Jim here with another intriguing installment of Weird Wednesday.Look, I'm a hugefan of gigantic, mondo salads. If you (well, not raw foodists but most SAD-diet Americans) were to visit our house at lunch time, you'd likely think that the individual salads on our table are as big as the salads bowls put out for entire families (for those few families, relatively speaking, that serve any salad at all these days, that is).

Seriously, when I have enough prep time, I like to pile 'em high with organic green leaf (though I'll take red leaf or romaine frequently), tomatoes, carrots, onions, peppers, apple slices, pepitos, sunflower seeds, raisins -- basically everything but the kitchen sink.

For this week's Makin' It Monday, I'll share a super quick and yummy recipe I created. Since we have all of those delicious oranges, guess what the recipe is going to include? ;-)

ORANGE PUDDING

Just a quick post on what may or may not be considered "weird" for our inaugural "Weird Wednesday" post. According to a few web sites I checked, around 3% of the population (and I'm assuming this means U.S. population) is vegetarian. It looks like maybe 1% (possibly a little more) is vegan. Of every 100 vegans, how many do you suppose are raw foodists? (Actually, I'm asking; I didn't find any solid answer to that.) Maybe 1 of every 100 vegans? What do you think?

Here's a painfully unscientific, yet still slightly educated guess:

I want to admit something to all of you: Sometimes I still cry because of how people treated me when I was obese. Because I stuffed all of my "negative" emotions deep inside my entire life, it's going to take some time to fully release them. I'm working on it, however, and making tremendous progress with healing myself on all levels. I'm not telling you these things so you'll feel sorry for me, however. I'm telling you because I am thankful for all the pain I endured. It shaped me (in more ways than just my physical appearance) into the person I am today.

Even though it sounds strange, and somehow wrong to feel this way, I'm thankful that I was obese. I'm thankful for all of the experiences during my life, even the extremely painful, traumatic ones. Maybe if I was a different kind of person I would wish that those things didn't happen to me. However, I am using those experiences in positive ways. They've helped me understand people even better, and to understand myself on a deeper level, as well. When people reach out to me it's not only because I'm an approachable person, it's because they sense that I understand them--and they're right. I DO understand them. I understand you. My experiences, coupled with my gift of empathy, help me relate to you in a way that maybe not everyone else is able to do.

Today I answer the second part of a letter Jim received from a Pure Jeevan member who was seeking advice about her daughter who has decided to become a vegetarian. Rather than quote parts of her letter, I'll summarize the questions (because they are general questions that we hear a lot and our answers are given for everyone, not just the individual who sent the most recent letter).

1) I don't have a lot of money for all the produce and kitchen appliances, so how can I eat a healthy diet

2) I live with others who don't eat the same diet, so how can I possibly make this work

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.

This is my version of a beanless hummus. One of my close friends adores the taste of Israeli Hummus and she thinks this tastes just like it. So, try it for yourself and let me know! Jim will eat this if he doesn't see me using the zucchini (he doesn't like the idea of eating zucchini for some reason). :-P

Hummus

3 cups of zucchini (peeled and chopped)

As Pure Jeevan blog readers probably know, we're big fans of running ongoing series. A good blog can never have too many, really. So today we mark the official kick-off of another super series. We're calling these articles "Pure Jeevan Guides."

Guides to what , you may ask. Well, to various topics of interest to raw foodies, of course!

Continuing with our week of ways to keep a sharp mind, let's focus on the one widely accepted indicator for dementia or alzheimer's: heart disease. If one wants to dramatically reduce the chances of brain degredation, the first step to take is keeping the heart healthy.

The key advice most health specialists agree on when it comes to a healthy heart is the reduction (ideally eliminatain) of unhealthy fats in the diet. The unhealthy fats are usually seen as solid fats, like butter, margerine, and shortening. However, it's important to not overlook the fats that are also found in meats. By substituting unhealthy fats with something healthier for your heart (like extra virgin, cold-pressed olive oil), as well as transitioning to leaner meats if you are a meat eater, you will be taking some important steps in keeping your heart healthy, as well as your mind.

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.

Jim here... Sorry for being away for so long. We've got SO much going on these days, it's mind-boggling! More on that later, as I have something in mind already for today...I should start by clarifying that I've been basically raw for almost 4 years now (high-raw, you might say). During the first nearly-two years, I still ate meat from time to time. Actually, I still ate (and drank) almost everything from time to time -- sugars, processed foods, alcohol, you name it -- only less than I did before, and within the context of a dietary intake consisting of a significantly higher percentage of living foods. In those early years, I'd estimate I was averaging 75-90% raw. Not bad ... I definitely experienced improvements in my health!

The big change in consciousness didn't follow until two years ago. (This is an interesting point because, as you can see, I wasn't "ready" for a bigger change for two years into eating a lot of raw foods!) I suppose the difference was that, during the early years, I was pretty much raw by default rather than by conscious decision. As Jules said in Pulp Fiction, "... my girlfriend's a vegetarian. ?Which more or less makes me a vegetarian..." Yeah, that was my case back then, too, although I certainly grew into it (and am thankful that I did).