Friday, April 13, 2012



RECIPES & Additional Articles


OverComing Gluten Intolerance

Kyle D. Christensen, DC, ND,MH  -  Western Botanicals, Inc. 2011

These Recipes are not just for the Gluten Intolerance but are healthy ways
to prepare food that should be used by everyone.

Recipes are not as important here as understanding the philosophy and techniques behind what you are trying to accomplish.  The reason that grains, beans, nuts and seeds can be store for long periods without going bad is because of some of these anti-nutrients.  Phytic acid for example offers a protective coating preventing germination and sprouting.  Enzyme inhibitors prevent enzymes from activating which start the growing process.  When germinating a seed, we expose it to water, we expose it to warmth and sometimes cold after the warmth, then warmth again.  This is how nature works.  A seed (wheat, bean, nut) falls to the ground – the rain comes, the sun comes and the plant wakes up and begins to grow.  What happens with this soaking and warmth is these anti-nutrients (designed to keep the seed preserved) are finally broken down enabling the plant to grow.  Nutrient potential is unlocked and the seed is ready to either grow or be eaten.  Fast preparation of these foods do not allow sufficient time for these anti-nutrients to be broken down.  The vast majority of grains eaten today are not prepared properly and can result in poor absorption of nutrients, gas bloating and weight gain. Studies have shown that with proper fermentation of sourdough, gluten counts have gone from 75,000 ppm (parts per million) down to 12 ppm – which is well below the threshold making it safe for those with Celiac Disease.
These recipes are not intended for those who are currently suffering the symptoms of gluten intolerance or Celiac Disease.  Once your digestive tract has settled down and healed using the methods described in our Overcoming Gluten Intolerance Program, then and only then may we slowly and gradually re-introduce properly prepared foods.

Mineral-Rich Bone Broth

This recipe make approximately 64oz of broth depending on how much water, how much you reduce the broth and how strong you like the flavor to be.


  • 4 quarts of filtered or distilled water
  • 1.5- 2 lbs of beef knuckle bones (or any other kinds of bones/meaty bones/marrow bones) Talk to your butcher and see what they can get for you.  Sometimes the bones are sold as “dog bones”.  We also use the bones/carcass from chicken, rabbit, turkey, deer, and elk – whatever is available)
  • 1 whole head of fresh garlic, peeled & smashed
  • 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar (organic, unfiltered- We like Bragg’s brand)
  • 1tsp Sea Salt - or more/less to taste (I like Celtic Sea Salt or Real Salt)


·      If you choose, you may brown or roast the bones/meaty bones first in a separate pan/pot if using a crockpot but this isn’t a necessary step. I don’t normally do it because it saves time/dishes not to and the purpose is just for more flavor which I don’t find necessary in this recipe. If you choose to, brown them in bacon fat or coconut oil before putting them into the water in the next step.
·      Place all ingredients in a 6 quart crockpot and set the heat to HIGH.
·      Bring the stock to a boil, then reduce the heat setting to LOW.
·      Allow the stock to cook for a minimim of 12 hours and up to 24 hours. The longer it cooks the better!
·      Turn off the crockpot and allow the stock to cool.
·      Strain the stock through a fine mesh metal strainer and throw away what you skim off.
·      Place the cooled stock into glass jars for storage in the fridge (for up to a few days) or freezer for later use.  You know you’ve done it right if once cooled your broth will gel up due to the high amount of gelatin. – Don’t worry the broth will liquefy when reheated.  You won’t have to eat cold beef jello.

You can use stock to drink any time of day or before a meal or as the base for soups, stews and in any recipe that calls for it!  Add more sea salt to taste. For additional variations use any other kind of animal bones you like, chicken especially will take less time due to smaller pieces. Add chopped veggies like carrots, celery, potatoes and onions for more flavor or variety.

A crockpot makes this recipe super-simple, but you can also use a large stock pot (hence the name) or an enameled cast-iron dutch oven type of pot.

Congee (Jook)
Another great food to calm the digestion down is call Congee or Jook.  Congee is the foremost of the “easy-to-digest” foods in Oriental medicine, used for all types of imbalanced digestion.  Congee is a thin porridge, which is often used as breakfast in parts of China.  There are many congee recipes available online, but I will give you the basic formula here:

I typically like to use brown rice, millet, quinoa or buckwheat (or a combo of any of these) as these are easy to digest and, usually, the least allergenic. Use a ratio of 1 part whole grain to 5 or 6 parts water.  To this, you can add various fruits, vegetables, spices or herbs. Then cook on low for several hours. (In a crockpot overnight on the “low” setting works well.)

Examples of ingredients to add to the congee would be ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, raisins, chopped carrots and apples. (These will add a touch of flavor and texture to the congee, but will still be well-cooked for easy digestion.) You can also put cooked congee through a blender to feed to infants and toddlers with “tummy problems”.

Soaked Oatmeal
To make oatmeal the old fashioned way, mix 1 cup of rolled oats with 1 cup of filtered water and 2 TBL yogurt, buttermilk, lemon juice or cider vinegar. Cover and leave on the counter overnight or for a minimum of 7 hours. It’s important for the oats to soak in a warm kitchen or cupboard, not in a cold refrigerator.
After soaking, add 1 cup of additional water and sea salt, bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for several minutes.
Serve warm in a bowl with plenty of butter or cream. A whole natural sweetener and fruit or nuts can also be added.
You will notice how quickly soaked oats cook in comparison with nonsoaked. You will also notice how much more satisfied you feel eating soaked oatmeal and that you stay full longer.

Soaked Pancakes
Pancake batter is easily soaked by mixing 2 cups of fresh whole grain flour with 2 cups of filtered water and 2 TBL of liquid whey, sourdough starter, buttermilk, lemon juice, or apple cider vinegar.
After mixing, cover and leave on the counter overnight or for up to 24 hours. When soaking is complete, drain off any excess water, blend in:
 2 beaten eggs
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp baking soda
2 TBL butter
Fry as usual using a healthy oil like ghee or coconut oil.

Brown Rice
While rice is gluten-free and lower in phytic acid than most other grains, soaking prior to cooking is still best for those with any type of digestive complaint.
To prepare, mix 2 cups of short grain brown rice with 4 cups of filtered water plus 4 TBL yogurt, buttermilk, lemon juice, whey or cider vinegar and leave covered on the counter for a minimum of 7 hours.
Bring to a boil, skim off any foam, reduce heat and stir in salt and butter. Cover tightly and cook on low for about 45 minutes. 

Soaking of Beans
Like grains, legumes contain phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors, and require a careful soak before cooking.
For kidney shaped beans, put beans, a pinch of baking soda and enough water to cover in a large pot and soak for 12-24 hours. For non kidney shaped beans like black beans and other legumes, soak with water and 1 TBL of cider vinegar or lemon juice for every cup of dried legumes used.
For maximum digestibility, it is best to rinse and refresh the water and baking soda or the acidic medium once or twice during the soaking period.
Once soaking is complete, drain, rinse, add fresh water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, add a few cloves of peeled and crushed garlic if desired and simmer for 4-8 hours until soft.
If you’ve had trouble with bloating and gas from beans in the past, try the traditional method of preparation and notice how much more easily they settle in your stomach!

Choosing Breads
There are good quality breads on the market to buy that are sourdough and traditionally prepared. While more expensive than commercial brands, they are decidedly more filling so you will find that you eat much less!
To choose the best breads, look for sourdough or sprouted breads made from freshly ground, organic flour without any additives such as gluten, soy flour, or vegetable oils. Be aware that if a sourdough bread has yeast in the list of ingredients, that it is not a true sourdough loaf. The sourdough bread make has only three ingredients: organic flour, sea salt, and water.

Better yet, learn to make your own sourdough breads.  Once you have learned a few basic techniques, your breads will come out delicious, nutritious and exquisite! 

No Knead Artisan
Sourdough Bread

There are many versions of this recipe floating around.  The concept is so simple and the results are so delicious.  There are endless variations you can play with such as adding fresh rosemary, asiago cheese, chopped Kalamata olives, garlic or walnuts.

15 ounces of flour (3 cups) – start with half whole wheat and white
1/4 cup sourdough starter
1 & 1/2 tsp sea salt – you can use most any kind of salt but why would you want to?
1 & 1/2 cups of warm water.

·      Whisk flour and salt mixing thoroughly.
·      Add sourdough starter to warm water
·      Fold liquid mix to dry mix to form a shaggy ball.
·      Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for 12 to 18 hours.
·      Lay a sheet of parchment paper inside a skillet.
·      Turn out on to a well-floured surface and fold over twice. Remember this is NO KNEAD bread.
·      Form into a ball and place on parchment in skillet seam side down.
·      Lightly flour the top of the dough.
·      Make a couple of slices into the dough with a serrated knife (optional).
·      Cover loosely with plastic wrap.
·      Let rise at room temperature until loaf doubles in size (1 to 2 hours)
·      Preheat oven to 475 F with a cast iron Dutch oven pot with lid. Get a Dutch oven without legs that will easily fit into your oven. 
·      Remove Dutch oven and lid from oven.
·      Pick up the dough by lifting the parchment and lower into the pot.  Let excess parchment hang over the pot.
·      Cover the Dutch oven and return to oven for 30 minutes.
·      For a deeper brown loaf, the lid of the Dutch oven may be removed and bread can be baked for an additional 15 to 30 minutes or until the center of the bread registers 200 degrees using a probe thermometer.
·      Cool on a wire rack for two hours before eating, if you can wait that long.

The dough can be refrigerated for up to 2 weeks or until you are ready to bake.  Refrigerating will further develop the flavors.

Once you have the basic loaf mastered, begin experimenting with different varieties.

Additional Articles and References worth exploring

Monday, March 5, 2012

What Should I Eat

As Follows are some lists on what we should eat and what we should not eat.  Make a copy and decide how committed you would like to be.  The benefits of eating healthy go beyond good taste and nutrition.  There is even a spiritual component to eating healthy foods.
  1. Eat whole, natural foods.
  2. Eat only foods that will spoil, but eat them before they do.
  3. Eat naturally-raised meat including fish, seafood, poultry, beef, lamb, game, organ meats and eggs.
  4. Eat whole, naturally-produced milk products from pasture-fed cows, preferably raw and/or fermented, such as whole yogurt, cultured butter, whole cheeses and fresh and sour cream.
  5. Use only traditional fats and oils including butter and other animal fats, extra virgin olive oil, expeller expressed sesame and flax oil and the tropical oils—coconut and palm.
  6. Eat fresh fruits and vegetables, preferably organic, in salads and soups, or lightly steamed.
  7. Use whole grains and nuts that have been prepared by soaking, sprouting or sour leavening to neutralize phytic acid and other anti-nutrients.
  8. Include enzyme-enhanced lacto-fermented vegetables, fruits, beverages and condiments in your diet on a regular basis.
  9. Prepare homemade meat stocks from the bones of chicken, beef, lamb or fish and use liberally in soups and sauces.
  10. Use herb teas and coffee substitutes in moderation.
  11. Use filtered water for cooking and drinking.
  12. Use unrefined Celtic Sea Salt and a variety of herbs and spices for food interest and appetite stimulation.
  13. Make your own salad dressing using raw vinegar, extra virgin olive oil and expeller expressed flax oil.
  14. Use natural sweeteners in moderation, such as raw honey, maple syrup, dehydrated cane sugar juice and stevia powder.
  15. Use only unpasteurized wine or beer in strict moderation with meals.
  16. Cook only in stainless steel, cast iron, glass or good quality enamel.
  17. Use only natural supplements.
  18. Get plenty of sleep, exercise and natural light.
  19. Think positive thoughts and minimize stress.
  20. Practice forgiveness.

Dietary Dangers


  1. Don't eat commercially processed foods such as cookies, cakes, crackers, TV dinners, soft drinks, packaged sauce mixes, etc.
  2. Avoid all refined sweeteners such as sugar, dextrose, glucose and high fructose corn syrup.
  3. Avoid white flour, white flour products and white rice.
  4. Avoid all hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated fats and oils.
  5. Avoid all vegetable oils made from soy, corn, safflower, canola or cottonseed.
  6. Do not use polyunsaturated oils for cooking, sauteing or baking.
  7. Avoid fried foods.
  8. Do not practice strict vegetarianism (veganism); animal products provide vital nutrients not found in plant foods.
  9. Avoid products containing protein powders.
  10. Avoid pasteurized milk; do not consume lowfat milk, skim milk, powdered milk or imitation milk products.
  11. Avoid battery-produced eggs and factory-farmed meats.
  12. Avoid highly processed luncheon meats and sausage containing MSG and other additives.
  13. Avoid rancid and improperly prepared seeds, nuts and grains found in granolas, quick rise breads and extruded breakfast cereals, as they block mineral absorption and cause intestinal distress.
  14. Avoid canned, sprayed, waxed, bioengineered or irradiated fruits and vegetables.
  15. Avoid artificial food additives, especially MSG, hydrolyzed vegetable protein and aspartame, which are neurotoxins. Most soups, sauce and broth mixes and commercial condiments contain MSG, even if not so labeled.
  16. Avoid caffeine-containing beverages such as coffee, tea and soft drinks. Avoid chocolate.
  17. Avoid aluminum-containing foods such as commercial salt, baking powder and antacids. Do not use aluminum cookware or aluminum-containing deodorants.
  18. Do not drink fluoridated water.
  19. Avoid synthetic vitamins and foods containing them.
  20. Do not drink distilled liquors.
  21. Do not use a microwave oven.
    Blessings as you discover new and wonderful healthy foods.
     Dr. Kyle Christensen
    March 2012

Monday, February 20, 2012

It's All In Your Head

In the year 2000, the Nobel Prize for Physiology and Medicine was awarded to Arvid Carlsson, Paul Greengard, and Eric R. Kandel for their work on memory and brain physiology.  What they would describe as Neuorplasticity and Neurogenesis.
 Let me explain this in terms that you and I can understand.  When we get exposed to a new image, be it a picture, word or new concept, the brain will establish a new pathway for that image.  When we get re-exposed this pathway is reinforced. Nothing new - we all know that repetition is the mother of memory.  This is why we repeat whatever it is that we are trying to learn (mental or physical) until it becomes ingrained into our brain.  From a brain standpoint, more and more pathways are created so that not only solid memory superhighway is created but massive tributaries so that even if the main highway is closed down, there are lots of back roads to get you to the destination. 

This is interesting because this is also how addiction works and is so difficult to overcome.  Once a neuronal pathway is established there are many many paths and many many new nerves created to go down that line.  We also have learned that once a pathway is ingrained in the brain, we are more inclined to travel down that path, whether it is the path of a harmful addiction, a self-defeating behavior or a positive good habit.

In a an excellent article entitled The Battle in Our Brains By Catherine Keddington Arveseth, she explains:

"...In this information age when messages, images, and information are coming at us almost faster than we can receive them, our brains are creating new neural pathways to accommodate the input. The first time we see an image on a screen (we’re not talking about pornography here, although it does apply) – like a blog page, a news feed, texts, or Facebook – our brain creates a new neural pathway to process that image. It is the same with new sounds or any stimuli to the senses, but let’s use the visual image for this discussion.

Input always travels the path of least resistance. So the second time we see the new image, it will travel the same route. And before long, the new neural pathway has been stimulated enough to “desire” of itself continued activation. A habit is born.

After that, when the brain is not currently occupied, we long for that image. That is why we constantly check our phones or email. That is why, when we have a free moment, we click onto a favorite blog, check Facebook, and tweets, or any other source of input we frequent. Without realizing it, we have begun to crave these places of input, hunger for them, to the point where they can surreptitiously dominate our time."

Because we live in a world of constant and fast paced stimulation to the brain, we begin to crave for constant input and information.  Add to this toxicity and poor nutrition (many of these toxic chemicals are known as excitotoxins), then we can begin to understand why our children can't focus and our adults are literally losing their minds.

She goes on, "Recent studies have also shown that when our minds are over-stimulated, we begin to make decisions without considering the consequences. Much of the time, these quick decisions are not the best ones for us. An abundance of “information” prompts reactionary responses and elevates feelings of anxiety." Many of the games and electronic entertainment condition us to make lightening fast responses and decisions. As a result, we are distract from much needed pondering time – time when our minds can reinforce more intuitive and spiritual pathways.

So this may all be fine and interesting, but let me give you something concrete that you can do. 

1) Putting the Good things In
Popular health guru, Jack LaLanne put it succinctly:  If it comes from God, eat it.  If if comes from Man, don't.  Apples - Yes. Doritos - No.  In addition, take Vitamin D-3 - 5,000 IU daily.  If you don't feel energetic and healthy take 10,000 IU daily.  Fish oil (so necessary for proper brain function) should be taken about 1,000 mg daily.  Eat fish as part of a healthy diet.  Take a whole foods vitamin mineral supplement daily, such as Earth's Nutrition or Bountiful Blend from Western Botanicals.  Pomegranate juice is one of the highest antioxidant there is and greatly benefits the brain, memory and your ability to think. Drink 8 oz daily.

2) Getting the Bad Things Out
The liver is the main organ for cleansing toxins from the blood stream.  Our Liver Gallbladder Formula is a good place to start.  You may also consider fresh cilantro - which is referred to "the poor man chelation therapy" for getting out toxic heavy metals from the body.  Sweating is a great way to remove toxicity from our bodies through the skin - sweating in sauna or from a good workout is "good medicine".  Also do not overlook removing toxins from the bowel with Colon Cleanse and through the kidneys with our Kidney Bladder Formula.

3) Programming
Our programming within the brain can be improved in large part by taking following the recommendations as listed above.  For Alzheimer Disease,  prevention research has proven that a daily crossword puzzle is very helpful to keep the mind sharp and active.  In addition, minimizing television and computers and particularly electronic games.  These all condition the brain for rapid fire thinking and promote quick response decision making, which as we've discussed earlier are often not the best.
One way to change the brain from one that is constantly racing and stuck in a rapid fire mode is by reading the scriptures. When you expose your brain repeatedly to images or sounds(if you are listening) of symbolic and deep intent, it will training your brain to ponder, contemplate, and discuss with others the intent and deeper means that can be found therein.  As you find your mind contemplating the scriptural message, your mind will begin to slow and steady rather than being so jerky and disjointed.  One method that many find effective is studying with a notepad handy.  As thoughts or impressions arise, jot them down.  These notes can be reviewed, then patterns, themes and trends can emerge.  Your notes are not to be a commentary of what you think a particular verse is saying, but rather feelings and thoughts that come to you as it pertains to your life during your study time. 
While a study of scriptural text may be effective for the adult mind, most children are not likely to have the maturity or discipline to undergo such an effort.  One activity that may be of benefit is listening to classical music through headphones.  Music that is interesting but is not reliant on a driving or heavy beat (like much of the popular music of the day) can allow the mind to focus and contemplate.  Enjoying favorite compositions repeatedly allows the mind to unravel the layers of music and discover the nuances beyond the melody.  And of course, avoidance of the super stimulating media is important to calm the hyperactive and alert mind.

We truly are engaged in a battle for our minds.  By taking supplements that support the brain, working to release toxins that are being held within the body and engaging in activities that support and reinforce a calmer mental climate, we can experience better mental health for ourselves and those we love.


Dr. Kyle Christensen
Western Botanicals, Inc. February 2012

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Balance in an Unbalanced World

In respect to balance within the body, hormones seem to top the list for many of us.  The challenge is low energy and just not feeling good is common territory for many hormone imbalance problems.  However there are many additional signs and symptoms that can help you discover what may be the underlying cause of your problem.

Signs of Low Thyroid or Hypothyroidism
  • Weight Gain
  • Depression
  • Dry hair and skin
  • Cellulite
  • Fluid Retension
  • Constipation
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Thin or absent lateral (outside) third of eyebrow hair (look for this in friends and family)
  • Female infertility
  • Fatigue
  • Slowed mental processes
  • Hair loss
  • Poor memory and focus
  • "Brain Fog"
  • Low libido
  • Intolerance to Cold
  • Abnormal menstrual cycles
It is estimated now that 2/3 of women suffer from hypothyroidism.  And this is off all age groups.

Signs of Low Adrenal or Hypoadrenia
  • Non-restorative sleep - still tired after 10 hours of sleep
  • Salt cravings - ever tempted to put salt on potato chips or bacon?
  • Sensitive to heat and cold - poor temperature regulation
  • Males have no chest hair or no hair on the side of their calves
  • Thin or missing medial (inside) 1/3 of eyebrow
  • Low blood pressure (usually)
  • Dizziness or seeing spots when you stand up quickly
  • Pupil doesn't stay constricted when a light shines in it for longer than 20 seconds
  • Can't handle much pressure - gets overwhelmed easily
  • Tendency to hypoglycemia or hypothyroidism
  • Brown, "old age" spots on the skin - they are really adrenal spots

Signs of Hyperglycemia
  • Skin tags
  • Extreme exhaustion
  • Loss of sex drive
  • Frequent urination (to dilute high blood glucose)
  • Excessive thirst (to compensate for urine loss)
  • Burning urination and acetone breath
  • Thickened, discolored toenails
  • Bladder/vaginal infections, and fungal/candida problems
  • Blurred vision
  • Heart and Kidney disease
  • Atherosclerosis
These are all signs that may indicate diabetes or that you may be leading up to diabetes.

By nourishing, strengthening and supporting our bodies using whole food herbal supplements, we can build healthier bodies and in doing so symptoms of disease or deficiency will not be necessary. Of course, these super supplements are designed to support a healthy diet.

Please let us know how we can help.

Dr. Kyle Christensen
Western Botanicals, Inc. 2012

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

We Are All In This Together

It is vital that we approach the future with optimism.  The world is not going to end in 2012 (I promise).  But the shiny standard of living that many are accustomed to is likely to end. I hope that we have all learned that it is not “things” and material possessions that create a rich life, but relationships and serving a higher purpose.  A severe downturn in the economy may give us the opportunity to connect more deeply with family, friends and community.  A sense of connectedness to others has been deteriorating over that past decades and it is high time for a course correction.  Which can be initiated by each of us or by outside forces. 

So here’s the good news.  If you prepare by making significant changes in the way you live, the intrinsic quality of your life will be better, whether or not times get tough.  This is important. Let’s say you make changes that result in greater family unity, greater self-sufficiency and a greater sense of community. What have you lost for all of your time and effort?  I urge you to create change in your life that will be better regardless of external events.  
There are three foundational principles that will bolster our personal and collective welfare as we relate to others and the world in which we live.  It is wisdom to focus on overarching principles rather than a checklist of activities or things to get.
These principles are 1) Self-Reliance, 2) Care for the poor and the needy, and 3) Service.

I have discussed many times various aspects of self-reliance.  This includes:
  • Getting and Staying Out of Debt
  • Becoming Food Secure – Storing and Producing your own Food
  • Cultivating Skills that will always be in demand
  • Stockpiling medical and health care supplies, including of course herbal medicines from Western Botanicals
  • Personal security and home defense
  • Making Friends and developing strong relationships with neighbors and community
I can go on and on, but you get the idea.

Next is caring for the poor and needy.  Imparting of our means can be as simple as writing a check or filling a box with canned goods.  This is good and necessary, but at the heart of truly caring for the poor should be much more than giving a handout.  Ideally, caring for those in need should incorporate providing opportunity for them to become self-reliant and instill within them the admonition to serve others.  The model of self-reliance and service linked with the objective of caring for those in need should also be applied to our relationship with children, family and friends. 

Too often as parents, we do things for our children that can actually dissuade them from self-reliance.  As we serve our children and those entrusted to our care, we express our love and devotion, however we must ascertain whether we are assisting in the path of self-reliance or of further dependence.  By giving and giving without the expectation that a person become self-reliant and self-sufficient, we teach (however subconsciously) to the recipient that they are to be served rather than they are to become self-reliant and give service. 

In essence, I could be creating selfish little monsters who continually demand more and more without feeling they should care for themselves or bless the lives of others through their personal efforts. Sadly, we are now seeing the results of this type of conditioning on a national and international scale.
Finally, the care of self and family must include serving others.  As we seek to bless the lives of others, our circle of influence broadens, and we also find that others' circle of influence crosses over into ours.  Not only do be bless the lives of others, but our lives in turn are blessed by them.  It is only by shedding the myopic behavior of tit for tat, that the windows of abundance open and flow into our lives.  We teach service by example.  By taking a child along when you help a neighbor or friend in need (and yes putting them to work along side with others).  We teach service by expressing sincere gratitude for those who serve and bless your lives.  Understand that a “service project” is rarely convenient.  Hopefully, you have learned by now, that not much of life that is truly worthwhile is going to be convenient.

Truly, we are all in this together.  As we roll up our sleeves and get to work by becoming more self-reliant, caring for those in need and cultivating a lifestyle of service, our lives will be blessed.  As we teach these principles to those within our sphere of influence, more lives will be blessed that in turn can bless more lives.

We give to you our sincerest hopes and prayers of peace and prosperity (not necessarily financial but emotional) during this season and for the coming months that at times may appear cold and bleak. May you find the inner strength and determination to be a light to others as you lead by example.

Dr. Kyle Christensen
Western Botanicals, Inc.  December 2011

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Are You Listening?

It is no secret that most of us (all of us?) are not doing everything that we should be doing for our health and happiness. We know we should be eating better.  We know we should be exercising more.  We know we should be getting more sleep at night.  We know we should spend more time with those we love and less time on the computer or in front of the TV.  We also know that we don't have enough time to do everything we ought to be doing.  As a result, too many of us shut down in one way or another because the enormity of life can be overwhelming.

Let me share with you a secret I have learned. And like many of life's secrets, it is one of those that stares us in the face each day, but too often we don't see it.  The secret is listening.  Of course, we all have many things competing for our attention.  The pounding blare of the marketing and advertising machines persistently drums their repetitive beat to the point that it slips past our consciousness into the subconscious sewing seeds of wants and desires.  When I speak of listening, I am not suggesting that you need to isolate yourself from the chaos of the world so that you can, in a deep meditative state, seek the mind and will of God.  Honestly, it is not that difficult. 

What I suggest is simply asking a very basic question.  The question is "WHAT SHOULD I DO?"  Now this question can be modified to "What should I do for my health?". "What should I do for my relationship?" "Who should I call or visit this week?" When a question such as one of these is asked, an answer will almost always immediately pop into your mind.  All you need to do is that one thing.  Don't expect a long complex answer with many contingencies or secondary plans.  The secret is to listen to the first thing that comes to your mind and then act on that thing.  It does not matter whether you believe this is coming from your subconscious, from God or from your heart.  What matters is the message you receive is going to be accurate and beneficial. 

There is one caveat that you should be aware of, while the information you receive will be beneficial to your life, you will often be told to do difficult things.  You will be told to forgive and let go of past offenses.  You will be told to call or visit someone when it may be inconvenient.  You will be told to go to bed earlier.  You will be told to not eat that doughnut or to give the bigger piece of pie to the kid next door. 
 You will be prompted to read a certain article or to take a certain supplement (hopefully one of Western Botanicals').  You may be told to purchase something very specific that you may not understand why at the time.  Like the time my wife was persistently prompted buy cloth diapers. She couldn't get it out of her heart and mind until it was done.  Or last week, I felt prompted to share some Christmas harp sheet music with a neighbor learning to play the harp.
You will know that the message is true because it will return and won't be just a fleeting thought.  The more you act on these prompting or feelings, the more clear they will become. However, if you repeatedly fail to act on these impressions, they will grow quieter until they are no longer easily felt.  

This I can promise you.  As you ask simple questions and act on the answers you receive, you will begin to enjoy better health, better relationships and truly a better life.  Take it just one question at a time.  Then LISTEN and act. 

Dr. Kyle Christensen - November 2011 

Monday, October 31, 2011

Putting It All Together

My intent here is not to boast and wave in your face everything that we are doing in contrast to everything that you are not.  But rather share with you how our lifestyle has evolved into something that is more sustainable both in terms of health and preparedness.  Understand, we are still learning.  We make lots of mistakes.  We get tired and drop the ball (sometimes a lot).  But we keep moving forward, striving to eat healthier, be more self-reliant and become good stewards over what we have been blessed with.

Living a lifestyle of self-reliance and preparedness is not convenient.  But we’ve decided that life is not convenient. Life is not about recreation, vacation and leisure.  Life is about doing what is right, what is good and being guided and motivated by the deeply spiritual.  While many are still pursuing what we call the recreation-vacation-party lifestyle, several years ago (for us) we’ve decided “the party is over”.  Please don’t interpret this to mean that we don’t have fun.  We have a lot of fun. We giggle, we laugh, we play but we also work and get a lot done. 

Getting Healthy

One of the most important things for each of us to do is to get healthy and stay healthy.  Our physical bodies are tools entrusted to us by the divine. Are you dependent on daily medications to manage your health?  Are you addicted to over-the-counter drugs or unhealthy foods such as soda pop?  Do you knowingly consume foods or drink that you know is not building your health?  My advise to you is to buck up (definition: to summon ones courage) and make the hard decisions to turn things around.  Many adults eat like spoiled children who are trying to pull one over on mom and dad.  You don’t need to reward yourself with sweets and treats every day.  Do you and your children eat candy everyday? When you consider that soda pop is liquid candy – do you allow those chemical concoction to pollute and slowly poison your body? 

Western Botanicals has a vast array of herbs designed to build and restore your health.  We have many programs, which include what herbs to take, how much to take as well as dietary recommendation to guide you back to health from many conditions.  Click on the following links to learn more about:

One of the great tragedies in our culture today is that our parents have not taught us what their parents or grandparents taught them or should have taught them.  Too many people today do not know how to prepare a meal from scratch.  Too many people today cannot sew or mend their own clothes.  Too many people today cannot raise their own food.  Too many people today are too dependent on our modern society and culture to meet even their most basic of needs.

Let me share with you some of what we have learned over the past 20 years as we have tired to become healthier and more self-reliant. 

Food Preparation – what we are doing and what you can as well
  • Cook from Scratch – could you make a loaf a bread if you were given a couple pounds of freshly harvested wheat?  Remember the story of the Little Red Hen?  Could you do it – gather the grain, grind it to flour, etc.?  By purchasing whole foods – whole grains, beans, vegetables, nuts, seeds, spices, meats – you will save phenomenally.  But delicious nourishing food preparatin does require practice, skill and the desire to learn this lost art.  It really is well worth it.
  • Cultured Foods - We have learned to make our own cultured foods such as sauerkraut, rootbeer, gingerale, yogurt and kefir.  Naturally fermented foods are vital to your health and learning how to make them yourself is easy and oh so delicious.  Check out these RECIPES.

  • Sprouts – sprouting grains, legumes, and seeds are an easy way to boost your nutrition and health.  We sprout many types of seeds - alfalfa, broccoli, wheat, garbanzo beans, lentils, clover, cabbage, etc.  Add these to salads, sandwiches, stir-frys.  We even have a great recipe for humus made from sprouted garbanzo beans. Get sprouting seeds in bulk from Western Botanicals – 800-651-4372.
  • Sourdough – breads, pancakes, muffins – the slow process of making sourdough transforms grains that can be irritating to the digestion into an in veritable powerhouse of nutritional goodness. Making bread without quick-rising yeast is an art that should be learned in every home.

We urge each family to learn how to cook like our great grandparents.  Making some fundamental changes now when resources and information are abundant will be easier now.  Gather your resources and learn how to do things now.

Life Style Changes

  • Gardening – I hated pulling weeds in the garden when I was a kid.  Looking back, my father never had much of a garden – not like my grandfathers.  I think we had a “token” garden because my parent felt like we should but we never had anything that could come close to feeding us.  However, we are gardeners and we try to implement principles of permaculture as well as grow our foods organically. 
  • Livestock – we began with chickens, then added a couple of beehives and this last summer rabbits.  We have found that chickens are great for eggs, rabbits are great for meat, and bees for honey.  The rabbits also give us fertilizer and we’re learning how to tan the hides. I teach my children as well as my scouts, that if you are going to eat meat, you need to be willing and learn how to take it from the source.  The same goes for each of you.  Rabbits are by far the most efficient meat to raise. (The biggest hurdle was “harvesting” but like I said if your going to eat meat . . .) This year we’ve added a couple of turkeys – for Thanksgiving. We also trade for deer, elk and pheasant.  We’ve handed over the egg business to my six-year-old daughter who saved enough money to buy all of her own school clothes this year.
  • Putting Food By – we are long time canners.  We can peaches, applesauce, salsa, marinara, pears, grape juice, hot sauces, chutneys, butter, jams, jellies, meat, cherries, and whatever else we can get.  We also dehydrate a lot of fruits and vegetables.  In addition, we have in cold storage, potatoes, onions, garlic, and winter squash.  Jackie Clays book is worth having.
  • 4 Season Harvest – a couple years ago, we put up a greenhouse.  It’s not really a greenhouse, but we’ve adapted it so that it works like one.  In our winter greenhouse, we grow beets, carrots, parsnips (which we’ve discovered are delightful), lettuce, Swiss chard and leeks.  By covering these crops with row covers inside the greenhouse, we can protect from the wind and cold allowing us to harvest into January and February.
  • Food Storage – as you have guessed – with all of our food production we have stored some food.  We encourage everyone to have a minimum of a 3 month supply of things you would eat on a daily basis.  Once you’ve got that, expand to a year supply.  That is how our progenitors lived and it certainly makes a lot of sense today.
  • Growing herbs – one of the principles of permaculture is companion planting.  Nothing in nature grows by itself.  Plants can be mutually beneficial to each other.  We have growing in our yard and garden herbs for just about anything “that ails ya”.  We have about 12 types of mint, yarrow, oregano, thyme, savory, valerian, stevia, basil, elecampane, motherwort, horseradish, garlic, onion, mullein, comfrey, hibiscus, cornsilk, fennel, dill, sage, dandelion, etc.  Our goal is to have growing in our yard herbal medicine that can be used for most of our needs.
  • Seeds – this is an interesting topic in the preparedness community.  No doubt you have seen advertisements for “Survival Seeds” – “Enough seeds to plant a whole acre of food”, etc.  What these companies don’t adequately address is calories on the table.  The implication is that if you grow enough tomatoes, lettuce, and cucumbers then you will provide for your nutritional needs.  What they fail to address is what is known as the calorie crops.  Those foods that will provide the nutrition as well as the calories to fill your belly.  The principle calorie crops that have sustained populations and sadly are neglected in the survival seed packages are: Potatoes, Dry corn, Dry beans and Winter squash.  Most have corn, beans and squash – but their sweet corn that ripens and needs to be eaten during a two-week period is a far cry from Flint or Dent Corn that can be ground into flour and made into tortillas or cornbread.  Green beans are nice, but if I need to feed my family I’d rather have 50 pounds of dried pinto beans than 50 pounds of green beans.  Potatoes will fill your belly, providing the calories that no other vegetable can.  It’s difficult to sell and keep potato seeds for long term use, so this crop is neglected by the seed sellers.  Winter squash, of course, is very satisfying which is why it is considered the third of the Native Americans Three Sisters for growing food – Indian Corn (to them as it should be for us – was for eating not just a decoration), Dry Beans and Winter Squash. Our emphasis with gardening is shifting to emphasize calorie crops.
  • Water – We collect water runoff from the roof that is used in the garden. We also have water stored in plastic barrels, just in case.  You should to.
  • Fuel – So the power goes out during a winter storm.  Have you figured out how you will keep warm and how you will prepare hot meals. One of the first things we did when we moved into our home was install a wood-burning stove.  We love the cozy warmth and feel secure that should the power go out, we will be warm.
  • Bartering Skills – We have enjoyed learning a variety of skills that are useful in trading with others.  One of the great benefits in bartering is the friendships that are created.  Many hobbies and interests can be turned into skills, services and goods that are welcomed at the trading table.  Examine what you can bring to the table. 

A few additional thoughts

Becoming Self-Reliant also involves getting and staying out of debt as well as learning to live on less.  Additionally, we must each understand that we are ALL in this together.  So while others may not share the insight and motivation to prepare for more difficult times, it is important that we show compassion to those who are less fortunate than us.  Even if (and is often the case) that the unfortunate have brought upon their own misfortune.  Understand that when you care for others, God will care for you.

My father taught me that service is never convenient.  But as we serve others (by giving of our time and means) we will develop relationships.  Relationships will build community.  Community builds safety and strength.  As our lives and hearts are knit together, we will find more joy and satisfaction in life. 

I challenge each of us to do what we can to live healthier, happier and more self reliant lives. Begin by simply asking yourself the question, “What should I do first?”.  Listen to what first comes to your mind and then get to work.

Dr. Kyle D Christensen - Western Botanicals, Inc. November 2011