We're heading out of town again! This time we'll be visiting Leela Mata at her Peaceful Valley Ashram, the location of the first raw food spiritual retreat I held last year.

Here's a video I took of Leela Mata last year:

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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.

Well, we've finally done it -- made the move westward to our new hometown, Portland, Oregon! It's been nothing but the kind of high adventure befitting such a move, not the least of which was a wheel literally flying off of our car while driving (don't worry, no one was hurt) just days before we were scheduled to leave. And, of course, everything during the past few weeks wound up costing about 10x what we'd planned. ?But, we're here! ?And, we're beginning to get settled.

As always, we've got some great things on deck for this blog in the coming near term, including many interesting articles and some fun video experiments we did involving live blood and electrical grounding. We also have some new exciting web site features to roll out, one completely new raw food site to unleash upon the raw foods community, and a whole new Pure Jeevan web site design to launch. For now, though, we'll probably remain off-line for a bit longer, as we organize and unpack things.

Our Pittsburgh home remains for sale. Naturally, we'd hoped to have sold it before making this move. But, we realized that we didn't necessarily have to wait for it to sell in order to move to Portland. So, we took the great leap of faith and moved here without that step completed. (It'll certainly be a happy day when that lovely home finds its new owners and caretakers!).

Last night I dreamed of meandering through an unfamiliar cityscape, following some lonely sidewalk next to a river at night, feeling particularly sad and miserable beneath dim yellow street lights. I wore a black suit, carried a highball glass, and was absolutely drunk!

Having crossed the river, I soon realized (even in my dream-drunken state) that I'd been wandering aimlessly. Feeling rather pathetic, I decided to walk back across the river and sober up in a casino that I knew was there. Drunk and depressed, I figured I'd just sit in front of a slot machine for a few hours.

So, what did you think about there being snow in New Mexico? Were many of you thinking it was more of a consistant hot climate like I used to think?

We left New Mexico, renewed, and headed to Oklahoma. Here's where we left off yesterday:

Is low fat more expensive? When I was eating a lot of nuts and seeds, in the back of my mind I kept saying, "Someday you'll eat less of these nuts and seeds, and you'll save a lot of money." I really believed that to be true because organic, raw nuts and seeds are outrageously expensive.

For one hundred days, I'm transitioning to a lower fat raw diet. I'm down to fats only in the evening, and for the next ten days those fats will only come from avocados, young coconuts, and possibly some hemp seeds. If I'm not hungry for the fat, however, I'll go without it. That hasn't been the case yet, though. By dinner time I'm ravenous and wanting to eat heavy, dense foods to calm the hungry beast in my belly. Even though I've been including some fats in the evening, I'm eating significantly less than I normally would if not doing this challenge. So, I've been eating more fruits and vegetables to get the calories I normally received from nuts and seeds.

When you're young and learning the letters of the alphabet, anything that starts with the same letter as your name becomes really special. Well, ever since I was a child and saw a Winnebago RV with the giant "W" on the side, I've been enchanted with the idea of one day owning one and traveling the world (at that age, I didn't realize I'd have to cross oceans to see everything).

If you've been following us for a while, you'll know that I was bringing that vision to life. It took years of convincing, but Jim was finally ready for such an adventure and together we began making plans. For more than two years we've been preparing to tour the country, while teaching about raw foods along the way. Our lives changed so dramatically when we found a way to heal our bodies (and more), a way that can also help others, and we just couldn't sit still. We feel called to spread the word about the raw food diet so others can at least hear that there's another way, that there's something different to try in their quest for health. I knew that crossing the country in an RV, planting the seeds about a raw food diet along the way, would be an efficient way of spreading the word.

Happy Summer Solstice!

Well, it's officially summer here! This time of the year is extra special to us now that we're healthier. Not only is there an abundance of fresh, local organics to eat, but the sun also shows itself to us a lot more (Pittsbugh is ranked as one of the places experiencing the least amount of sunshine per year). The sun actually used to make me feel physically ill (I wrote a bit about that in an earlier post), but ever since I've switched to a raw vegan diet I find myself drawn to the healing sunshine.

Before switching to a raw lifestyle, we used to go on a lot of outings (picnics) and we'd also go camping. I remember a friend voicing concern when my diet was beginning to change to raw foods. She felt I wouldn't be able to go camping anymore and that things like picnics wouldn't be fun for someone eating a raw food diet. She thought I'd need access to a refrigerator in order to keep all my raw foods fresh and a kitchen where I could prepare the delicious foods she had been seeing me eat.

I know this is our Fun-Filled Friday post, but I have to admit that most of today isn't going to be all that much fun. But, this weekend should be very enjoyable! We have some very special guests arriving tomorrow for a SUPER SPECIAL evening tomorrow night! Leela Mata, a beautiful spiritual teacher, has offered to visit my home and hold Satsang here. One of her extremely talented students, Devaki, will be joining her (and bringing a harmonium to play at Satsang!).

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

Below, we have included the original comments from this blog post. Additional comments may be made via Facebook, below.

On April 15, 2009, essie wrote:

Jim here...Well, something awful happened today at Pure Jeevan, something utterly shocking to any raw foodie on the planet -- our Vitamix container broke! I know, I know... breathe with me: Deep breath in... deep breath out. There, that's better. It's going to be okay, I just know it!

Here's what happened:? The agitator assembly (the metal part at the bottom that connects to the blades inside the container) wore out. It blew some kind of bearing or something, lost its internal oil, and started making an infernal noise when we blended our morning smoothie. It was pretty clear we'd blended up our last elixir in that container.