Today we're running another installment of our "Thankful Thursday" series. This time, we're especially thankful ... for YOU, the Pure Jeevan family! Who'd have thought, less than two years ago when launching this blog, that we'd make thousands of connections with others looking for inspiration on their raw food journey !!? It's simply astounding -- and we're still actually "just getting started."

As always, we're thrilled to provide information and inspiration. It's counter-intuitive, when you really consider it; "raw foods" may be just two simple words, yet there always seems to be more and more to talk about, more people to interview, more success stories to highlight, more recipes to contribute, more tips and tricks to share, more personal reflections to offer.

Can you believe it's mid-October already ? Here in Pittsburgh, for those lucky few who may have fig trees, that means harvest time! Well, almost. Take a look at this video we made about figs!

As stated in the video, we did a previous installment on figs in our Know Your Food series (which will definitely be returning once we finally sell our home and become full-time raw food inspiration providers!). Please visit that link for nutrition and other information on figs.

Today we welcome Shea Lynn Baird from Monday Night Live. As you may recall from a few weeks ago, Wendi and KDcat visited with Shea and her husband Stephen during their 2010 Trip. While there, they all attended a raw food meetup, and Shea brought a wonderful Thai salad. She shared this delicious creation with all of you in this special guest raw chef edition of Makin' It Monday, below:

I'm makin' nothing today, or for the next eight days! Think of all the time I'm saving myself by consuming only mono meals for nine days. What will I end up doing with that extra time? So far, today, I've spent a long time outside soaking up the sun's beautiful rays that I've missed far too much this Winter. I have no idea what the rest of this mono journey is going to be like, but I'm up for the adventure!

I've started a little journal on my desktop to track my nine days of mono meals, so I'll share what I've written from time-to-time. Here's what I have, so far...

Hi Everyone! It's been a while since we've run a "My Raw Story" feature. So, here's one from my good friend Chris Paris, who I met and hung out with at the Raw Spirit Festival this past summer. I think you'll like his take on raw, his before & after pics, and the personal topics he covers such as the role raw foods played in his spirituality. -Jim

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Wow, what a strange episode we have for you tonight! As you'll see, it was a really bizarre day here at Pure Jeevan. Wendi's out of town with her friends Rawbin and Jeff (owner of NaturalZing) helping NaturalZing with their booth at the Green Festival in Washington, DC. Too bad she's away; she missed opening the mail today and seeing a highly unusual letter from the Department of Homeland Security! The topic? Well, it turns out Pure Jeevan is under governmental surveillance -- and our chief surveillor, one "Larry Ferguson," actually decided to introduce himself and make some comments about our Bananas episode (which we hadn't even released yet!). Sounds highly unusual, I know. But, he was actually doing us a favor. Take a look (vid shows me reading part of his letter, then the banana episode proper):

As you heard, Larry writes: "I believe your viewers deserve to know, for example, that bananas have roughly 100 calories each, are high in Vitamin C, and fiber. You might also want to mention that they contain considerable levels of B6, which is good for metabolic functions as well as nervous and immune systems. B6 also helps you produce antibodies to fight diseases and plays a strong role in brain function and even maintaining hormonal balance. Your body can't store B6, btw, so you need to get it every day. Of course, most people will know already about the great potassium levels in bananas. Potassium is great for controlling blood pressure and certainly reduces risks of heart problems. Bananas also contain manganese, which your viewers probably already know about after your persimmons video."

Jim here... As you may have noticed, Pure Jeevan was offline for the past week. I wish this absence had been for some pleasant reason that I could now write about. But, in truth, it was because my mother passed away last Thursday afternoon. It's not easy to write about so soon afterward; we're all painfully unprepared to describe my mother using the past tense. Her passing still just doesn't seem real to me or to anyone who knew her.She was without a doubt a remarkably beautiful, happy, and loving person who, for 65+ years, really made a difference in a lot of people's lives.

Beyond her ties to Wendi, KDcat, and me, she was also known to some Pure Jeevan family members as well as others in the raw food community. She appeared here just a few months ago to share a raw hummus recipe. And, I know she had visited and/or joined a few other raw foods sites during the past two years. She really did have an interest in it, and always loved her veggies and a good salad. In fact, she was one of those people who actually ate fairly healthfully, relatively speaking, yet still faced serious health challenges.

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

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

Jim here... Wow, we haven't posted in a few days. That calls for some action! Hmmm... how about taking a look at some delicious mini pizzas Wendi whipped up the other day:

We went absolutely nuts for these little "pizzas." They were both tasty and fun. If memory serves, I believe she made them by taking slices of firm roma tomatoes, spooning on some improvised pesto sauce that she whipped up, sprinkling on some chopped basil leaves, sprinkling on some "cheese" that she made with ground Brazil nuts, garlic, and salt, and then topping each "pizza slice" off with a half cherry tomato. No recipes necessary here; just take a look at the picture & go try it!

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:

Recently, the wife of a friend of ours decided that she wanted to lose 20-25 pounds. As far as we know, she follows pretty much a "Standard American Diet." We've heard that she doesn't care for red meat, but she does eat other meats, plus a good deal of dairy (which, we believe, she regards as a healthy food choice). She's apparently tried a number of exercise regimens, and a few fad diets, with no luck on losing these 20-25 pounds. (Frankly, we haven't seen her many times, but would not have guessed that she had 25 pounds to lose. But, we'll save "self image" as a topic for for further posts.) In any case... Frustrated, she decided to see a hypnotist!

Our friend accompanied his wife to the initial consultation. He said it was actually interesting. The hypnotist basically sits you down and walks you through some fundamental psychology, demonstrates a few of the primary principles of suggestion (e.g., showing you how easy it is to, say, imagine the sourness you would experience when biting into a slice of lemon), and then lays out how the program works.