• Fermented Foods Are a Healthy Choice

    Workers creating the Great Wall of China ate them. Ancient Greeks lauded their health benefits. They prevented scurvy for Captain Cook’s crew during the three years he sailed around the world. Fermented foods have been an important dietary staple for at least 8,000 years, and aptly illustrate Hippocrates’ teaching to, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine thy food.”

    By increasing the acidity of gastric juices, fermented foods help keep the stomach and intestinal lining healthy, and able to best absorb essential nutrients. They take the stress off our digestive system because they’re pre-digested, and an efficient energy booster. Fermented foods are packed with B vitamins, proteins and carbohydrates, which are essential for a healthy body. Their lactic acid content also destroys harmful bacteria in the intestines.

    Fermented foods can be particularly beneficial for us as we age, and we naturally start producing fewer digestive enzymes. A small portion of sauerkraut, Rejuvelac, seed cheese or other fermented foods with our meals can compensate, and help keep our digestive system on track. They can aid in healthy elimination, and benefit people with diabetes by improving pancreatic function.

    Besides keeping our bodies in healthy balance, fermented foods have been credited with being “nature’s antibiotic.” During an epidemic of typhoid fever in Europe in the 1950’s, fresh sauerkraut was credited with killing the bacteria for both typhoid and cholera. German scientists found a strain of lactic acid quickly killed super-bugs resistant to traditional antibiotics.

    Despite all the proven health benefits of daily consuming fermented foods, the move in the past century towards preserving foods through freezing and canning caused a decrease in the availability of and interest in these probiotic superstars. The good news is they’re slowly starting to regain popularity, and it’s easy to make your own. Here’s the receipe for quinoa rejuvelac, a fermented drink with a healthy kick:

    Quinoa Rejuvelac

    Ingredients and equipment:

    1 cup quinoa

    1 gallon purified water

    1 gallon glass jar with “breathable” covering

    1 large spoon for stirring


    1. Rinse grain. To rinse, place grain in a sieve with a fine mesh and rinse through the sieve until the water is clear.

    2. Soak and sprout grain – about 4-6 hours. Rinse.

    3. Process grain for 5-10 seconds on medium speed in blender.

    4. Place blended grain in a gallon container.

    5. Fill with purified water.

    6. Cover with a dish towel or other “breathable” covering.

    7. Stir the grain twice with a large spoon.

    8. After 24 hours, pour the liquid, which is now rejuvelac, off the grain and store it in a covered container in your refrigerator.

    9. The Rejuvelac will last for about 1 week in the refrigerator. If you are drinking 32 ounces per day, 1 gallon will last 4 days.

    Taste how delicious fermented foods can be, and learn how to make them yourself, with an extended stay at the Optimum Health Institute (OHI). Your body, mind and spirit will be happy with a week, or two, or three, for the entire 21-day program, at the OHI holistic health missions in San Diego and Austin, Texas. Come help us celebrate 40 Years of Holistic Healing. Our caring team will give you the tools, encouragement and inspiration to detoxify your body, quiet your mind and rejuvenate your spirit while you are surrounded in serene beauty. Visit our website at www.optimumhealth.org , and call us at (800) 993-4325 to make your reservation.

  • The Big Halloween ‘Trick’ is Sugar

    Making Halloween costumes and carving pumpkins is a lot of fun. Dancing to the Monster Mash and telling scary ghost stories at parties are great, too. But gorging on Halloween candy? Not so great.

    The Mayo Clinic reports that Americans buy about 600 million pounds of Halloween candy a year, and eat about 1.2 pounds on Trick or Treat night alone. The real trick, though, is the toll all that processed sugary junk food will take on your body, mind and spirit.

    Sugar is a culprit in increasing the chances of developing obesity and Type 2 diabetes – once the domain of adults – but now epidemic in children. Less well-known negative impacts of sugar consumption include bringing on cold-like symptoms, like chronic runny noses, cough and symptoms of sinus infections.

    Sugar overload produces acidity in the body, potentially starving out good bacteria and weakening the immune system. And opting for that chocolate bar or snack-pack of gummy worms probably means kids of all ages won’t be reaching for more healthy fruits and vegetables.

    The addictive qualities of sugar mean that a Halloween binge can signal a slippery slope through the rest of the holidays this year, from Thanksgiving right through all the festivities around Christmas and Hanukkah up to a big food-and-alcohol filled New Year’s Eve celebration.

    When you’re trying to monitor the family’s intake of sweets, it’s not enough to check nutrition labels to see if sugar is one of the ingredients. Sugar, by any other name, is just as bad for you. Here’s a quick rundown of what to look for:


    Agave, corn, maple, and rice syrups are all commonly used ingredients in foods that pose as health food choices. Because their names are of vegetable and plant sources, it is often assumed that these sugars are better for your health than simple cane sugar. In reality, these types of sugar are just as fattening as table sugar, and they have none of the nutritional value of the plants they come from.


    When you read food labels, it is rare that you will actually come across the word ‘sugar.’ Instead, you might see sucrose, which is the scientific name for the familiar white powder more commonly known as table sugar. Fructose and glucose are the components of sucrose, and these are more words to watch out for.

    Fruit Juice

    Fruit juice is one of the most deceptive forms of sugar, because it is assumed that the juice takes on the nutritional qualities of the fruit it comes from. However, fruit juice is mostly a source of sugar and not much else. Even if some vitamins remain present in the juice, it no longer contains the fiber found in whole fruit which can help digest the sugar properly. All kinds of juice—from concentrate, organic, and 100% juices—are big sugar sources that should be traded in for the whole raw fruit.

    Evaporated Cane Juice

    Prepackaged foods are carefully designed for trickery, and the use of the words, “evaporated cane juice,” is proof that labels can be deceiving. Evaporated cane juice is exactly the same as regular sugar, but it sneaks into many diets because of this misleading wording.

    The whole family can learn how satisfying and delicious healthy eating can be with a one, two or three-week stay at the Optimum Health Institute (OHI) missions in San Diego and Austin, Texas. Come help us celebrate 40 Years of Holistic Healing while our caring team gives you the tools, encouragement and inspiration to detoxify your body, quiet your mind and rejuvenate your spirit. The longer you stay, the deeper your healing experience. Visit our website at www.optimumhealth.org , and call us at (800) 993-4325 to make your reservation.

  • The Up Side of Optimism

    You steer your filled grocery cart towards the checkout line, and see there’s only one cashier on duty . Then you notice the line extends partway down the aisle. It’s going to be a long, long wait. What’s your reaction? Do you immediately feel your teeth clench and your face flush in anger, or do you take the opportunity to strike up a friendly conversation with the person behind you, and check your messages on your cell phone?

    While either reaction isn’t going to shorten your waiting time, the more optimistic approach will definitely make it a much more pleasant and healthy experience in body, mind and spirit. Rather than being a simplistic “Pollyanna with rose-colored glasses” approach to life, optimism is realizing that things will have the significance we give to them, and then choosing the most positive, constructive meaning.

    Some very good news to emerge from scientific studies recently is that optimism can be learned. Even people firmly entrenched in a pessimistic mode can consciously shift into a happier, healthier frame of mind. Here are a few exercises proven to raise your joy level:

    • Breathe! Any time we feel stressed, angry or overwhelmed, the first thing we unconsciously do is start shallow breathing. A brain starved for oxygen negatively impacts body, mind and spirit. The minute you realize you’re not breathing normally, just stop, and take several deep breaths. With restored clarity, you can more realistically observe the situation and choose the most appropriate positive resolution.
    • Start asking yourself at least one time daily, “How can it get any better than this?” It’s an effective way to reverse our culture’s preoccupation with the question, “What else can go wrong?” While it might seem awkward at first, you’ll soon start to develop a habit of pondering what the next good thing in your day will be – and it will begin to appear.
    • Healthy foods = a happy and healthy mind. When your body is struggling to digest processed foods and animal products, your mind can get as sluggish as your intestinal tract. Opt for live, raw, organic vegan vegetables and fruits as much as possible, and see how your happiness level immediately begins to rise.
    • Realize that choosing to give a positive meaning to things actually changes your body chemistry for the good. A negative mental state can potentially create more acidity in the body than poor food choices.
    • Train your brain to think optimistically. Psychologist Marty Seligman, one of the architects of the field of Positive Psychology, suggests that before we fall asleep, we take a moment to review the three most wonderful things that happened to us that day. Besides putting us in a positive frame of mind that sets us up for a night of peaceful, restorative sleep, the practice subtly rewires our brain. When we arise, we’re immediately starting to anticipate the first of the three most positive things we will experience that day. Of course negative things will still unfold – but now, instead of endlessly ruminating over them, we’ll acknowledge them, and then refocus on seeking out the positive. Doing this exercise for just one week results in measurably raising your level of optimism for a full six months.

    Learn more about emotional and mental detoxification at the Optimum Health Institute (OHI). Your body, mind and spirit will be happy with a week, or two, or ideally three, at the OHI holistic health missions in San Diego and Austin, Texas. Come help us celebrate 40 Years of Holistic Healing. Our caring team will give you the tools, encouragement and inspiration to detoxify your body, quiet your mind and rejuvenate your spirit while you are surrounded in serene beauty. Visit our website at www.optimumhealth.org , and call us at (800) 993-4325 to make your reservation.

  • Squash: The Nutritional Superstar for Fall

    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 healing missions in San Diego and Austin, Texas. You’ll enjoy a different lunch and dinner each day of our 21-day program when you choose to do all three weeks at once. While each week can be done separately, an extended stay deepens the healing experience. Come help us celebrate 40 Years of Holistic Healing as our caring team helps you achieve your mental, physical, emotional and spiritual goals for optimal health. Visit our website at www.optimumhealth.org , and call us at (800) 993-4325 to make your reservation.