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!

After our Oklahoma stop, we had back-to-back visits with family. During our 40-day tour, we had a great time at every place we stayed. There's something extra special about being with family, however. KDcat especially loved this part of the trip, where she could stay up late and sleep in every morning.

Our first stop was St. Louis, Missouri, to see Grandma and Grandpa Dee, and Aunt Jeanne. We did some shopping at Whole Foods, bought lots of organic produce, and prepared some raw dishes to share with everyone. We purchased a young coconut and KDcat used Grandpa's hatchet to show everyone how to open a young coconut. Jim's mother learned to make raw hummus, without chickpeas, and even agreed to be a guest chef for a Makin' It Monday raw food recipe video! So, we'll be sharing that with all of you in the near future! Aunt Jeanne loved the hummus, as well as the raw tacos we created. She seems to have a liking for raw foods, so who knows...you may be seeing another Dee online sharing info about raw foods in the future ! Grandpa is always a fan of apple pies, so he thoroughly enjoyed the pie we created during our visit. Grandpa and KDcat also spent some time talking about music, a passion for both of them.

Our second stop was Geneseo, Illinois, to visit with Aunt Cindy, Uncle Ray (who had to work during our visit), and cousin Destiny. KDcat and Destiny don't see each other very often, so this was a real treat. Destiny's a sweet girl who became a vegetarian over a year ago (she's the only vegetarian in her home)! That's a huge thing to do when you're just a young teenager and we're proud of her for taking her health into her own hands (and for saving the animals!). We took a lot of pictures while visiting. In the photoset, you'll see that somehow a monkey crawled onto KDcat's back and hung around with her most of one day (in which she was dressed up in quite the outfit!). That monkey found its way into all kinds of interesting places (in a park, playing on the slide, swing, etc., and even in the house playing the piano -- and I caught him trying to steal some of my bananas!). The weather was beautiful during our visit, so we spent a lot of time outside, walking and enjoying the beautiful time together. At this stop we created a raw apple crumble, which Aunt Cindy later modified with blueberries. We're gently nudging her to make a video of the recipe she created, so we can all see how it's made! It sounded delicious.

As promised, here's another question I'd like to openly address here instead of via Wendi's email system. This one also comes up from time to time, and I told this person to watch out for my two cents on this issue. So, here it is. The reader asks:

... During your transtioning to a raw food diet & the loss of so much weight, what if any exercising were you doing along the way

Wow, is it really Episode 3 already? How time flies! Remember way back when we started this informative, informational, nutrition-oriented "Know Your Food" series? Seems like ages ago, doesn't it? (Oh, wait... It WAS ages ago. It's just taken us a while to get up to speed with this video stuff!) Anyway, here's the video, followed by some camera/video editing news -- oh, and of course some highly urgent celery information. (Okay, it isn't really urgent at all; we just needed to add a dash of drama.) So, see what you think. You might even learn a thing or two about our stalky green friend.

Not TOO bad, right? We're getting to our goal of roughly 3-minute episodes. Of course, this is still one of our first attempts, shot last Sunday. We thought it was decent enough to not entitle it "salvaged" as we did the previous installment.

Today we welcome Leela Mata from the Peaceful Valley Ashram (www.LeelaMata.com) for another episode of Pure Jeevan's Makin' It Monday "Guest Raw Chef" edition. In this episode, Leela demonstrates how to make a delicious summertime chutney.

Since Marigolds are seasonal, and likely available only in certain areas, please consider them optional. Perhaps substitute another edible flower of your choice (and let us know if you do!). Aside from making this tasty recipe (which we later enjoyed on a salad), Leela also makes some important points about intuitive eating and intuitive recipe creation. Here's the vid:

There's SO much to celebrate lately! Check it out:

Our dear friend Robin (aka Rawbin) celebrates her birthday today. We created a fun video for Rawbin, who has the ability to make anyone laugh! Rawbin blogs here and you can read her "My Raw Story" installment here.She's also the east coast Raw Spirit Festival representative. (RSF east happens August 29-30, 2009 in Maryland. More info here.)

Jim here... Yesterday, we talked about exceptions -- those non-raw food items that raw foodists sometimes allow themselves to eat. I listed mine, and a number of people here and on Facebook noted some of their own. (Seems a lot of us enjoy olives, by the way!) It struck me today that a natural follow-up to a list of exceptions would be a list of non-exceptions -- basically a list of things I personally never ever ever ever consume.

This makes sense, right? I suppose all people generally have three basic lists: (1) those things we eat regularly, (2) those things we eat sometimes, and (3) those things we never eat. Hopefully, none of us keep these lists etched in stone, as diets are dynamic things that tend to evolve over time. A few of the items I'll list below may only apply to my current practices, while others (like refined sugar) I hope to permanently exclude. So, let's see:

Today, for Thankful Thursday, I want to focus on a raw food related subject: Raw Recipe Books! Without the many mouthwatering, visually appetizing recipes that have been created and published, I don't know if I'd still be living a raw food lifestyle at this time.

About two years ago, when I made the decision to transition into a raw food diet, there were some fantastic raw food recipe books available. A few years before that, when I tried raw for the first time with a dear friend of mine, there were books available but none of them were truly gourmet meals. It's amazing how much things change in just a few years! The newer books are filled with colorful pictures of the most visually stimulating foods, which never looked like simple chopped up veggies arranged nicely on a plate. We have a page with many raw recipe books listed, if you'd like to see some of the ones that are available.

Ketchup

1 cup sun dried tomatoes, soaked for one hour

3 small fresh tomatoes

To help keep all of you inspired, we ve asked some

remarkable individuals to share their raw food stories with you. Enjoy!

Here's an impromptu interview with Matt Miller, the gourmet raw foods chef from Maggie's Mercantile, a vegan/raw restaurant in Pittsburgh, PA. We met Matt @ a recent Raw Foods Meetup here in Pittsburgh. In the video, we discuss Matt's famously addictive raw blue corn chips -- deemed by yours truly as the "holy grail" of raw foods. Below, I'll go over the ingredients, etc.

Basically, Matt said that, to make these chips, you would: