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 These days, I'm in a new phase of life, and this website is no longer updated.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


Gluten Free Vegan Sprouted Quinoa Rice Bread 

My sprouted quinoa rice bread is a vegan adaptation of this recipe from pattycake.ca. I used ground Chia/Salba seed for the egg replacement in this recipe, which I had never tried before. It made a thicker gel than flax, and I'm excited to try it out in other recipes. I also adjusted the flours, added some quinoa flakes to help stick everything together, and added a little olive oil for richness. Winter in Minnesota is cold, and a girl needs a little fat now and then.

Overall, I'm pretty pleased with the result. The loaf isn't particularly light or airy, but had a moist texture, pretty golden color, good flavor, and held its form pretty well. The best part was the crusty, crackly top. While the moist texture is nice, it is almost a little TOO moist, and could stand a lighter crumb - slicing this stuff gets a little sticky. So, I think next time I will bake it a little longer to help dry out the middle just a bit more, and maybe cut out the oil. Regardless, it wasn't bad...I ate nearly a third of the loaf once it came out of the oven, drizzled with a little good quality olive oil and a sprinkling of salt. Maybe that's just bread lust altering my opinion?


Gluten Free Vegan Sprouted Quinoa Rice Bread

adapted from pattycake.ca
Yield: 1 9x5 loaf, approximately 10 slices

Rinse in cold water 3x:

  • 1 c dry quinoa

Soak in 2 c water at room temperature overnight, or for 6 - 10 hours. The seeds will start to sprout! Make sure you rub the quinoa grains together and rinse well, in order to wash off the bitter saponin coating on the seeds, which can irritate digestion.

After soaking...

Preheat oven to 350. Grease a large loaf pan with olive oil, and dust with rice flour. Set aside.

Drain excess water from quinoa, and rinse a final time. Puree sprouted quinoa seeds in a blender with:

  • 3/4 c rice, soy, or nut milk
  • 2 T tapioca flour
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 2 Chia/Salba eggs (1 T chia:3 T water for each egg - heat 2 T ground chia/salba with 6 T water in microwave for 1 minute, whisk briskly, and let cool slightly before using.- you should be left with a thick gel. You may want to do this first so your 'eggs' have time to cool)
  • 1.5 T olive oil

Combine separately:

  • 1/2 c brown rice flour
  • 1/2 c quinoa flour
  • 2 T quinoa flakes
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/4 tsp corn-free baking powder

Mix wet and dry just until evenly moistened. Pour into a greased loaf pan dusted with rice flour. Bake at 350 for about 40-50 minutes - a toothpick inserted in center should come out clean when it's ready. Remove from oven and let sit for 5-10 minutes before removing it from the pan. Gently transfer loaf to a cooling rack.

If you can, let cool almost completely before slicing, or you will have a sticky mess! Or, take you chances (like me) and dig right in. Slice it thick, and serve it up with your favorite spread or nut butter.


Cashew Rosewater Cookies (gluten free, vegan, ACD)

I have a great cookbook by Najmieh Batmanglij called Silk Road Cooking: A Vegetarian Journey. The recipes call for all sorts of wonderful, exotic ingredients, like rosewater and pomegranate seeds and saffron and dates. this recipes are wonderful, and always inspire me to try out new flavors and combinations and make me daydream of future trips to new lands.

Unfortunely, many of the recipes include gobs of dried fruit, which isn't on my list of allowed foods right now. And middle eastern baking uses GOBS of sugar, so many of the baked goods in the book are also out the window. But I wanted to use rosewater, and thought it would be divine combined with cashews, and wanted to make a cookie. Holiday baking is my favorite, and this year, I miss it big time. So, I was bound and determined to make something out of this idea.

I found a recipe for almond rosewater cookies here, and adapted it to fit my cashew desires. My kitchen was filled with the scent of roses while the cookies baked. These tasty, aromatic little grain-free shortbreads have just a hint of sweetness and a flowery twist. I'm excited to serve them up to my family for the holidays.



Adapted from Cheryl’s kitchen.

yield: 46 1 1/2 inch cookies


1 3/4 cup cashews, finely ground
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
3 Tbsp coconut oil, warmed to liquid
1 1/2 Tbsp agave nectar, or other natural liquid sweetener like honey, yacon, or maple syrup
1 t roseflower water

Blitz cashews in food processor or blender until finely ground. Make sure to stir often between pulsing, and not overgrind, or nuts will turn into a paste!

Mix ground nuts, salt, and baking powder in a medium bowl. In seperate bowl, mix warm coconut oil, agave and rosewater. Mix oil mixture into dry ingredients and stir.

Briefly knead dough until well mixed, then roll into two 1 1/2 inch diameter logs. If desired, roll log in finely chopped/ground cashews or finely shredded coconut. Wrap each log tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for a few hours, or until dough has becomes firm.

Preheat oven to 350º F, and line a baking sheet with parchment. Slice logs into 1/8-1/4 inch slices. Bake 6-8 minutes or until cookies start to brown.
Cool on pan for 10-15 minutes, then transfer whole parchment sheet to cooling rack to cool completely. The cookies are fragile, especially when they are warm, so moving the whole parchment sheet is a safer way to transfer them.
Leftover cookies can be frozen for later - just wrap tightly, and place in a freezer-safe bag or container!  They are tasty grabbed right out of the freezer, or allowed to cool to room temperature.





More change, more learning, more feelings.

I finally got back the results of the second round of allergy tests on Friday. There are two really common ways to test for allergies with a blood test: IgG and IgE (click here for more info on the difference). My naturopath wanted to test the IgG responses I have to foods. The results of my IgE tests taken back in July influenced the removal of eggs, wheat, soybean, corn, and a few other things from my diet. Thankfully though, I was able to bring back some nuts. I had cut nuts out for years, but those allergies lessened enough for me to bring them back, eaten in moderation and roation. Hooray! How I missed them, and how I love them now. Almond butter, yum yum.

Anyway, back to the new results. Not as great as I had hoped. As it happens, I responded to 36 foods from a list of 115. As I look at this list, I realized that so many of these foods are foods I really ate in excess over a year ago (chili pepper, eggs, tomatoes, wheat and brewer's yeast), or really started eating a whole lot more of recently after cutting out so many things from my diet (green beans, asparagus, sweet potato). Some of them I have always avoided because I know they make me feel icky or I just don't like them - like cantaloupe, bananas, or kidney beans. The spices are all spices I love and have used regularly. But some stuff really threw me - all the citrus fruits? My favorite food on earth, the beautiful sweet potato? PUMPKIN? It makes me wonder if that includes pumpkin seeds too, which would be a tragic loss. It probably does. Damn. How are two of the foods taht are considered the least allergic and part of the Failsafe diet that allergists put people on things that I am actually allergic to? And why do I have to love both of them so darn much?!?!?!

Here's the grand new list, and what my naturopath is recommending I do.

All if these items were reactive at a +1 level (lowest) unless otherwise noted, testing for IgG response.

Those with * I need to cut out for 6 months because I eat them often (2-3x/week or more) or I am very reactive

Those with ^ I need to cut out for 3 months because I eat them occasionally (less than 2-3x/week)

All others I should only eat 1-2 times/week or, ideally, less often or never. Some of those things I haven’t eaten in a long time (banana, sesame, cantaloupe, etc) and it should stay that way if I can live without them.

Asparagus^, Avocado^, Banana, Green Bean^, Kidney Bean, Pinto Bean, Yellow Wax Bean, Cantaloupe, Chilli Pepper^, Cinnamon^, Clove^, Cranberry, Egg Yolk (+2)*, Egg White (+3)*, Eggplant, Ginger*, Grapefruit, Lemon*, Lime*, Nutmeg^, Oat^, Orange, Oregano^, Pineapple (+4)*, Sweet Potato*, White Potato, Pumpkin^, Radish, Sage^, Sesame, Snapper, Tangerine, Tomato, Wheat (+2)*, Yam*, Yeast, Baker’s (+2)* Yeast, Brewer’s (+3)*

I guess all those weekend Bloody Mary and beer chaser breakfasts of scrambled eggs and hash browns that I ate in profusion during Spring, Summer, and Fall 2007 may have done a number on my system (in more ways than one!). Especially when I consider that as last year went on, my health seemed to get worse...and worse...and worse. And I imagine that things I ate regularly while my intestines were all jacked up will cause my body to respond as well, even good foods like grapefruit, asparagus, and sweet potatoes.

Looking at the list, some things really made sense to me, and totally clicked. I had some ah-ha moments that helped to explain why I felt so terrible some days. For example, this could explain why I felt shitty last week Friday, when I had tasty homemade gluten-free spiced ginger oatbran muffins, sweet potatoes, avocado, and ginger tea all on the same day. The day before I ate green bean and pumpkin curry. Hmn. I guess it was a food hangover.

After we went through the list and her recommendations, I sat in her office and cried for about 45 minutes. My mind was totally flooded with fear, anger, concern. I knew what this woudl mean, because I've done it all before already. Relearning how to cook - once again. Relearning how to feel satisfaction without flavors and textures that I love - once again. Learning how to work with an even FURTHER limited repetoire - once again. Learning how to simplify recipes to fit with a semi-rotational diet. Divorcing myself from current favorite dishes, tricks, and ingredients, and learning to substitute, change, and alter - once again. Making tasty baked goods just keeps getting harder and harder...

This on top of the restrictions due to Candida and my persistent bacterial vaginosis - no vinegar, no sugar, no fruit, no gluten, no caffeine. Thankfully, I have reintroduced small amounts of goat and sheep yogurt and cheese lately, and that seems to be okay. Every now and again, I'm allowed a little agave nectar. And fruit may be able to come back soon. I'm no longer needing to take the Micro Defense supplement (helped kill candida and parasites), which is great, because that stuff always gave me crazy die-off reactions. And overall, I truly am noticing massive improvements in the way I feel. So, I continue. More Caproyl, more probiotics, more vitamins, more L-Glutamine, more of the Bach Flower homeopathic remedies to ease my mind, deepen my sleep, and counteract the negative effects the Gardasil vaccine had on me (click here for more on that).

In January, I am going to do a detox at my naturopath's suggestion, and we are going to add a few things to it to help purge heavy metals from the two Gardisil vaccinations I received (that vaccine is hell on wheels) and facilitate intestinal healing even more. The good thing about this is that most of the reponses are really low level, which means that they should - hopefully - be able to lessen, as long as I cut them out and encourage more healing of the old pesky leaky gut situation. She is confident that I will be able to reintroduce many of them, it is just a matter of removing them for a while. Oh, and surviving through it in the meantime without losing more weight, and with a sense of peace and patience. Big sigh...

I have three main negative feelings that start creeping in to my brain: fear, anger, grief.

I'm scared that for some reason, these allergies won't heal and I'll have to cut these foods out forever. I'm scared of becoming allergic to foods that I eat now. And I'm scared that I will forever have to live outside the realm of anything even close to normal as far as food goes that doing the kind of spontaneous, adventurous, and exploratory travel and lifestyle choices I'd like to make just won't be able to happen because I won't be able to find anything to eat. I've carried enough rice cakes, produce, cans of beans, knives, can openers, and cloth napkins in my bag to know how to whip up a good meal on the go. But you can only bring so much food with out in a backpack or on a car trip or on an airplane, and it involves preparation and pre-planning. And without refrigeration, things do start going funky after a while...

Sometimes I feel angry at my body. I feel angry at whatever circumstances led to this existence. Sometimes I feel angry with myself, like I feel like I did something WRONG to make this happen, even though I know that isn't true. Other times I just get frustrated with general existence, and want to turn my back on the life I live now and get a new one. While I know I need to love my body, and that negative feelings hinder the healing process, every once and a while, I just get pissed off. And I think that is okay, as long as I can recognize those feelings, brush them away, and replace them with positive, healing energy. Often easier said than done. Having a sense of humor helps. There really is something so absurd and almost comical about being so terribly tempted by a friggin' sweet potato and now needing to turn it down the way a heart patient needs to turn down a Big Mac, or an alcoholic needs to turn down a drink, or a sex addict needs to turn down a really hot one-night-stand.

Above all, I miss being a normal 26-year-old. I miss going out to Sunday brunch with my friends. I miss being able to accept an invitation for lunch or dinner. I miss going out for coffee or a drink with a date. I miss being on-the-go, grab food somewhere along the way without thinking about it, and do whatever when the opportunity arises. I miss holiday baking, one of my favorite things to do. I miss trying out new recipes without having to make 8 million adjustments. I miss feeling strong all day long without that dreaded low-blood-sugar drop that I fight with now. I miss my menstrual cycle, still absent since March. I miss having a brain that isn't pre-occupied with food, how I'm feeling, and what tomorrow will bring.

While this is a healing process, it is also a grieving process. But, then I remind myself that it could be worse. I have all my mental faculties, I have all my limbs, I can take care of myself, go to work, hang out with friends, and do the things I love. This isn't a terminal disease. This won't kill me. In fact, these changes I am making will ensure a longer, healthier life than I would have ever known before. And for that, I am thankful.

It helps to see some of those positive effects in my body already. I absolutely do not miss the lifelong, persistent stomach aches that have now faded. I cannot clearly communicate how BIG that is for me. I do not miss the crazy alternating constipation and diarrhea that has now regulated. I do not miss the dry, bleeding cracked hands that have healed. I do not miss the painful, deep acne that has been replaced by clear, smooth skin that I always envied and never thought I would have. I do not miss the uncomfortable, itchy random hives that plagued me for years, coming and going as they pleased, or the seemingly random dry, swelling tongue, forcing me to take Benedryl often. I do not miss the awful sinus problems and seasonal allergies that I did not have to deal with this summer and fall for the first time since childhood (TRULY AMAZING). I do not miss the excess weight I always carried that has melted off (although, adding back another 5-10 pounds on my bones probably would be a good thing at this point...especially because I'm an awfully tall girl, winter in Minnesota is awfully cold, and I tend to think some junk in the trunk is a good thing).

As they say, nothing tastes as good as feeling good feels. And as I've found, I agree. But that doesn't soothe the heartache and sense of loss I feel for what aspects of my life I loved and appreciated and wish I had back.

But life is change. Life is impermanence. And I am a firm believer that 99% of the time, change is good. Great, in fact. It keeps you on your toes, keeps you sharp, keeps you thinking. I know that all of this is happening for a reason, and is allowing me to become healthier, stronger, and more in-tune with my body, mind, and spirit. I have gained a new knowledge of myself, increased patience, a new sense of balance and moderation, and an appreciation for health that I never fully understood before. I have learned to fully sink into grief, feel anger, sit in frustration, and come out the other side stronger. I have found new kinds of satisfaction in small things. I have learned so much, and through this experience, have found a renewed passion for the healing arts, inspiring me to go back to school for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. And when I am a practitioner someday, I will be able to offer a point-of-view, support, and knowledge that I wish I had offered to me more often. The only way to get through this is with faith, patience, self loving-kindess, and the knowledge that as my life has changed from what it was, it will continue to change from what it is, and that these restrictions are probably not permanent. Sure. I've lost some foods along the way, but what I've gained will fill me longer than any food ever could.

So, one big cleansing breath later, the journey continues. I need to get my internet up and running reliably at home so I can write more often, because I feel that putting my words out there will help me get through this experience. It is cathartic. And perhaps it will be helpful to others. I know I have found peace and understanding through this process by reading the words of many other brave women; perhaps someone can find that in mine.



Gluten-Free Spicy Squash Samosas with Curried Apricot Dipping Sauce (gluten free, vegetarian, ACD)

I love Indian food. Big time. I had a major craving for samosas last weekend, and knew I had to do something about it. So, I converted my old samosa pastry dough recipe into a gluten free version. My old recipe called for yogurt, and made such a good pastry. So, I decided to venture into the world of sheep yogurt. I seemed to tolerate it just fine, and it added a tangy flavor to the crust. If you can't do any dairy, try a rice/soy/coconut yogurt substitute, or use just enough water/milk substitute to bind the flours together. I will be trying a totally dairy free pastry crust recipe in the near future, and would to try adding a bit of garbanzo flour to the flour mix. Overall, the crust was a success - tangy, crunchy, a bit chewy, and it actually held together. But like all gluten-free things, it is a bit fragile, and requires a gentle touch.

Spicy and tasty, these samosas are a little time intensive, but well worth it. Squash replaces the traditional potato in this recipe for a sweet - and colorful - twist. Fry 'em up in oil traditional style, or bake them for a low-fat version. Either way, they are tasty and delicious.

Spicy Squash Samosas

yield: 10-12 medium samosas, plus leftover filling

Samosa Filling

½ large buttercup or kabocha squash, cut into ½ inch cubes (approx 2 c chopped)
1 medium zucchini, finely diced
1 large carrot, finely diced
1½ c frozen peas
1 medium onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, crushed and minced
1 t cumin seed
1 t brown mustard seed
2-inch piece fresh ginger, grated
½ T dried tumeric or 3-inch piece fresh, grated
½ t ground cumin
½ t red pepper flakes
salt and pepper, to taste
2 T ghee or sunflower oil

Samosa Pastry Dough

1 c millet flour
1 c quinoa flour
¼ c sweet potato starch
¼ c sweet rice flour
½ c brown rice flour
1 t salt
2 T flax seed meal
1 c sheep’s milk yogurt

Prepare the filling:

In large fry pan, melt ghee over medium-high heat. Add cumin and mustard seeds, and toast until they start to pop.

Add onion, garlic, ginger, and turmeric, and reduce heat to medium low. Saute for 2-3 minutes. Add carrots, saute for 2 minutes. Add squash, cover, and saute for 5 minutes. Add zucchini, and saute until all vegetables are softened, but not mushy. Add peas just before end of cooking, and season to taste with salt, pepper, ground cumin, and red pepper flakes.

Remove mixture from heat, and let cool for about 15 minutes.

Prepare the pastry dough:

In large bowl, whisk together flours, flax, and salt to introduce air and make light.

When well mixed, make a well in the center of the flours, and pour in yogurt (or yogurt replacement). Stir together until a firm dough has formed, adding more flour or starch as necessary.

Wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 20 minutes or until ready to use.

Fill the samosas:

Divide dough into 10-12 sections.

On well-floured surface and with lightly moistened fingers, carefully and gently roll each ball into a 4-5 inch circle with a well-floured rolling pin, dough should be eabout 1/8 inch thick. Add flour as necessary to prevent sticking.

Place 2-3 T of the cooled filling in the center of each circle. Do not overfill - it will make the dough fall apart! Dampen the edges of the dough lightly, then fold in half. Crimp dough together with a fork, or roll the edges together if you have enough dough.

Cook ’em up:

Samosas can be baked or fried.

To bake, preheat oven to 425°. Transfer filled samosas to greased baking sheets, and gently brush with oil or ghee. Bake for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 375°, flipping over samosas and brushing other side with oil/ghee. Bake 15-20 more minutes. SAmosas should be golden brown and crisp - continue baking, flipping as necessary, until dough reaches desired crispness. Remove from oven, cool 5 minutes, and serve warm!

To fry, pour 2 c oil into skillet. Use an oil with a high smoke point, like sunflower, safflower, or grapeseed. Heat on medium-high until small amount of dough sizzles when dropped into oil. Gently place samosa in oil, pressing down until fully submerged. Fry for 2-3 minutes, then turn over, and fry another 2-3 minutes. Continue until dough is golden brown. Remove from oil, and drain on paper towels. Serve warm, with your favorite chutneys, sauces, or my tasty Curried Apricot Dipping Sauce...


Curried Apricot Dipping Sauce

Because of the high sugar content, I can't eat this right now, but I had to share it for all of you who are not on the ACD. This dipping sauce is amazing with samosas, or really just about anything - I used to whip it up all the time. I don't think it needs the honey, it tastes great both with and without, but feel free to add if you want it extra sweet.

1 c dried apricots, soaked and chopped
1-2 tsp curry powder, to taste
dash cayenne pepper, to taste
pinch salt
1 tsp brown rice vinegar, ume vinegar, apple cider vinegar or lemon juice
1 tsp honey (optional)
water or apple juice

Place dried apricots in water. Let soak for a few hours, or place in microwave and heat for 2-3 minutes. Drain and chop.

Place apricots in blender or food processor with curry powder, cayenne, and vinegar/lemon juice, and honey (optional). Add a splash of water/apple juice, and blend. Continue adding liquid as necessary to reach desired consistency.

Yields: approx 1 cup


Soy-free, gluten-free fabulousness: South River Miso's Azuki Tamari

Soy free, gluten free "soy" sauce? It's true!

The friendly folks at South River Miso make a soy-free, gluten-free tamari! Miracle of miracles.

Tamari is the liquid collected from the vats used to make miso. Normally, it is made with soy. But South River Miso collects tamari from the vats used to make their delicious azuki bean miso, and voila! Azuki tamari. According to the friendly customer service representative that responded to my email inquiry, the stock of azuki tamari is almost gone, and they will be making a chickpea tamari next. I was assured that both the azuki miso and chickpea miso are completely soy-free and gluten-free, so you can buy it with confidence if you have intolerances or allergies to either!

So, rejoice! And check out their website and go order a bottle. It is pricy, but worth it. I am currently waiting for my bottle to come in the mail! If you've never tried any of the South River Miso products, I would highly recommend them. I've never had the opportunity to try their soy misos, but I have been a fan of their chickpea and azuki misos for quite some time now. Many food co-ops and natural grocers carry their products, and you can order all their misos, including special misos, through their online store. I ordered a tasty looking jar of special Garlic Red Pepper Chickpea Miso, and a charming little book of miso recipes.

Yay! Soy-free, gluten-free tamari!