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 These days, I'm in a new phase of life, and this website is no longer updated.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


When a bad hair day just isn't so bad after all.

My hair is driving me crazy. It feels overgrown. Heavy. A little out of my control. Despite a deep desire to keep my shaggy, full haircut, in this moment, I want to chop it off and release my head from the prison that is this heavy mop.

And you know what? I couldn't be more pleased about feeling like this. In fact, it almost makes me giddy.

I've always had thick hair, full of body and volume that hairdressers and stylists envied and complimented. It would grow like grass. It is easy to style - wash and drip dry, throw in a little styling wax. I don't even own a brush or a comb. Sometimes it is curly, sometimes it is straight, and I just let it do what it wants. It would get so thick and full of body that I would find myself weilding a scissors in front of the bathroom mirror, usually late at night, unable to deal with the thick mop for another week or two before my next hair cut. I'd gotten used to the ease of thick, volume filled hair, and liked it.

But last summer it started falling out. At first I thought maybe it just seemed like I was losing more hair because my hair was longer than it had been in years - I was on a mission to grow it out. Soon enough though, it became apparent that I was definitely losing more than usual - it was coming out in globs. I already felt unhealthy enough at that time, the last thing I wanted was to start losing my hair. But, it was happening, and there was little I could do about it. The harsh truth was truly brought to my attention when I tried cleaning out my drain screen and found more hair caught up in it than my father has on his entire head (love you, dad). I shreaked. And it kept getting worse. Soon it was like handfuls each time I'd shampoo. I could start to see my scalp between my hair follicles. My normally heavy bangs were suddenly a little stringy. It didn't seem to be growing at all, just falling out. And my drain screen kept clogging up faster and faster. I was totally freaked. My hair looked bad, and made me feel even worse. I resigned to pinning it back, wearing lots of headbands and scarves again.

I was losing weight, I was losing energy, I was losing the lifestyle I was used to, I was losing foods I loved, and now, I was also losing hair. Lots of it. Fuck.

My acupuncturist and naturopath told me hair loss was not unusual, that it would keep falling out for 4-5 months, and then slow down. Stress, rapid weight loss, poor digestion, prolonged illness, allergies, and a Candida Albicans overgrowth can all cause hair loss, and I had them all. Be patient, they told me, the loss will slow and it will regrow. They told me not to freak out, and told me that I was doing everything right to get my body back on track. However, losing lots of hair is, put frankly, totally FREAKY. So, sometimes I would freak out. I remember crying one day after getting out of the shower. Both my sink and bath drains were massively clogged, there was hair all over my sink and in the tub, and running my hands through my hair resulted in mats in both hands. It felt like hairs were just leaping out of my head.

So, I decided I needed to chop off my hair. It looked like crap anyway; the long, thin strands made me feel deficient and unattractive. It's not like I had bald spots or anything, or even that people would necessarily notice unless they really paid attention - I still had plenty of hair on my head. But I had lost a lot of what I had, and for me, it was weird and uncomfortable and scary. I needed a change. I gave up on growing it out, and went back to my usual short bob. My trusty and fabulous stylist agreed that I'd lost a lot, but he said he saw lots of short little hairs popping up through my scalp. He said it wasn't really thin by normal people standards - it was just thin for me. We laughed, joking that it was a good thing I had such thick hair, otherwise it would be a whole different story. He told me to be patient, because there was regrowth, a great sign. My new haircut looked hot, the shorter style made it look thicker, and it felt good to have a fresh start.

About a month ago, my 5 month hair loss streak started to slow. I started noticing more short hairs sprouting up too, creating a soft halo around my head. It started to feel thicker, not just look it. I found myself getting irritated with my hair a couple weeks before my haircut, just like the old days. My friend Amy told me that my hair was starting to have that full, crazy look that she always knew. And when I was home at Christmas, my mom said it felt thicker and looked shinier.

A couple weeks ago I got some Drano and cleared out my bathroom sink drain once and for all. One bottle didn't cut it. I need to go back and get more. My mom recommended the Foaming Pipe Snake for really bad clogs. I think I probably have a hampster size glob of hair left in that drain.

Back to today. My hair is driving me nuts. There is a thick wing that used to be nicely textured and nicely shaped, and now it has turned into a heavy blob next to my bangs. Sure, part of that is the fault of a warm winter hat squishing damp, post-shower hair. But it is also due to a much anticipated regrowth. But these bad, out-of-control hair days don't seem so bad to me right now, actually; each one is kind of a nice reminder that - YES! - my hair is growing back! I'll be so happy when it all grows in, but for more than just vanity. For me, the hair regrowth is a slow but sure sign that my body is healing, from the top of my head to the tips of my fingers and toes. And I mean that literally - my nails are thicker, stronger, and growing much faster than they had been, and my fingertips and knuckles are no longer peeling, cracking, and bleeding. It's funny; I feel like I notice healing in those small, slow things a body does almost more than anywhere else.

Sure, my hair is not back to 100%. But neither am I. This day will come, I know that it will, all in due time. Each 6-week block between haircuts is another 6 weeks of healing and positive change, and another day closer to my health being better than every. With each trim that comes and goes, I'm losing fear, concern, anxiety, and gaining reassurance, health, hope, knowledge, strength, and - of course - a new, cuter haircut. Yeah, I know that sounds totally corny. But man, is it ever nice to feel like I finally have something to gain, and not just a whole lot to lose.


Spiced Sweet Potato Quick Bread (gluten free, yeast free, vegan)

I pulled together this recipe not for myself, but for my celiac childhood friend and my gluten-intolerant landlady. I had some sweet potato that needed to be used, a bunch of flours, and an open afternoon, so why not bake for friends? This is an adapted version of the Pumpkin Spice Bread recipe from the Food Allergy Survival Guide. While it isn't something I can eat right now, and I actually didn't even try it,the report from my landlady is that this bread is perfectly spiced, has a sweet honey flavor, is totally sliceable, and was decadent smeared with goat butter. She said it was just a little crumbly, but in a good way. I can attest to the fact that it smelled amazing while it baked. My other friend said it became dry quickly, but she loved the taste.

The flour mix is way more complex than I usually go for - it uses 6 different flours - but the results were really positive. The loaf was dense, raised like a gem, and removed from the pan very easily. If you want to simplify the flours, go forth at your own risk - I'm not sure what will happen! I made a double batch, and cooked half in a large loaf pan, and the other half in two mini loaf pans (mini loaves baked 40-50 minutes). Both looked lovely! This recipe would make great muffins too, probably baking for 20-25 minutes. I chose to add pecans and currants, but feel free to mix it up - try dried cranberries, golden raisins, or snipped dried apricots, or chopped walnuts, brazil nuts, or hazelnuts. Or, try adding a handful of chocolate or carob chips!

Sorry the photo is so awful, but at least it gives an idea! :)

Spiced Sweet Potato Quick Bread (gluten free, vegan)

 3/4 c pureed cooked sweet potato
1/2 raw honey (substitute raw agave nectar if hardcore vegan or if you require low GI)
1/3 c canola or sunflower oil
1/4 c unsweetened natural applesauce
1/4-1/2 c apple juice
1 c homemade all-purpose flour mix (equal parts millet, sorghum, and brown rice flours)
1/4 c tapioca flour/starch
1/4 c garfava flour
1/4 c quinoa flour
1 1/2 tsp corn-free baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 t cinnamon
1 t ginger
1/2 t allspice
1/2 t salt
1 tsp guar gum
optional: 1/2 c chopped pecans
optional: 1/2 c currants or dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 325 F. Oil a large loaf pan (8 1/2 in x 4 1/4 in x 3 1/8 in) and dust with rice flour.

In a large bowl, combine sweet potato, oil, honey, applesauce, and 1/4 c of apple juice. Mix until smooth and well combined.In a medium bowl, whisk flours, baking soda, baking powder, guar gum, spices, and salt.
Gradually add dry ingredients to wet, beating at low speed. Add more apple juice as needed to get a smooth batter.Fold in currants and pecans if using.

Spoon batter in prepared loaf pan, and smooth top. If desired, sprinkle with additional finely chopped pecans! Bake for 60-70 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into middle of loaf comes out clean. If top is browning too much and loaf is still soft in center, cover loosely with foil until loaf is fully baked.

Remove from oven, and let cool 10-15 minutes in pan, then gently transfer loaf to a cooling rack. Let it cool completely before slicing with a serrated knife.




Split Pea Spearmint Soup (gluten free, vegan)

This recipe is inspired by a delicious soup I ate on a cool autumn day at the Oneota Community Co-op last fall. The strong community formed by the Oneota Co-op is at the heart of Decorah, Iowa, my beloved college town. Any trip to Decorah requires a daily - sometimes twice daily - stop at the co-op to see old friends and grab a tasty meal. Nourishing and delicious, I left with two large containers of their Minted Split Pea Soup - this recipe is a near replica! It has a velvety texture and a unique, light flavor. Perfect on chilly day.

SPLIT PEA SPEARMINT SOUP (gluten free, vegan)

yield 6-8 servings

2 cups dry split green peas
3 large carrots, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 medium yellow onion, finely diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp spearmint
1-2 Tbsp chickpea or azuki tamari, Coconut Aminos, or sea salt to taste (or soy tamari or Bragg's if soy-tolerant)
freshly cracked black pepper
10 cups water
olive oil

Rinse and soak dry green peas for 8-10 hours - OR - boil 4-6 cups water in large stockpot or dutch oven, add peas, remove from heat and cover, leaving sit for 1 hour.

Rinse soaked peas and set aside.

In large stockpot, heat olive oil over medium-low heat. Add onion and garlic, and saute for 3-5 minutes, or until starting to become translucent. Add celery, and saute for 2 minutes. Add carrots, and saute for an addition 2 minutes  .Add soaked peas, spearmint, and 10 cups water to stockpot. Bring to boil over medium-high heat, then reduce to a simmer.  Cover, and simmer 90 minutes or until peas are soft.  Add tamari or salt and pepper to taste, and let simmer for an additional 5 minutes.

Serve warm with a slice of your favorite bread and roasted vegetables or a greens salad.


Parsnips, Chard and Chickpeas with Besan Puda (Chickpea Four Flat Bread)

I love quick, one bowl meals. Warm veggies and beans dumped over something starchy? Heaven. So, here's the first in a series of quick meals that fit in a bowl. Parsnips, Chard and Chickpeas, served with Besan Puda, an easy-to-make chickpea flour flatbread. Quick, tasty, and high in protein.

Parsnip, Chard, and Chickpea Yum Yum

Yield: a bunch, or a little, it is up to you.

Parsnips are one of my favorite foods. I could eat them endlessly. This combination is great, and you can do anything with it! Make an extra big batch and freeze the leftovers. Proportions are totally versatile. The main goal is to include all the ingredients, however much of each you have will work just fine.

  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 parsnips, peeled and sliced
  • 1/2-1 bunch chard, washed and prepared as directed below
  • 1/2-1 can rinsed drained chickpeas
  • olive oil
  • pinch anise seeds
  • dash cardamom
  • dash turmeric
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • water/broth
  1. To prepare chard: wash it, then cut out the hard rib from each leaf, and chop it up. Then, layer the leaves, roll, and slice thinly (approx 1/4 inch). This is called a chiffonade! You'll end up with long, lovely thin strips of chard.
  2. In a nice big covered skillet, heat the olive oil over low-medium heat. Add your onion, stir around a few times, cover, and let sweat for 5 minutes.
  3. Take off cover, stir around, add a little water if necessary, add your turmeric, cardamom, and anise seeds, and the chopped chard ribs. Cover again, and let brown another 2-3 minutes, or until onions are brown and starting to carmelize.
  4. Add your peeled parsnips, add a little more water, and cover again. Cook a few minutes, or until parsnips start to soften.
  5. Place chickpeas and chard on top of parsnip mixture, pour in a little more water, and cover again. Cook until chickpeas are warm and chard is softened, then stir to mix evenly. Salt and pepper to taste.

Options from here:

  • Add more broth and make it like a thick stew
  • Serve it over cooked grain . I'd recommend wild rice!
  • Serve with tortillas or flatbreads, like the chickpea-flour based Besan Puda (see recipe below!)
  • Add sheep/goat yogurt or feta and serve with raw veggies
  • Eat as it is - no frills, still awesome.


Besan Puda (Chickpea Flour Flatbreads)

Yield: 8 flatbreads

Besan Puda are traditional Indian flatbreads made from besan/gram flour, a flour made from chickpeas (a.k.a. garbanzo beans). Delicious and high in protein, these are one of my favorite fast survival foods. They are irresistible fresh from the frying pan, and leftovers freeze very well. This is a traditional version of the recipe, but feel free to make it yours - omit the veggies, switch the seasonings, make it spicy, savory, or sweet (agave, ginger, and cinnamon perhaps?). Half or quarter it for a really quick meal solution. Look for inexpensive chickpea flour at Middle Easter or Indian markets, or find the Bob's Red Mill version at health food stores.

  • 1 c chickpea/garbanzo/gram/besan flour
  • ¼ c brown rice or millet flour* **
  • 1 c water
  • 1 small zucchini, finely grated
  • 2 scallions, finely minced
  • 1 t cumin seeds, toasted
  • fresh or dried finely chopped parsley or cilantro (optional)
  • oil or ghee for frying
  1. Finely mince scallions and grate zucchini. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, mix flours. Stir briskly with whisk to introduce air and make fluffy.
  3. Slowly add water to flour mixture while stirring until moistened. Add zucchini, scallions, and cumin seeds, and stir until well mixed.
  4. Heat oil or ghee in medium frying pan or griddle over medium heat, until water sizzles on surface. Pour ¼ c batter into pan, spreading thinly over pan surface into a 7-8 inch circle.
  5. Once surface has firmed, approximately 2-3 minutes, flip flatbread in pan and cook reverse side. Flatbread should be golden brown and cooked through.
  6. Re-oil pan as needed and continue pan frying flatbread until batter is gone. If batter starts to thicken too much, add a little more water. 
  7. Serve warm as a side to soups, grain, or vegetable dishes, or use as a wrap for sandwiches.

*The choice of rice or millet flour mixed with the chickpea flour creates two very different flatbreads. Brown rice flour yields a crispier, lighter flatbread with a lighter flavor. Millet flour has a stronger flavor and yields a moister, bendier flatbread that works better for wrapping up ingredients.

**If you want to make these totally grain free, omit rice/millet flour and add additional 1/4 c chickpea flour.


A new practice, a fresh start.

I've had long, casual relationship with Buddhism. It fascinated me as a teenager; having made the choice back then not to be confirmed in the Methodist church, but being of the spiritual sort, I was drawn to look into other religious traditions. Buddhism was really at the forefront of this exploration, and has remained an interest of mine through the years. Do I consider myself a Buddhist? No, not at this point. But the teachings and philosophies have always resonated with me. This has been especially true in the last year, as I've experienced major life changes, physical and psychological discomfort, confronted struggles I did not know how to manage, and need to exert more patience and self-forgiveness than I've ever had to in my life.

I picked up one of Pema Chodron's books, When Things Fall Apart, and found wisdom in her teachings for coping with pain and difficulties. It was at this time that I tried to start a meditation practice at home, but found it challenging. My tendency to busy-body, both physically and mentally, as well as some lack of structure, made it really hard for me to establish a good practice alone. What am I doing? How do I do this? What do I do with these feelings and thoughts that come up as I sit? I didn't know, and while Pema's books and the writings of others were insightful, I found it really hard to be disciplined. After months of trying to do it alone, I needed something one-on-one. I needed structure. I needed community.

Fast forward to last week Saturday. I had a particularly cathartic acupuncture session that left me feeling like I was in an emotional-spiritual crisis. I have the tendency to keep pushing, even when I'm at my limit. I am very effective at using my mind to cover up struggles, but my body doesn't hide a thing. It absorbs everything; my back, my shoulders, my entire digestive system are like sponges for emotional and psychological distress. When I showed up to my acupuncturist, she felt my pulse, looked at me, and said what I already knew: that I needed to address the emotional side of my current situation, and learn to release the bottled up doubts, fear, frustration, and grief. It was collecting in my heart and lung meridian, blocking qi, creating tension, and hindering the huge leaps we've made in healing my physical self. The moment the words left her lips, I started to cry, because I know what she said was true. I felt it, I knew it was there, it's been growing for a long time.

The body never lies.

I've been focusing so much energy on taking care of my physical self. But I know I haven't been feeding the rest of me equally, partially because those are the harder, more complex things to heal. I decided I needed to make time to nourish what is starved, and learn to let go of those things that have been bottled up inside of me for way too long. I needed to make time for mindfulness, stillness, non-judgement, and acceptance. I needed to make time for meditation. And I couldn't do it alone.

It was this combination of factors that drove me to attend a the Intro to Zen Meditation class at the Minnesota Zen Meditation Center last Sunday. I woke, I arrived, I sat. I learned about the Center and their mission, and how they apply Zen teachings in their practice. I listened to a great lecture about seeking guidance and taking refuge in the Three Jewels when one encounters times of struggle and anguish. Then I stayed for tea, and chatted with some of the folks there. The environment was friendly, warm, welcoming, and honest. There was an open attitude and a structured format. It was exactly what I needed. I left feeling energized, refreshed, and hopeful.

So, I went back on Tuesday for the bi-weekly beginners discussion group. It was one of the best Tuesday nights I've had in a long time. As our group of eight sat in the dimly lit room, I found warmth and stillness on the cold, blustery night. Sure, I fell off track and found my overactive my wandering. Feelings and memories came up out of the depths of my brain that surprised me. And I found myself getting frustrated at my incapability to clear my head. But then I remembered non-judgement. I remembered that the mere practice of sitting, recognizing emotions and thoughts, acknowledging them, then calmly brushing them away was good enough. It was about taking time to breath, to sit, to clear away distractions and thoughts, and be present in the current moment - no matter creeped in. What do you do when you sit? Nothing! Just be. Be with whatever comes. After meditation, we discussed what we felt, asked questions, and shared our points of view. I was surprised to feel so open and comfortable with a totally new group of people. While it was kind of scary and vulnerable to open up and discuss my fears and challenges, it felt really good, and I left feeling happier and more relaxed than I had felt in a long, long time.

Tomorrow morning I plan to go to the morning service, which will include a sit and walking meditation, which I have not experienced. While I haven't made time to sit at home yet, I think that's okay. Easing into a new habit is always better than making a huge change. I want this to be free of judgement and critique. I want to further develop my practice, and learn to apply the same kind of intention, mindfulness, and non-judgement that is embraced while sitting to the actions of daily life. I feel this has been a long time coming, and that now is finally the right time. Like anything, I'm sure the road will be bumpy, and I'll probably fall off the wagon at some point. But if I do, I can always get back on, take a deep breath, and start over fresh. And there is nothing more hopeful than a fresh start.