• The Season for Squash & Pumpkin Seed Cracker Recipe

    Bursting with flavor, vitamins, minerals and fiber, all varieties of winter squash currently appearing in farmer’s markets and grocery store produce sections are true nutritional super foods.

    Just one ½ cup serving delivers 100% of your daily vitamin A requirement and a mega dose of antioxidants at a skinny 37 calories.

    There’s a huge selection to choose from. Old favorites like pumpkins, acorn, butternut and Hubbard squash are now joined by newer varieties like sweet mama, sweet dumpling and buttercup. Look for pumpkins and squash that feel heavy, and are free of cuts, mold or cracks. Protected by that hard, tough skin, most kinds of squash will stay fresh for up to three months when stored in a dry, cool place. Thoroughly wash skins before cutting squash to remove any possible bacteria or contaminants.

    The yellow and deep orange color of the flesh of winter squash comes from the antioxidant beta carotene, which is credited with helping to prevent chronic illnesses like heart disease and cancer, and could also slow age-related macular degeneration. The vitamin A in squash supports a strong immune system, healthy skin, and good vision.

    More good news about the nutritional benefits of squash – its high vitamin C content can help lower blood pressure, and even protect arteries from damage. Also, the Potassium in squash helps the heart, kidneys, muscles and digestive system function smoothly.

    Buying this nutritional powerhouse in season, and locally, gives you the benefit of the freshest meals this fall, while you’re also supporting your local economy.

    While raw squash is a delicious addition to soups, smoothies and juices, the Optimum Health Institute (OHI) even uses the seeds for an extra serving of vitamins, minerals and fiber. Guests love the savory Pumpkin Seed Crackers, which are easy to make at home:

    Dehydrated Pumpkin Seed Crackers

    Yield: 12 1-ounce servings


    1 cup soaked pumpkin seeds, rinsed

    ½ cup soaked sesame seeds, rinsed

    ½ chopped red bell pepper

    ½ cup chopped yellow onion

    ½ chopped firm tomato

    ¾ cup chopped zucchini

    ¼ sprig fresh basil

    ¼ tbsp. dried oregano

    ¼ tsp. garlic powder

    ¼ tbsp. tomato powder

    Place half of the pumpkin seeds and half of the sesame seeds in mixing bowl. Blend remaining seeds in Vitamix with vegetables, herbs and spices until mixture is smooth. Add mixture to mixing bowl with whole seeds and stir well with spatula. Spoon onto dehydrator trays in ½ inch tall clumps; do not flatten. Dehydrate at 105 degrees for two days, turning crackers over after the first day.

    Savor nutrient-rich squash dishes and other delicious raw, live, organic vegan meals during a stay at the Optimum Health Institute. To learn more about our holistic healing program, in San Diego or Austin, visit Optimum Health Institute.  We can help you achieve your mental, physical, emotional and spiritual goals for optimal health. To make your reservation, call us at (800) 588-0809.

  • The Importance of Discernment

    Discernment is considered a spiritual virtue, and the mark of a wise and compassionate person of sound judgment. It is the ability to look past what’s not immediately evident – to distinguish what’s unique or true from that which is superficial. Simply put, discernment is the ability to distinguish and to know right from wrong.

    If you’re a good judge of character; if you feel a duty to help people see right from wrong and if you are usually correct when you feel something is amiss, you have discernment.

    “Discernment” is not “judgment.” Judgment comes from the Greek word for “condemn.” When you judge someone, you make decisions about their general worthiness.

    Discernment, on the other hand, comes from the Greek word “to separate,” or to see the truth from the fabrication. It is to see people, and things, as they actually are.

    The discernment process requires time and using both the head and the heart in making an assessment.

    Good decisions and good choices are the results of discernment. Thus, making the process of discernment an achievement–a virtuous act that sets a foundation for accurate perception.

    Here are some tips to help you develop your ability to discern:

    Never stop learning. When a bank is teaching tellers how to detect counterfeit dollar bills, the tellers must study real bills, and become familiar with every last detail. The more you learn, the less likely you’ll be deceived.

    Pray. Ask for divine guidance in developing and trusting your spiritual gift of discernment.

    Meditate. When you quiet the chatter of your mind, you’ll be more able to hear your divine inner voice.

    Trust. Remember compassion is always appropriate, but trust is earned. Be kind but be slow to believe in someone or something. Give yourself time to “go deep” into the heart of it before you entrust it with your complete confidence.

    Discernment is necessary for making decisions, and you’re making thousands of decisions daily. To learn more about our holistic healing program, in San Diego or Austin, visit Optimum Health Institute.  We can help you achieve your mental, physical, emotional and spiritual goals for optimal health. To make your reservation, call us at (800) 588-0809.

  • Understanding Our 8 Core Emotions, Part 2

    Last week we shared insights into our core emotions: Joy, Anger, Anxiety and Surprise. Today we’ll continue our look at the remaining core emotions: Trust, Grief, Fear and Love.

    1. 5. Trust

    The emotion of ‘trust’ can be a tricky one. It implies a vulnerability – we have expectations about a person or situation, and we’re required to have a ‘leap of faith’ that those expectations will be met. A good rule of thumb is, compassion is always appropriate, but trust is earned. In those instances where trust is required, rely on your instincts, and also seek some information about the trustee’s attributes, like reputation and past experiences. It will help transform ‘trust’ into ‘confidence.’

    1. 6. Grief

    Any time we experience a loss of any kind, there is a certain element of grieving involved. Losing a loved one, relationship, job, health, reputation, friends, youth, even moving into a new home – all will generate some degree of grief. The biggest mistake we can make is trying to ignore or deny this emotion. Until we acknowledge our grief, we will remain mired in it. It’s important to be realistic, and admit things in our life have changed with this loss. The next step is to look at how this loss has transformed us. What have we learned? What memories can we cherish? What meaningful things can we do, moving forward, that will not only help us heal, but will benefit others? We can consciously choose to redirect our grief, and our sense of loss, into an opportunity for positive growth.

    1. 7. Fear

    Fear and Anxiety are closely linked – they both arise when we’re facing a real or perceived threatening unknown. It’s part of our instinctual survival mechanism, when that twig snapping in the dark might have indicated a saber-tooth, ready to pounce. A ‘fight or flight’ fear response empowers us to take immediate action to remove ourselves, or others, from harm’s way. Pushing a child out of the path of a car, for instance, or freezing when a venomous snake slithers across a mountain trail.

    While the emotion of fear can sometimes protect us from taking unwise risks, taken to the extreme it can also paralyze our ability to try anything new. Reliving fear, as in post-traumatic stress disorder, can keep us stuck in an old pattern.

    To transform fear, first take a deep breath to help bring mental clarity. That will also empower you to assess the situation realistically. Is there a clear and present danger? If so, take the necessary steps to alleviate it. If there is not, a simple affirmation like, “I release all fear to the light,” can help bring you back into a positive emotional balance.

    1. 8. Love

    Love is the essence of emotion, or ‘energy in motion.” It is that transcendent state where we feel a heart-centered connection; to God, another person, our children, our community, the Cosmos, all of creation. It can be a gentle contentment, a deep respect and regard, or a smoldering passion. At its core, Love is life’s greatest blessing, available to us all if we choose to open our hearts and minds.

    Experience the emotional freedom of nurturing yourself with an extended stay at OHI San Diego or OHI Austin. To learn more about our holistic healing program, in San Diego or Austin, visit Optimum Health Institute.  We can help you achieve your mental, physical, emotional and spiritual goals for optimal health. To make your reservation, call us at (800) 588-0809.

  • Understanding Our 8 Core Emotions, Part 1

    Candace Pert, PhD, the late neuroscientist, pharmacologist, spiritual author, speaker and visionary, described our emotions as the thing linking our physical bodies to our spiritual selves. Cultivating positive emotions is essential for achieving, and maintaining, optimum health in body, mind and spirit.

    The trick to cultivating those positive emotions, though, is to resist ignoring or suppressing less than happy feelings when they arise, as they inevitably will. Instead, learning the tools to realistically register, honor and then shift our emotions, as needed, is a powerful life skill that can change virtually everything for the better.

    Over the next two weeks, we’ll be looking closely at eight core emotions, and how they impact us.

    1. 1. Joy

    The emotion of Joy is closely linked to optimism, serenity and ecstasy. It’s the sense of wonder, satisfaction and a peaceful excitement that you are part of something greater and magnificent. For many people, joy is experienced when they see or hear something of incomparable beauty, or feel a deeply personal connection to God.

    1. 2. Anger

    The body has many ways to alert the brain to feelings of anger – muscle tenseness, shortness of breath, feeling flushed and an uncomfortable sensation in the stomach are just a few. Anger is usually an immediate response to a perceived wrongdoing. It can range from mild annoyance to exasperation to a hostile rage. In the short term, pure anger can sometimes be beneficial. Dr. Pert talks about a patient who made only healthy choices, but still received a cancer diagnosis. The woman became furious, and the cancer immediately went into remission. It was as if the unhealthy cells were burned away by the emotional surge.

    A quick burst of anger is one thing, but a sustained slow-boil can have serious consequences for heart health. A positive way to process that emotion is to take a deep breath, remember what the thought was the moment before you physically felt anger, and change that thought. You can’t have an angry feeling without first having an angry thought.

    1. 3. Anxiety

    Anxiety is that unbalanced emotion arising from fear of the unknown. Instead of staying suspended in that state of constant worry about what might go wrong, shift your thoughts to mentally listing all the things that could go RIGHT. The quickest way to come into balance from an anxious state is to take three deep, mindful breaths. That simple exercise will immediately propel you up into an Alpha state, where clarity and peace are yours.

    1. 4. Surprise

    Whether it’s a happy surprise – office birthday party! – or an unpleasant one, the feeling of surprise means you are not in control of an immediate situation you have not anticipated. Take those deep breaths again to enter into Alpha, and be in the present moment. If it’s a positive surprise, enjoy! If it’s not, going right into a more aware, ‘plugged in’ Alpha state will empower you to quickly assess the situation. Are you in danger? If so, take the appropriate steps to remove yourself from harm’s way. Are you upset? First find something in the situation for which you can authentically be grateful. Even if it’s, “Whatever doesn’t kill us makes us stronger,” that will immediately shift you into a more calm, collected and positive state of mind.

    Tune in next week when we explore the remaining core emotions: Trust, Grief, Fear and LOVE.

    Experience the emotional freedom of nurturing yourself with an extended stay at OHI San Diego or OHI Austin. To learn more about our holistic healing program, in San Diego or Austin, visit Optimum Health Institute.  We can help you achieve your mental, physical, emotional and spiritual goals for optimal health. To make your reservation, call us at (800) 588-0809.

  • Almighty Wheatgrass!

    Wheatgrass refers to the young grass of the wheat plant Triticum aestivum and contains a number of vitamins and antioxidants, such as vitamins A, E, and B-12, as well as calcium, selenium, magnesium, and iron. In addition to providing essential vitamins and nutrients to your diet, natural foods  such as wheatgrass can benefit your health in a number of other ways.

    Gives You Energy

    One of the first benefits of wheatgrass is that it energizes your mind and body to help you feel refreshed throughout your day. In fact, two ounces of fresh wheatgrass juice is the equivalent of two cups of coffee. In addition, studies show that drinking one ounce of wheatgrass juice contains the same amount of vitamins and minerals as consuming one ounce of fresh vegetables.

    Boosts Your Vascular Health

    Another big benefit of wheatgrass is that it helps support your blood health. This is accomplished by building red blood cells quickly after ingestion, speeding up circulation, lowering blood pressure, and cleansing the blood of waste.

    Curbs Cravings

    Research suggests that because the nutritional value of wheatgrass juice is so high, it may help prevent the hunger cravings that cause overeating, ultimately serving as a weight control tool. Wheatgrass can also boost your weight loss goals by increasing your metabolism.

    Improves Immune Function

    Perhaps one of the greatest benefits of wheatgrass juice is that it helps boost your immune system. Wheatgrass juice contains chlorophyll, which aids your immune system by increasing the function of your heart and improving the condition of your vascular system, intestines, and lungs.

    At the Optimum Health Institute , we believe that when you cleanse and nourish your body, it can restore itself to its natural balance.  To help your body cleanse and restore itself, OHI provides:

    • wheatgrass juice to cleanse cells and purify blood
    • enemas and wheatgrass implants to cleanse the colon

    To learn more about our holistic healing program, in San Diego or Austin, visit Optimum Health Institute.  We can help you achieve your mental, physical, emotional and spiritual goals for optimal health. To make your reservation, call us at (800) 588-0809.

  • The Benefits of a 3-Week Stay at OHI

    The first step towards optimum health is releasing the idea that an “instant fix” is possible. True healing involves patiently working through layers of old habits to gently – and permanently – make the necessary changes. The Optimum Health Institute (OHI) 21-day program was designed specifically to guide guests to wellness in a step-by-step process, with each week logically leading into the next.

    Week 1: A Good Start

    The first week inspires you to become more aware of the body, mind and spirit connection. Through the detoxification diet, full class schedule and fellowship activities, you immediately begin to feel improvements in all areas of your life. Without processed foods, meat, sugar, and dairy, every cell of your body starts to “wake up.”

    Weeks 1 + 2: A Deeper Understanding

    Building on the foundation you created the first seven days, the next week delivers more powerful tools as you explore deep inside your heart and mind. Get in touch with emotions you might have been stuffing down for decades. Clarify and commit to your values. Learn to communicate effectively. Touch into the limitless joy that self-love and a cleansing diet can bring.

    Weeks 1 + 2 + 3: Putting It All Together

    After 14 days of releasing self-limiting thoughts and behaviors, all the while nourishing your body with cleansing foods, you’re ready to integrate everything you’ve learned. In your final week at OHI, constructive new behaviors will have time to become positive new habits, empowering you to create optimum health as you take the program home. You’ve not only experienced the transformational difference an organic, live, raw vegan lifestyle can make – you’ve had hands-on experience in creating it.

    3 Weeks Add Up Financially, Too

    You get a special savings of 5% when you stay two consecutive weeks, and 10% when staying 3 consecutive weeks.

    Find the time you require for making the healthiest choices for your body, mind and spirit at the OHI missions in San Diego and Austin, Texas. Come help us celebrate 43 Years of Holistic Healing. Our caring team will give you the tools, encouragement, and inspiration to kick destructive old lifestyle habits to the curb, and adopt beneficial and healing new ones. Visit our website at www.optimumhealth.org , and call us at (800) 588-0809 to make your reservation.

  • 5 P’s to Optimum Health

    Most people’s goals are to have optimum health. Your health not only encompasses your body’s physical health, but also your spiritual, emotional, and mental wellness. This holistic approach to health is a cornerstone of Optimum Health Institute’s 21-Day Healing Program. We believe that practicing the 5 P’s to Optimum Health (listed below) will help you achieve optimum health.

    Purpose:  Prayer and mindfully focusing your thoughts inward can help you determine your true purpose.  What issues do you care about passionately?  When do you feel most fulfilled?  What are you naturally good at, and what do you feel you were “born to do?”  Meditating on the answers can help steer you towards your divine life purpose.

    Positive Mental Attitude: Part of the Positive Psychology research required participants to nightly reflect on the three most wonderful things that happened to them that day, and determine their role in making those things happen.  Knowing they were going to have to come up with that list each night kept the people looking for fun, interesting and positive things the entire day.  The exercise completely shifted their consciousness from, “What can go wrong” to “How does it get any better than this?”  That quantum shift in their thinking clicked them into a positive mental attitude all day, and became a habit.  As the mind stays in a healthy, balanced and happy state, the body and spirit naturally follow.

    Persistence: The natural tendency is to give up when things don’t come easily. By shifting into a positive state of mind as outlined above, we can list ‘sticking with a goal’ as one of the day’s three top victories. Developing our persistence in this way can give us the strength to keep going when it gets tough.  Just as it takes some time to develop unhealthy habits, it takes some time to substitute healthier new habits, too.

    Patience: “God grant me patience – NOW!” is a funny but ineffective prayer. The quickest route to switching into a more patient mode is to simply take a deep breath.  That delicious lungful of oxygen not only delivers more mental alertness – it signals us to slow down, to reassess, to take a step back.  From this more mindful state, we can consciously choose to be patient and gentler with our self as we navigate opportunities throughout the New Year.

    Prayer: Prayer is talking with God.  Through regular prayer we define and nourish our relationship to Him, and focus our feelings and intent by putting them into words.  This mindful and verbal connection to the Divine Source gives us a clarity and feeling of connection that no other discipline can.  Perhaps the simplest yet most effective prayer is a heart-felt, “thank you” – a prayer that will guarantee your happiness throughout 2013.

    If you are looking for a holistic healing program, in San Diego or Austin, visit Optimum Health Institute . We can help you achieve your mental, physical, emotional and spiritual goals for optimal health. To make your reservation, call us at (800) 588-0809.

  • The Many Benefits of Practicing Gratitude

    Improves our Physical Health

    Expressing thanks boosts our immune system. We experience less physical pain. We’re even able to fall into a deeper, longer, more restorative sleep more quickly. We immediately feel increased vitality and energy, while our blood pressure significantly decreases.

    Improves our Mental Faculties

    Expressing gratitude can increase willpower and help us make thoughtful decisions. It can also increase our decision-making and productivity skills improve, we network more effectively, and we become better communicators and managers. A consistent ‘attitude of gratitude’ makes it much easier for us to get mentors and protégés, helping us achieve our career goals while simultaneously making our workplace a friendlier, more engaging place.

    Improves our Emotional Capacity

    Emotionally speaking, when we feel gratitude, we feel less stress and depression. The feeling of gratitude increases our feelings of joy, happiness and contentment. Gratitude is linked to a more optimistic outlook on life. Keeping a gratitude journal, and writing just five minutes a day, boosts our long-term well-being by more than 10%. That’s the same jump we would get from a 100% pay raise! When we’re feeling thankful, we’re a lot more likable, which means we’ll deepen existing relationships and friendships, and make more new ones. Practicing gratitude regularly can help us cope with and recover from trauma, obstacles and loss.

    Improves our Spiritual Well-Being

    In a spiritual sense, gratitude enriches our personal connection to God while making us less self-centered and materialistic. We’re happier, much more optimistic, and more able to see the good in others, and the deeper divine meaning in all things. Expressing gratitude helps us be more compassionate, caring and understanding of others – and to ourselves.

    Establishing a practice for Gratitude is just one of the transformative things you will learn during a visit to OHI in San Diego or Austin, Texas. Come help us celebrate 42 years of holistic healing, and take advantage of special savings. Visit our website at www.optimumhealth.org , and call us at (800) 588-0809 to make your reservation.

  • Journaling the Journey to Optimum Health: Memoirs of a First Time Guest

    First Journal Entry

    I don’t have TIME to write in a journal! I’m in the office 50 hours a week, then dashing to the store to grab the family’s dinner, or getting delivery. I frequently have friends over; Ben & Jerry, Jimmy Dean, Papa John.

    WHY am I journaling? I just saw my friend Laurie for the first time in a few weeks and she looked so amazing, I asked if she had work done. She was thinner, her skin glowed, and she was happy and calm. She said she DID have work done – on the inside!

    Laurie said there’s a place in San Diego where you eat rabbit food, drink grass, learn things and hug people. She said she also wrote in a journal, which she found empowering. So I’m journaling, but still not feeling any power!

    Sunday afternoon – at OHI

    When I was SO stressed I broke down crying in Laurie’s arms, she suggested I call OHI. I talked to a friendly staff member, who assured me it’s NOT some kind of weird wheatgrass bootcamp or some frou-frou enema spa. So now I’m here. I had vacation time, and hubby’s taking care of the house and kids. I know now why Laurie said just standing in the grass and breathing starts the healing. For a great rate, I get my own room, meals, classes, and my very own… bucket?? Sunday orientation is next — maybe I’ll learn why I need the bucket.

    Monday night – Week 1

    Now I know why I needed the bucket. AND that extra cup of wheatgrass juice. I didn’t know I had it in me. Meals? What used to be garnish on my steak is now my main course. (OK, I’m exaggerating.) The good part — everyone is SO nice. I have a new buddy who shows me around. But honestly, I feel tired, and weak. Maybe Laurie WAS lying, and she DID have work done!

    Tuesday night – Week 1

    I learned what my body did when I was eating meals like fried chicken, potato salad and apple pie. Incompatible foods fight it out in my stomach, and meat just sits there and ROTS. I feel guilty for blaming those…’releases’… on the dog. We started our juice fast today, and I have no energy. Just wait until I see Laurie again…

    Wednesday night – Week 1

    Another juice day – but it’s strange – I have loads of energy to walk briskly with my new friends, do this Alpha meditation, and – laugh! I feel so much lighter and happier.

    Thursday night – Week 1

    Classes are AMAZING, and EVERYONE is so encouraging! Maybe there’s something in this purified water? I almost forgot – today we switched from juice back to solid food. The soup and crackers were delicious! Funny how food isn’t the big thing it was before.

    Friday night – Week 1

    Wow. ‘Miraculous’ describes the stories shared in this morning’s Testimonials. That and ‘gratitude.’ How wonderful to be where healing happens, on every level. Laurie, forgive me for doubting. Can’t wait for the Friday Night Live talent show this evening, and movie night Saturday.

    Friday night – Week 2

    OK, Journal, last week was fantastic, but THIS week – everything came together. My crazy-busy life is one of my coping mechanisms. When I’m harried and exhausted, I can ignore deeper feelings. Like how I’m still angry at things starting back in my childhood. I’m beginning to connect dots I didn’t even know existed. I’m starting to feel…spiritual.

    Saturday night – Week 3

    I will NEVER forget my 3 weeks at OHI, and how I made a new best friend – me! I love how I had the courage to come here, let down my defenses to accept everyone’s support, and finally understand food is medicine, and medicine is food. My family loves the “new me,” and the plant-based recipes we’re eating. And my neighbor, Nancy? She asked if I had work done!

    Journaling is just one of the transformative things you will learn during a visit to OHI in San Diego or Austin, Texas. Come help us celebrate 42 years of holistic healing, and take advantage of special savings. Visit our website at www.optimumhealth.org , and call us at (800) 588-0809 to make your reservation.

  • OHI Alpha Practice – Instant Serenity

    No matter how stressed or scattered you feel, an instant solution for serenity, clarity and peace is right in front of your nose. Close your eyes and take a long, slow, deep breath. Now release it, slowly. Do that two more times.

    You just gave yourself the gift of touching into the meditative Alpha state, where you’re automatically releasing stress and negative feelings, increasing self-confidence and awareness, and bringing the body, mind and spirit into gentle balance. By mindfully turning your focus inward, you can feel energized, tune out distractions, solve problems and get clarity.

    Alpha meditation is not a “one-size-fits-all” practice. From sitting in mindful silence, to listening to a guided visualization, to toning in a big group to simply lying quietly in bed a few minutes before you get up, meditation is anything that lets you quiet your mind through contemplation and reflection.

    While it’s a deeply personal and self-affirming exercise, meditation is proving it’s also a valuable tool for defusing tensions and sparking creativity for groups.

    In some communities, police officers meditate with members of the community. Fortune 500 companies like Ford, Google, and General Mills teach and encourage meditation for their executives and employees. Even professional sports teams frequently meditate before a game.

    Optimum Health Institute (OHI) teaches the Alpha method to enter a meditative state. Sit straight with your feet firmly on the floor, place your thumb, index finger and middle finger together, and rest your hands, palms up, on your legs. Close your eyes and focus on your breath. You can repeat a word or phrase that has meaning for you, like “peace,” “I am surrounded in light,” or “love.” Imagine a relaxing sensation, like a wave of tranquil water, start at the crown of your head and gently flow through your entire body, exiting at your feet.

    Slowly repeat your phrase, or just count, as you drift into a state of complete relaxation. At this point of deep receptivity, you can focus on a specific intent – like resolving a conflict, pain control or forgiveness – or simply continue conscious breathing and heightened awareness.

    When you have completed your meditation, take a deep breath, and affirm, “Every day in every way I am getting better and better, healthier and healthier, happier and happier.” Slowly count from one to five, becoming more alert with each number. Take a moment to reflect on insights you may have received in the Alpha state.

    Alpha meditation is just one of the transformative things you will learn during a visit to OHI in San Diego or Austin, Texas. Come help us celebrate 42 years of holistic healing, and take advantage of special savings. Visit our website at www.optimumhealth.org, and call us at (800) 588-0809 to make your reservation.