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 These days, I'm in a new phase of life, and this website is no longer updated.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.

Recent Posts

Subscribe to RSS headline updates from:
Powered by FeedBurner

Site Search

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. 


Basic Vegetable and Chicken Stocks (gluten free, vegan option, ACD)

I adore chicken stocks and vegetable stocks in soup, to cook rice or other grains, to use for sauces, or sometimes just to drink warm like tea. They are nourishing, satisfying, and versatile, and form a good cornerstone for every kitchen. But buying high quality broth and stock that is free of preservatives, sugars, yeast extracts, and crazy additives can be very expensive, and can sometimes be hard to find. Sure, t is great in a pinch or when you just want something convenient, but the cost adds up! So whenever possible, I like to make my own in a big batch and freeze it up for later use. Not only is it incredibly easy, it is also incredibly economical. You really don't need to buy anything extra to make stock, because it uses all the leftovers and "waste" that is leftover from cooking endeavors: bones, skin, scraps, vegetable trimmings, etc. The best stock is cooked for a long time over low heat; it allows for the flavor to become full and rich. Whether making a vegetable stock or a chicken/turkey stock, the same rule applies: the longer you simmer, the richer the flavor. The richer the stock, the more delicious your soup or other dish will be!

There's a million stock recipes out there, some are more complex with others. I usually make a really big batch at once, and just keep it simple so it can be more versatile later on in recipes. Here is what I do for making vegetable and chicken stock. I've never tried making beef stock before, but would like to try my hand at it! You can make as little or as much stock as you choose - obviously, the ratio of water to vegetable/chicken, as well as the length of cooking time, will determine how flavorful your stock becomes. My favorite way is to make it in the slow cooker, because it requires no effort at all and you can leave it simmer all day. once you spend 10 minutes getting your ingredients together, your work is done!

VEGETABLE STOCK (gluten free, vegan)

Instead of throwing away vegetable scraps when you cook, save them! For example...

  • carrot peels,
  • onion peels (not too many)
  • parsley stems or other herb scraps
  • celery ends
  • broccoli or cauliflower staulks
  • mushroom stems
  • green bean ends
  • other vegetable trimmings
If you cook frequently, you'll have plenty of good scraps in no time! Sometimes I"ll keep a container in my fridge for scraps, they will last for a few days without going weird. When you have a a couple cups worth of scraps, throw them in a big stockpot or slow cooker with a bunch of water, a little salt, peppercorns, and maybe a bouquet garni of fresh herbs (if you have any on hand), and if desired, a coarsely chopped carrot or two, celery branch, and an onion for extra flavor. Then let it simmer away for 6-24 hours (if using a slowcooker, put it on low and let it sit), and soon enough, you've got great vegetable broth!
Pour through strainer to remove vegetable scraps and herbs, and if desired, add salt to taste. Use immediately, or let cool and refrigerate or freeze for later use. Will keep 7-10 days in the fridge; bring to boil before using in recipes if storing in fridge.


CHICKEN (OR TURKEY) STOCK (gluten free, dairy free, egg free)

My favorite stock ever is chicken stock. I love cooking whole chickens, removing the meat, and then using the drippings and leftover skin and bones to make stock. Sometimes, if I don't feel like cooking a whole chicken myself, I'll buy a rotisserie chicken from Whole Foods or the co-op. Once I get that sucker home, I'll eat some right away, and by that I mean LITERALLY the second I get in the door, because those things are so good fresh and warm. Like chicken candy.

After I've finished gorging myself on chicken (sorry for that image, vegetarian and vegan readers), I'll separate the rest of the meat from the bones and skin, freezing most of the chicken for later. Don't throw away that skin and bones when you disassemble your bird! That's the good stuff! That stuff just wants to be transformed into nutritious, delicious stock. This is the perfect thing to do after cooking a holiday turkey! You could also do this with any other poultry - cornish hen, duck, capon, etc.

All you need is...
leftover bones, tendons, and skin from 1 chicken
any chicken drippings
1 onion, 2 carrots, 1 celery branch, coarsely chopped
a splash of apple cider vinegar
If you want to get fancy...
a bay leaf
other herbs or seasonings
other vegetable trimmings

Put the chicken in the pot with the vegetables. Fill the pot with water, add the vinegar. Bring to a boil, skim off any foam, then reduce to a simmer. Simmer over low heat for 6-24 hours. Strain broth to remove solid matter - remove vegetables and use them for something else, and discard chicken bones and skin. Use immediately, or freeze for later use! Will keep in the fridge for around 7 days, boil before using.

If making in the slowcooker, sometimes I like to start it in a stockpot to bring it to a good boil - this well help kill any unwelcome bacteria on your chicken bones - then transfer it to the slow cooker. I'll leave it on low for up to 24 hours, and get the tastiest stock ever! Again, strain before using.



Salmon Stuffed Baked Collard Rolls with Red Pepper-Carrot Sauce (gluten free, egg free, dairy free, vegan/vegetarian option)

The other day I wanted something resembling stuffed manicotti, but without the pasta, tomatoes, and cheese. Funny, right? Don't scoff at how weird that might seem. I didn't want the manicotti, I wanted the idea of manicotti - something stuffed, covered in sauce, and baked. Do I like manicotti? That's complicated. I love how it tastes and looks and smells, but I hate how it makes me feel. So in all, I can't really say I like manicotti, I just like the idea of manicotti. Good in theory, bad in practice. I'm guessing many of you know exactly what I mean! Sometimes you just miss the idea of a food or a dish, but not really the food itself.

I've been on a collard kick lately, and decided a stuffed collard roll baked in some sort of sauce would totally fit the bill.  I got home from work and looked in my fridge and pantry. I saw a can of salmon, and that sounded like a good filling for my collard leaves. In the fridge, I found some leftover cooked carrots and celery I salvaged from a chicken stock-making project, an open jar of roasted red peppers, and a kohlrabi. That seemed like enough. So, I set to work.

This was a fun exercise in spontaneous measuring and mixing, my favorite way to cook. In no time, I had made my salmon stuffing and prepared my sauce, and it was time to fill those happy little collards up. So, I stuffed 'em, rolled 'em, covered 'em with sauce, sprinkled 'em with onions, and put 'em in the oven to bake. The result? Total success! And they looked beautiful. The bright green collards were striking against the vibrant, rust colored sauce; my spontaneous creation of humble leftovers and canned fish looked downright fancy. And it smelled really delicious and tasted even better.  Vegetarian and vegan friends, I think you could easily substitute tempeh or baked tofu (or some imitation-meat product) for the salmon in this recipe, and turn out something just as wonderful.  

I only made two rolls, but I doubled the recipe below to make four. One roll is surprisingly filling, and could easily serve as an entree item if served with a salad, cooked vegetables, cooked grains, soup, or something else.  These rolls would be delicious served with a side of garlicky, risotto-style rice. I hear that short grain brown rice, if cooked with extra water/stock (3:1) for a little longer than usual makes a pretty good cheat for arborio rice. Haven't tried it yet myself, but let me know if you do!  

Salmon Stuffed Baked Collard Rolls with Red Pepper-Carrot Sauce

yield: 4 rolls
  • 2 5-6 oz cans salmon OR 8-12 oz tempeh, baked tofu, or other meat substitute
  • 6 large collard leaves
  • 2 small or 1 large kohlrabi
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1/2 celery branch
  • 2 large carrots
  • 1/2 c roasted red pepper halves/strips (about 1 whole pepper if home roasting)
  • 1 tsp tarragon
  • 1 tsp basil
  • 1 T olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Drain salmon and put in bowl. If using tempeh, tofu, or an imitation meat product, decide if you want to have it in strips, cubed, finely chopped/crumbled, or whatever. Prepare it however you'd like, and place in a bowl.
  2. Peel onion, cut in quarters. Finely mince one quarter of the onion, and add to salmon/meat substitute. Finely slice remaining onion and set aside.
  3. Next, steam your veggies in batches:
  4. WAsh collards, and cut out tough portion of stem. Part of your leaf may be 'forked' at the end after cutting out the stalk - that's okay! Steam collard leaves for 2-3 minutes, or until softened and bright green. Remove, let cool, and pat dry. Reserve 4 of the largest leaves. Cut the other two in half lengthwise, layer, and roll lengthwise to make a cigar-sized roll. Then, finely slice through the roll, working your way from one end to the other - this technique is called a chiffonade. Add sliced collards to bowl with salmon and onions.
  5. Cut kohlrabi into chunks and steam until just tender. Finely dice about one half of the steamed kohlrabi, and add to salmon and collards. Place the remaning kohlrabi chunks in a blender, or if using an immersion blender, a large bowl.
  6. Add 1/2 c minced celery to salmon/vegetarian option, and steam the remaining celery and carrots until tender. Place steamed carrots and celery in blender with kohlrabi, and add roasted red peppers, stock, olive oil, and blend until smooth. Add salt, pepper, basil, and tarragon to taste, and blend again until well mixed. Set aside.
  7. Mix salmon/vegetarian option, collards, kohlrabi, celery, and onion, and add basil, salt, and pepper; stir until well mixed.
  8. Place one quarter of salmon/veggie mixture at top of collard leaf, fold in left and right sides, and roll up lengthwise, like a burrito. If leaf is forked at the bottom from removing the stalk, just try to pull the pieces together, layering slightly, and wrap around roll. Perfect! Repeat rolling process with remaining salmon/veggie mixture and remaining collard leaves.
  9. Spread a small amount of sauce on the bottom of an 11x7 inch glass baking dish. Place collard rolls in pan, and pour sauce over rolls. Toss remaining sliced onions in a little olive oil, and if desired, a mix of your favorite gluten free flour, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and dry basil. Sprinkle coated onions over sauce and rolls, and place dish in the oven.
  10. Bake at 350 until warmed through and onions are golden, about 35-45 minutes.



Extra! Extra! Kim kicks Candida!

I just got back lab work from the Candida Intensive Test from Genova Laboratories.


Hooray!  I tested negative for the Candida antibody.  The yeast culture also came back negative; there was only a small amount of yeast, such a small amount, in fact, that it couldn't be cultured.  

What amazing news.  Seriously.  That makes me want to cry with joy. All of this has been worth it. It worked! It really WORKED!!!!!!!!!

 Granted, Candida is tough to test for, symptoms are a better indicator than labs sometimes.  I have been feeling so much stronger, so much better, so much more like my old self. I haven't had issues with BV in ages. And everything just feels better. Combined with these results,my naturopath is confident is saying that it looks like I may have killed the Candida and stabilized the yeast! Natural healing works wonders. This is so gratifying. What great news.  I still have to be very very very careful; Candida is opportunistic. It easily takes over in an unstable environment. This is a pivotal time.

This also indicates that there is still more work to be done.  I'm not totally 100% yet; there is still more healing to do.  I still have days when I don't feel great, I still get stomach aches and have digestive issues, I'm still not as strong as I used to be, and my menstrual cycle is still MIA. So, while the Candida and yeast may be at bay for now, we're not done yet.  It is time to really work on healing my tempermental gut, restoring good bacteria, and strengthening my immune system.  My naturopath is out on maternity leave, and a couple of different naturopaths are filling in for her.  While it is hard filling in new people, having a new point of view on treatment is kind of interesting.  I just had a phone consult and we have a new plan of action to help keep the yeast away and to help heal the gut.  She is recommending two new supplements to my daily regimen to help facilitate healing the gut: SeaCure and GlutAloeMine.  We'll also be changing up how I take my Caproyl, mixing it with flax seed, my probiotic, bentonite clay, and water, and drinking this sludge twice per day.  Sounds great, right?  I'll add these new things to my usual cod liver oil, vitamin, digestive enzyme and DGL (my favorite).  The SeaCure sounds pretty amazing, testimonials from their website and the information from the naturopath make it sound very effective.

Great news. What great news.

I'll still be keeping up many of these restrictions for awhile - you can't just jump back in to anything. And I've really enjoyed living without sugar and all that stuff, I feel much better without it. But this might mean that more fruit could come back soon...that would be very exciting. And maybe honey or maple syrup or brown rice syrup could find its way into a homemade energy bar or cookie. All in due time. All in due time.

As I've learned, patience and moderation is key in the healing process.

Continued thoughts of wellness to all of you in your own health journeys, and may you find the answers and results you are looking for.


Spelt Oatmeal Banana Chocolate Chip Cookies (wheat free)

These are some of my favorite cookies on the planet.  Slightly sweet, chewy, and dense, with just a hint of banana and gooey chocolate, these cookies even win over people that don't really like bananas.  Like me.  But, let me make this clear: these bad boys are not vegan, they are not gluten free, they are not sugar free. These cookies are full of sugar, butter, spelt, oats, egg, and chocolate chips.  

Needless to say, I haven't eaten them in a very long time.  

Someday, I will make a gluten-free, sugar-free, vegan adaptation, but right now I am avoiding both bananas and oats, since it turns out I have a mild allergy to them. In a few months I'll try reintroducing them and see if I have any reactions, but in the meantime, no banana cookies for me.   

I think it would actually be quite simple to adapt this recipe to be gluten free, vegan, sugar free, or all three. GF oat flour, or another GF flour or flour mix, could be used instead of spelt flour. GF oats could be used, or you could try substituting quinoa flakes or poha (pressed rice flakes). Instead of egg, try your favorite egg substitute, or maybe add another banana. Instead of brown sugar, try using a tolerated sweetener, making the proper adjustments if using a liquid like honey or agave. Instead of butter, try using coconut oil or more shortening. Use your favorite allergen-free chocolate or carob chips to finish it off, and if desired, some chopped nuts. I've been experimenting with making my own carob chips, and those would be pretty killer in this recipe. Most commercial carob chips are grain-sweetened (bummer) or contain sugar, and usually also have soy lecithin (bummer #2). So I tried Sally Fallon's recipe for making them from scratch using carob flour and coconut oil, and sweetened them with xylitol. They are great, and worked really well in a recent quinoa cookie experiment! I'll post that recipe soon.

So, my dear GF and vegan readers, I issue you an adaptation challenge: go forth!  Adapt!  It is well worth a shot, because these cookies rock. Let me know if you try it, and please share your adaptations and experiments!

As a side note, I love the banana ripening chart photo.  I found it here; I didn't know that websites existed for produce postharvest technology.  Amazing.  I love the internet.  Anyway, the optimum banana ripeness for this recipe is demonstrated by banana number 7 in the image above. Happy baking!

Spelt Oatmeal Banana Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 1 1/2 c + 1 c spelt flour (or oat, barley, whole wheat, GF flour of choice, or mix, but I always used spelt)
  • 1/2 c loosely packed brown sugar (about 1/4 c packed)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 3/4 c butter/shortening (mix of half and half is good)
  • 1 happy egg
  • 1 c mashed ripe banana (about 2 whole bananas)
  • 1 3/4 c rolled oats (not instant)
  • 1 1/2 - 2 c chocolate chips
  • 2-3 T honey, as desired
  • optional: 1/2 c chopped nuts
  1. Preheat oven to 350*.  Grease cookie sheets or line with parchment.
  2. In a bowl, mix together 1 1/2 c flour, baking soda, spices, and salt.
  3. In a large bowl, cream butter/shortening with sugar.  Add egg,  banana, and honey, and mix again until well blended.  
  4. Gradually mix in dry ingredients, then add oats.  Add in up to 1 cup of the additional reserved flour to achieve a dough consistency.  Fold in chocolate chips and optional nuts.
  5. Spoon onto baking sheet.  Bake at 350* for 13-15 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from oven.
  6. Let cool for a minutes on baking sheet, then transfer to rack to finish cooling.



BYOCJ: Let's Make Sauerkraut Party

BYOCJ = Bring Your Own Cabbage and Jar

I decided to host a Let's Make Sauerkraut Party on Saturday night.  I made an Evite for it and everything.  I have been totally fascinated with the idea of making my own raw sauerkraut and cultured vegetables lately, and wanted to make a party out of it.  Why not?  Everyone likes to eat good food, people like to hang out, and this is a pretty cheap way to have a night of fun.  Anyway, this is the kind of party to expect from a hippie foodie German girl.  Eight of my more food nerdy friends were able to make it; six made sauerkraut with me, and two observed the whole thing.  It was a hit!  I invited a ton of friends, but to be honest, I'm glad only eight came - we had so much cabbage flying around as it was, I don't know what I would have done with more guests!
I instructed everyone to bring at least one 1 qt jar, at least 1 head of cabbage, and any other stuff they wanted to add. I also told everyone to bring their own cutting board, a big bowl, and a knife.  I provided salt, filtered water, and extra add ins and some backup heads of cabbage.   It was a wild mess of a party.  I think that cabbage has now been ground into my carpet, somehow cabbage ended up in my bathroom sink, and I got covered in cabbage juice after an unfortunate incident involving a bowl of salty cabbage water and a very slippery, heavy jar of newly packed kraut....
Lacto-fermented vegetables are really good for you. I've discovered that I tolerate them well,  and while I do love the convenience of purchasing all those tasty, high quality prepared krauts, I don't want to pay $6 or $7 for a mere 16 oz of fermented vegetables any longer.  Time to cut the cord and do this myself, the way that my German farm wife great grandma probably did back in the day, long before anyone in their right mind would pay $6 for a 16 oz jar of humble cabbage.  According to the inflation calculator I found online, a $6 jar of cabbage in 1920 would be the equivalent of $65.62 jar of cabbage today.  That really puts all of this in perspective.  Cabbage is cheap.  Chopping vegetables is easy. And fermenting stuff is totally effortless  - nature does all the work for you.  So let's get it on.  Let's make some sauerkraut.

To prepare for this whole thing, I bought all sorts of extra veggies for my guests to add in: green onions, a big bag of carrots, onions, jalepenos, garlic, red peppers, ginger, beets, lemon, and turnips.  I also had all the basics from my pantry: chili flakes, some different vinegars (rice, apple cider, ume), soy sauce, honey, different seaweeds, and a pantry full of herbs and spices.  I also had an extra head or two of cabbage, just in case - which was good, because we NEEDED it. I was hoping my guests would want to use some of those vinegars and soy sauce packets and other pantry items that I can't use anymore.  : )  For reference, I had out a few books so we could get proportions of salt to water right, and have some recipe suggestions: Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon, Healing with Whole Foods by Paul Pitchford, and Vibrant Living by James Levin, M.D. and Natalie Cederquist.
Everyone got really creative with their krauts, and it was fun to have so many ingredients to choose from. Here's the kraut round-up, left to right:
  • Becky and Dylan made a kim chee-type kraut, with a mix of green and purple cabbage, carrot, jalepeno, ginger, green onion, and garlic.  It was a beautiful rainbow in a jar!  
  • Scott and Tracy went classic with green cabbage, garlic, and dill. Beautiful in its simplicity.
  • I made a dilly kim chee thing, with napa cabbage, green onion, grated carrot, slivered red pepper, garlic, and dill weed and dill seed, it was very pretty and very juicy. That napa cabbage really crushed down - I ended up needing about 2 1/2 cabbages!
  • Dana and Ben, a.k.a. Team Cilantro, made two Thai inspired krauts:  one with bok choy, tons of cilantro, green onion, yellow onion, jalepeno, and ginger, and another batch that used that mix as a base with added napa and green cabbage, red pepper, and red curry paste.  The first batch was a beautiful dark emerald color, and second batch was kind of an everything-but-the kitchen-sink thing that smelled awesome. 
After everyone left, and I cleaned up the crazy mess that was my kitchen and dining/art/craft room, I also made a batch of pickled turnips and beets, because I positively adore turnips and beets, I had the ingredients ready to go, and I was on a roll, baby.  
This party was really fun.  My friends were totally surprised at how much fun they had cutting up cabbages and pounding the cabbage and getting all covered in cabbage juice, and are really stoked to see how their kraut turns out!  In the end, it was a total blast! Plus, it gave me a great excuse to make some tasty food for my guests: Squash, Parsnip, and Carrot Soup, raw and steamed vegetables with Red Pepper Goat Cheese Dip and Beet Bean Dip, pear and blueberry salad, and some tasty Asian rice crackers, just to name a few things. And from a monetary perspective, as suspected, making kraut ended up being way cheaper than buying it pre-made. For example, I ended up with a 1 qt (32 oz) jar of lovely kraut for about $4. My batch of pickled turnips and beets were also a pretty good deal; I ended up with 1 1-qt (32 oz) jar and 1 1-pint (16 oz) jar for probably about $6 total. Great grandma would be proud. 

You know, I think more people should have sauerkraut parties.  Just try googling "sauerkraut party".  Not a lot of results.  The most prominent match documents a sauerkraut-making birthday party for an 80-year-old guy named Al in Michigan.  It looks like a lot of fun, and they are making their kraut in big buckets!  I've always connected well with old men due to my interest in history, the ways of old, and other such things; apparently, the similarities continue.  Anyway, not a lot of mention of sauerkraut-making festivities online; this needs to change.

So, in sauerkraut making solidarity, I will be offering up recipes for the two batches of lacto-fermented goodness I made at my sauerkraut soirée: the newly named Kim's Dilly Chee (my own spontaneous creation) and the recipe for Pickled Turnips and Beets from Nourishing Traditions.  Right now these are both fermenting in my kitchen. In a few short days, I'll open them up and try them. Then I'll post the recipes and let you know how they turn out!


Yours, in cabbage loving solidarity,