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 These days, I'm in a new phase of life, and this website is no longer updated.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


Kale, Sunflower Sprout, and Black Olive Salad (gluten free, vegan)

This salad is quick and really tasty and uses many of my absolutely favorite ingredients.  I'll put a photo up later today.  How can you go wrong with kale as a base?  And I love using sunflower sprouts.  Although I'm quite an experienced sprouter, I've never tried sprouting sunflower seeds; instead, I buy trays of live sunflower sprouts from my local co-op.  The sprouts are long and crunchy and wonderful, and make great additions to salads and wraps.  This salad also uses black olives; my favorite ones are from France, packed in oil and salt and flavored with lots of thyme.  They are wrinkly and dark and saltly and oh-so-delicious.  If you can't have vinegar, make sure to find olives that are packed in water, salt, or oil - many black olives are usually safe, whereas kalamatas and green olives are often packed in vinegar.  Many nicer grocery stores and food co-ops have bulk olive selections or pack their own; you are likely to find something that is free of vinegar!  Choose to make the vinagrette for this salad, or just sprinkle with a bit of salt and pepper.  

serves 2
1/2 bunch kale
1 tray sunflower sprouts
1/4 c black olives, pitted
pinch thyme
1-2 T sunflower, flax, or olive oil
1-2 tsp ume vinegar* or lemon juice
fresh cracked pepper
raw or toasted sunflower seeds
  1. Wash kale well.  Cut out the rib from each leaf, then coarsely chop leaves.  Place chopped kale in pot of boiling water, and blanch until leaves are soft and bright green.  Dump kale and water through strainer, and let kale drain completely and cool to room temperature.
  2. Cut sunflower sprouts from tray and wash.  If they are long, cut sprouts in half.
  3. If desired, slice olives.
  4. In small bowl, whisk together oil, ume vinegar/lemon juice, and thyme until well mixed.
  5. Arrange kale, sprouts, and olives in 1 large serving bowl or in 2 smaller bowls.  Drizzle dressing over salad, and sprinkle on fresh cracked pepper.  Garnish with sunflower seeds, if desired.
Enjoy!  Great served alongside a hearty bean soup or a nice piece of fresh fish.
*Ume vinegar is made from the leftover juice from the pickling process of ume plums; it is not a true vinegar, but really a brine.  It is used a lot in macrobiotic cooking and makes a great seasoning.  Because it isn't really a vinegar, and is said to have an alkalizing effect, a lot of things I've read say that it is well tolerated by people dealing with Candida or by those who have sensitivities to yeasts.  So, give it a shot!  Eden Foods makes an ume vinegar that is easy to find at natural foods stores.



Herbed Turkey Meatballs (gluten free, egg free)

I love turkey.

That's all there is to it.
These are super fast, super easy, and super tasty.  Lots of meatball recipes use eggs and bread crumbs and all sorts of stuff as fillers and binders.  I just leave it to the turkey and don't deal with adding anything other than herbs and seasonings!   I like to bake meatballs; they stay moist, you don't need to use any added oil, and you can do other things while your little meatballs bake away in the oven.  However, you can choose to cook them up in a big fry pan just as easily!
These freeze like a dream - so cook a big batch and freeze the leftovers for quick meals later on.
HERBED TURKEY MEATBALLS (gluten free, egg free)
1 lb ground turkey, hormone free and free range preferred
1/4 c fresh parsley, finely chopped
1  T dried basil
1 T dried thyme
sprinkle garlic powder or 1-2 minced garlic cloves
salt and pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 375*.  Line a tray with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, mix turkey, herbs, garlic/garlic powder, salt, and pepper until all ingredients are well incorporated through turkey.
  3. With your hands, grab small chunks of turkey and roll into balls, slightly smaller than a walnut.  Place balls on parchment lined tray.
  4. Place tray in oven and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until centers are no longer pink and meatballs are golden brown.  
Serve any number of ways:  
  • Eat with cooked greens and sauerkraut
  • Throw in a bun, wrap, or huge collard leaf with sandwich fillings
  • Eat with red sauce, bechamel sauce, or cheesy sauce and serve over pasta, or for a low-carb meal, spaghetti squash
  • Put on toothpicks or skewers and serve as appetizers with mustard or other dips
  • Add to soups
  • Eat on salads
  • Anything else you can think of!




Vegetables are, by volume, the thing I eat the most of.  I eat so much vegetable.  Vegetables with breakfast, vegetables for snacks, vegetables at lunch and at dinner.  Filling up on vegetable keeps me from eating loads of starches.  Because all I really ever want to do is eat lots and lots and lots of beans, sweet potatoes, and grains. 

But today I had a rice binge.  Rice porridge for breakfast, rice macaroni pasta in my tasty homemade Zuppa di Pasta e Fagioli, two slices of homemade sorghum-rice sponge bread, a handful of puffed rice cereal and a few rice crackers, and another small bowl of rice porridge.  What the hell?  All I wanted to do was eat rice all day long.  The big salad I ate at lunch with my soup didn't sit well; the lettuce didn't agree with me at all today, and by the time I got home from work, I just needed something with fiber in my tummy.  I wanted carbs.  I wanted RICE.
My god, that was a lot of rice.  This was combined with two slightly forbidden sweetener experiences (a bit of molasses spread on some bread last night, and a little brown rice syrup in my rice porridge).  And blueberries as a snack this morning.  And some slightly sweetened coconut milk yogurt.  
And  now I'm just a little concerned, because the last week has been kind of a salt-carb-oil-sweetness craving week like I haven't experienced in a LONG time.  I wanted to eat salt on everything.  I wanted to dip everything in olive oil.  I found myself craving sugar, and adding stevia to stuff in an attempt to fulfill that need, until I got sick of that weird stevia flavor and just went right for the agave and brown rice syrup.  I just wanted to eat bread.  So, I baked some.  And it was good.  
Then it made me wonder if the small amounts of fruit I've been reintroducing to my diet could be responsible for this.  After being on the Cadida diet for 9 months, and with my naturopath's blessing, I started eating small amounts of berries to my diet 4-5 times per week.  It hasn't caused the BV issues I used to have with fruit - hooray! - but I wonder if it is causing the cravings. And I've started reintroducing really small amounts of natural sweeteners in things - mostly agave, but sometimes little little bits of honey, brown rice syrup, molasses.
Could that be making these cravings happen?  Could the Candida be growing out of control again?  Maybe I tried bringing back the sugars too soon for my body.  Or maybe it is just the normal craving that goes along with winter in Minnesota and being a woman with a hormonal cycle and I shouldn't worry about it.  My naturopath and I will be retesting for Candida in a few weeks, and then I guess we'll know the answer, huh?
In the meantime, who knows.  All I know is that today I ate a lot of ricey stuff, and it was totally satisfying. Cravings happen.  And sometimes my normally steadfast discipline wavers. It happens. And if it happens with brown rice, a pinch of agave, and some unsweetened cocoa squares melted down and sweetened with stevia and poured over puffed rice in an attempt to make a dark chocolate crispy rice bar, it won't be the end of the world.  
But I'll still be eating a lot of vegetables.



Sprouted Quinoa Buckwheat Millet Sourdough Bread (gluten free, vegan, yeast free)

Sprouted?  Sourdough? Gluten free?  Yeast free?  And vegan?  


Yup, naturally leavened and lovely.  This was my second sourdough bread experiment, and I'm really pleased with the result, it turned out moister, with a better "sour" flavor, and raised much better - I think that  is because my starter is older and more developed than when I tried my first sourdough loaf!
This recipe is time consuming - all the soaking and fermenting and rising takes place over about 2 1/2 days - but it is totally worth it.  It makes a beautiful hearty loaf that is naturally leavened, with sprouted quinoa even, and therefore, easier to digest and assimilate.  The buckwheat, millet, and quinoa blend is great - the texture is good, the flavor is deep and earthy, and it is super nutritious and full of healthy amino acids. The bread has a crispy crust, a dense texture, and a rich flavor.  It is amazingly delicious toasted.  My sourdough starter rocked this loaf - I can't believe how much it actually raised!  Next time I will not cut such deep slits in the top, because it cracked pretty deep into the cut while baking - so, next time, just a nice shallow slit.   I baked it in a round Pyrex casserole dish instead of a bread pan, I greased it with olive oil and dusted with quinoa flakes.  
If you need a sourdough starter, check out this post for a basic recipe and my experience and suggestions.
Need a recipe for GF sourdough starter? I used the same process as I did  HERE, using a mixture of buckwheat and millet as the starter flours. 

1 c whole quinoa grain
water for soaking + about 1 c filtered water
1/2 c sourdough starter (mine is a buckwheat-millet-quinoa blend)
1 1/4 c buckwheat flour
1 1/4 c millet flour
additional flour for dusting 
1 Tbsp molasses (optional)
1/4 tsp salt
First, sprout your quinoa...
  1. Rinse the quinoa well, rubbing grains together to remove the saponin coating, which can irritate digestion.  Place in large bowl, cover with fresh water, and soak quinoa for 6-8 hours.  You will see little tails form!  
Then blend it and ferment it...
  1. Rinse sprouted quinoa well.
  2. Place quinoa in food processor or blender with about 1 c filtered water, and blend until most of the grains have been mashed up.
  3. Transfer quinoa mixture to large bowl, and add 1/2 c of your sourdough starter.  Stir until well mixed, cover with dish towel, and let sit in a warm place for 6-8 hours.   Your mixture should start to bubble and get foamy, with a sourdough smell.  Hurray!
Make your dough and let it rest...
  1. Gradually mix flours and salt into quinoa-starter mixture until a stiff dough forms.  Add more flour if necessary, but don't add too much - we don't want our bread to be tough.
  2. Remove from bowl, and knead on a floured surface until it feels as close to bread dough gluten free flour can!  
  3. Place in clean bowl, cover with towel, and let rise 2-3 hours.
  4. Knead dough again.  Feed your starter with 1/4 - 1/2 c each flour and water.
  5. Place in oiled and floured or quinoa flake dusted bread pan or round baking dish, depending on the desired shape of your loaf.  Cut shallow slits in the top of loaf to prevent cracking. 
  6. Cover and let rise 6-8 hours in warm place.  I like to put mine in a cool oven with a pan of water in the bottom (I have a gas oven and it is just a little warm in there from the pilot light).  If you have a good starter, your loaf should grow in size!
Then, you are finally ready to bake!
  1. Place pan in a cool oven with a large pan of water on the bottom of the oven.  If desired, brush bread with olive oil before baking.
  2. Heat oven to 425* and bake bread for 15 minutes at that temperature
  3. Reduce heat to 350* and bake until golden brown, about 45 minutes.  Do not open oven while baking until the very end when you are checking for doneness. Loaf shoudl be golden brown, and give a hollow sound when  you tap on the bottom.
  4. Remove from pan/dish to cool on a wire rack.
  5. Slice after cooled and serve!
Oh, so good!  I tried freezing some of the slices, and thawed it by toasting in the toaster oven.  It stayed moist, didn't fall apart, and was crisp and delicious.  I even dipped it in soup (Split Pea Spearmint Soup, to be exact) and it stayed crusty and fantastic like "real" bread.  Hot damn. It also held up to being spread with sunflower seed butter.
Give this recipe a try!



I can't sleep, today felt like summer, and I have daydreams of the coast.

Maybe it was the cocoa, I haven't had caffeine in months. Maybe it's my wandering mind. I always seem to come up with something to do that sounds more interesting than closing my eyes and going to bed. There's always something else to do, something else to read, stuff to go through, writing to be done, or little drawings to make. And besides, going to bed is much more enticing when there is going to be someone in that bed with you. For a long time, it has been just me and my laptop curled up in bed. As much as I love the magical electric box, it doesn't quite make me jump into bed in quite the same way that another warm body does. Okay, that's a lie. I've been lying in bed with my laptop for the last two hours. And have enjoyed it thoroughly.

Foremost on my mind is my upcoming whirlwind weekend trip to Seattle. I'm thinking of moving there. I've been thinking of moving there since I was 16. Either Seattle or Portland. I have a romance with the Northwest; I love Seattle, I still need to visit Portland. People tell me I'd love Portland, that I coudl just decide to move there on a whim and show up and feel at home I believe these people, and the friends I have in portland love that city. Anyway, both places have some great acupuncture and Oriental Medicine schools. Once I quit my job and go to school full time instead of part time, I don't really want to stay in Minneapolis. I started the program here, and I like the school, but I often think of transferring elsewhere. Minnesota, I love you, but my heart is on the coast. I yearn for ocean, for mountains, for old growth forests. And the Minnesota winter is killing me. I'm too emotionally unstable as it is, the last thing I need is to throw the phenomena of seasonal affected disorder at my psyche. My body stiffens, my mind slows, my spirit becomes downtrodden and clunky. My entire being stops functioning properly in this kind of weather, kind of like my car when I try to start it in the morning and the actual temperature is -20. Gross. Sometimes when I'm walking outside and it is so cold that my hands and toes are numb even with my warm gloves and boots and thick wool socks, I scream. Sometimes I scream explitives, sometimes I let out animalistic gutteral sounds. Somehow the screaming makes me feel warmer. Sometimes I just get angry at the cold. I get angry and feel helpless and wish more than anything that someone could JUST MAKE IT STOP ALREADY so didn't have to feel like the marshmallow man, all big and puffy, my movements hindered by layers of clothing. Sure, there is a sort of comical, hearty sensibility that forms in the people that dwell in the cold of the Upper Midwest. I'll carry it with me forever. It is the kind of sensibility that forms when it is so cold that your nosehairs freeze, frost forms on your eyeglasses, and your cell phone won't work after it has been out in the cold for a while because it simply froze up.

And then there are days like today, when 35* feels like summer and the snow starts to melt, the icy sidewalks become canals, and the hearty people of Minnesota take off their coats and venture outside in sweatshirts and fleece pullovers and sometimes even just tshirts (it's true, I saw it today). Today I pumped up my bike tires and did errands on two wheels. I walked to the co-op without freezing my ass off and without slipping on the ice behind my house like I generally do, because the icy patch had finally melted. It was awesome. I haven't felt so good in months as I did today. We hadn't gotten above 32 all month, and today, the last day of this month, we finally had our January thaw. It served as a good remidner that it is always possible that what you want will come, even if it sneaks in right at the last possible moment or takes a while to arrive. So, Seattle. I won't be moving for awhile. heck, I might visit the school and decide I don't want to move at all. But at least i know it is possible, and I can make it ahppen if I want it to.

In addition to the general desire to escape the tundra and go the Northwest, I feel that the program might be better at the school I'm looking at in Seattle. It looks hard. Super science based, with organic chemistry and anatomy and physiology and botany and all sorts of those classes in addition to a very indepth survey of courses in acupuncture and oriental medicine. There are four quarters a year, each quarter with, like, over 20 credits. yikes. The school looks incredible - it has a wonderful teaching clinic, the biggest natural health clinic in the Northwest. They have 6 or 7 different programs, from a naturopathic doctor program to nutrition to the oriental medicine program. It has a gourmet vegetarian cafeteria that uses whole foods and has an amazing weekly menu, and the nutrition students work with the chefs. The school's herb and culinary garden can grow all year, and they have lecturers and programs constantly, on everthing from environmental toxicity to ayurveda to whole foods and a variety of healing arts. Michael Pollan was there last year (he wrote "The Omnivore's Dilemma" and "In Defense of Food", among other books and essays). And it is expensive. Very expensive. Like, ungodly expensive. I'm not allowing myself to worry about that right now.

First I will visit the school. If I like it, then I need to take all those science pre-requisites that I didn't take in college that I will need to get into their program. I was an arts and humanities kid, I didn't take bio or chem or math in college. I took art classes. Anthropolgy. Astronomy. Italian and French. Not algebra. So, to the local community college I will go, and sign up for some basic science courses and algebra. I can't wait to sit in a classroom with 18 year-olds getting their general education credits. I will be almost 10 years older than them. Holy shit. I'm almost 27. And when I'm just a hair past 28, I may be packing up my Midwestern life and heading West.

In about 6 hours, an alumna of the school, my friend April's acupuncturist who lives and works in Seattle, will be calling me to chat about the program. I'm super excited to talk to her. And I know I need to go to bed so that I can actually be alert to talk to her and not just braindead because I was dumb and didn't get enough sleep. I'm good at lots of things. Sleeping, sadly, is not one of them. Daydreaming is. And currently, I daydream of Seattle. Three weeks from this very moment i'll be there, probably asleep on the air mattress in my friend Peter's living room, wedged between the television and couch. I will have visited the school, and will have spent the rest of the day doing something awesome, hopefully eating Seattle sushi at that great little Japanese restaurant and maybe going to that park he wanted to take us to last time and hopefully getting to see the sound. I want to go to PIke's Market on Sunday morning, and before I leave town I have to get a big steaming bowl of pho for $4 at the pho place we went to last time. This time, Peter gets to have my complimentary Vietnamese cream puff, a.k.a. the sugar gluten bomb.

Good night. I've now written myself into a tired place, my eyelids are growing heavy, and I'm starving because I ate hours ago and I should be sleeping. So now, I will finally shut off my bedside lamp, close up this computer that keeps me from committing to more time to sleep, and allow my body the time to get its much needed healing rest.

Goal for tomorrow and always: do not stay up until 3 am on the computer anymore.