grams of fat, and 2,400 mg of sodium, 99% of which is from highly cooked, highly processed, non-organic, factory-farmed, nutrition-barren source materials . (Add on another 75 calories and 550 more mg of sodium if you plan to go through, say, five packets of ketchup along with those fries.) (Source) And, some people eat that daily!

We at Pure Jeevan enjoy eating salads. Each of us has our own way of dressing our individual salads, but we all thoroughly enjoy very large bowls of them at least once a day.In the past, salads were those "diet" meals that I'd consume when I was trying to lose weight. I'd sit at the table staring at my small plate of greens, feeling like I was missing out on the "great" food everyone around me was eating. I'd feel hungry after my meal and extremely unsatisfied.

In a recent post, I answered part of a message I received from Violet, one of our blog readers. Below is the continuation of my response to Violet (much briefer than my last one!).

Following my response to Violet is a response to Sarah, who has a fantastic raw food blog that I enjoy reading.

Violet's message continued:

"I sent out over 100 emails, now, and have been corresponding with the chair of the almond board. He s an ass."

~Wendi, writing a few years ago in her "Almond Frustration" blog post.

Jim here again... Wow, that's an excerpt from a very fired-up Wendi, writing a few years ago about her frustration over the USDA's absolutely insane regulation that nearly all almonds sold in the United States must be treated with chemicals or heat prior to sale. I'm sure you know the story by now, so I won't rehash it here. (In case you do not, you can read about it in our original post, Wendi's Almond Frustration post (which even recounts a disturbing, related dream she had about this issue), or our last update post. It's an issue we've been following for years here.)

As we mentioned in one of our first blog posts, Pure Jeevan met with Leela Mata at her Peaceful Valley Ashram to discuss the details for some 3-day Raw Food Spiritual Retreats for you during 2008! The details are finalized and we are proud to announce our first 3-Day Raw Food Spiritual Retreat, that will be held at the ashram from May 23-25, 2008. We've set this retreat up so that it's as affordable as possible. There's a significant savings if you sign up early, so be sure to check it out!

Some very special companies have delicious treats for those attending the retreat.

Today, we thought we'd share another non-diet-oriented explanation of obesity. It's from Rhonda Byrne, author of the international multi-media phenomenon known as "The Secret," which provides readers with in-depth philosophical explanation and instruction with respect to the Law of Attraction.

Wendi and I have The Secret on CD, and often enjoy listening to it. I think, in fairness, we both have a few legitimate criticisms about certain aspects of it (and I'll share one or two, below). However, on the whole, many of the ideas within resonate deeply for us and we find much of the underlying message profoundly uplifting and empowering -- especially (for me) much of the discussion regarding maintaining a healthy, positive, optimistic attitude and practicing gratitude.

Many of our visitors go directly to our raw food recipes section of the blog. They must be terribly disappointed to find only a few recipes there. We ll continually add more, but for now there are only a handful. So, it is with extreme pleasure that we introduce you to someone you are going to love!

Take the time to meet...

Jim here... Wow, how awesome is it that today's Makin' It Monday falls just one day after Mother's Day -- and that we had ?a very special guest edition ready to post featuring ... ?my awesome mom! ??!!! ?I love my mom so much ... she's the best mom ever! And you'll love watching her demonstrate how to make 100% raw hummus. Mom might be 100% Italian, but she makes a pretty mean 100% Lebanese raw hummus, which is a pretty popular dish in my family. Here's the vid!