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 These days, I'm in a new phase of life, and this website is no longer updated.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

Entries in Giveaways (26)


January SOS Kitchen Challenge Kick-off and a Great Giveaway!

Welcome to the new year, and to the first  SOS Kitchen Challenge of 2011! Ricki and I are both refreshed from a relaxing holiday season, and ready and rarin' to kick off this year's challenges with a bang.

Our featured ingredient this month is something that both of us use almost daily in our kitchens.  In fact, we're both so coconuts for it that we want to share some with one lucky participant through a giveaway at the end of the month. This ingredient is versatile for cooking, baking, and bath and body applications, and has some impressive nutritional and medicinal characteristics. It is a solid at some temperatures, and a liquid at others. And it smells like the tropics.

What could it be?  Drum roll please...


Beautiful, white, fragrant chunks of oil. Cold temperatures mean very firm coconut oil!

Coconut oil is the oil extracted from the meat of the coconut. High in lauric acid, caprylic acid, capric acid, medium chain fatty acids (MCFA), antioxidants, vitamin E, and vitamin K, coconut oil is definitely at the top of the "healthy fat" category. Don't worry about the high saturated fat content - the high concentration of medium chain triglycerides  are supposed to assimilate well to the body and convert to energy.  

Although we can't technically say that coconut oil has specific medicinal or curative properties, keep in mind that many of the naturally occurring properties of coconut oil - such as lauric acid, caprylic acid, and capric acid - function as natural antimicrobial agents, and may help strengthen the immune system. Coconut oil is also very versatile for health and body applications - it can be used for oil pulling, topically a moisturizer or massage oil, as a carrier oil for essential oils, and as a hair treatment.

Unlike olive oil or other popular plant oils like flax, sunflower, or canola, coconut oil is NOT destroyed or changed chemically in any way when used with medium or low heat. This makes coconut oil one of the best oils to use in cooking and baking, because it does not break down easily.   It can be used as a replacement for butter in any recipe, since it often behaves much like butter since it is solid at room temperature and liquid when hot.  It is also wonderful spread it on bread or muffins instead of butter, add a dollop to smoothies or hot chocolate, or melt it over cooked vegetables or grains.  The uses are endless!

Coconuts on a coconut palm tree in St. Petersburg, Florida. Lovely coconuts like this give us wonderful oil!

Since many of  Ricki's and my readers have food allergies or sensitivies, we want to share a note regarding the allergenic potential of coconut.  Coconut must be labeled on food packaging as a tree nut, according to regulations by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.  On the other hand, neither the EU nor Canada considers coconut as a tree nut for food labeling purposes.  Botanically, coconuts come from coconut palm trees, are not closely related to most other tree nuts, and technically, they are the seed of a fruit - not a nut. While you can't simply rely on botanical relationships to determine the potential cross-reactivity between two foods, those foods who are close biological relatives generally share related allergenic proteins (like cashews, mangos, and pistachios). That being said, there is some evidence of cross-reactivity between coconuts and hazelnuts and between coconuts and walnuts, which is strange, because those trees are not at all closely related.  However, allergies to coconuts are believed to be far less common than allergies to many true tree nuts, such as walnuts, cashews and almonds, a point to which the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network agrees. A June 2007 study in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology indicated cross-reactivity between coconuts, walnuts, and hazelnuts in one patient. Your allergist can advise you on the suitability of coconut for your diet.  I am allergic to most tree nuts, but tolerate coconut just fine, but I know that many readers have commented on previous recipes that they have allergies to coconut and require substitutions.  It will be different for everyone! But for many of us with dietary restrictions, coconut is a nourishing addition to our diet, and it makes an excellent substitute for dairy in most recipes.  [see References at bottom of post for sources]

This Month's Giveaway

DISCLAIMER: Tropical Traditions provided me with a free sample of this product to review, and I was under no obligation to review it if I so chose.  Nor was I under any obligation to write a positive review or sponsor a product giveaway in return for the free product.

While there are many brands of coconut oil available, my favorite is made by Tropical Traditions. I love the fresh flavor, good texture, and high quality of this unrefined, natural oil.  Tropical Traditions creates their Gold Label Coconut Oil from fresh organic coconuts, grown by dedicated family farms in the Phillipines. The oil is produced in small batches and tested for quality, ensuring that you receive the freshest, highest quality coconut oil possible.  I feel confident that when I'm using this oil, I'm supporting a good company and getting the most nutrition possible for my money.

To share in the coconut oil love, Tropical Traditions is generously offering to giveaway 1 32-oz jar of their Gold Label Coconut Oil to someone that enters the SOS Kitchen Challenge!

RULES FOR Participating in the Challenge and ENTERING THE GIVEAWAY

  • Make a recipe using coconut oil, then post it to your blog - NEW recipe posts only please, do not reuse old posts. Then share the link to your recipe in the Linky below by January 31 at 11:59 PM CST.  Make sure your recipe follows the SOS Kitchen Challenge rules listed here- if it does not, it will be removed from the Linky and you will not be eligible for the giveaway.  NOTE: If you do  not have a blog, e-mail your name and recipe by the deadline to soskitchenchallenge@gmail.com. We will post it for you on our blogs and enter it in the Linky, which will enter you in the giveaway.  
  • BONUS ENTRY: subscribe to the Tropical Traditions email Sales Newsletter, and leave a comment at the bottom of this post saying that you did.  To subscribe: http://www.tropicaltraditions.com/subscribe_for_special_sales.cfm.
  • After the deadline, we will pick a name randomly from recipe submissions and the bonus entry comments, and will announce the winner in our recipe roundup. We will share your contact information with Tropical Traditions, who will then send you the 32-oz coconut oil jar. 



November SOS Kitchen Challenge Round-Up and Giveaway Winners

November was a crazy month for both Ricki, my SOS Kitchen Challenge co-host, and me. She was blogging up a storm with Vegan MoFo and was busy marking papers at school. I packed up my old apartment and moved to a new place, finished my fall ceramics class, traveled out of town for Thanksgiving, and am taking on new responsibilities at work.  Crazy!  But despite all these distractions and obligations and responsibilities, we both managed to participate in this month's sweet potato-themed  SOS Kitchen Challenge. I told Ricki I had to bow out of commenting and managing submissions this time around due to my schedule and temporary lack of internet access - and she handled this challenge like the blogging pro she is. A big thanks to Ricki for making last month's even happen!

But a big round of applause goes out to all of you, as well - I'm happy to say that last month was our best-attended  SOS Kitchen Challenge so far, with 39 spectacular entries! Every time I saw a new submission, I did a little happy dance inside - this assortment of amazing foods is totally a dream-come-true! Of course, we both already love any recipe that includes sweet potatoes.  But a few of the savory entries stood apart from the rest, such as...

• Rhona's Sweet Potato Tempura Sushi Rolls
• Saveur's Vanilla Sweet Potato and Kale Curry
• Alex's Sweet Potato Veggie Pâté
• Megha's Sweet Potato Kebabs
• Lisa's unique Sweet Potato Pasta

And you all excelled in the sweet department, too!  Some of our faves from this month:

• K's Baked Sweet Potato and Pears
• Lisa's Sweet Potato Power Cookies
• Nicole's Sweet Potato Holiday Parfaits

. . . plus too many more great recipes to mention!  You'll just have to check out all 39 entries on your own--see the thumbnails, below! :)

And let's not forget this month's winners!

 Once again this month, Ricki and I were able to offer prizes for the  SOS Kitchen Challenge. We've chosen two names at random, each to win a prize from one of us.  And the winners are:

BROOKE from B and the Boy: You've won one of my hand-crocheted mason jar cozies.  Please contact me at eatingfreelyATgmailDOTcom to discuss the details of your custom jar cozy, and pick colors/patterns/etc.

NICOLE from A Dash of Compassion: Your prize is a pack of Ricki's anti-candida ebooks, Anti-Candida Feast and Desserts without Compromise.  Please send her your email address to dietdessertdogsATgmailDOTcom as well so she can get your books out to you asap!

Thanks to everyone for another fun and successful SOS Kitchen Challenge last month!

And in other news. . .

Ricki's article "Holiday Survival Guide for Those on a Special Diet" is featured on This Dish is Veg.  She's shared these tips on the blog before, but here they are again in one convenient place! :)

For those of you living in the Minneapolis area, a friend and I are hosting "A Procraftinator's Delight: Last-Minute Holiday Craft Sale" on December 18 from 10 am-5 pm. There will be handmade pottery, crocheted and knitted items, homemade jams and preserves, my allergy-friendly recipe calendar, and all sorts of other surprises for sale. Read all the details here, and stop on by for your last-minute holiday gifts!  It will be fun. 


Thanks again to everyone who participated in the challenge last month. Ricki and I are taking a break in December to focus on holiday cooking, gifts, and time with friends and family. We'll see you for our next SOS Kitchen Challenge in 2011!

November SOS Kitchen Challenge Submissions: Sweet Potatoes


Red Marionette giveaway winners!


Hello! It's been too long, hasn't it? I haven't posted in over two weeks! I started having massive blogging withdrawal.  Where have I been? Well, I lost my internet access at home over a month ago, was involved in a big Halloween performance, have been hanging out at the clay studio throwing pots, working my normal full-time job, starting physical therapy, and trying to get my Etsy shop up and running.  Oh yeah, and I moved over the weekend.  All my stuff is in boxes. My kitchen is totally disassembled. I am living in a new home, and getting used to the space - and likewise, my new roommates are getting used to me. It is strange going from living alone for almost 4 years to living with people again - we now have two sets of everything in that house. Yikes. But I couldn't be more excited about it, and can't wait to tell you more about it.

Right now, though, I have exciting news to share with you.

What's that?

I am announcing the winners of the Red Marionette handmade ornament giveaway!!!!  A few weeks ago I announced the giveaway of three adorable handmade ornaments from Red Marionette. Red Marionette was developed in 2008 by a crafty redhead named Kelli (who happens to be my sister-in-law). Kelli was raised by a craft obsessed mother, went on to pursue a degree in Computer Animation, and has experience as a sculptor, painter, and manager in Themed Construction. After discovering Etsy, she decided that others may enjoy the fruits of her creativity, so she started Red Marionette.  In the last two years, she's met massive success!The most recent development for Red Marionette is that Kelli's work was just published in Better Home and Garden's Christmas Ideas Magazine for 2010!  Wow! The magazine features her darling pocket-peeper stockings, which are available for sale on her Etsy shop  and are sure to be in high demand this Holiday season!   The magazine is available at any store that sells Better Homes & Gardens, from Target to your local grocer or book store.

Without further adieu, here are the winners:

Clara, Randolph, and Eric. Don't you just want them all!?

Kelli gives each of her handmade creations a name and a personality. Some are cute, some are crabby, and all of them are totally unique. Here are the bios of the three characters that Kelli is sharing with you: Clara, Randolph, and Eric.

Clara, the blue owl

This is Clara.  She loves collecting shiny things.  Between  silverware, jewelry and aluminum foil, she always has something shiny in her pocket. She gazes at her stash of things for the better part of the day.  As long as it makes her happy, I support her habit.

And the winner is...Claire Ryder

Randolph, the reindeer

This is Randolph.  Randolph was born with a red nose. This has  allowed him many job opportunities as a stand in or stunt double for  the ever popular Rudolph. He doesn't mind as it keeps him working, especially at the malls and photo ops around the Holidays.

And the winner is...Kimberley Belford

Eric, the crabby owl 

This is Eric.  He isnt really happy right now since the weather is cooling off and soon he wont be able to go outside to play as much.  I think he needs a little Holiday Spirit to cheer him up. I have been asking him to untangle the Christmas Lights or Sing Carols, not much is working.  I think he needs an understanding family to adopt him.

And the winner is.....Cathy E!


Congratulations to the winners. I will contact you shortly to get your shipping addresses.

As for the rest of you, thanks for participating and better luck next time!  If you want some of Kelli's holiday flair in your home this season, you can purchase Red Marionette goodies on her Etsy shop. Be sure to check it out!  

Expect recipes again soon - I have been cooking up a storm. And I even have more giveaways up my sleeve.  I can't wait!

xoxo , Kim



November SOS Kitchen Challenge Kick-Off

Ricki is so sneaky!

You see, even though Ricki and I had chosen our SOS (Sweet or Savory) Kitchen Challenge key ingredient a week ago, Ricki wanted to suss out the general response to this food before posting, just for fun.  So she posed a question on her DDD Facebook page, asking y’all what was your favorite root vegetable.  Secretly, she was hoping for our veggie to win out. . . and, in the course of our conversation over there, it became clear that the frontrunner was none other than our very choice for this month: 




Yes, my friends, the ever versatile sweet potato is our SOS key ingredient this month! Oh, so sneaky.  But also, delicious. ;)

Do you love sweet potatoes as much as we do?  They really are the Phillip Seymour Hoffman of root veggies: aside from being ubiquitous on food blogs this time of year, they’re equally comfortable as your mild-mannered dinner companion, your spicy weekend fling, or your sweet chaperone for Sunday brunch.  Indeed, they’re the perfect ingredient for a sweet or savory challenge, since they straddle both flavors with aplomb.

And we’re not the only ones who love sweet potatoes here in North America.  These orange (and sometimes yellow, white, or purple) fleshed tubers are a staple in many types of cuisines, from African spicy stews to Chinese soup and steamed buns to Japanese tempura–and let’s not forget our own favorite candied sweet potatoes and the ever-popular sweet potato fries. Ricki has written about these orange gems before, when she devoted an entire “Lucky Comestible” series to them on her blog; that’s how much she loves them!  They are also one of my absolute favorite foods, but I had to take some time away from them due to what turned out to be a mild allergy to them. Thankfully, I'm able to eat them again, and am slowly incorporating them into my blog, like this tasty recipe, for example...


One theory states that sweet potatoes, originating between Mexico and Venezuela, were cultivated as early as 2500 BC.  They also existed early on in Polynesia, where they’re called kumara (which is also the Maori name used in both New Zealand and Australia, as I found out from my friend Johanna’s blog). Nowadays, sweet potatoes are cultivated anywhere it’s warm enough to support the crop, but most crops originate in China; in North America, the leading producer of sweet potatoes is North Carolina. Go figure!

Aside from their delicate flavor and culinary versatility, sweet potatoes are nutritional superstars. Their high fiber content makes them a great source of complex carbohydrates. They’re also extremely high in beta carotene (converted to Vitamin A in the body) and vitamin C; with good quantities of iron and calcium (about 10% and 3.5% of the daily requirement, respectively, per serving). And, something especially helpful for vegans, they offer up  3 g of protein per medium root, which will give you a good head start on your daily quota. 

In fact, in a 1992 study by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), sweet potatoes were compared to a selection of other nutritious vegetables on a series of attributes, such as fiber content, vitamins, minerals, etc.–and sweet potatoes ranked Number One on the list.  And here’s a bonus: they are basically fat-free, rating low on the glycemic index and with only about 100 calories per serving!

No wonder we love the sweet spuds.


Interestingly, there is some controversy over what is and isn’t a true sweet potato.  In North America, we often use the terms “sweet potato” and “yam” interchangeably, but according to this site, true yams are a different vegetable entirely, and not even distantly related to sweet potatoes.

Whatever you call them, we want you to cook up some of your favorite dishes with these vibrant root veggies and submit them to the challenge this month!

And once again, there will be prizes! 

Both Ricki and I are giving something away this month: once all the entries are submitted and the linky is closed (at midnight CST on November 30th), we’ll pick two names at random. One reader will win a custom handcrafted jar cozy from me (perfect for those of us who like to tote our own drinks with us when we’re out and about!); and the other will receive a package (pdf file) with both of Ricki's ebooksAnti-Candida Feast and Desserts without Compromise.  (I have both these books and think they are brilliant. And. . . you may just find a sweet-potato based recipe or two within their pages!;)

How to Enter

To enter the challenge, simply cook up a new recipe–either sweet OR savory (or both)–using sweet potatoes, following the usual SOS guidelines for ingredients and submission requirements.  Then submit it by linking up to your blog post with the linky tool, below.  Be sure to add a link to this page on your post, and if you wish, include the SOS Logo. All entries will be eligible for the prizes!

We look forward to more of your delicious, creative, enthusiastic entries this month!  Since I'm busy packing to move to a new place right now, my ability to cook is massively hindered - but expect recipes from me later this month!  


November SOS Kitchen Challenge Submissions: Sweet Potatoes


Red Marionette handmade ornament giveaway


I'm featuring something today that makes me super excited, even though it is totally non-food related...

As you know, the holiday season is fast approaching!  To get you in the spirit a little bit early, I am offering a giveaway of handmade holiday ornaments from Red Marionettea line of handmade felt toys, home and holiday decor, and accessories featuring a unique assortment of cute characters.  

Red Marionette was developed in 2008 by a crafty redhead named Kelli (who happens to be my sister-in-law). Kelli was raised by a craft obsessed mother, went on to pursue a degree in Computer Animation, and has experience as a sculptor, painter, and manager in Themed Construction. After discovering Etsy, she decided that others may enjoy the fruits of her creativity, so she started Red Marionette.   Kelli designs, cuts, stitches, photographs, communicates and runs pretty much everything in the online shop.   Kyle, her husband (and my darling little brother who isn't so little anymore), is the in personal sales guru for shows, design consultant, quality control tester and general man-cheerleader for the company. He's even been known to pick up a scissors, needle, and thread from time to time.  I love that my little brother married such a creative, driven, and intelligent woman (and she's darn cute too). He's got good taste.  ;)


In the last two years, Red Marionette has exploded with popularity.  In addition to her thriving Etsy business and writing the Red Marionette Blog, Kelli is a regular on the craft show circuit in her home of central Florida. All of this is in addition to her day job as a fine arts instructor at a local university.  She's one busy lady!

The most recent development for Red Marionette is that Kelli's work was just published in Better Home and Garden's Christmas Ideas Magazine for 2010!  Wow! The magazine features her darling pocket-peeper stockings, which are available for sale on her Etsy shop  and are sure to be in high demand this Holiday season!   The magazine is available at any store that sells Better Homes & Gardens, from Target to your local grocer or book store.


To celebrate Red Marionette's  success, Kelli is offering up three of her handmade character ornaments to three lucky winners! These charming ornaments work perfectly on a Christmas tree, but can also be used to jazz up your rearview mirror or the corkboard in your office if you do not celebrate Christmas or want to keep the cuteness around all year long. Wherever you hang it, it will brighten your day!  Each one is made from Eco-Spun felt (made from post-consumer recycled plastic), hand-cut, and hand-stitched. 

Clara, Randolph, and Eric. Don't you just want them all!?

Click to read more ...