Hi, I'm Kim

Hi, I’m Kim Christensen, M.Om., Dipl.OM, L.Ac. I’m a licensed acupuncturist, herbalist, and owner of Constellation Acupuncture & Healing Arts in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Back before going to school and becoming a healthcare practitioner, Affairs of Living was my creative outlet while healing from chronic health issues. These days, I'm in a new phase of life, and this website is no longer updated.

Want to stay up to date? Check out my new website www.constellationacu.com.

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Unless otherwise noted, all recipes on this blog are free of gluten, peanuts, soy, corn, tomatoes, potatoes, shellfish, cane sugar, oranges, and yeast. Most recipes are also free of egg, dairy, and tree nuts (if used, reliable substitutions will be provided for these when possible). Check out my recipe index for a full list of recipes by category. 

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October SOS Kitchen Challenge Reveal and a Special Surprise...

October brings many wonderful things, like mashed sweet potatoes, beautiful golden leaves, and all the fun of Halloween. I love fall and all that comes with it!  With one exception: the next season. Winter makes me frown.  As someone living in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where it isn't uncommon to walk to the bus in -15º F temperatures, I dread the coming of winter. My SOS co-host Ricki, from Diet,Dessert, and Dogs has similar sentiments about the snowy season. In an attempt to mitigate the impending chill this October, we present you with another Sweet or Savory Kitchen Challenge--this time, with a special twist.  So read on, learn about our latest key ingredient, and join in on the fun!

Now, you've most likely heard or read about at least one of the "superfood" seeds currently being touted all over the internet: flax, chia, hemp.  And while all three are wonderfully nutritious and offer all manner of health benefits, they sometimes overshadow the more common specimens that are equally healthy in their own right.  This month, we're focusing on one of those better-known seeds...


Sesame seeds are inexpensive, delicious, packed with nutritional benefits--and available year-round. In other words, a perfect ingredient for our first SOS Challenge of autumn!

A sesame plant.  Source

According to one of my favorite websites, World's Healthiest Foods, sesame seeds (sesamum indicum) "may be the oldest condiment known to man dating back to as early as 1600 BC."  One Assyrian myth, in fact, claims that the gods drank sesame wine right before they created the earth. They are also considered to be the first seed that was cultivated specifically for their unique taste and are the most cultivated seed at present. And who is not familiar with the common expression, "open sesame"? The term refers to the manner in which the seed pods burst open when the seeds are mature, and was introduced in the classic legend by Ali Baba in the Thousand and One Nights.   

These tiny, oval gems (available in a varietyof shades from beige to brown to red to black) are also a highly nutritious food, one that is a staple in most vegan households because of their high calcium content. Tahini (sesame paste) or nondairy milk made with sesame can add a valuable boost to your calcium intake.  In fact, sesame seeds offer up a good variety of other minerals, too: they're considered a "very good" source of manganese and copper, plus a "good" source of magnesium, iron, phosphorus, vitamin B1, zinc and dietary fiber. In addition, they contain two types of lignans (sesamin and sesamolin), antioxidant-like substances known to help stave off all kinds of chronic illnesses, from high blood pressure to liver damage; and they can help lower cholesterol levels.

And they're not just for hamburger buns any more! Sesame seeds lend themselves to all kinds of cooking.  Like many seeds and nuts, they can be lightly toasted to bring out their optimum flavor.  If ground to a paste, they produce tahini, a key ingredient in all kinds of Middle Eastern foods from hummus to falafel.  I also love using it in place of nut butters in much of my cooking, from sauces to desserts.  They're also the key ingredient in one of my favorite seasonings, Japanese gomashio, which I sprinkled here.

It's worth noting that our digestive tracts are unable to break down the outer hull on the seeds, so whole seeds will serve only as a source of insoluble (unabsorbed) fiber and will pass through your system intact.  To benefit from the sesame oil inside the seeds, they need to be cracked or ground. 

Beautiful sesame seeds...so much potential! source

Whole seeds can be stored at room temperature for several weeks; or freeze for longer storage periods.  Once the hull is cracked, however, the seeds must be stored in the refrigerator or freezer.  An exception is sesame oil, which is incredibly stable and resists rancidity even over long periods of time and changes in temperature.

And now to make this month even more fun. . . 

For the first time, October's SOS event will feature a guest sponsor--and prizes!  We are thrilled to announce that iHerb, the extensive supplier of all things natural and healthy, is sponsoring our giveaway. By contributing your recipe using sesame seeds (or sesame paste or sesame oil), you can enter to win one of ten bags of organic sesame seeds, or a grand prize of a $50 shopping spree from iHerb!

Here's how to enter

  • Post a new recipe (either your own or someone else's) that features sesame seeds to your blog. Make sure that it follows the usual SOS guidelines, then enter it in the Linky below, and put a link in your post to this month's SOS kickoff page.  Deadline for entry is October 31, 2010.
  • If you wish to be entered to win any of the iHerb prizes, register with iHerb, here. 
  • The first ten entries of people who've registered with iHerb (either new accounts or existing accounts) will each receive a bag of organic sesame seeds.  (If you prefer not to register, that's fine--but you won't be eligible for any of the prizes.)
  • Once all the entries are submitted, we'll randomly choose one to win the "grand prize." Everyone is eligible for the grand prize, even if you already won one of the ten bags of seeds!
  • Ricki and I will post a round-up at the end of the month announcing winners and showcasing the recipes. 

As always, we look forward to your incredible recipes and can't wait to see what you whip up! We were astounded by your whopping 36 entries last time and can't wait to see what pops up on the SOS page this month!

September SOS Kitchen Challenge Submissions: Sesame

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Reader Comments (10)

Sounds like fun! I love sesame seeds and have prepared 3 dishes in the past week with either the paste or oil! :)

October 6, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterNoelle

I was hoping this would be a great site for those with allergies. Read this about what you're promoting this month: Sesame seeds are extremely potent allergens and can cause severe allergic reactions (anaphylaxis) in susceptible individuals. Sesame is used extensively in the food industry and the seeds present a danger because of their versatility. They have been identified in non-sesame products, especially bread, due to cross-contamination.

October 6, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJan

Noelle - Yay! I bet you'll have lots of great things to enter this month :)

Jan - thank you for the information about sesame and expressing your concern. I am aware that many people are severely allergic to sesame, and that it is considered a major allergen in the EU regarding food allergen labeling. However, when we selected sesame as this month's ingredient, we thought it to be a versatile, excellent ingredient that adds excellent flavor and can be used in place of other commonly allergic ingredients, such as peanuts, tree nuts, or even dairy in some recipes. For those people that are able to enjoy sesame, it is a nutritious whole food that provides many culinary options. For those people who are allergic and cannot participate in this month's challenge recipes, it is unfortunate. I wish that every recipe and ingredient we select could work for everyone! But as we allergic people know, you can have allergies and sensitivities to anything. For example, I have wild allergies to pineapple and melon, and those ingredients are commonly used by many people who create allergy-friendly recipes - those ingredients even appearing prominently in nationally published allergy recipe books. No single ingredient will ever work for everyone. Despite the selection of sesame as this month's featured ingredient, I do feel that this site is still helpful for people with allergies, since I provide recipes that are free of most common allergens and provide many substitution ideas. If you have sensitivities to sesame, rest assured that most recipes on this site to do not use it as an ingredient, and next month we will feature a different ingredient that hopefully will be more copacetic with your dietary restrictions. Thanks for your feedback, and I hope you are able to find things on this site that are helpful.

October 6, 2010 | Registered CommenterKim

Looking forward to another banner month with our latest key ingredient! Re: potential allergens (as mentioned above), virtually anything is a potential allergen. Sadly, we can't eliminate every ingredient from our challenge.

October 6, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterRicki

Yay - I can use sesame paste! I am out of seeds but have a delicious hummus I just made that is perfect for this event.

October 6, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterValerie @ City|Life|Eats

Oh fun! I have been wanting to try to do more with sesame seeds. This will give me a great opportunity to get creative!

October 6, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDeanna

Thanks Kim and Ricki for hosting these challenges. How fun!
:) Megan

October 7, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMegan

I made the chana dal hummus again and just submitted my recipe! I did want to let you and Ricki know I actually won a $50 giveaway from iherb recently (I think sometime in July), so it seems that I should abstain - I will leave final decision up to you and iherb (with regards to both teh sesame seed packet and the giveaway) but wanted to give you a heads up!

October 7, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterValerie @ City|Life|Eats

Great site, really looking forward to exploring (especially the GF recipes)!

I'm excited to participate for the first time this month! Thanks, Kim and Ricki, for being such excellent curators!

October 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKris
Sorry, no comments/questions allowed right now.
Hi reader! My schedule as full-time grad student with two part-time jobs doesn't allow me the time to manage comments. I hope you enjoy what you find and can figure out answers to any questions you may have. xo