This weekend is all about having fun! We'll be working on the menu for the upcoming 3-Day Raw Food Spiritual Ashram Retreat that I've organized for the end of May. What does it mean to work on the menu? Well, it means I'll be making and sampling all kinds of gourmet raw food dishes this weekend!

I'm fairly sure that we've covered how to *open* a young coconut (also known as a Thai coconut). It seems like each raw food site has a video and/or article about that. I think it's actually a commandment in the Official Raw Foodism Bylaws somewhere: "Thou shalt show everyone how to open a coconut."

But *selecting* them... that's something that's not often covered in-depth. It's an advanced topic -- super-advanced, even. So, are you ready to learn the secrets?

How does the following menu* sound for your Thanksgiving meal

Nut Loaf, Apple un-stuffing, Mac Mushroom gravy,

Rawbin Rescues Turtle

I had a fantastic time at the 2008 Green Festival in Washington, DC. My wonderful friend, Rawbin, picked me up last Thursday and we had a nice drive back to her place in Maryland. She lives in an almost magical setting with wooded areas, horses, a goat, chickens, dogs, and cats! KDcat will not want to leave when she visits Rawbin someday. Above is a video of Rawbin rescuing a turtle that was in the middle of the road near her home.

When we found out that there was a raw foods restaurant in Key West, we knew we'd visit for sure. So, after a wonderful lunch of some of their raw staples (raw tacos and peanut noodles), it was no surprise to us that we found ourselves drifting back toward Help Yourself after the sunset celebration at Mallory Square (the main nightly Key West sunset viewing celebration). When we arrived, we asked to interview the owner, Charlie Wilson. She'd just left after working a very long day at the restaurant. But, an emplyee called her anyway and she graciously agreed to come talk with us! So, here's a bit of that conversation:

Pure Jeevan is hitting the road? this weekend, heading to Chicago for some super-double-secret raw business stuff, returning late Monday. (Can't discuss it yet, but it's raw food related and ultra-cool. We'll get to it in due time, I promise.)?

Actually, it's going to be quite an interesting trip, as we have some very serious, very intense work to do in Chicago over the entire weekend, but we're not sure yet whether it'll be Wendi doing the work or me! It all depends on how Wendi feels -- and with Lyme, you just never know. So, one of us will be busy, the other largely free to explore the windy city with KDcaT and Th' Jooge.

Welcome to Makin' It Monday, Guest Raw Chef edition. Today, Dave Sokulski of www.BirchCenter.com and www.FoodUnderFoot.com gets a little silly while making some delicious raw cacao treats! Enjoy the video:

Jim here... As you're probably aware, Sunday marks the summer solstice here in the northern hemisphere. While the Pure Jeevan family certainly includes many raw foodies living in the southern hemisphere (*nods to our friends in Oz and beyond currently heading into winter*), the majority of our readers will equate Sunday with the official kick-off of much longer, much hotter days. So, we'd like to provide some topical, tropical inspiration for you.

How do you feel about heat Personally, I used to *hate* it. I thought I knew what real heat was, too, having grown up in St. Louis where the summers can be brutal. But, Wendi and I traveled to India once (so far!) and, wow, THAT was real heat. I clearly remember standing on an airport tarmac in a place called Trivandrum, just 8 degrees north of the equator, almost in shock over how hot it was there.

Just a quick notice that we've posted our December 2009 newsletter. Each month, we email a link to our newsletter to all Pure Jeevan family members. (If you're not receiving that, you're mising out on a ton of awesome raw inspiration and information. You can click here to sign up -- it's free!)

We'll be back tomorrow to continue our coverage of the Chicago raw food scene. As I've been saying for a few days now, you won't want to miss these great interviews!?

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.

Jim here... An unusual occurrence prompted this post, and I'm unsure as to whether it's significant. I've talked about some of my favorite non-raw items before -- things that were tough to leave behind as I embarked upon this raw foods journey. I think I covered pizza in a relatively recent post.

Corn chips were another. In fact, after Wendi went 100% raw and I more or less began to follow her dietary choices, I clung to corn chips for dear life for quite a long time. I began eating a LOT of salsa in those days. Sometimes, that would be all I'd eat for lunch -- just an entire jar of salsa and a bag of corn chips (though, by then, I'd at least usually buy the organic ones and, quite often, a baked variety of chips as well).

When I finally decided I'd be better off transitioning to an all raw lifestyle, I figured my love affair with corn chips had come to an end. Farewell beautiful chips, I thought. I'll never forget our delicious crunchy time together. And that was that. I never looked back.

But then, at a local raw foods pot luck, I met a raw chef who had more or less perfected a raw corn chip recipe. Could it be , I thought. Has this delicacy returned to me after all, as though via some sweet culinary destiny? Ahh, my friends, that was a glorious day. Chips and salsa had returned to me in an enlightened raw form. I could enjoy them once again, guilt free. And enjoy them I did -- usually using a local shop's "Peruvian Purple Corn" (a living, sproutable, dried corn product).

Alas, fate stepped in once again. "Thou may partake of these crisps any time thou wishest," fate boomed. "Yet, in order to do so, thou must prepare them thine self using thine Vitamix and requiring an enormous flax-sticky mess with extended clean-up time, and thou must have parchment paper available at all times, and thou must exercise great care and patience in using your Excalibur, for these chips must dry for many an hour before ready."

Yeah, it was a bit of a chore to produce them. So, as the novelty of chip making and eating wore off, I slowly decreased the frequency of going through the messy, time-consuming hassle of preparing them. Until yesterday, it had been literally months since I made a batch. But... we'd ordered a few pounds of the corn from Natural Zing lately, and I found myself with some extra time the other night. So...

Now, I'm going to pause for a minute for a tangent on digestion. I know a great majority of people, it seems, complain of various digestive disorders. As a result, we have many raw foodie specialists schooled in the nuances of food combining. Oddly, I never paid much attention to these discussions, nor offered input on these matters, because they simply weren't relevant to me.

In fact, I likened my own digestive system to some kind of nuclear powered garbage disposal. It didn't matter what I ate; digestion wasn't a problem for me. So, for example, I'd routinely finish off heavy meals, and then follow them with a huge slice of juicy watermelon (a major no-no according to common wisdom). It just never bothered me.I always joked that, even though I'd been raw for ages, I could still probably go eat a Big Mac (not that I would) and be unaffected by it.

So powerful was my stomach acid that, admittedly, I sometimes privately *worried* whether this might mean something was wrong with me. I mean, shouldn't some of the things I was eating make me sick? Was it "good" to not be made sick by what is generally regarded as poor food combining choices? Do people commonly suffer from problems of efficiency as well as deficiency ? I still do not really know the answer to these questions, and suspect the answer is rather complicated, anyway. Fortunately, it doesn't matter now because...

Something finally made me sick!? I'm laughing now about that, but I spent most of the evening in terrible stomach pain after having over-indulged in some of those (in)famous raw purple corn chips.

So, what happened ? That's an interesting question for me. Here are some possibilities: (1) Perhaps my hyper-active digestive system *was* in fact a problem, and now it's beginning to normalize. Perhaps, had I been healthier all along, I would have been made sick by some of my food choices, but now my health is improving!? (2) Perhaps it's a fluke and I simply shouldn't have eaten mass quantities of corn and flax so late at night. (3) Perhaps my body is improving in its ability to communicate with me, and/or that I'm getting better at listening, and that the message here is that corn is not something my body gains nourishment from -- at least, not in this dried-reprocessed-redried form. After all, some leading raw food authorities, like Gabriel Cousens, aren't fans of corn (even fresh corn!).

Oh sure, there may be other explanations (e.g., "a bad batch of corn"). But, I'm actually most interested in #3, above. Even though this is an extreme example (more intense than it needed to be), I'd like to think that I'm getting better at knowing what I'm being nourished from and what I am not. I'd like to think that this is a latent sense that can be developed, much like our ability to know things by feeling and intuition rather via pure rationality all the time.

But, with food, I think it's a matter of inventorying your physical sensations head to toe, and also as a whole. How is the food you're eating making you feel? Do you feel satisfied or still hungry? Do you feel light or is the food sitting kind of heavily? Do you feel energized or dragged down? How's your mental clarity? Do you feel spacey or more grounded? Do you feel noticeably happier or more sad than before? How are all of these things mapping out over time? Is your weight moving in a positive direction for you? Are your illnesses improving? Food is medicine, after all; it has all of these effects and many more!

For now, I think I can safely check purple corn off of my own personal list of foods that make me feel good. I suspect my old assertion about "being able to eat a Big Mac without any side effects" no longer applies -- and maybe this is a good thing. I think perhaps it signals some progress in my journey toward optimal health.

In any case, I think this kind of purposeful introspection is healthy, and something we should all strive to do more often.How about you? Had any similar experiences? What have you learned from them?

Original Comments

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On April 15, 2009, essie wrote: