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 These days, I'm in a new phase of life, and this website is no longer updated.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

Recent Posts

Subscribe to RSS headline updates from:
Powered by FeedBurner

Site Search

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)


Garlicky Olive Tapenade (gluten free, vegan, vinegar free, citrus free)


By no means is this gourmet or really even all that whole foods nutritious.  Nor does it look all that appealing - there is nothing attractive about this brown mushy stuff in the photo.  It looks more like cat food than anything you'd want to eat. 

But DANG,  it sure is tasty.  Plus, it's cheap - this tapenade can be made for WELL under a 5-spot if you use inexpensive canned olives from the grocery store.  Truth be told, I often just use the cheap stuff for this recipe and it always turns out well.  But if you make it with oil-cured moroccan black olives and big, plump green sicilian olives, it moves the dip to a whole different level (and a whole different budget).  There are countless varieties of olives available, some large, some small, some stuffed, and other packed with herbs or spices.  Whether buying bulk, canned, or jarred, if you are sensitive to vinegar, make sure you purchase olives that have been packed in water, salt, or oil.  It can be a little harder to find, but they are out there!

The great news? Those good old fashioned canned black olives from any grocery store are totally vinegar free, as are many jarred pimento-stuffed green olives.  Read labels for other ingredients you may not tolerate - like preservatives or stabilizers - with canned or jarred varieties.  Many high quality bulk olives do not include those additives and may work better for you, depending on your personal tolerances.

Since I'm not a vegan, after all, I have to be honest - I like to include anchovy filets in this tapenade.  They add a certain depth of flavor that is incomparable, and doesn't taste at ALL like fish, I promise.  Anchovies get such a bad rap.  But they are oh so good when used in sauces, dressings, and dips.  If you like real Caesar dressing, you like anchovies; they what makes Caesar Caesar, what gives it that certain je ne sais quoi.   [Veg*n friends, if you didn't know that, always check out the ingredients in Caesar dressing before eating...] Anyway, if you're vegan, too freaked by the thought of using them, you don't have any on hand (I always do!), or you don't want that extra sodium boost, leave 'em out - it will still be incredibly delicious.

This makes a bunch, and will last about 5-6 days in the refrigerator.  It awesome spread on crackers or breads, used in collard or tortilla wraps, eaten with raw or steamed veggies, or spooned over broiled fish or chicken.  Try mixing a scoop of it in with warm gluten free pasta, put a blob in the blender with cooked beans for a quick and flavorful dip, or use to season bean or grain salads.  You'll find a million ways to use it!  I think it would be the perfect addition to a holiday hors d'oeuvres table.


yield 1 1/2 cups

1 can whole black olives (6 oz drained weight) or 1 1/2 c other black olives
1 5.75-oz jar whole pimento-stuffed green olives  or 1 cup other green olives
2 garlic cloves, crushed, peeled, and coarsely chopped
2 T extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp vitamin C crystals (or a squeeze of lemon,  if you tolerate citrus)
optional: 2 anchovy filets, rinsed and patted dry (OMIT IF VEGAN)
fresh cracked pepper, to taste

Drain olives and place in a food processor or blender with blender.  Pulse a few times to coarsely chop, then add remaining ingredients.
Continue to pulse until well mixed.  If you want a smooth dip, continue to process/blend until smooth. Otherwise, process only until desired consistency is reached.  Add pepper to taste.
Transfer to a bowl and serve.  Refrigerate leftovers 5-6 days.

Herb: add 1 tsp each dry parsley, basil, thyme, and rosemary (my favorite!)
Spicy: add red chili flakes and a pinch of cayenne pepper to taste
Caper: add 2 T capers (use salt-packed if vinegar intolerant), rinsed
Red Pepper: add 1/4 c chopped roasted red peppers (store bought or homemade)


Healthy Snacks: Nut Free Super Food Trail Mix (low sugar, gluten free, vegan)

I always have loved trail mix. I think I lived on trail mix in college. Seriously. Except I never liked the walnuts. I always picked them out and gave them to my roommate.  We were a match made in dorm room heaven.

Now that I need to avoid most nuts, I make tasty nut-free trail mixes for healthy snacks. In order to best stabilize blood sugar and provide lasting energy, snacks should be a balance of protein and carbohydrates. Conveniently, this trail mix packs both, along with a healthy dose of omega 3 fatty acids, vitamin C, vitamin E, antioxidants, fiber, naturally anti-microbial lauric acid, and other vitamins and minerals. Sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, goji berries, coconut, flax seeds, and cacao nibs are all jam-packed with nutrients. I like goji berries because they are lower in sugar than other dried fruit, good for those of us that need to watch our sugar intake.   Remove whatever ingredients you don't tolerate, and add whatever you else you'd like - you can't mess it up. Make it your own. 

Where can it come in handy?

  • Take on car, train, or plane trips for healthy travel snacks on the go.
  • Pack in your child's school lunches for a totally nut-free, classroom friendly snack
  • Keep a small snack-sized baggie in your purse to combat low blood sugar while you're out and about. 
  • Keep a jar at work to snack on during crazy meeting-filled days
  • Great for busy college students - you can even make this in your dorm room 
  • Keep some in the car to have in case of emergency breakdowns 
  • Perfect energizing snack before or after the gym 



yield about 6 cups
  • 2 cups sunflower seeds
  • 1 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1 1/2 cups gluten free crispy brown rice cereal (Ewehorn is a good brand)
  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut chips
  • 1 cup dried goji berries
  • 1/4 cup cacao nibs or allergy-friendly carob or chocolate chips (store bought or homemade)
  • 2 Tbsp whole flax seeds or hemp seeds
  • optional: 1/2 cup freeze dried Asian Pear or Apple pieces, or other dried fruit of choice
  • optional: 1 tsp coconut oil, 1/2 tsp allspice, 1/2 tsp salt
If using seeds raw and untoasted, mix all ingredients together in a large bowl.  Transfer to an airtight jar or canister.  Keep in the refrigerator for best freshness.  Should keep up to 1 month.
If you want to toast the seeds first (my favorite, the flavor is much fuller), heat a dry sautepan over medium heat.  Toast seeds in batches until golden brown, transferring each completed batch to a baking sheet to cool after toasting.  To add a little flavor, saute one batch of seeds with a little oil, allspice, and salt until golden.  After all the seeds have toasted, then turn heat down to low and toast coconut chips until just golden.  Once everything has cooled completely, mix all ingredients together in a large bowl.  Transfer to an airtight jar or canister.  Keep in the refrigerator for best freshness.  Should keep up to 1 month.
  • Substitute nuts for seeds
  • Substitute GF oats for crispy rice cereal to make a healthy meusli
  • Add additional dried fruit




Bring on the Vegetables: Garlic-Seared Brussels Sprouts, Pan-Fried Parsnips & Leeks, Sweet 'n Salty Roasted Butternut Seeds (gluten free, vegan, ACD friendly)


My parents and grandma were in town this weekend.  They came up to see "Devoured", The 16th Annual Barebones Productions Halloween Extravaganza .  I'm playing in the orchestra this year, and we just had our opening weekend of shows.  This annual production takes place outside in a beautiful, wooded park next to the Mississippi River in St. Paul, MN.  For those of you unfamiliar with Minneapolis and St Paul, the Mississippi River cuts between the cities in a beautifully tree-lined river gorge.  The governments of both cities have put a great priority on forming a well-developed park system, and there are trails and parks that line both sides of the river the length of both cities.  When you are walking the tree-lined trails or along the sandy shore, hearing nothing but bird calls, or are canoeing or kayaking along quiet stretches of the Mississippi, it is easy to forget you are in a metropolitan area of nearly 1 million people.  It is especially beautiful this time of year, when summer's green changes to the warm ochre, burnt orange, and fiery red and fall.

The performance takes place in Hidden Falls Regional Park, one of my favorite parks, and it is really something awesome.  Taking place in the evenings (the darkness ups the spookiness factor), the performance features larger than life puppets, fire dancers, people on stilts, and and a masked actors, set to a different story line each year.  This year's theme plays off the Egyptian myth of Anubus, the tale of Little Red Riding Hood, and the various stories of werewolves.  Accented with kick but lighting, AWESOME live music, and the natural beauty of the heavily wooded park, it is a really magical show.  I'm playing in the orchestra, and have felt lucky to meet and play with such a talented and creative group of people.
If you live in the Twin Cities, and are looking for something fun to do this coming weekend, come to our final two performances!  They will be held Friday, Oct 30 and Saturday, Oct 31, at 7 pm, in Hidden Falls Regional Park in St. Paul, Minnesota.  Check out the Barebones Productions website for more info, and I hope to see you there!

When I wasn't performing this weekend, we had a great time hanging out, hitting up the farmer's market,  taking Grandma to Ikea for the first time (what an adventure!), and of course, cooking a big family lunch at my aunt and uncle's house.  My dad and I fixed two very quick and tasty vegetable side dishes from our farmer's market finds, Garlic-Seared Brussels Sprouts and Pan-Fried Parsnips & Leeks.  They were so good and in keeping with my promise to share more simple vegetable recipes, I thought I'd share them with all of you!  I also made some über-delicious Sweet 'n Salty Roasted Butternut Seeds, a recipe that was too addictive not to share.  Stevia + salt + roasted seeds = naturally delicious snacking heaven.
Speaking of butternuts and all things squashy/pumpkiny, I also made a too-good-to-be-true-but-it-is vegan, gluten free, sugar free, fairly ACD-friendly Pumpkin Pie with Crunchy Crust and Cashew Whipped Cream for our lunch.  WHAT?!!?!?!  Yes, it is true friends, and I can attest to the fact that is was AMAZING.  I actually used butternut instead of pumpkin, which I tend to prefer for pie because it is naturally sweeter.  Anyway, it got a great big thumbs up from my whole family, pie-expert Grandma included, as well as two of my dear friends that I happened to run into when I had the leftover pie in my car.  The texture is dense and velvety, the flavor is sweet and spicy, the crust is crunchy and delicious, and the cashew whipped cream is thick, rich, and rather addictive.  Hard to believe there's no added sugar, no eggs, no dairy, no gluten, and only a little added fat!  That post will be coming shortly, I'm working on writing it up.  But here's a little photo for a teaser.
In the meantime, eat your vegetables.  Dessert will come later.

GARLIC-SEARED BRUSSELS SPROUTS (vegan, gluten free, ACD friendly)

 serves 8

1 1/2 pounds Brussels Sprouts, trimmed and halved lengthwise
4-5 cloves garlic (about 1/2 medium bulb), peeled and thinly sliced lengthwise
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Herbamare/sea salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste

  1. Wash, trim, and half Brussels sprouts, and peel and slice garlic.
  2. Fill a large pot with about 1 inch water, or insert a vegetable steaming tray, and set water on to boil. Once water is boiling, add Brussels sprouts, and steam until just tender, about 4-5 minutes.  Remove from steamer immediately and set aside.
  3. While Brussels sprouts steam, heat olive oil over medium low heat in a large pan.  Add garlic cloves, and saute for 10 minutes, until garlic is softened, golden, and fragrant.  Keep heat low so garlic doesn't burn and taste bitter.  
  4. Add steamed Brussels sprouts to pan, and turn up heat to medium high.  Stirring frequently, sear Brussels sprouts and garlic until they become golden and  a little crispy.  Make sure garlic doesn't burn.  
  5. Once Brussels sprouts have reach desired "seared"ness, remove from heat, season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve immediately.  Garnish with Sweet 'n Salty Roasted Butternut Seeds for a tasty twist.
Other ways to use this dish:
  • Chill and serve on a vegetable plate or relish tray.
  • Use on a warm salad with greens, roasted butternut squash cubes, and a sprinkling of chopped nuts/seeds
  • Throw leftovers into stew, pot pie, or shepherd's pie

PAN-FRIED PARSNIPS & LEEKS (vegan, gluten free, ACD friendly)

serves 8

6-7 small parsnips, peeled and sliced in 1/8" slices
2-3 medium leeks, white parts only, sliced in 1/4" slices
2-3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
about 1/2 c water or broth
Herbamare/sea salt and freshly cracked pepper, to taste
optional: dash nutmeg

  1. Wash, peel and slice parsnips, and trim and slice leeks.
  2. Heat 1-2 Tbsp olive oil a large pan over medium heat, then add parsnips and leeks, stirring to coat with oil.  Add water, and cover, stirring occasionally, cooking until parsnips are tender and water is absorbed.
  3. Remove cover, adding additional 1 T olive oil, and turn up heat to medium high.  Saute until parsnips have become slightly golden, and season with Herbamare and sea salt.
  4. Remove from heat, and serve immediately.
Other ways to use this dish:
  • Mash instead of leaving whole for a tasty mashed potato substitute - serve plain, with gravy, or use to top a shepherd's pie!  
  • Blend with broth and/or your favorite milk substitute for a creamy, flavorful soup.
  • Throw in the blender/food processer with 1/2-1 c of white beans and a little extra olive oil for a creamy bean dip.

SWEET 'N SALTY ROASTED BUTTERNUT SEEDS (vegan, gluten free, ACD friendly)

seeds from 1 butternut squash
1 tsp grapeseed, coconut, or other high temperature oil
tiny pinch stevia powder
sea salt

  1. Scoop the seeds from the squash, and clean off the stringy squash meet.  Soak seeds in salted water for about an hour, to help soften the seed and clean off the squash goo.
  2. Rinse well, and transfer to a baking pan.  Heat an oven to 400*.  Bake for about 10 minutes to dry out a bit, stir, drizzle with oil and a sprinkling of salt, and stir again to coat 
  3. Place back in oven and bake for an additional 5-10 minutes, until golden and crisp, stirring occasionally to prevent burning.
  4. Remove from oven and transfer to a bowl.  Add a teeny tiny sprinkling of stevia powder and additional salt to taste, and stir to coat.
  5. You probably won't have leftovers, but if you do, cool completely and keep in a well-sealed jar in the fridge.



White Bean Garlic Dip (gluten free, vegan)

This tasty bean dip is incredibly versatile! Use it as a dip for raw vegetables or crackers, spread on wraps or sandwiches, or try using as the filling for a savory tart. I often use Great Northern Beans, but feel free to use any white bean.  For variety, try mixing up the herbs and spices, or add in a handful of spinach, black olives, or roasted red peppers; or, if you like a kick, try adding a sprinkle of chili flakes.

As a side note, this photo is totally cracking me up.  I'm still without internet in my house, and the only photo I have access to right now is this one with the faux picture frame look - I'll probably replace it with a higher-res, faux frameless image later.  But for now, it will do!


2 c cooked (1 c dry) white beans, like Great Northern, Cannellini, Navy, or Butter Beans
2-3 garlic cloves
1/4 c olive oil
1/4-1/2 c bean cooking liquid, broth, or water
1 T fresh thyme or 1/2 T dry
1 tsp unbuffered Vitamin C crystals OR juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 tsp sea salt or Herbamare
fresh cracked pepper
optional: olive oil, salt, pepper, and thyme for garnish

If starting with dry beans, soak overnight, then cook beans per desired method, saving any leftover bean cooking liquid. If using canned beans, drain beans, and rinse well. 

Place cooked beans in blender or food processor, along with garlic, olive oil, 1/4 cup liquid, thyme, and Vitamin C crystals. Pulse a few times, then blend until well smooth. If mixture is too thick, add additional liquid as necessary while blending. Add salt and pepper salt and pepper to taste, and blend again to mix. 
To serve, scoop into serving bowls, and drizzle with additional olive oil, salt, pepper, and thyme leaves. Store leftover dip in the fridge for up to 5 days, or freeze in an ice cube tray and store in a freezer bag for up to 3 months.

Wasabi-Garlic Raw Kale Chips (gluten free, vegan, raw, low glycemic)

I've always been a sucker for potato chips. But not just any potato chips; I have high standards. I loved Kettle Chips, of course. I adored Terra Chips, especially the sweet potato varieties. Tyrrell's, a British company, makes amazing chips - my favorite is the beet, carrot, parsnip mixture. During my last trip to France a few years back, I think I ate my body weight in these amazing, crunchy dijon mustard potato chips. When I worked in Maui, I bought at least 2 bags of kettle chips each week - one bag of Maui sweet onion kettle cooked potato chips, and one bag of taro root chips. Hawaiians are serious about their chips. In my home town, local restaurant The Roxy makes homemade potato chips that will break your heart. Those chips were always a staple at catered events like weddings, funerals, and church banquets; perfectly browned, thick, crispy, salty, and not too greasy.

Oh, potato chips. Crispy. Salty. Crunchy. Binge-worthy. Good potato chips were, until last year, my only real junk food indulgence. I couldn't help it. I just loved potato chips.
But, as it turns out, I'm allergic to potatoes. And sweet potatoes. So, my last junk food indulgence went out the window. Occasionally, when I find them, I indulge in Tyrrell's root veggie chips, and have recently developed an occasional relationship with Arico's cassava chips. And while these fried confections are delicious, I find that I just don't enjoy the chip as much as I used to. They are ultimately flavorless after the pop of salt fades. They leave me feeling heavy. They just don't do it for me as much anymore. I guess my tastes have refined.

Anyway, I was having a serious salty crunchy craving, and I decided to finally try making the raw kale chips that I've been reading about online for months and months. Conveniently, I had purchased the largest bunch of kale I have ever seen Saturday morning at the farmer's market for $1. So, I cut it all up, threw it in a bowl, and got started. In my opinion, a bowl of kale is a bowl full of promise.

I used a recipe from We Like it Raw as the framework, and switched up the seasonings. They have great instructions with photos, be sure to check it out! I was dreaming up different seasonings, and settled on a blend of wasabi, garlic, a little good sea salt, and a sprinkling of kelp powder. I ended up with four trays of kale on the dehydrator, and sprinkled each with a little more kelp powder for good measure. Then I put on the cover, turned it on, and hoped for the best. My apartment smelled of garlicky goodness in no time.

Long story short: these things have the addictive powers of crack cocaine, but without all those nasty side effects. Seriously. I can't stop munching. These are WAY better than potato chips, and I am making these for every party from now on. I thought I was already a kale devotee, but this has taken my love for kale to a whole new snackable level. Nutritionally, these chips pack a serious punch - kale is one of the most nutrient dense foods out there. It is full of vitamin K, A, and C, and provides a wide variety of other nutrients, from B vitamins to omega-3s to calcium. Check out the World's Healthiest Foods website for a full write up on kale. What an amazing snack for ONE LITTLE DOLLAR!

HINT: These shrunk a lot more than I expected, so I would recommend going for larger chunks of kale and making sure not to break it as you are stirring in seasonings - otherwise you will end up with kale crumbles and not chips!

see note at bottom of recipe for an oven-version (not raw)
1 really really big bunch or 2 regular bunches of kale
1/4 c olive oil or flax oil or mix (I used a mix)
1 tsp ume vinegar
2 T wasabi powder
1 T water
1 tsp dehydrated garlic
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp kelp powder
1/2-1 tsp sea salt flakes

Wash kale, and cut each piece cross-wise into 2"-3" chunks.  Place kale in a large bowl. Mix together ume vinegar and oil, and pour over kale. Gently massage oil into kale with your hands for a few minutes until leaves are shiny and well coated.  Mix about 1 T of wasabi in with water, pour over kale, and stir a few times. Sprinkle garlic powder, dehydrated garlic, kelp powder, remaining wasabi powder, and sea salt over kale in batches, between stirring around to coat. Taste a few leaves of kale, and adjust seasonings as necessary. I found I just kept adding more wasabi!
Place kale on dehydrator trays, and give a final sprinkling of wasabi, garlic, kelp, or salt as desired. Dehydrate at 115º F for about 8-10 hours or until totally crispy.  Remove and store in an air-tight container. You'll eat them fast, I promise.
The trays are loaded, and I'm ready to dehydrate!

  • If you don't have a dehydrator, try baking them in the oven! They won't be raw, but if you're not a raw foodie and don't care, then no worries, right?  Place them on a baking sheet and bake at 350º for 10-15 minutes, until crispy to your liking.
  • If I could still eat ginger, soy, or sesame, I would make a tamari-ginger-sesame oil version, sprinkled with toasted sesame seeds.
  • I think a chili-lime version with a little cumin would be to die for.
  • And my next batch will include a big blob of garlicky pesto in place of some of the oil for a basil-infused twist.
  • What about using collards? This is something I'd like to try.
  • Any other ideas or recipes you'd like to share? Let me know!