Every week I introduce you to some companies or individuals I think may be interesting to you. This time, I want to intoduce you to some handy calculators that will help you monitor your daily intake of nutrients.

Take the time to meet...

Here's Part Two of our interview with Hatice Yavuz, co-owner of Cousin's I.V. raw restaurant in Chicago. Yesterday we talked a lot about Cousin's restaurant and the stories behind that (as well as some interesting notes about European and Turkish culture and attitude toward raw foods). Today we'll get into some of the effects experienced by many after going raw -- things like raw food detox and the strengthened connection between mind and body. Interesting stuff!

To keep all of you inspired while we are away, we've asked some

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

Wow, I just took a gander at the "Best of Raw" web site and saw that Pure Jeevan is nominated for all sorts of great things -- singling out Wendi, me, Pure Jeevan, this blog, and the All Raw Directory over at least eight different categories!

We really appreciate the nominations, so thanks so much to those who took the time to do that. We'd love it if you would vote for us for "Favorite Raw Blog." (You can do that now by going here.) Of all the things we were nominated for, that's probably the one we've really put the most effort into.

Here are our weekly feature categories. These are in addition to the other periodic entries we will make to the blog (recipes, news, etc.). Click any of the banners for a blog page listing all of the entries we've made under that category. (Note: Since the blog is new, as of January 2008, there aren't many of these new features written yet.)

Makin' It Monday:? Every Monday we'll share a raw / living foods recipe with you that we've either made and loved in the past, or plan on makin' sometime soon!

Jim here with another exciting edition of Weird Wednesday. You know, each time I say "weird," I don't always mean the same thing. Sometimes "weird" means odd or strange. Other times it means funny or ironic. It might also mean unusual or out-of-the-ordinary. Come to think of it, the definition of weird is also weird.

Today, I was thinking about an old friend, Jim Banholzer. He lived next door to Wendi and me when we first moved to the D.C. area in 1991. We all lived in a small "garden apartment" complex in Falls Church, Virginia. Our roommate at the time worked as a leasing agent there, which qualified us for a decent rental discount. I think we paid $800 or so for the place, an upscale 2-bedroom townhome close to the community pool. Jim lived next door with one of the more unstable people I've ever met (and, trust me, that's saying something).

It's Friday already! Today marks a whole week of exploring just a little bit of the All Raw Directory. We hope you've enjoyed the exploration so far, and also that you're inspired not only to use the A.R.D., but to contribute to it as well -- adding not only your own links, but any other raw foods links you think others would enjoy. The mission, after all, is to gather and maintain a current, comprehensive, community-run, categorized, searchable, 100% free-to-use resource guide to every single raw and living foods link in existence.

To accomplish this goal, the A.R.D. launched with 20 main categories, arranged alphabetically from Blogs to Vlogs. Of the 20 categories, 19 are rather straightforward (blogs, books, equipment, etc.). But one stands out as special:

This retreat has been planned for quite some time, and we are very excited about it! It's going to be three days of feeding your body, mind, and spirit. We've kept the cost as low as possible, so that more people can afford to take the time to get away for some quiet time.

All the food is organic and raw, prepared for you with lots of love! There are yoga sessions, meditation, and even a beautiful bonfire if the weather is nice. I've taken some personal retreats at this ashram, myself, and it is so peaceful (it is called the Peaceful Valley Ashram, after all). ;-)? We've created a schedule of suggested activities, but everything is optional. This is a great opportunity to simply get away and calm your mind.

Jim here...As vegans and vegetarians, we're familiar with what we believe is quite a lot of misinformation regarding our lifestyle. However, we've done the research and, for example, know how we get our protein (always a concern received from others), know the stats on B12 deficiency (another concern often cited by mainstreamers), and know our answers to other issues such as where we get our minerals from and whether we consume processed foods and sugars. Bucking the mainstream conventional wisdom emergent from within a world dominated by the Standard American Diet, we live defiantly as healthy examples of our chosen path. But, is there any wiggle room as far as what is and isn't healthy (for us, and for everyone)? What about some of the things that everyone "knows" is bad for you? With questions like those in mind, here's something unusual -- a full post developed from a simple Facebook update. (You are friends with Wendi and me on Facebook, right ) Yesterday, I posted the following:

Think of something that you think is bad for you, and then go to Google & type in "benefits of [that thing]" and see if there is a web site that is promoting that thing. I just did this for "caffeine" and read some thought-provoking ideas (that might all be utter BS, but are interesting nonetheless).

Last year when I organized a raw food spiritual retreat at an ashram, I met some very lovely people. Two of those individuals were Patty and Denny (you can visit their blog to say hello to them). They were new to gourmet raw foods, so they were enthusiastic learners at the retreat. When they returned home after the blissful weekend, they began using their new raw food knowledge. Here are some excerpts of emails I have received from them since the retreat last year:

Well, you said you're motive in putting on this retreat was simply to pass on this valuable information and to help others; you were very successful where we're concerned - it is no exaggeration to say that you have changed our lives forever.

We've been almost 100% raw since the retreat. ... We're so excited about this new way of eating that we bought a new Vita-Mix. ...We can actually say that this has been our most notable and enjoyable dining experience - ever, in our entire lives! No one would ever put that much work into something if it were just for money; it is obvious that you did it from your heart. We feel blessed to have received such a gift.

In Part 5 of this 5-Part series, Wendi talks with Leela Mata about meditation and diet. After discussing what meditation is and why people practice it, Mata Ji talks about diet and its effects on the mind. She then gives a brief explanation of how to meditate for those who are new to the practice, and demonstrates how to use a simple mantra (word or phrase) to aid in entering a meditative state.