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 These days, I'm in a new phase of life, and this website is no longer updated.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


Lemon Balm-Apple-Kale-Cucumber Smoothie (gluten free, vegan)

When I opened my refrigerator the other day, I was greeted by an abundance of fresh herbs. My garden is thriving, and producing more herbs than I can possibly use! My tarragon and savory are both over 2 feet high. My basil plants are on track to be small bushes. And my thyme, rosemary, parsley and lemon balm are growing very nicely, yielding plenty for frequent harvests. I've been adding herbs to salads and sauces, throwing them in smoothies and soups, and adding them to cooked meats and roasted vegetables. Oh, herbs, beautiful herbs! I had never grown lemon balm before, and am really excited to try using it different ways.

Lemon balm is a member of the mint family, and has been traditionally valued for its sedative, anti-spasmodic, and naturally anti-bacterial properties. It can be prepared as a tincture, an essential oil, a tea, or an injection. It used to treat a variety of autoimmune diseases as well as thyroid issues, amenorrhea, anxiety, and viral infections.


Since I had it, I decided to just throw the whole darn bunch right in the blender. Its light, bright hint-o-lemon flavor complimented the sweetness of the apple and cucumber, and balanced the bitterness of the kale. For an extra boost of protein, I added a blob of homemade sunflower seed butter, which added a nice, toasty flavor. As usual, I included protein powder; feel free to omit if you don't want it!

1 Granny Smith apple
3-4 inch chunk cucumber, seeded
4 kale leaves
1 large handful fresh lemon balm
1 blob sunflower seed butter
1 T flax meal
1-2 scoops protein powder of choice (I use a rice-based powder)
1-3 tsp cod liver oil, flax seed oil, coconut oil, or mix
  1. Wash all fruits and vegetables, coarsely chop, and place in blender with additional ingredients.
  2. Blend on high until smooth.
  3. Serve!



Matcha-Spiked Pear Zucchini Kale Smoothie (gluten free, vegan option)

The photo is terrible, but the smoothie is delicious!

On the heels of my Seven Days of Green Smoothies post, I'm posting the recipe for the smoothie I made this morning.  I decided to spike my kale-zucchini-pear combination with a scoop of matcha (green tea powder).  The results were amazing! It was sweet, with that tasty, nutty hint of matcha flavor, and very creamy.  Raw zucchini purees very well and takes on a smooth, rich texture that is almost dairy-like.  In fact, if you puree raw zucchini, then bring the  puree to a boil in a pot and let it simmer for about 5 minutes, you can use that liquid as a milk substitute in recipes.  Seriously, it works like a charm. and it freezes really well, so you can make a ton and keep it in the freezer to have on hand. Just peel the zucchini first if you want your substitute white and not green.

Anyway, back to the smoothie.  I'm going to geek out here for a minute about the awesome energetics and benefits of the ingredients.  This is a super kidney nourishing, cooling, detoxifying start to to your day, and provides a great balance of foods and flavors to help harmonize the systems of the body.  Both green tea and zucchini help to clear heat from the body, and are good choices if you suffer from inflammatory conditions, acne, rashes, fever, or if it is just a darn hot summer day.  Zucchini is also high in natural sodium, so it functions as a diuretic and helps to clear fluid and water retention, and helps nourish the kidneys.  Green tea is also a great source of antioxidants, and when used in  moderation, has been found to help reduce the risk of cancer.   Pears are high in fiber and all sorts of good vitamins and minerals, but their cooling energetic quality and sweet/sour flavor help to reduce mucous and move fluid in the body.  Ume vinegar* provides a saltiness, which is also nourishing to the kidney, and provides a punch of probiotic goodness.   Kale, as we know, is a powerhouse of iron, vitamin C, and other great vitamins and minerals, and has a warming energy that is strenthening to the stomach.  This quality provides a good balance to the cool and cold of the tea, zucchini, and pear.  Additionally, like all dark leafy greens,  kale helps to nourish the blood, which also strengthens kidney energy.  What a delicious - and beneficial - combination!

One more thing.  I like adding a little high quality, lemon-flavored cod liver oil and flax seed oil to my smoothies.  Why?  Because we need healthy fats.  While too much of any fat can inhibit digestion, moderate amount of healthy fats - like those found in cod liver oil, flax and other seeds, nuts, olives, coconut, and avocados - are necessary for the body, and can actually help maintain healthy cholesterol levels and proper metabolism.  Fats are most easily assimilated when eaten with easy to digest foods, so adding them to smoothies is a great solution.  Conveniently, all  the vitamin C and vitamin A in those veggies and fruits are most easily absorbed when eaten with fats, so it works both ways!  If you aren't vegan, I totally recommend cod liver oil - it is high in healthy omegas and full of vitamin D.  

I like drinking half a batch of smoothie right away, and saving the rest for a mid-morning snack.  Yum!  So, get out that blender, whip yourself up a smoothie, and know that you are nourishing your body with every dreamy, creamy, greeny sip.  


yield: about 30 oz, give or take, depending on how much water you add...

1 ripe pear
about 1/2 large zucchini
3 kale leaves
1 scoop vanilla rice protein powder
2 tsp lemon cod liver oil (omit if vegan)
1 tsp flax oil
1/2 tsp matcha green tea powder
a few drops ume vinegar

Wash and coarsely chop up vegetables.
Place in blender, along with other ingredients.  Add just enough water to get things moving, pulse a few times, then blend on high until smooth and creamy, stirring and adding additional water as needed.
Serve immediately, or throw in a jar and take with you to work or school!  Refrigerate leftovers or put in a thermos; it will spoil quickly at room temperature.
*Ume vinegar: Ume vinegar isn't really a vinegar at all - it is the leftover salty brine from making umeboshi plums, the naturally fermented, vinegar free, cure-all pickled plum used in Japanese and macrobiotic cuisine.  So, if you need avoid vinegars, and are looking for a healthy, tart alternative, you might be able to tolerate ume vinegar.  I love it, and often use it as an alternative to vinegar, salt, and lemon/lime juice.  Sometimes I just put a drop or two in water. 



Seven days of green smoothies: kale, collards, watercress, oh my!

I had been feeling a bit weighed down.  Heavier. Part of it is that I am heavier - I've gained some weight.  As I've been healing, I've been gradually putting weight back on, the last couple months especially so. This is a good thing, because I had gotten too thin for my body type, and felt totally deficient.  And while I feel better, and my naturopath, friends, and family all agree I look healthier, I feel every ounce of it.  Like maybe I gained a little more than ideal, and need to moderate out a bit.  Maybe I've been baking too much and eating too much flour (this is a VERY distinct possibility).  A person only needs to eat so many muffins, cookies, and breads over the course of a week, even if they are vegan, sugar free, and gluten free.  Who knows.  Anyway, I needed a change.  With my recent feeling of heaviness and the coming of spring, I wanted to feel lighter and more alive, and not so digestively sluggish and weighty.

So, of course, I first turn to food.  What am I eating?  How can that change?  I decided breakfast would be my focus.  I need a filling, big breakfast, otherwise I'm starving by 10 am, and my blood sugar is a disaster.   I need something with a good mix of carbs, protein, and fat, and I feel weird if it doesn't include some form of vegetable.  A little piece of fruit or a piece of toast just doesn't cut it. I really had been eating just about anything for breakfast - chickpea flatbreads with veggies, steamed squash with yogurt, grain salads with beans, homemade sushi rolls, leftover soups, whatever.  It was always kind of random.  

So, instead of the random approach to breakfast, I decided to start making green smoothies.  I'd really forgotten about smoothies.  I used to make them all the time, but had really lapsed out of them, especially when I was feeling so ill.  I was reminded of how awesome they are after reading something on Vegan Whole Foods Momma about her green smoothie habit.  "Oh yeah!", I thought to myself.  "Green smoothies! Of course!"  I don't know why I hadn't thought of it sooner.  Filling, full of veggies, and a great high energy way to start the morning.   I could add some protein powder for the protein I need in the morning, and I wondered if a lower GI start to the day would help stabilize my unreliable blood sugar.  It seemed like the perfect solution to my dilemma.  I decided to embark on a trial week of green smoothie mornings to see how I felt during, and after.  

A Week of Smoothies: My Recent Morning Elixers

Here's a record of what has been going into my blender the last week.  Some were better than others - there were no disasters, but definitely some winners. 

DAY 1: WEDNESDAY, 5/27/09

5 kale leaves
1/2 c blueberries
3 small carrots
2 T carrot juice
1 T ground chia seed
2 tsp lemon-flavored cod liver oil
1 scoop berry rice protein powder
1 c water

Review: Super delicious.  It was a vibrant blue-green color, was nice and thick, and had a lightly sweet flavor.  This was a smoothie to chew.  Don't be turned off by the inclusion of cod liver oil.   My brand has a great lemon flavor, and it actually added a nice lemony flavor.  And it was definitely better adding it to the smoothie than taking teaspoons of it plain (my normal habit).  If you aren't vegan, I'd totally recommend taking cod liver oil.  It is full of great omega fatty acids and vitamin D.  This smoothie made a little over 16 oz.

DAY 2: THURSDAY, 5/28/09

9 small collard leaves
1 large handful fresh mint
1 c raspberries
1/2 cucumber
1/8 c soaked cashews
1 scoop berry rice protein powder
2 tsp lemon cod liver oil
1 c filtered water

Review:  This smoothie had too much going on, as evidenced by the long title. And while it was fairly tasty, it was not as tasty as yesterday's, and just involved too much stuff.  The color was kind of a browny green, it wasn't very pretty.  But it was nice and thick, and very filling.  I think it actually would have been better without the berries.  And I don't think I'll add cashews to a smoothie again anytime soon - I'm having trouble digesting cashews lately, I'm getting stomach cramps after eating them (boo!!!!).  This was my final cashew experiment to determine if it has just been random or if the cramps really have been cashew-induced.  Unfortunately, the cramps came, so cashews and I are now officially on a break.  This recipe made about 20 oz, and held me through until lunch.  Despite feeling a little crampy, my energy level all day was great, no mid-morning or mid-afternoon blood sugar issues, and I felt very focussed and alert.  

DAY 3: FRIDAY, 5/29/09

about 1/2 large bunch watercress
1 Fuji apple
3ish stalks celery and leaves
1 handful fresh parsley
1 scoop vanilla rice protein powder
2 tsp lemon cod liver oil
2 tsp flax oil
1 c water

Review: Third time is the charm, they say, and that is definitely the case with my third smoothie project. It is a beautiful bright green, with a light, sweet, refreshing flavor.  The bite-y flavor of watercress is really delicious with the apple.  I added a whole cup of water, forgetting the large amount of water already present in the celery, and ended up with a ton of smoothie - about 32 oz worth.  So, I drank half right away in the morning, and had the other half as a mid-morning snack, which was great. As the other folks at the photo studio chowed down on donuts and a catered bagels and cream cheese (just the thought makes my intestines bind up), I relished in my energizing, electric green smoothie.  

DAY 4: SATURDAY, 5/30/09

1 1/2 raw beets
beet greens
1 large handful mint
2 tsp cod liver oil
1/4 c goats milk yogurt
1 scoop vanilla protein powder
flax oil

Review: I added something else to this and I am totally blanking on what it was.  Seriously, I don't remember.  Anyway, it was good.  The beets, beet greens, and mint were an awesome combination, and the goat's milk yogurt added just a little bit of creamy goodness.  The smoothie was a beautiful deep red color - gorgeous. It was sweet and refreshing and very filling, which was good, because my morning making wedding invites for my friend's wedding ended up much longer than I anticipated and crept into mid-afternoon.  The smoothie kept me going strong, along with some rhubarb scones (yes, I made another batch!) and lots of baby carrots.

DAY 5: SUNDAY, 5/31/09

1 cup packed arugula
5 small carrots
3/4 c blueberries
1 large handful parsley
2 scoop vanilla rice protein powder
2 tsp lemon cod liver oil
1 T chia seeds
1/2 T ghee/flax oil/olive oil blend
1/2 tsp cardamom

Review: Super delicious, kind of a funky greeny brown color with blue flecks.   I really really liked this one.  It made a ton, about 4 cups, enough for one big glass right away and a 16 oz jar for a mid-morning snack.  This smoothie combination was great - the arugula added a nice bite-y twist, and the overall blend of flavors was very delicious - the hint of cardamom was nice.  Highly recommended combination.   I made it very protein packed (2 scoops!) because I knew today would be another long day, and I needed a strong start to the morning.  And it worked, because my energy level was great - I really think the green smoothies in the morning are the way to go!  

Anyway, my sustained, rockin' energy allowed for lots of spontaneous, strange adventures to occur today.  Today I saw oddities that will forever be burned into the back of my mind. So I'm glad I added an extra scoop.  

DAY 6: MONDAY, 6/1/09

3 leaves kale
1  small green apple
3 stalks celery
fresh basil leaves
2 tsp cod liver oil
2 tsp azuki miso
1 scoop vanilla protein powder

Review: the combination of kale, apple, and celery sounded like a good salad.  So I decided to make it into a smoothie, with a little slightly wilty basil that needed to get used up.  It was really delicious, and the basil was very refreshing.  Great flavor combination, and it was a beautiful green color.  Adding a blob of miso sounded like a good idea to get some good bacteria in the mix.  Made about 24 oz, enough for a big glass right away and a nice midmorning snack.

DAY 7: TUESDAY, 6/2/09

3 leaves swiss chard
3/4 c blueberries
1/2 chayote
2 scoop berry protein powder
2 tsp cod liver oil
1/2 tsp cardamom
SweetLeaf Sweetener (stevia)

Review:  I didn't plan on berries today, but found these lovely blueberries at the store yesterday that were too good a deal to pass up.  So, in they went with some berry protein powder, and I ended up with a super berry smoothie.  It was sweeter than usual because my sweettooth was aching this morning and I medicated it with some stevia.  It was a dreadful brown color.  But it was pretty tasty and did the job of filling my tummy.  Not my favorite combination thus far, but not bad.  Made about 20 oz.


After 7 days of green smoothies, I feel more energetic, more alert, less heavy, less bloated, and definitely more cleansed in the digestive tract.   My smoothies fill me up, but without the feeling of heaviness from grain-based or starchy breakfast foods, and without blood sugar crashes later in the day.    I have felt so much like "myself" this past week, I feel more alive.  Maybe part of it is the great weather - but I also think that my body is just happier starting the day this way. And it is fun to blend a bunch of stuff together, it is kind of like a little experiment.  And it is a delicious, easy way to start the day - I find throwing stuff in a blender to be pretty darn simple.

I don't add ice because icy cold smoothies tend to make my digestive system seize up like a car in the cold Minnesota winter.   So, instead, I drink mine room temperature, with no resulting stomach cramps.  I've always known this to be better for me, but I was interested to learn that it actually makes sense.   Here's why, from a traditional Chinese medicine perspective: An excess of cold drinks (as well as an excess of raw food) cause cold in the stomach, which is destructive to stomach qi.  The stomach and spleen need to be warm and energized in order to function properly and to regulate the partnering systems of the body.  But an excess of cold, raw foods deplete that energy, leaving an exhausted stomach that does not have the energy to properly digest food. Other irregular eating habits, like eating late at night, overeating, eating too quickly, drinking liquids with meals, or eating too often also deplete stomach qi.  A stomach qi deficiency can cause a variety of issues, like stomach pain, poor digestion, weakness, loose stools, nervousness, and lethargy.  It can lead to a qi deficiency in the spleen and a general disharmony between the two organs, which are very closely related in TCM theory.   For those of us with sensitive or healing digestive systems, we need to save all the qi we can down there!  I have found that nearly eliminating all cold drinks from my diet (among other stomach q-friendly modifications) has definitely left me with a happier stomach-spleen and much better digestion.  The Chinese medicine advice for good digestion and health?  Moderation.  Eat things at a moderate temperature, eat moderate portions, eat a moderate mix of both raw and cooked foods, and chew well.

  • Fast to prepare - wash vegetables, put in blender, and blend.  5 minutes, tops.
  • Cleansing - vegetables are cleansing to the system, and it is a great way to start the day
  • Low calorie, and nutrient dense - provides a nutrient-packed punch of energy in a relatively small number of calories.  You won't even need coffee!!!!
  • Easily transportable - pour into a jar or thermos and take with you!
  • Endlessly versatile - any vegetable combination works and it can be tailored to fit your needs exactly!
  • Easy servings of vegetables - no easier way to pack in those vegetables, seriously
  • Low carb, low sugar, and diabetic and candida-friendly - depending on what you add, this is a great solution for people watching sugar intake
  • As my mom used to tell me, "Chew your juice".  Seriously, that's what she said.  We had a Vita-Mix and made crazy thick "juice" smoothies a lot.  So, make sure to chew your smoothie as you drink it.  This isn't really juice, it blended vegetable, and your body still needs to do work to break it down and digest it.  Chewing will stimulate stomach secretions and make it even easier to assimilate all the good nutrients in that smoothie.
  • If you buy or make fresh juices (carrot, beet, etc), freeze leftover juice in ice cube trays.  Then you can have a cube or two ready to add to a smoothie whenever you'd like.
  • If fresh berries are on sale, buy a bunch, wash them, and freeze any you don't eat.  
  • Add leftover salads from yesterday to today's morning smoothie.
  • Always keep a variety of fresh greens and vegetables in your fridge so you can always make a smoothie.
So, give it a shot.  Maybe you'll like it.  As for me, I'm going to keep on this smoothie kick!  I'd love to hear your favorite recipes and suggestions.  I'm thinking tomorrow I might try a creamy pear-zucchini-kale combination...

Hot Cocoa or Carob Drink (vegan, sugar free, fat free)


I love European drinking chocolate, a thick and sinfully rich version of hot chocolate that kicks Swiss Miss in the ass.  It is dark and flavorful, just a little sweet, and oh so creamy. But, it is made with lots of dairy and is sweetened with sugar.  Hmn.  A substitute was needed.  Tonight.  So, here it is.  This is a sugar free, dairy free, fat free, half-ass version that at least starts to satisfy my longing for a proper cup of chocolat chaud.  
Hey, sometimes you just have to take what you can get.   
Since rice milk doesn't really thicken the way milk does, I thickened my hot chocolate with a bit of sweet rice flour (yup, still housesitting, and still using the mystical sweet rice flour I found in the pantry).  I sweetened it with bit of stevia, added a dash of cardamom (my favorite), and drank it with a smile.  Satisfying!  Tasty!  Just slightly sweet!  Yum!  
As I took spoonfuls of my hot chocolate, I wanted a biscotti for dipping.  Hmn.  Maybe that's next on the list of gluten free things to make.    Biscotti are totally dry.  Gluten free baked goods are often way too dry.  Perhaps it could be a match made in heaven.  Time to convert my old biscotti recipes to gluten free versions, I think.  Stay tuned!  In the meantime, enjoy a cup of chocolate.  Don't want the acid, oxalates, or caffeine?  No worries, use carob.  Truth be told, I almost like carob more than cocoa, because it is naturally sweet.  Hot carob drinks kind of rock.

The measurements below are totally approximates, you know how I cook. If it seems to thin, add more flour. If it seems to thick, add more rice milk. Want it more cocoa-y or carob-y? Add more. You get the idea.  I'm going to keep working on this recipe - there must be a way to make it thicker and richer.
If only I could find vegan, gluten free, corn free, soy free, sugar free marshmallows to drop in my hot cocoa.  It seems like an impossibility; anyone know of any?  : )  Maybe I'll try to figure that out, it could be my claim to fame and riches.

HOT COCOA OR CAROB DRINK (vegan, sugar free, fat free)
serves 1

1 c unsweetened rice milk (or soy, almond, hazelnut, etc)

1-2 Tbsp cocoa powder or carob powder
1 1/2 tsp arrowroot starch or 1 Tbsp sweet rice flour (I prefer arrowroot, it dissolves and thickens better)
stevia to taste (or use agave if you want)
optional: 1/2-1 Tbsp coconut oil (it adds great flavor and body)
optional: dash cardamom, ginger, or cinnamon
  1. Dilute the sweet rice flour or arrowroot starch in liquid.  If using sweet rice flour, dilute in 1/4 c of rice milk.  If using arrowroot, dissolve in 1-2 T of rice milk.
  2. In small saucepan, whisk together the remaining rice milk, coconut oil, and cocoa/carob powder. Bring to a boil over medium high heat, stirring a few times to mix in the coconut oil as it melts.
  3. Reduce to a simmer, and add diluted flour/starch/milk mixture.  Whisk together and let simmer for a few minutes to thicken.
  4. Add stevia/agave and optional spices to taste.
  5. Pour into a small cup, and let cool to drinking temperature.  It will thicken slightly as it cools.  
  6. Enjoy on its own or with your favorite gluten free cookies or baked goods.  Serve with a spoon and savor it slowly.


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