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 These days, I'm in a new phase of life, and this website is no longer updated.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 Recipes: Appetizers & Snacks (30)


Spicy Tuna & Black Bean Salad with Romaine and Chile-Toasted Pepitas


As the winter goes on, the more I crave spicy food. I am adding various forms of dried and fresh hot peppers to just about everything I'm eating these days, and am inspired by the fresh - and often sweat inducing - flavors of ethnic cuisines. This salad was inspired by South American cuisine, combining black beans, lime juice, green olives, pepitas, and chile powder.  It is so easy to make; if you can use a can opener, you can make this salad.  Prepare the Tuna & Black Bean Salad and Chile-Toasted Pepitas to eat with romaine, as suggested here, or make them seperately to eat however you'd like. These recipes are super versatile! 


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Hummus with Toasted Cumin and Paprika (gluten-free, vegan, ACD)


These days, hummus is a commonplace food at restaurants, in cookbooks, and in the blogosphere. But I say, "So what?" Hummus is delicious, economical, easy-to-prepare, and has endless opportunity for variation.  Additionally, hummus is wonderfully nutritious, a good source of fiber, protein, calcium, potassium, and iron. Thus, I provide you with yet another hummus recipe.

This is one of my most recent favorite ways to prepare it, spiked with garlic, lots of cumin, and paprika. Rather than using ground cumin, I include whole toasted cumin and sesame seeds for a nutty flavor.  I think you'll like it a lot.

Serve it garnished with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, a sprinkle of cumin seeds, and a dusting of paprika. You'll love it with raw vegetables, crackers or breads, in collard leaf wraps, or on salads.  Hummus also is a great base for creamy salad dressings and sauces!


Hummus with Toasted Cumin and Paprika

yield approx. 2 cups

If you choose to use canned beans instead of cooking your own, I recommend Eden Foods brand.  In addition to being organic, Eden Foods beans are cooked with kombu for easier digestion and are packed in BPA-free cans. Yay!

One other thing - make sure your garlic is very fresh and crisp. You don't want to use elderly garlic that is rubbery, soft, or browning, because it tastes bitter and acrid and will make your hummus taste funky.

  • 1 Tbsp whole cumin seeds
  • 1 Tbsp whole sesame seeds
  • 2 cups cooked chickpeas
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp sesame tahini
  • juice of 1 large lemon
  • 2 very fresh medium garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp paprika (smoked paprika is great, but a sweet or hot paprika is good as well)
  • pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1/4-3/4 cup bean cooking liquid, broth, or water
  • salt, to taste

Place cumin seeds and sesame seeds in a hot, dry saute pan over low heat. Stir occassionally, toasting until fragrant. Remove from heat and let cool.

Place beans, oil, tahini, lemon, paprika, and cayenne in a food processor or blender, along with 1/4 cup liquid. Process until a smooth paste starts to form, scraping sides often and adding additional liquid as necessary to reach desired consistency.  Add cumin seeds and sesame seeds, as well as salt, processing again until fully combined.

Serve, garnished with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, a sprinkle of cumin seeds, and a dusting of paprika. Excellent with raw vegetables, crackers or breads, in collard leaf wraps, or on salads.  Hummus also is a great base for creamy salad dressings and sauces!

Refrigerate leftovers for up to 5 days in a well-sealed container.


Cinnamon Raisin Granola (gluten-free, vegan, cane sugar-free)


Here's another one for this month's SOS Kitchen Challenge, which features coconut oil. Granted, there isn't a lot of coconut oil in this granola, but it is still in there!  Coconut oil is definitely my preferred oil of choice for such kitchen endeavors. But despite my deep love for coconut oil, I don't see the need to drown my granola with it! There are lots of recipes out there for granola calling for upwards of 1/4 cup of oil for a comparable amount of oats and other ingredients, which I think is total overkill and leads to very heavy granola. I like what the combination of a little coconut oil with cashew butter does in this recipe. The cashew butter adds great flavor, fabulous protein, the combination of fats allow the oats to crisp up and turn golden without being heavy or greasy.  

I came up with this recipe for a friend who was having a serious granola craving, and she and her husband both loved how easy it is to make and how delicious it tastes. I hope you enjoy it as much as they do.  Granola is perfect for breakfasts, snacks, or to sprinkle over everything from homemade coconut milk ice cream to rice porridge. 

If you are interested in participating in this month's SOS Kitchen Challenge, read the kick-off post HERE and then get cookin'. This month we are giving away a quart of Tropical Traditions Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil to one lucky participant. 

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Cinnamon Raisin Granola

yield 4-5 cups

This easy-to-make granola is nutty, sweet, and spicy. If cashew butter isn't your thing, try tahini, sunflower seed butter, almond butter, or another butter of your choosing. The unbaked granola "dough" will taste sweeter than the finished granola does after it is baked, so add a little more sweetener while making to taste than you might think you should - it will bake up perfect then.

  • 4 cups gluten-free rolled oats (NOT quick cook)
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 pinches finely ground sea salt
  • 3/4 cup organic apple juice 
  • 1/2 cup roasted cashew butter (or other nut or seed butter)
  • 1/4-1/2 cup honey, agave nectar, brown rice syrup, or maple syrup, to taste (if desired, use only 1/4 cup sweetener plus stevia, to taste)
  • 2 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 cup raisins (a mixture of purple, red, and golden raisins would be pretty)

Preheat oven to 325º F and line a baking sheet with parchment.

Mix together oats, salt, and cinnamon in a large bowl and set aside.  Whisk together apple juice, cashew butter, sweetener, coconut oil, and cinnamon in a small saucepan. Heat over low flame, whisking constantly to mix.  Once is starts to thicken slightly, remove from heat. 

Immediately pour warm cashew butter mixture over dry ingredients and stir. Spread mixture evenly onto a baking sheets. Mixture should be no more than 1/2-inch thick, so if your baking sheet is too small, line another sheet and spread mixture onto two pans.

Place in oven and bake for an hour to and hour and fifteen minutes, stirring every 15 minutes, until golden and crisp (if using two pans in the oven, rotate between oven racks each time you stir). Remove from oven and let cool completely, then stir in dried fruit and store in a well-sealed jar or container. 

If kept well-sealed, this will keep fresh for 2 weeks. 

january 2011 SOS Kitchen Challenge: coconut oil


Celebrating a Florida Christmas with Sweet Green Smoothies and Maple-Candied Bacon


I am spending the holiday weekend in Orlando, Florida, hanging out at my brother and sister-in-law's cozy little apartment. My parents drove down from Wisconsin and I flew down from Minnesota, and the warm Florida sunshine is a welcome departure from the wildly snowy, grey weather up north.  The weather in Florida has been marvelous, perfect for sitting outside playing cribbage and telling stories, going on walks, and simply enjoying the sunshine. I forgot that there are many parts of the world where things remain colorful, sunny, and green all year round, and this has reminded me that I need to get away to warm places more often during the cold Minnesota winters. I don't even want to think about the snow back home, and I'm sure my parents don't either. I mean really, when this snowy mess (otherwise known as my parents' house) is what the northern Midwest has to offer right now, why wouldn't we want to see all this beautiful color that Florida has to offer?

Why deal with this in Wisconsin and MInnesota when you could have warm, sunny weather and flowers in Florida?

little purple loveliesmy brother and mepalms at Christmastime! Hibiscus are one of my favorite flowers.I'm always amazed at the way that trees become habitats for so many other plants and animals, especially in warm climates. This tree had lichen and two other varieties of plants growing on the bark. Amazing.

Of course, since this is a food blog, I have to talk about what we have eaten thus far. We have eaten lots of great food together so far.  My mom brought down their Vitamix, so we have been able to make lots of delicious green smoothies.  The warmer temperatures left me craving fruit and raw foods, which is an unusual departure from  my normal winter desires for warm stews, meatloaf, and starch!  So, the smoothies were a welcome addition.  In addition to smoothies, I have made lots of other things, like roasted butternut squash, seared Brussels sprouts with apples, chickpea and celery spread, roasted cauliflower and broccoli, and a wonderful clean-out-the-fridge leftover soup. I made awesome red curry with chicken, squid, and fresh vegetables, served with quinoa (I will share that recipe soon!).  And my dad made grilled salmon and grilled mahi mahi that brought us to our knees.

Since the holiday always makes me want to bake, I did spend plenty of time whipping up sweet treats to satisfy the cookie craving. I made raw "trail mix" truffles, a nice mixture of a Larabar, dried apple juice-sweetened cranberries, homemade trail mix, and coconut oil.  We ate those on Christmas Eve instead of cookies, and they absolutely satisfied everyone's taste buds.  Later on, I dug through the pantries and my mom's snack box, and managed to throw together a really delicious breakfast scone/biscuit/cookie thing, made from freshly ground rice flour, oatmeal, apple sauce, finely shredded carrot, among other things.  Everyone loved it, and I'm going to refine that recipe and share it in my  next recipe collection.  

But the real star of the kitchen thus far has undeniably been the maple-candied bacon we ate on Christmas morning, accompanied by green smoothies.  


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Cashew Pumpkin Seed "Cheese" with Apple-Cranberry Sauce (gluten-free, vegan, ACD)


This dish appeared at my Thanksgiving family feast last week, and was a big hit. It satisfied two things that are an absolute must at any of my family's holiday get-togethers: cheese and cranberry sauce.

I'm from Wisconsin. Cheese makes an appearance at every family meal. And we're not talking fancy little wedges of imported stuff or raw milk cheese from small cheesemakers. No sir, we're talking classic Wisco favorites like multiple tubs Merkts cheese spread and slices of cheddar, colby, or pepper jack hacked from big blocks of the stuff.  There is always cheese.  And crackers. And summer sausage.

And as for the cranberry sauce? Well, each of my grandmothers make different yet equally delicious cranberry dishes that always seem to be there. Grandma Smith makes a raw cranberry relish that is to die for, a simple combination of raw cranberries, sugar, and orange juice. Grandma Christensen makes a cranberry mold that is spiked with Coca-Cola.  And I, for some reason, always succumbed to my strange fascination with the canned jellied variety that lines the grocery store shelves every holiday season.  I would insist on having a can of that on the table as well, and I would meticulously slice it following the can ridges.  Thus, we would have three varieties of cranberry per meal. Crazy. 

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