digestive health

What is Health? the gift of guides to follow

by Tammera Karr, PhD, BCHN, CDSP, CNW, CGP

This question popped into my head this morning as I was thinking about a dear friend enjoying a spring National Monuments RV trip.

Each morning she makes her green smoothy, does her yoga, embraces the day’s adventure of vistas and views with her soulmate, and rests comfortably in her fifth wheel at the end of the day’s travel. The freedom to stop and rest, sleep in and go for leisurely hikes, taking in the smells of the earth and air. ( all shown to change immune function)

Sounds pretty wonderful to many of us. We may not appreciate the time and dedication this remarkable health practitioner has spent crafting, nourishing, sacrificing, and supporting her lifestyle of health. It didn’t happen overnight; part of her vision may never have included a fifth wheel. Throughout the years I have known her, she has been kind, generous, pragmatic, honest, and open to opportunities. For my friend, health is something you live, more than all the supplements, diet restrictions, or diagnostic tests. These items are ingredients, seasonings if you will, but the daily choice of Lifestyle makes health.

Another remarkable woman in my life is a cancer thriver; she is a dynamo of energy, intellect, and dedication. Each day she rises at 4 am to call her father in Europe. Then begins her workday with students and faculty in differing time zones. This lady is not a cook; “not in my contract,” she says. Yet health is a daily passion and joy. The joy she receives from doing what she loves is an important element of her cancer-free lifestyle. Her relationship with her soulmate, who is the chef, feeds her in many ways. There is a balance; one steps in to fill a role while the other steps into a different one, both movements in harmony. Through joy and sorrow, lifestyle has been an active choice – daily activities, time allotment, rest from work, trauma, worry, and media. These aspects of health we can think of in cooking terms as – proofing, cooling, and serving.

According to research published in 2022, Lifestyle makes up over 80% of an individual’s health. Lifestyle is a banquet of dishes that nourish, excite, comfort, and sustain us. I know clients who feel battered, abandoned, and alone. To some, they view this as the result of how others have treated them, not the choices they have made. Then there are those who seem to rise above and still find joy. This is a choice, not an easy one, but one that changes brain chemistry, digestion, immune function, inflammation markers, and countless genetic receptor site regulation responses.

So once again, I reflect; on the wonderful life and health my husband and I have; the daily supplements are expensive – choice; the quality food is expensive and time-consuming – choice; the location we live in is remote and challenging – choice, time spent writing, painting, building, restoring and developing gives a sense of purpose, accomplishment, and pride – choice.
Health isn’t about early detection, medical appointments, worry, fear, or apathy. Health is about engaging, making choices, and inviting joy as a choice each day.

What have you stopped doing that you enjoy?
What in your life energizes and or refreshes you?

Freehand watercolors were done by Tammera while enjoying time away from her phone, computer, and research. These breaks and the use of a brush clears the mind and improve eye-hand coordination and fine motor skills in addition to being creative. There is no pressure to be perfect or professional, just let the water carry the color and see what happens. She has not painted for over 20 years and is gradually inviting it back into her life just for the fun of it.

To read more about how food, sustainability and mindfulness build Health
Empty Plate - Food, Sustainability, Mindfulness

Easy Fermented Vegetables & Sauerkraut

There are so many resources on fermenting, but the basic easy concept is often complicated.[i] The HN4U Journey to Health group consists of beginners to advanced in the art of fermenting. That is why it is good to refresh on the how to do ferment process with vegetables once in a while.


Easy Vegetable Fermenting Steps Guide

 1) you can ferment just about anything, so don’t feel like you have to buy foods you are unsure of. Start with those that are affordable, easy to clean and prep and familiar. The more color the better, probiotic bacteria need the polyphenol compounds present in colorful vegetables to thrive.

(this is not an exhaustive list)

Purple cabbage ~  Green cabbage ~ Sweet onion ~ Purple onion
Garlic ~ Kale ~ Rainbow chard ~ Bok choi
Spinach ~ Peppers, sweet ~ Chiles, mild-hot ~ Leeks
Cilantro ~ Celery ~ Carrots ~ Daikon Radish
Radish, red ~ Beets ~ Turnips ~ Potato
Ginger ~ Cucumber


2) Tools can be fancy or simple

  1. Container for fermenting – large crocks; medium and small stoneware or ceramic cookie jars with lids; or quart wide mouth canning jars and plastic Ball lids (metal rusts or corrodes from salt and lactic acid)
  2. Sharp heavy chef’s knife and wood cutting board (wood is naturally anti-bacterial and doesn’t damage knives)
  3. large bowl to mix in (stainless steel can be used to mix but not to ferment in, plastic only if nothing else is available.

3) Celtic Sea salt, coarse (has a high trace mineral content) from Selina Naturally.

4) Filtered water (fermenting will fail if chlorine is present in the water).

5) A selection of 1-5 organic vegetables for fermenting. Wash vegetables in a vinegar water solution to remove residue, dirt or wee bugs.

1 C white vinegar

1 Gallon cold water


6) Starter – we use Bubbies naturally fermented sauerkraut and dill pickle relish. Once we have our own fermented vegetables, we reserve 1-2 cups with liquid as the next batch starter.


Easy Fermented Kraut or Veggie Slaw  (Tammera and Michael Karr)


1 small organic cabbage

1-2 organic carrots, grated

3-6 cloves of garlic, minced

1-2 tsp minced fresh ginger

1 small purple or sweet onion

1-2 mild-hot chiles, sliced into thin rings. Seeds add to the heat, remove if you want a mild heat.

1 red or orange sweet pepper, sliced into thin strips about the thickness of a spaghetti noodle.

2 tbsp coarse salt

½ cup Bubbies Naturally Fermented Kraut with juice, starter

1-2 cups filtered water


Place washed veggies on a towel to absorb water while you begin thin-slicing (shredding or julienning) vegetables. It is easier to cut cabbage, onions, radishes, turnips, and beets in half, then do thin slices (flat side down). A food grater or mandolin can be used but it isn’t necessary.


Once vegetable slaw is in your mixing bowl, add starter and 1 tablespoon of salt and massage or burse the vegetables with your hands while mixing thoroughly; this allows the salt and ferment starter to start working. Were gloves if your hands are sensitive.

If using dill relish and wanting a more traditional sauerkraut – add 1 teaspoon of Fennel or Carraway seeds.

Now that everything is mixed begin filling the fermenting vessel, or jar. Pack the vegetables in tightly, pressing out all the air. Fill to within 2-3 inches of the top and cover with brine water made with 1 tablespoon of coarse salt and 1 cup of filtered water. Make sure the vegetables are covered with water, and place a loose-fitting lid on the top.

You will want your jars or containers in a plastic tray or on a plate to prevent any escaping liquid from making a mess.  Place in a cool area out of direct sunlight.

1- 2 times daily uncover vegetables and press slaw/kraut matt down (they begin to float right away) under the liquid. By day three a froth of bubbles should come to the surface when you compress the kraut or slaw.

If not, move to a slightly warmer area with good air circulation. When it is cold, fermentation may take up to 6 days. Take a small sample of your kraut for a taste, when it reaches the tangy taste pleasing to your pallet, pack into glass jars (if using a large fermenting jar) seal plastic lids down tight and place in the back of the fridge.

Will keep in the refrigerator up to 6 months.


[i] Our Journey with Food Cookery Book pages 273,  292

A photo of the Our Journey With Food Cookery Book laying on a wooden table

Taking Out the Trash ~ Real Food

Published February 24th, 2020 in Bon Appetit - Just Plain Good Food

by Tammera J. Karr

The 21st century has presented us with more than one challenger to our health. How can it be that what is seemingly innocent or benign factors could be the cause of so many health problems? Modern innovation has provided us with countless tools and conveniences that make our jobs and lives easier. The unintended consequences of innovation can be more plastic trash, fractured time, and industrial denatured foods. How do we take out the trash both figuratively and physically without driving ourselves and others, around the bend? I look back at what was the normal before …. Which often was simple, affordable solutions to everyday needs.

Our most proactive and sustainable changes for our health involve adding more vegetables and removing 300 calories a day.

Here is one example: I have a client who is a truck driver. He tries to eat as best he can on the road five days a week, but there is not much selection in truck stops. He tries to make some food he can take with him, but he only has a tiny refrigerator and no real way to cook on the road.

Solutions: Incorporate a shake once a day with freeze-dried fruit and vegetable powders. 12-volt blenders make smoothie mixes palatable, or blended coffees. The freeze-dried blends add in greater nutrient variety; they also can be used as a touch of seasoning flavor, provided they do not contain protein powders or other flavorings like strawberry and chocolate.

He plans 2 hours on a day off to make up small airtight containers with raw vegetables, nuts, and fruit. It is much easier to eat a handful of sugar snap peas, kohlrabi, turnip, broccoli stems or yam slices than to stop and peal or try and eat whole.  I recommend the glass Snapware brand because they seal tight and, they do not leak. Our experience has been the glass containers fit easily in a small soft-sided cooler and work in a HotLogic. Experience has shown us foods hold up in these containers in the fridge or cooler for 3-4 days.

Hard-boiled eggs in the shell, canned chicken, pork, beef or fish like sardines and salmon are easy proteins. The eggs are good in a small refrigerator or cooler with plenty of ice for three-four days. The low sodium canned meats do not require refrigeration and can be used with convenience store salads, rye crackers, or a loaf of hearty bread: pre-cook brown rice or red potatoes add more variety.

Next my client purchased a small HotLogic portable food warmer. Before heading down the road, he uses the prepped vegetables in their glass dish, a small sliced potato, one can of meat, with liquid, and plugs into the 12-volt outlet on his dash. In 2-3 hours, he has a meal hot and ready to eat when he fuels up or parks.

For this individual spending, a little time prepping for the coming week and investing in a couple of small appliances meant he dropped 400 calories a day without having to think about it or go hungry. He increased his vegetable consumption and found he passed up chips and snacks because he wasn’t craving them or fighting sleep. On his weekends, he enjoys eating with his family or friends’ guilt-free.

The increase in vegetables in his daily routine does more than act as fuel; they provide valuable fiber for removing harmful chemicals. They feed our brain for cognition, support healthy blood sugar, build the microbiome supporting our immune systems, remove excess cholesterol, and sodium while providing potassium and magnesium for heart health.

All we have to do is think back to times before, prepackaged processed foods, and fried convenience foods from gas stations. While those foods are easy, they are also at the heart of America’s growing health problems. Do you remember – Lunches of fried chicken, cold steak and potatoes, meatloaf, bread and butter, apples, carrots, tomatoes, biscuits and meat pies, and Stanly lunch boxes?

Returning to Real Foods for health.

Interested in learning more?

Check Out Our Online Course

Let’s Begin the Journey of a Lifetime!


by Tammera J. Karr, PhD

An effective detoxification program will not ask you to make any dramatic lifestyle and dietary changes. Healthier food and lifestyle choices are generally made on a subconscious level. Once the body begins to eliminate toxins, it will naturally start craving foods that will nourish it at an optimum level. That said, there are undoubtedly many things you can do to maximize the benefits of the cleanse you’re on from day one, and certain foods will help maintain the benefits of the detox for much longer.

A detox diet is a short-term diet, often 3- to 21 days, focused on removing toxins from the body. Although detoxification is ongoing in the body, toxins and stress prevent us from doing it optimally, which eventually affects our health. A detox diet allows our bodies to focus on self-healing, with the goal being to raise energy levels, stimulate digestive health, clear headaches, remove bloating, improve concentration and mood, avoid getting allergies, regain our natural ability to ward off colds and flu and prevent premature aging and disease.

In natural health writings from the 1900’s, it was common to see articles on digestive cleansing with tonics, enemas, fasting, and herbs. Detoxification has been practiced for centuries by many cultures around the world — including Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine.

The sad but undeniable truth is many are living in an environment toxic to their bodies, take a look at the following information:

How does detoxification work?

Basically, detoxification means cleaning the blood. It does this by removing impurities from the blood in the liver, where toxins are processed for elimination. The body also eliminates toxins through the kidneys, intestines, lungs, lymph, and skin. However, when this system is compromised, impurities aren’t properly filtered, and every cell in the body is adversely affected.

Many health ailments–headaches, exhaustion, and muscle cramps–are coming from toxicity. Toxins have been implicated in everything from increased risk of Alzheimer’s and cardiovascular disease to mental retardation and cancer.

A detox program can help the body’s natural cleaning process by:

  1. Resting organs through fasting;
  2. Stimulating the liver to eliminate toxins;
  3. Promoting elimination through the intestines, kidneys, and skin;
  4. Improving circulation;
  5. Refuel the body.

10 ways to detoxify

  1. Eat plenty of fiber, including brown rice and organically-grown fresh fruits and vegetables. Beets, radishes, artichokes, cabbage, broccoli, spirulina, chlorella, and seaweed.
  2. Cleanse and protect the liver by taking dandelion root, burdock, milk thistle, and drinking green tea.
  3. Vitamin C helps produce glutathione, a liver compound that drives away toxins.
  4. Drink at least two quarts of filtered water daily.
  5. Breathe deeply to allow oxygen to circulate more completely through your system.
  6. Think positive thoughts.
  7. Practice hydrotherapy by taking a very hot shower for five minutes, allowing the water to run on your back. Follow with cold water for 30 seconds. Do this three times, and then get into bed for 30 minutes.
  8. Sweat in a sauna to eliminate wastes through perspiration.
  9. Dry-brush your skin or try detox foot spas/foot baths to remove toxins through your pores.
  10. Exercise, yoga, qigong, mini-tramps or jump-roping are good. One hour every day.

Don’t forget

Eliminate alcohol, coffee, cigarettes, refined and artificial sugars, fake fats found in margarine, and unfiltered tap water all of which act as toxins in the body and are obstacles to detoxifying. Also, minimize use of chemical-based household cleaners and personal health care products (cleansers, shampoos, deodorants, and toothpastes), and substitute natural alternatives.

Stress triggers your body to release stress hormones into your body affecting every metabolic pathway necessary for detoxification. While these hormones can provide the “adrenaline rush” to win a race or meet a deadline, in large amounts, they create toxins and slow down detoxification enzymes in the liver. Consider cutting out the news at dinner and bedtime add music that is around 60 beats per minute to calm the central nervous system throughout the day, all these are simple and effective ways to relieve stress.

People who are exhausted with low blood pressure may have adrenal weakness or fatigue. A detox diet is usually done after the adrenal glands have been replenished.


Holistic Nutrition News

Published January 31st, 2017 in HN4U Blog

Edition 20 -Vol1 2017

What are Lectins and are they bad for me?

What are “lectins” and why should you pay attention to them? Lectins are a protein that can bind to cell membranes. Lectins offer a way for molecules especially sugars, to stick together without getting the immune system involved, which can influence cell-cell interaction.

“In 1988 a hospital launched a “healthy eating day” in its staff canteen at lunchtime. One dish contained red kidney beans, and 31 portions were served. At 3 pm one of the customers, a surgical registrar, vomited in theater. Over the next four hours, 10 more customers suffered profuse vomiting, some with diarrhea. All had recovered by next day. No pathogens were isolated from the food, but the beans contained an abnormally high concentration of the lectin phytohaemagglutinin.”

Lectins are abundant in raw legumes (beans, peas, alfalfa, peanut, and lentils) grains, and most commonly found in the seed part which becomes the leaves when planted. Lectins are additionally found in dairy products and some vegetables. While lectin content in food is relatively constant, genetic modification has created level fluctuations in many legumes such as soy, alfalfa, wheat, corn, and rice.
A National Institutes of Health report published in the British Medical Journal April 1999 provides valuable information on the validity of reducing lectins in your diet. “Lectins are carbohydrate binding proteins present in most plants, especially seeds and tubers like cereals, potatoes, and beans. Until recently their main use was as histology and blood transfusion reagents, but in the past two decades we have realized that many lectins are (a) toxic, inflammatory, or both; (b) resistant to cooking and digestive enzymes, and (c) present in much of our food. It is thus no surprise that they sometimes cause “food poisoning.” However, the really disturbing finding came with the discovery in 1989 that some food lectins get past the gut wall and deposit themselves in distant organs.”

In plants, lectins are a defense against microorganisms, pests, and insects. The evolution of lectin formation in plants serves as a way for seeds to remain intact as they passed through animals’ digestive systems. Lectins are resistant to human digestion also especially in today’s world of compromised digestive microbiome, and they enter the blood unchanged. Any food component that passes through the digestive lining unaltered into the blood stream compromises our whole health. Current research has irrefutably linked the “Leaky Gut.” process with brain health.

With winter well upon us the levels of seasonal affective disorder (SAD), reduced immunity, and chronic inflammation are on the increase. This is the time of year we are most likely to feel our worst both mentally and physically and tempted by comfort food. A review published in Nutrients March 2013 describes lectins as “anti-nutrients” and a leading contributor to many health challenges.…. “Inflammation is the response of the innate immune system triggered by noxious stimuli, microbial pathogens, and injury. When a trigger remains, or when immune cells are continuously activated, an inflammatory response may become self-sustainable and chronic. Chronic inflammation has been associated with many medical and psychiatric disorders, including cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, cancer, autoimmune diseases, schizophrenia, and depression.”

I encourage you to take control of your health in 2017 through change – if what you have been eating is making you less then your best – grab the bull by the horns and take it down and out of your life.

To Your Good Health in 2017

1. http://www.precisionnutrition.com/all-about-lectins
2. http://www.unexplainedinfertilityinfo.com/autoimmune-causes/
3. Gilbert RJ. Healthy eating day. Communicable Disease Report. 1988;33:3–4.
4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1115436/#B1
5. http://www.bmj.com/content/318/7190/1023
6. Nutrients 2013, 5, 771-787; doi:10.3390/nu5030771
7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3705319/


Oh so easy Buckwheat Pancakes
This recipe comes from a longtime friend and mentor – Norm Michaels.

1 cup Bobs Red Mill Buckwheat flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 organic egg
1 ¼ cups raw milk, or milk substitute

Mix dry ingredients together
Lightly beat egg and milk together then add to dry ingredients, stir till mixed well.
Cook pancakes on a cast iron griddle or skillet – oil griddle with lard, bacon grease, olive oil or organic butter.
Serve with fruit compote or maple syrup.

If you have never made pancakes before I suggest you read the cooking step by step directions from a standard recipe before beginning.


Attention Clients
Effective October 4, 2016, all INNATE Response™ direct sales business will be fulfilled by Emerson Ecologic.
This means we are not able to provide these supplements to you through the Natural Partners virtual dispensary. Please note Innate Response is still Tammera’s Primary Product Line of Choice. Clinically this product line has outperformed, across the board, as a generalized support, for 85% of our clients.

Our amazing web team will be looking into setting up an Emerson Dispensary for your convenience.

Look for an update in your next Newsletter, or call the office 541-430-1078 to place your order with Tammera in person.


Up Coming Events


National Association Of Nutrition Professionals (NANP) 2017 Conference

May 4-7, 2017 Portland Waterfront Marriott Hotel

Tammera will be presenting on May 5



Fermenting Adventures in an RV

by Tammera J. Karr, PhD

Recently my husband and I decided late summer was a good time to learn how to ferment drinks and vegetables. A little background: Naturally fermented beverage products called Kombucha, Ginger Beer, and water Kefir are all the rage. Even general purpose markets are now carrying some form of fermented drink. The internet is awash with fermenting kings and queens sharing  pictures of their newest delivery, or gadget that aids in your fermenting of kimchee or beet kraut. These predigested or live foods are perfect for the Pacific Northwest, especially Oregon with it’s “Do it Your Self” culture.  Don’t confuse pickling with fermenting – they are not the same and do not yield the same health benefits. Fermenting is far older, found in almost every culture and as a live food, the health properties are greater than eating raw, organic or minimally processed foods. Many traditional cured types of meat from Europe are fermented – and not allowed into America by the FDA.

We Oregonians seem to like our independence in several areas but most assuredly in the food department. Part of that comes from the immigrants who built the strong farming and ranching history, of many parts of our state. The Willamette Valley has been producing hops for beer making sense the 1890’s. These same fields also are home to produce, grapes, nut and fruit trees and berries.

In the Oregon Historical Society resides a photo of men in 1950 circ, with their sleeves rolled up shredding cabbage and salting it for fermentation, right in the fields, for sauerkraut. So if they can do it, we thought,  so can we…. Not wanting to take on the job of sauerkraut or fist time out, especially as we are working and living in our 29’ RV; we thought this would be an excellent opportunity to save some money on our food budget and learn the art of fermented probiotic drinks.  After all, a half gallon glass jar doesn’t take up much room, or require as much space when packed for moving camp to the next job site right?  If you haven’t tried any of the fizzy, tangy, and yummy drinks from Dr. Kombucha of Portland or the dozens of others, I encourage you to, and once you see the price on them,  you will know why we are learning to make our own.

From past experience we knew sourdough starter could turn into an RV monster, crawling out of the jar, oozing across surfaces, seeping into drains and vents; from the agitation of the RV going down the road. We still have a sleeping bag with white butterfly patterns from sourdough starter escaping a sealed jar,  on our pack horse 20  years ago!  So surely with our gained knowledge and experience we could contain this next alien life form.

We went to Amazon and ordered a pack of water Kefir grains, assuming all we would need to know would come included with them. Well not really. It seems Kefir does not tolerate metal utensils, likes it between 60 and 70 degrees and takes up to 3 weeks for the grains to become happy in their production of the fizzy electrolyte-rich drink; you had your heart set on. But it is worth it, for the fun, nutrition, and health to be gained by the adventure.

By week 2,  we could taste fermentation, but it wasn’t as much as we had hoped for; I went to Amazon again and ordered a book: Delicious Probiotic Drinks by Julia Mueller, a nylon strainer, cheesecloth and more grains.  As I write this, I now have 3, half gallon jars at various stages lined up on my tiny RV galley counter – the baby won’t is tasted like we did before, Julia suggests pouring it out as the grains are just beginning to activate. The second jar is our 3-week old grains which are working much faster, and the water kefir is ready to strain and add fruit to after 24 hours. And that is the very bubbly, yummy strawberry lemonade in jar 3. It will be gone by tomorrow afternoon, which is when jar 2 will need to be strained and put on for its second fermentation with fresh fruit. So far we have not had any exploding glass jars, but this adventure is in its early days yet.

Naturally, fermented drinks are cost efficient and beneficial  when compared to supplements.  They are a simple and tasty way to rebuild your digestive tract from years of eating processed foods, antibiotic and prescription drug use, chlorinated water and stress. AND can be done in an RV galley. If you have IBS, Crohns, or Leaky Gut; these naturally fermented foods are a must, if you expect to heal. The era of eating processed food, using anti-bacterial soaps, and destroying our body’s ability to heal through the wonderful microbiome in our digestive system, is hopefully coming to an end. Traditional foods like these are safe and efficientt ways to rebuild the immune function of the body potentially preventing chronic illness and debilitation age-related dementia. As so many knowledgeable natural health care and integrative providers are learning – “all illness begins in the digestive tract.” Sage words from the past.

To fizzy fun and probiotic health!