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 These days, I'm in a new phase of life, and this website is no longer updated.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


Pan Seared Trout with Soba, Bok Choy, and Sauerkraut (gluten free)

This meal rocked my world tonight, and I just had to share it. I had a beautiful fillet of fresh, wild caught skin-on trout that I needed to cook up, and soba sounded good, so I decided on a Japanese/macrobiotic inspired meal of fish, soba, and stirfried vegetables with sauerkraut. Could easily be made in a larger portion for a crowd! It was super quick - probably about 15 minutes prep time tops. Even better, it tasted amazing and left me feeling great.

If gluten-intolerant, make sure to use 100% pure buckwheat soba (soba is most commonly made with a blend of wheat and buckwheat). It is a little harder to find than regular soba, but worth the effort!


yield: 1 serving

4 oz fresh wild caught trout
2 oz 100% pure buckwheat soba noodles
2 baby bok choys, chopped
4 green onions, chopped
3-4 baby carrots, or 1 small carrot, cut into fine strips or diagonal rounds
1-2 T azuki tamari (or regular soy tamari)
1/2 c raw, natural sauerkraut
olive oil or sesame oil
1 sheet nori
wasabi powder


  1. Bring water to boil in small saucepan, and add soba. Boil until just al dente - do not overcook pure buckwheat soba, it WILL get mushy and fall apart! Rinse and put in bowl.
  2. While soba is cooking, heat oil in heavy bottom fry pan. Add bok choy, green onion, and carrot, and saute briefly. Add a splash of tamari, and saute until just softened. Remove, and place in bowl.
  3. Pour some tamari on your trout, and let soak into flesh. Wipe out fry pan, then add a touch of oil and turn up to medium high heat. If trout has skin, first place flesh side down, and sear. Then flip and place skin side down, add a touch of water to the pan, and cover. Let cook for 5-7 minutes, or until fish is cooked through and flaky. Remove from pan, and remove skin. Place fish in bowl next to noodles and vegetables.
  4. Spoon some sauerkraut into the bowl. Cut your nori into fine strips, and sprinkle over noodles. Add another splash of tamari to the noodles if desired.
  5. Mix wasabi powder with water to make a paste, and serve alongside the meal. If you can tolerate sesame, sprinkle some sesame over your noodles, it woudl be darn good Eat with chopsticks for ultimate enjoyment. Yum!



Whole Grain Buckwheat Yogurt Muffins (gluten free, egg free, vegan option), and bonus cookies.

I came across a recipe for Gluten Free Buckwheat Yogurt Muffins on the blog I AM NOT AFRAID OF WINTER, written by Carrot Quinn, a self-described box car riding queer writer who can't eat gluten and hitchhikes and writes about all sorts of interesting things. I totally dig Carrot's blog, and was very intrigued by the recipe, because it called for soaking the buckwheat and amaranth flours in yogurt for 12-24 hours before mixing in the rest of the ingredients. Carrot's original recipe is posted here; it calls for eggs, butter, and cow yogurt. So, I made a number of changes and substitutions to fit my needs, and damn, these things are good!

Oh my goodness, so yummy, so yummy. Even my baking extraordinaire friend thinks these muffins rock, and she makes positively the most marvelous, elaborate cakes you've ever seen, plus cookies that make you cry, a pumpkin pie that seduces even the most discerning judge, and brownies that bring you to your knees (all full of gluten, sugar, eggs, and butter, mind you...how I miss her baked goods!). These muffins are moist, not at all crumbly, and totally delicious, with just enough sweetness, and fun texture added from whole buckwheat groats. Plus, both amaranth and buckwheat are low glycemic and full of protein, amino acids, and vitamins, made super available and digestible by fermenting the flours in yogurt! I used goat yogurt, but if you don't do dairy, try using soy, rice, or coconut yogurt instead, and let me know how it works for you!


Check out my version of Carrot's recipe below, plus a record of my bonus cookie experiment...

Whole Grain Buckwheat Yogurt Muffins


yield: 12 muffins 

1 1/4 cups buckwheat flour
1 cup amaranth flour, or mix of amaranth and amaranth bran flours
1 generous handful of whole buckwheat groats, soaked for 30 minutes and drained
1 1/2 cups goat yogurt (substitute soy, rice, or coconut yogurt if dairy intolerant/vegan)

2 chia or flax "eggs" (2 T ground chia or flax seed :: 6 T water)
1 tsp sea salt
1/4 cup agave nectar
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 Tbsp olive oil or other oil or melted butter/ghee
2 Tbsp water, or more as needed

The day before you want to eat them...
Mix flour, whole buckwheat groats, and yogurt, and let the dough sit for 12-24 hours. As Carrot pointed out to me, you need to leave your yogurt/flour mix out in room temperature or a warm place, NOT in the fridge/cool spot as I originally had in this recipe. It needs to ferment, so warmer is better! Thanks to helpful Carrot for pointing that out.

When you are ready to make the muffins...

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees, and grease a muffin tin.
  2. Make the flax/chia eggs: take 2 T ground chia or flax seed and 6 T water, and place in a microwaveable bowl or saucepan. Microwave for 2 minutes OR boil in saucepan over medium flame for 1-2 minutes. The mixture should form a thick gel. Let cool 5-10 minutes before using.
  3. In a separate bowl, beat cooled chia "eggs", vanilla, salt, olive oil, and agave. Then add the baking soda.
  4. Gradually add the flour mixture to the egg mixture, and blend together, adding water as necessary. This is a thick, goopy batter and can be hard to mix - be patient and stir just until blended.
  5. Spoon into muffin tins, and bake 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
Enjoy! And thanks to Carrot for the base of this recipe - brilliant.



I love cookies. I miss cookies. I wanted to eat cookies. So, instead of making all 12 muffins, I only made 9, and I took the ret of the batter and made a tasty chocolate coconut cookie out of it. After 9 months, I decided to break down and reintroduce cocoa to my life. I'd been avoiding cocoa and chocolate since last May (OH. MY. GOD. SO LONG!) due to the acid content, caffeine, and general irritating nature that cocoa can have on delicate digestive systems. I broke down. I couldn't handle it anymore. It was time to introduce a bit of chocolate to my life.

I added cocoa powder, raw cocao nibs, shredded coconut, grated bittersweet chocolate, and a pinch of stevia for a little extra sweetness, and hoped for the best.

They smelled AMAZING baking, and tasted pretty darn rich and chocolatey, kind of earthy and not too sweet, which I liked. And they look nice too, don't they? Some gluten-free baked goods turn out just plain unattractive, and these guys look good. The texture was soft and chewy, with a fun occasional "crunch!" from the whole buckwheat groats and cocao nibs. This cookie totally satisfied my chocolate cookie craving, especially when I smeared one with coconut butter! Totally decadent, hot damn. I'm going to play with this recipe and make a few small tweaks, and come up with something that has actual measurements, because this was a spontaneous, throw together kind of thing. But I think I'm on to something good, let me tell you that much. Plus, they are almost healthy...low GI, high in protein, and full of fermented goodness and antioxidants from that cacao. Right...

I'd like to come up with a version of this recipe that doesn't require yogurt at all, maybe using my buckwheat sourdough starter I have fermenting right now on my kitchen shelf. Stay tuned for some sort of real recipe for these bad boys!



Quinoa Millet Sorghum Sourdough Bread (gluten-free, vegan, yeast free)

I make lots of breads and muffins, most of which aren't on this blog, but until recently hadn't decided to explore the world of soaking my flours and letting the dough rest. I soak all my whole grains, but why not flours? Fermenting flour products is a time honored tradition that we have let go in the West; I decided I needed to give it a shot. I had never attempted a naturally leavened loaf of bread, it seemed a little intimidating, even to an adventurous sort like me. But why? It is just fermenting, letting flour and water sit. Then sit some more. And some more. Why not try making one from scratch? So, five days ago I set out on a sourdough journey, and I made my own sourdough starter using quinoa and millet flours (see this blog post for my recipe and record of the experience). After days of patient fermenting, stirring, and feeding my little starter baby, I decided to give my first loaf of naturally leavened, yeast free, sourdough gluten free bread a shot. Here I go!

This recipe is adapted from Healing with Whole Foods by Paul Pitchford, and amazing book that I would recommend to anyone interested in natural healing and whole foods. I substituted a gluten free flour blend of quinoa, millet, and sorghum flours for the whole-wheat flour in his recipe. Also, his recipe makes an enormous batch, so I chose to quarter the proportions, but used slightly more starter and slightly less water than proportional. For added nutrition, I included flax meal and kelp powder, and I decided to add a savory seed mix to the top of the loaf. And that's pretty much it, no yeast, no binders, no oil or sweeteners, just whole grain flours, some seasonings, water, and my starter.

I'm not into using loads of starches or refined flours in my baking. I think they are boring and nutritionally void. No flavor, no real vitamins or minerals, just carbohydrates. I might use a pinch of starch or sweet rice flour here and there, since it does help with texture, but I don't want it to the base of my flour mixture. I never liked white bread or overly refined flour products, and I don't want to start eating it now. Heck, if I'm going to use flours, I want nutrition - amino acids, protein, vitamins, and minerals. In the case of binders, they are tricky for me; I currently avoid xanthan gum due to my corn allergy, and I'd really prefer not to use loads of guar gum, since it can have a laxative effect. That makes creating a loaf of bread that actually sticks together a little challenging; you can only add so much flax or chia. I just want all the simple, wholesome goodness of a 'normal' loaf of bread, the classic flour-water-salt combination, without all the added, overly-processed stuff that a lot of gluten-free baking uses to make it seem more like a 'normal' loaf. Is that too much to ask?

So, while researching for this quest, I came across the website for Grindstone Bakery. They are based in California, and make naturally-leavened, yeast-free sourdough breads that look amazing, full of whole grains. They even feature a number of beautiful gluten-free products, and while they do use xanthan gum, their gluten-free breads have all the simple goodness of a true loaf of bread, no added starches, no other crazy stuff - just naturally leavened, sourdough goodness. Naturally leavened breads are easier to digest; the starter breaks down the proteins and carbohydrates into amino acids and simple sugars. The fermentation makes nutrition more easily assimilated, and the healthy bacteria can help to restore a proper intestinal environment. After coming across their website, my mind started turning, wondering if I could make a similar loaf at home...


So, this is my attempt. The result? A very (um, VERY) dense bread that actually raised while it rested, has a sourdough flavor, and nice, golden crispy crust. Toasted, it is really really tasty.  This loaf totally sliceable with a good, sharp serrated knife, but wouldn't hold up to sandwiches - better for dipping in olive oil, using for bruschetta, or eating with soup. And boy, is it dense, but not in that undercooked, funky dense way that gluten free breads can have; it is good, hearty kind of dense. It is a little dry, but part of that might be because I messed up on the oven temperature.

In terms of how it baked, it raised a bit more in the oven, cracked on top, and browned nicely. And when I turned it out of the bread pan, I got the classic hallow "thud" when I tapped the bottom of the loaf. There will be some tweaking, but I think this recipe was a pretty decent success for a first attempt! I devoured some right out of the oven, and it was very satisfying.

Need a recipe for GF sourdough starter? The sourdough starter recipe and process I used for this recipe is HERE

QUINOA MILLET SORGHUM SOURDOUGH BREAD (gluten free, vegan, yeast free)

yield: 1 loaf (12-14 thick slices)


  • 1 1/4 c quinoa flour
  • 1 1/4 c millet flour
  • 1 c sorghum flour
  • additional 1/4 c flour of choice for dusting
  • 1/4 c ground flax seed
  • 1 c warm water
  • 1/2 c sourdough starter
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1 t kelp powder
  • optional savory seed topping:
  • 1/2 t each caraway seed, dill seed, dill weed, celery seed, flax seed, garlic flakes, onion flakes
  • Mix together and sprinkle on bread, or use as seasoning.


In a large bowl, whisk or sift the flours together until light and well blended.  In a separate bowl, mix half the flour with water, starter, salt, kelp powder, and flax meal.  Gradually add remaining flour until dough becomes too thick to stir.  Remove from bowl, and transfer to floured surface. Knead until smooth and no longer sticky. Since it is gluten-free, it won't be elastic, but knead it until it feels as close as gluten-free bread dough can get to the feel of 'real' bread dough.


Cover and let rise 2 hours in a non-metal bowl in a warm place.  Replenish starter with 1/4 c each flour and water.  Knead dough again.  Shape into a loaf, cover with optional seed topping, and place in an oiled and floured bread pan. Cover, and let rise 4-6 hours in warm place. Loaf should increase in size.

Place in a cold oven with a pan of plain water on the oven floor.  Turn oven to 425º F. Once heated, bake at 425º F for 15 minutes, then lower heat to 350º F, and continue baking until golden brown, approximately 45 minutes.  Remove from pan and let cool. Slice with a serrated knife.

So, what will I do different next time?

  • I may try making a sponge of some flour and the starter first, letting that sit overnight, then adding the rest of the flour, letting it rest for 2-4 hours, then kneading, and then letting it rest a final time for another 6-8 hours.
  • I'm going to try shaping the loaf and baking it on a baking sheet or pizza stone, instead of in the loaf pan, just for fun.
  • I'm going to try slitting the top a couple times to see if that reduces the cracking.
  • I'm not going to mess up the oven temperature - I forgot to turn down the heat after the first 15 minutes at 425*, and realized about 30 minutes into my second timer that I was still at 425*. So, I turned it down at that point, and baked it for the remaining time. But I think it dried the loaf out just a little too much.
  • I may add a little olive oil to the recipe, for moisture. The crumb was pretty good, and the density was nice, but that might help the dryness issue.
  • I may try adding whole grain soaked millet or quinoa for fun added texture.
  • I may mess with my flour proportions, or try a different blend.
  • I will use a larger pan for water, and fill it all the way up. My pan of water dried up by the end.
  • I may add a little honey or agave, to see if it feeds the natural bacteria and makes it raise a little more.

I will definitely be trying another sourdough loaf. I'd like to try a quinoa-millet-buckwheat blend. Until then, my starter will be fermenting in a cool place...



Fermenting Experiment: Quinoa-Millet Gluten Free Sourdough Starter

Yes, that's right, I'm trying a gluten free sourdough starter. In my gluten-eating days, sourdough bread was at the top of my list. I remember helping my dad bake sourdough bread when I was a kid; my dad is a great bread baker and many an hour was spent in the kitchen with him kneading and watching hopeful loaves expand. As a teenager, I got a sourdough starter for Amish Friendship Bread, an overly sugared and buttery fluffy, white flour sourdough batter bread (the thought of that bread now makes me gag). But as an adult, I'd never tried my own hand at it. I was always so intrigued by the concept of the sourdough starter; a simple fermented mix of flour and water, full of live cultures that break down the grain proteins and naturally leaven the loaves. But when I baked raised bread, I always used yeast, which I hated to mess with. So, more often than not, I made quick breads, sweet or savory. When I bought sandwich bread or a rustic loaf, I most often bought sourdough or yeast-free breads, often from the French Meadow Bakery, a great bakery here in Minneapolis that makes yeast-free, naturally leavened loaves. As a side note, unfortunately, they do not bake any gluten-free breads, although they do make gluten-free pre-made and frozen batter brownies and cookies that, I hear through the grapevine, are awfully tasty. You can find their breads/brownies/cookies in co-ops and natural food stores all over the country.

Anyway, I love sourdough. Now that I'm embarking on a variety of kitchen experiments under my new dietary restrictions, I decided I wanted to try my hand at making a sourdough starter, with the end result of creating a naturally leavened, baker's yeast-free loaf of gluten-free bread. Maybe it is a bit risky to be fermenting my own sourdough with my Candida Albicans overgrowth, but I have been on a candida-friendly diet for almost 9 full months now, and reintroducing healthy fermented foods in moderation is a risk I'm willing to take at this point. Fermenting stuff is an interest of mine that I haven't fully explored to the extent of my desire yet - I'd love to try making my own sauerkraut, want to do more experimenting with kefir, and am now on the this sourdough starter kick. Fermented foods are wonderful, they are chock full of good bacteria. Naturally leavened breads allow for the full nutritional potential of the grain to develop, breaking down the complex carbohydrates and proteins in to sugars and amino acids, creating a more easily digested product.

So, here goes! I am using the basic recipe for sourdough starter from Paul Pitchford's amazing book, Healing with Whole Foods: Asian Traditions and Modern Nutrition, with a few alterations. I am using a mix of quinoa and millet flours instead of whole wheat, and am choosing to feed the starter on day 2. Many recipes online call for feeding the starter each day with additional flour and water, while others (like Pitchford's) say to stir each day, but not feed. So, I'm feeding it once. As a side note, Healing with Whole Foods truly is a must-have for anyone interested in the healing properties of food, natural health, and whole foods cooking and nutrition. It features excellent recipes and techniques, as well as extremely practical advice on natural treatments of ailments and diseases, from the common cold to cancer to fibromyalgia. It is full of so much incredible information I don't know where to begin, other than saying I reference this book constantly.

Without further adieu, let the fermenting begin!


QUINOA-MILLET GLUTEN FREE SOURDOUGH STARTER (gluten free, yeast free, vegan)

1 c quinoa flour and millet flour, combined, plus additional 1/2 c each later
1 c filtered water, plus additional 1 c later

large glass jar (32 oz or larger)
non-metal spoon (wood, bamboo, etc)
cheesecloth/cotton cloth
rubber band/string

Making the starter:

  1. Sterilize a spoon and large glass jar by boiling them in water. Use a non-metal spoon if possible, as metal affects the fermentation.
  2. Place water and flour in jar and stir to mix thoroughly.
  3. Cover with cloth, and secure with string or rubber band. Store in a warm place out of direct sunlight.
  4. Day 1: After 24 hours, stir with a sterilized spoon, recover, and let sit for another 24 hours.
  5. Day 2: Add additional 1/2 c water and flour, and stir to evenly mix. Cover, and let sit another 24 hours.
  6. Day 3: Stir again to evenly mix. Your starter is ready! In total, your starter will sit for 3 days, getting stirred each day and being fed on Day 2. To store, cover loosely and keep in a cool place, like a root cellar or your refrigerator.
  7. To use starter, remove desired amount from jar. Replace with equal amount flour and water, stir to mix, and put back in cool place.
This recipe is not exactly what I did...for my experience, read below...

10:30 pm
I sterilized my jar and spoon, measured out my ingredients, and mixed it up into a thick paste in the jar. I covered it with a cotton cloth, and put it on the shelf. It looks like a little ghost. Ready, set, ferment!
9 pm
My little starter baby has now sat for almost 24 hours. The thick grey paste has started to form bubbles, and a layer of foam has formed on the top. It looks like it has started to grow; the starter mixture seems to be taking up more room in the jar than it was yesterday. It doesn't smell 'fermented' yet, it just smells like wet quinoa. I sterilized a spoon, stirred it up and covered it again with cloth. I forgot to use a non-metal spoon, so tomorrow I'll use something else. Grow baby, grow! This photo shows the foam that started to form, as well as the bubbles on the side of the jar (sorry the second photo is so awful).
7:30 am
I glanced at my starter this morning before I left for work, and it has definitely grown! It is almost taking up 3/4 of the jar, and it barely took up half the jar when I first made it. The foam is bigger on top, and the mixture is starting to separate at the bottom. Lots and lots of bubbles, but no fermented smell yet. When I put my hand over the jar, I feel just a little warmth coming out of the top, a good sign that fermentation is happening. I can't wait to see what it looks like tonight...I hope it doesn't grow out of the jar...
9:30 pm
According to my dad, who is visiting me, the starter almost grew outside the jar by this afternoon, then, at some point, collapsed. Bizarre! When I found it, it was just slightly larger than yesterday, filling only about 1/2 the jar. It has grown very foamy and thick and is bubbling up storm. The bottom of the jar is slightly warm, and it has started to develop a slight sour smell - but not in a bad way. In a sourdough way! But it still smells like wet quinoa. I stirred it up with a sterilzed bamboo spoon, added an additional 1/2 c each water and quinoa flour, and stirred again until thoroughly mixed. It started bubbling again almost immediently. So, I covered it again, and put the jar in a sterilized glass bowl, just in case it overflows, and threw it back on the shelf. This photo shows more of the funky bubbles, and how the color sort of changed before I stirred it all up. Everytime I moved the jar, a bubble would pop and the surface would jiggle!
7:00 am
This morning my starter was not as active; there were some bubbles but it wasn't really foamy or crazy like yesterday. Maybe feeding it slowed it down a little bit? I thought feeding a starter was supposed to, well, FEED it. Make it bigger. So, we'll see! It is starting to smell a little more ripe, so that's a good sign. I'm curious to see what it looks like later today.
10:00 pm
It is starting to smell less like quinoa and more like sourdough, but still isn't bubbling like crazy like it was. A few small bubbles on the surface and the side, a little seperation of liquid on the top and bottom, and a little foam, but not much. My dad, who is spending his last night in Mpls this evening, and has made his own sourdough starter before, thinks it is doing okay. So, I stirred it up, and decided to let it go for a fourth day. I did not feed it. I forgot to take a picture.
DAY 4: WEDNESDAY, JAN 28, 2009
7:00 am
Not much different than last night, other than a slightly more sourdoughy smell. It looks good, it doesn't look or smell rotten, so I think we're on the right track. Dad and I are a little puzzled as to why there isn't the same kind of activity there was in previous days, but c'est la vie, that is the mystery of the starter. I'll take a photo to post this evening when I stir. Depending on what it looks like, I may let it sit out for another day. Either way, I plan on using some in a sourdough loaf in the upcoming days! Still trying to figure out the recipe, I'm thinking even portions millet-quinoa-buckwheat, with some added flax seed...


7:15 pm
I came home to find a bit of hooch on the top, the dark liquid that forms during fermentation. So, I dumped that off, took a whiff of my starter, and was met with a sourdough smell. Yippee! It looks a little foamy, and there are some bubbles on the side. So I'm struggling to know what to do next. Technically, my starter could be done. But some things I've read online say to let it sit longer than Pitchford's recipe calls for. So, call it "done", and use it? Stir and let it sit? Feed it and let it sit? My inclination is to let my starter baby sit for one more day...but to feed or not to feed, that is the question...

9:15 pm
I removed about 1 c of the starter, then added 1/2 c millet flour and 1/2 c filtered water, and stirred. For fun, I decided to keep the removed portion, and added 1/4 c millet flour and 1/4 c filtered water, just to see what would happen. I now have two starters, a big one, and a little one...until tomorrow!


7:30 pm
Okay, I've decided this thing is ready to use. A layer of the hooch liquid stuff formed at the top of both jars, and I dumped that off, and got a good sourdoughy smell. It looked just like it did yesterday, and I've read online that when your sourdough is ready to use, it may stop bubbling all together. So, I've decided to try using this bad boy. I'll be posting my first-ever recipe attempt at gluten free sourdough bread shortly! I've settled on a quinoa-millet-sorghum blend with flax seed, and it is rising in a bowl as I write this blog...

For fun, I mixed 1/4 c buckwheat flour in with the smaller of the two starters, along with 1/4 c water. I'm going to try keeping both of these alive, and we'll see what happens! I have a vision for a buckwheat-quinoa-millet bread using the buckwheat starter.  

So, in the end, I added more flour than my recipe called for, let it sit for two additional days, and have no idea if it will work. So, stay tuned for updates! 

UPDATE: Wednesday, 2/4
I decided to keep feeding and stirring both my starters every few days, and put them in my chilly, uninsulated kitchen pantry.  What a great change!  After about 10 days of fermenting, they worked way better, had a more "sour" flavor, and were bubbling up a storm after I fed them.  I used both in different sourdough experiments; I made a GREAT loaf using my buckwheat-millet-quinoa starter - check it out!  
So, I'd recommend letting it sit longer than 3 days.  More like 10.  Dump off any dark liquid, stir and feed every couple days.  Then try using it.  Then feed it, and put it in the fridge to hang out . Before you use it, let it sit out a day, feed it and stir it.  Yippee!!



Coconut Black Bean Stew with Carrots and Yucca Root (gluten free, vegan)

I had a bunch of canned black beans, some leftover coconut milk, a chunk of yucca root I needed to use up, and some wilting parsley. Sounded like soup to me. It turned out really really tasty, and the flavors have a tropical twist. This soup is warm and hearty, perfect for a chilly day. It is quick to make and froze up well. If you want to make it a complete meal, add rice while cooking. Or, leave it out (just as delicious!) and serve with salad, your favorite bread, or spoon over rice later.

The one unusual ingredient in this recipe is yucca root, also known as cassava, yuca, manioc, mogo, or mandioca. Most people are familiar with yucca root and they don't even know it - it is the source of tapioca. And while we don't do much with it in the U.S., yucca is the third largest source of carbohydrates for human food in the whole world. It is eaten all over the Americas, Caribbean, Asia, and Africa. It is starchy and tasty, full of complex carbohydrates, and can be prepared a million ways. It is tasty roasted, boiled, or fried, it can be mashed or eaten in cubes. It makes a delicious substitute for potatoes. This stuff fills you up; a little goes a long way! Although it is pretty high on the glycemic index, it is incredibly low in sugar, and is rich in Vitamin C. A great little Cuban restaurant in Minneapolis, Victor's 1959 Cafe, serves yuca frita (fried chunks of parboiled yucca) with their breakfast, lunch, and dinner entrees. So good. So good. Again, so good. If you are in Minneapolis, go to Victor's, especially for breakfast. Important side note: if you are really sensitive to gluten cross-contamination, it is not a good choice for you, because the kitchen is very small. If you can handle it, I'd recommend checking out the menu and giving it a shot. They are very accomodating, have vegan black beans, hot rice, and lunch/dinner salads that go great with a side of yuca frita.

Find yucca at Caribbean, Latin, African, or Asian markets, or at nicer grocery stores and co-ops. I've seen it before at Whole Foods. Try it out, you might like it!


  • 3 15-oz cans cooked black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 medium onions, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 4-6 inch chunk yuca root, peeled and diced
  • 1 c light coconut milk
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 t cumin powder
  • 1/2 t coriander powder
  • 1/2 t turmeric powder
  • 1/2 c fresh chopped parsley and/or cilantro
  • 6-8 c water or stock
  • 1 T coconut oil
  • optional: 1/2 c long-grain brown rice, rinsed and soaked
  • salt and pepper to taste
Warm coconut oil in heavy bottom soup kettle or dutch oven over low-medium heat. Add onions, garlic, cumin, coriander, and turmeric, stir to coat, and cover to let sweat. Saute until translucent, 4-5 minutes.  Add rice (if using), diced carrot and yuca, stir, and saute an additional 4-5 minutes.  Cover with water, and add bay leaf. Bring to boil, then reduce heat and let simmer until rice, carrots and yuca are nearly soft.

Add rinsed black beans, coconut milk, fresh parsley, cilantro, and enough water/stock to cover all ingredients. Let simmer 10-15 minutes, or until flavors have mingled and everything is soft. Adjust seasonings, salt, and pepper to taste.  Remove bay leaf and serve warm.
Yield: 6 servings