Those consuming a raw food diet sometimes use a dehydrator to prepare raw food dishes. They do this at low temperatures, below the point of actually cooking the foods, to intensify flavors, reduce the amount of moisture in the dish, and sometimes to take the chill off something they'd rather serve a bit warmer than straight out of the refrigerator. There is a practice that we've seen, however, that is actually cooking the very foods were taking such great measures to consume raw! Let me share an experience I had when I first started eating raw foods, that will help explain how some of us may be cooking our foods by mistake.

In the beginning of eating raw foods, my entire family loved the Vegetable Stir-Dont-Fry I used to make (you can find that recipe in the free eBook you downloaded when you first visited our site). One day I created a double recipe so we could eat more the next day, without going through the process of preparing it again fresh. The following day I took the bowl of Stir-Dont-Fry out of the refrigerator and put it into the dehydrator to take the chill off. It wasn't warming up fast enough on such a low temperature, so I thought I'd just cover the dish a little bit to trap in some of the heat that seemed to leave each time I checked the dish and stirred it around. So, I took a plate and placed it on top of the bowl with about an inch, or two, opening.

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:

Recently I've been to three potlucks in the span of four days. They've all been wonderful for different reasons -- one was a birthday party for a lovely young woman, Bethany, another was part of a women's circle that my friend, Melissa, invited me to attend, and the other was at my home as a meetup when Kevin and Annmarie Gianni were here visiting. Lots of fun, connecting with people, and raw foods to eat.

Sounds perfect, right? Well, something's been happening with me and raw foods over the past year. It became even more evident after eating at three different potlucks over four days. I've noticed more and more that when I don't eat something that I've created, I many times have reactions to the foods I've eaten. The reactions have ranged from flushed facial skin, slight headaches, hives, full-blown headaches, upset stomach, water retention, achy joints, etc. All signs of being sensitive to something I'm eating, right? I've narrowed it down to a few things, but it doesn't seem to be an exact science to knowing what's going to cause the reaction.

At home I know that I feel better if I don't consume garlic even though I love the taste and smell of it. When I eat too much of it I experience headaches and sometimes flushed cheeks. I gave up raw vinegar a long time ago because it makes my joints ache. Recently I noticed that whenever I eat Nama Shoyu I get a headache, flushed cheeks, and sometimes some hives. So, at home I can control my reactions to foods -- I simply avoid eating the things that sometimes trigger problems for me. I feel great most of the time because I eat more simply and my body doesn't experience any problems.

Jim here... "Do I Need to Eat a Certain Percentage of Raw Foods to Call Myself a Raw Foodist " This seems to be a common question among some people interested in pursuing a raw and living foods lifestyle. I fielded such a question recently online, and thought I'd recap my own answer here, somewhat edited for enhanced clarity:

I know what raw foodism means. And, if you're here, you probably do to, or at least you're interested in it and know the basics. But, to the mainstream population, raw is absolutely unheard of, totally out of the box -- relatively speaking. So, let's begin by taking a look at who in the world has potentially heard of RAW. Let's start more broadly and then hone in.

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

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

Today for "Take the Time Tuesday," we'd like you to take the time to meet Mimi Kirk, whom many of you may know as the winner of PETA's "Sexiest Vegetarian Over 50" contest last fall. If you're interested in longevity, and how diet influences the way we look, act, think, and exist, then you'll definitely want to listen closely to what this vibrant woman, who is 71 years young, has to say. We spoke with Mimi for nearly an hour this weekend, and are happy to share her inspiring interview with all of you. Below, you can listen right here, or download a podcast MP3 version.

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?

Today, for Makin' It Monday, Jim has taken you through the steps of making a vegetable wrap. He came home for lunch, pulled the veggies out of the fridge, and the filming began. He quickly shows how just about anyone can prepare fresh, raw, delicious food in less than fifteen minutes. His goal was to get it done in under ten minutes, but it actually took about fourteen. Still, fourteen minutes to prepare amazingly tasty, delicious, and nutritious food is AWESOME!

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.

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!?

EVERYONE LOVES RAW TACOS!!! So, this week, we're going to show you FOUR "Makin' It Monday" videos instead of just one. These were filmed in Berkeley, CA, at our dear friend Carolyn's apartment. We hope you love these recipes. We actually eat raw tacos quite regularly -- especially when tomatoes are in season.