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 These days, I'm in a new phase of life, and this website is no longer updated.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: Beverages (19)


Homemade Rice Milk and Variations (vegan, gluten free, ACD)

This week's Blogger Secret Ingredient event, hosted by Mo's Kitchen, is focused around rice.  I've been sitting on half-completed version of this rice-centric post for a couple of months now, and thought it was the perfect time to pull it out of the wings and finish it up.  

First of all, I just have to get this out there: in my heart of hearts, I have nothing against dairy.  Unfortunately, my digestive system disagrees with my heart, and my digestive system wins the argument.  But I love the stuff. I grew up in Wisconsin eating cheese (and coincidently, dealing with lots of stomach cramps).  If I had my druthers, I'd be out buying raw milk for homemade kefir, baking with buttermilk, eating Greek yogurt, scarfing down cave-aged chevre, and drinking coffee laced with half & half.  Plus, I have a romance with those charming little milk bottles, and have daydreams of owning a herd of dairy goats (if only goats came in lactose-free breeds...). 

In my opinion, all those store-bought milk substitutes will never be as good and wholesome as real, pure milk products from responsibly raised dairy animals.  I know that many people will disagree with me on that, but I hold firm.  Really, look at the ingredients next time you pick up that carton of fake milk - you'll see added oils, thickeners, stabilizers, and sweeteners, even in the organic ones. Many of them are nothing but refined carbohydrates and simple sugars.  I want the purity of real milk, something simple, without carageenan or xanthan gum or safflower oil or guar gum or sweeteners or whatever other stuff they throw in there.

Then one day it dawned on me - why not try making my own rice milk?  I make almost everything else from scratch - broth, bouillon, carob chips, flour, baking powder, just to name a few.   I really hate paying so much money for something that offers little to no nutritional value, is massively processed, uses non-recyclable landfill-clogging packaging, and sometimes doesn't even taste that good.   I figured it couldn't be much more complicated than rice and water, right?  Why not give it a go?

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Lemongrass & Coconut Green Smoothie (gluten free, raw, vegan, ACD)

What a shocker, right? More green blended stuff in a jar. I think I eat something green and blended every day.  If you aren't into green blended things, this may not be the blog for you.

I'm not into thin, wimpy smoothies. No ma'am, I like my smoothies to be thick as sludge.  I want to be able to feel it in my mouth. I want to chew it.  This smoothie definitely fits the bill.  Drink it, or eat it with a spoon.  I like to eat it with a spoon, like soup, because it makes it last longer.  This smoothie tastes so good you'll want to make it last as long as possible!  

Craving something creamy last night, I put some cashews on to soak before I went to bed.  This morning I threw them in my Vita-Mix, along with chia for fiber, a bunch of veggies, a splash of water kefir, and then a blob of coconut butter, some dried lemongrass, and a little stevia.  If I would have had any fresh ginger, that would have really finished it off!  It is kind of like Thai food, in a smoothie.  Fresh, rich, and flavorful, it is low in carbs, a decent source of protein, and a great source of fiber and healthy fats, which will definitely fill you up all morning long without pesky blood-sugar crashes.  I normally have mid-morning munchies and I was barely hungry for lunch. Best yet, it makes enough for two servings, so you have leftovers for an afternoon snack.

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Take that, McDonald's: Dairy-Free Avocado Shamrock Shake (gluten free, vegan, ACD)


I went to McDonald's.

It's not what you think.

Every day on the bus, I pass a McDonald's.  Sometimes I end up waiting at the bus stop in front of the McDonalds.  The smell makes me queasy.  I really dislike McDonalds.  I think it is disgusting, and have thought so for a long long long time.  I turned on McDonalds after going veg at 14, and I think I've probably eaten at McDonald's less than 5 times since then.  My last meal there was an egg McMuffin my junior year of college, a very reluctant event that occurred out of absolute necessity in the desolate dietary wasteland of Moorehead, MN on a college trip with a music group.  I am not an advocate of McDonald's.

Anyway, earlier this week, I noticed that McDonald's had changed the sign under the golden arches to read "Shamrock Shakes $2.99".  Despite my disgust for the general establishment, I could taste the minty goodness in my mouth.  I used to be quite the sucker for seasonal ice creams - pumpkin shakes in the fall, shamrock shakes for St. Patrick's day. I have always loved mint ice cream, and Shamrock Shakes, as a child, were a nice treat. Never mind the inevitable stomachache - I loved those things.  In that very moment, I desperately wanted a Shamrock Shake. The golden arches were tempting me. I started obsessing over how I could make a dairy-free, sugar-free replica.  It took over my brain.  I had an idea, something that involved avocado, mint leaves, and ice.  Yes. This would work.  

When the bus stopped across from McDonald's yesterday, and I saw the sign again, I was overcome.  I got up, I got off the bus, I crossed the street, and I walked in to the McDonalds.  Yes, you heard me - I went in. My nostrils were filled the heavy smell of french fries.  I went to the counter.  I ordered.

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Christmas Round-Up and Sugar Free "Cream Soda"


With the holidays and all I've taken a bit of time away from the blogging, so here's a slightly late Christmas round-up. We ate like kings and queens; I took over Christmas dinner and made a gluten free feast for my family. All Christmas afternoon I slaved away in the kitchen cooking up a delightful feast, wearing a silly garland-adorned Santa hat and my favorite vintage gingham apron.

So, what did we eat?


  • Roasted Turkey, made by my mom
  • Roasted Turkey Gravy, made by me me  
  • Roasted Squash with Parsley and Garlic, from Eating Well
  • Brussels Sprouts with Turkey Bacon, adapted from Eating Well
  • Parsnip Celeriac Mash, a recipe that will appear in my soon-to-come vegetable recipe E-book!
  • Quinoa Wild Rice Pilaf with Sultanas, adapted from my own recipe
  • Greens Salad with Homemade Mustard Tarragon Vinaigrette, made by me
  • my homemade pickled beets

For dessert...

Other delicious treats we ate during the weekend...

  • Gluten-Free Rice Chex Mix with Cashews and Homemade "Rye" Crisps, made by me
  • Teff Crackers, made by me
  • Spinach Artichoke Dip with Black Olives, made by me and soon to be featured in my forthcoming vegetable recipe E-book!
  • Leftover Turkey Fennel Soup, made up by me to use up that leftover turkey
 Sure, there were things I couldn't eat at Christmas dinner - like sugar-soaked sweet pickles, cranberry-orange relish, lefse with butter and brown sugar, Grandma's amazing stuffing and pickled beets (my heart aches for both of them), and sour cream-loaded mashed potatoes.  And platter upon platter of cookies and brownies and truffles that were totally off limits to me.  But most of the stuff at the table, by design, was made by me and was totally friendly FOR me.  Rock!  Plus, it looked beautiful!  Check it.


I sat down at the table with my plate, which looked like everyone else's [normally I have some separate entrée, like many of you probably do].  I didn't feel like the girl that needed exceptions.  My family raved.  They went back for seconds.  They stuffed themselves on good food.  Being able to participate in the communal nature of Christmas dinner with my family was the best gift I could have asked for.  I live alone, and most of my food is eaten only by me, so it was such a pleasure to cook for a crowd of nine.  Hooray!  And I even got chocolatey dessert.

In fact, I ate WAY too much chocolately dessert.  And while there wasn't any cane sugar involved, there was some date paste and a little brown rice syrup and agave.  And damn, did I ever pay - all my Lyme symptoms flared up like crazy!  The pain - literally - was almost unbearable and I was so exhausted by Sunday I could hardly stand it.  Monday I woke up and could barely use my right hand. Seriously.  I have spent the last 4 days recovering, no joke.  So, again, I need to be strict with myself.  Apparently, I'm not ready for sugar, huh?

This is the perfect segue into my newest favorite treat: flavored stevia liquid. I have been investigating SweetLeaf's flavored stevia online, and have seen it at my local co-ops, but had never tried it.  SweetLeaf makes a whopping 13 different flavors: Apricot Nectar, Berry, Chocolate Raspberry, Cinnamon, Dark Chocolate, English Toffee, Grape, Hazelnut, Lemon Drop, Peppermint, Root Beer, Valencia Orange, and Vanilla Creme.  They are all sugar free, gluten free, vegan, and contain only a proprietary blend of stevia extract, water, and natural flavors.  Zero calories. Zero carbohydrates. Zero glycemic index. Lots of awesome.  I was very interested in the potential these flavored liquids have for ultimate yumminess in many forms, particularly beverages.  Why not mix it with mineral water and make something like soda?

So, when I was at the co-op tonight, I decided to make the $15 investment in a bottle of Vanilla Crème liquid stevia.  They say there are about 300 servings in one bottle, so I don't feel bad about the $15 price tag.  When I got home, I pulled out my trusty bottle of mineral water, poured myself a glass, and put in a few drops of the stevia liquid.  It tastes JUST LIKE VANILLA CREAM SODA!  No joke!  Okay, okay, it probably tastes NOTHING like cream soda to "normal" people who drink HFCS-laden cream soda regularly, but to me, it tastes like the real thing.  Maybe you'll like it too!


SUGAR FREE VANILLA CREAM SODA (ACD-friendly, gluten free, vegan, sugar free)
serves 1

8 oz mineral water
5-6 drops SweetLeaf Vanilla Crème Liquid Stevia

Pour mineral water into a glass, and add stevia to taste.  Stir, and enjoy!

 - - - - - - - - - - - -

Hot dang, I'm in love.  Anyway, I want to try many many many flavors of this liquid stevia.  And I'm curious to see how it works in baking.  Flavored stevia liquid is going to save me from myself and all these sugary cravings -  if I can just drink various flavors of sweetened mineral water, I think I just might survive.  And just think of all the possibilities beyond mineral water - puddings, candies, all sorts of things, made totally tasty and sugar free!  I want the peppermint and the chocolate flavors quite badly...


More to come!

Have any of you tried the flavored stevia liquid?  What do you like to do with it?


Homemade Amazaké and some tasty ways to use it! (gluten free, vegan)


So, a couple weeks ago I was on South River Miso's  website, ordering a couple of bottles of gluten free, soy free tamari.

Wait, WHAT?!?!?!  SOY FREE SOY SAUCE?  Seriously?  

Yeah, it is true - South River Miso makes gluten free soy free tamari out of chickpeas.   Not familiar with South River Miso?  Well, now is the time to get familiar - they are a great little company in Massachusettes that makes small batches of delicious misos by hand.  Most of their misos are soy-based, but they also make two delicious soy-free varieties: azuki and chickpea.   Since tamari is a byproduct of the miso-making process, those clever folks use their soy free misos to make a soy-free tamari.  Brilliant!  After loving the misos for ages, I found out about the tamari last year, and completely fell in love with their azuki variety. I stretched that bottle out over the course of about 10 months, treating each drop like liquid gold.  Once the new batch of chickpea tamari was available for purchase, I had to jump at the chance to order a couple of bottles.  It is incredible; salty, rich, almost buttery.

Anyway, while I was tamari shopping, I was hit with the realization that I needed to buy something else to reach the $25 purchase minimum.   Last time I bought something on South River's site, I picked up a copy of the The Little Book of Miso as a way to reach that tricky $25; it is loaded with awesome recipes that all use miso. But, since I already had the book, I needed something else, and not eating soy, my options were limited. Then I saw the jackpot: BROWN RICE KOJI!

What's koji, you ask? 

Koji is Aspergillus oryzae , a special type of mold. Rice is treated with koji, and is then used as a starter to ferment a variety of traditional Japanese foods, like miso, tamari, saké, and amazaké. While most people are familiar with the first three, amazaké is slightly less well-known, but is my absolute new favorite of the bunch. It is made of cooked rice that has been fermented with koji-treated rice, and is served as a fermented beverage or can be served like a pudding. The enzymes created during the fermentation process break down the rice starch into unrefined sugars, resulting in a sweet liquidy mash. Here's a nice description from our friends at South River Miso : "Amazaké (pronounced ah-mah-ZAH-kay) means literally "sweet sake". It is a delicious, creamy hot rice drink with a "...rich, ambrosial flavor...most popular during the winter months, especially at New Year’s. Rich in natural sugars, it has long served as a sweetening agent in Japanese cookery." It can be used in place of sugar in many recipes, and is especially nice for baking." Traditionally, amazaké was served as a simple beverage, sometimes as street food, but has since gained popularity in desserts, puddings, and in other foods. And not only is it delicious, amazaké is super easy to digest because all those enzymes start digesting the grain during the fermentation process!

I've been intrigued by amazaké ever since reading about it in Paul Pitchford's Healing with Whole Foods last year.   I wanted to try it, and started a search.  Grainnassance makes very tasty looking amazaké shakes that are sold at tons of grocery stores and food co-ops.  But unfortunately, I couldn't find their pure rice amazaké anywhere, just blends containing nuts or other ingredients I can't eat, and all of their amazaké contains xanthan gum, which I avoid.   I wanted to try making it myself, but finding koji culture seemed even trickier than finding amazaké.  Sure, I figured I could find it online somewhere, but it wasn't a really urgent issue, and the desire to make it faded away to the back of my mind.  FAded away, that is, until I stumbled across the koji on my tamari shopping spree.  Suddenly, all my amazaké yearnings flooded back, and I knew it was meant to be.

I love fermenting things.   Knowing that all sorts of friendly little friendly are hard at work long after I'm done is a wonderfully satisfying feeling.  It's kind of like at work when you pass off a project to the next person in the process, knowing you've done you're part and now it is up to someone else to finish the job.

I checked on it a few times while it fermented, stirring it and smelling the sweet yeasty goodness.  After about 9 hours, I tasted it.  What an amazing transformation!  It was incredibly sweet, with a deep, nutty flavor that was totally out of this world.  The grains had softened, and after stirring the mixture, it became a thick mush. Per the instructions, I simmered it with water to stop fermentation, and was left with a thick, creamy porridge.  This was the most amazing rice pudding I'd ever tasted in my life, thick and sweet and super flavorful - who knew rice, water, and fancy mold could do that?!  I was now the proud owner of about 5 cups of homemade amazaké base.  Hurrah!

The next morning, I made a warm amazaké latté, blending some of the base with water and a scoop of Dandy Blend (gluten free dandelion beverage, see note about it at the bottom of this post).  It was totally kick ass.  I can't wait to try making a hot amazaké carob drink.  After the success with the latté, I have been experimenting with other ways to use it and have been thinking of many more tasty recipes ideas - salad dressings, gravies, smoothies, custards, oh my!  I have a little recipe for amazaké muffins up my sleeve that might get whipped out tonight.  Ooooh, more amazaké recipes to come!

So, is it Candida friendly?  Um, not so much;  the naturally occurring sugars that show up after the fermentation process are probably much higher than I'd like to know, and the koji culture is mold and smells pretty darn yeasty.  This, by all accounts, is totally not in the ACD plan.  However, now that I know I have Lyme Disease, my guess is that these symptom flare ups have more to do with Lyme than Candida.  Despite this, I know I still need to watch my sugar and yeast intake, especially once I start on antibiotics; I have felt better the last couple weeks without eating fruit or any simple sugars.  But c'est la vie, I'm gonna cheat a little with this, and see how it goes - moderation is the trick, right?  ; )



adapted from South River Miso amazaké recipe: http://www.southrivermiso.com/store/pg/22-Amazake.html

yield about 5 cups amazaké base

2 1/2 cups dry short brown rice (4 cups cooked)
1 1/2 cups brown rice koji
water for cooking + 2 c filtered water

Helpful Equipment:
thermometer (helpful for monitoring temperatures)
heating pad or hot water bags/bottles
cooler or insulated bag


  1. Cook brown rice per desired method.  Once done, stir rice from top to bottom to mix.  Transfer 4 cups of cooked, hot brown rice to a clean glass or ceramic bowl, and let it cool to between 110* F - 130* F, stirring occassionally (about 5-10 minutes).
  2. Stir koji into brown rice, mixing quickly so rice does not cool too much.  You want the rice/koji mixture to almost fill the bowl so the heat is conserved.  The mixture will be thick, but will get thinner/more mushy as it ferments.  Cover the bowl immediately.
  3. Put bowl in a warm place for 5-10 hours, trying to keep the temperature of the rice between 115*-130*.  Ways to do this:
    1. You can incubate Amazaké in the bottom of your oven over the pilot light. 
    2. You can also use a hot water bath with a larger bowl, keeping the water 130-140º F.
    3. MY METHOD: Wrap bowl in an electric heating pad (hot water bottles might work too) and put in an insulated cooler or cooler bag.  Make sure the heating pad stays turned on as much as possible - or if using hot water bags, refill often with hot water.
  4. Stir mixture every couple of hours with a sterilized wooden or plastic spoon (metal is too reactive and will do weird things to fermentation).  The grain should become softer and smell sweet if it is fermenting properly.  If after 5 hours it is not sufficiently sweet to your taste, let it ferment 2-4 hours longer. When the fermentation is complete, the mixture will be sweet tasting, and the individual grains will be soft.  If you let it ferment too long, it will become swampy and alcohol will develop, so make sure to watch it closely near the end!
  5. Once your amazaké is done, you need to stop fermentation by cooking it.  Heat 2 cups of filtered water in a saucepan until it simmers.  Add amazaké to water and stir to mix, then bring to a simmer.  Cook for 15 minutes on low, stirring often so it doesn't burn or stick.  Store mixture in sterilized glass jars.  Will keep for about 1 week, and it can be frozen.


  • Original recipe called for 3 cups of uncooked rice to get 4 cups of cooked rice.  I ended up with a TON of extra rice, so I brought down the quantity to 2 1/2 cups uncooked rice.  
  • I fermented it for about 9 hours, my temperature was probably closer to 110-120*. It tasted very sweet and was quite soft and mushy, so it seemed done to me.  My amazaké did not turn super liquidy during fermentation - just very moist and mushy.
  • You can use any cooked grain - I will be trying millet next batch!
  • Like any fermentation projects, use very clean utensils, bowls, and storage jars so you don't grow any funky bacteria.


recipe from South River Miso

Mix 1 part amazaké base with 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 c water in a saucepan and just bring to a boil.  Season with a pinch of salt, and serve in cups.  If desired, top each serving with a dab of grated gingerroot.


yield 1 serving

1/2 c amazaké base
1 c hot water + 1 scoop Dandy Blend instant dandelion beverage, to taste
1 c brewed coffee, Teeccino , chai tea, or other GF grain coffee

Please all ingredients in blender and blend until smooth.  Transfer to saucepan and heat, stirring often to prevent burning.  Pour into a warmed mug and serve!


 From South River Miso:
"Substitute 3 1/2 tablespoons Amazaké base for 1 tablespoon honey (or 2 tablespoons sugar) in any of your favorite preparations. Rich in enzymes, it is especially good in breads, cakes, pancakes, waffles, or muffins where it assists in the leavening process and adds a rich moistness."


Q. DandyBlend contains barley and rye. So, how can it contain no detectable gluten?


A. DandyBlend is made from extracts of barley and rye, not from barley and rye themselves. The roasted grains are mixed with the roasted roots, are ground, and then the water-soluble components (nutrients, minerals, biologically active substances) are leached out of the mash by hot water, just like you do when making tea. The liquid extract which is collected at the bottom is then spray dried to make the powder which we then call DandyBlend. Why no gluten? Gluten is not water soluble; it only dissolves in alcohol. Therefore, since no alcohol is used in the extracting process, all the gluten stays back in the mash. Tests done by Eliza-Tek Laboratories confirm the absence of detectable gluten in Dandy Blend.

Answer taken from http://www.dandyblend.com/faq.htm