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 These days, I'm in a new phase of life, and this website is no longer updated.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: Condiments/Sauces/Stocks (36)


Beet Sauce a.k.a. Tomato-Free Spaghetti/Pasta Sauce (gluten free, vegan, tomato free)

I used to eat marinara sauce straight from the jar, with a spoon. Cold.

Seriously, I love red sauce, pasta sauce, marinara sauce, spaghetti sauce, whatever you want to call it. I loved it far more than I ever loved pasta - most of the time, pasta always made me feel like crap. These days, I understand that it was the wheat allergy and gluten intolerance rearing its ugly head. But a good red sauce? Like heaven. I'd used it on anything from vegetables to rice to baked potatoes, and forget the pasta all together. Spaghetti sauce on spelt toast with A LOT of garlic powder was a common late night snack. And my vegetable sautées doused with spaghetti sauce were, if I do say so myself, EPIC.

Anyway, for reasons beyond my control and understanding, I developed an allergy to tomatoes, in both the IgG and the IgE reactions. Damn.

So, I've been off tomatoes now for about a year and a half. I truly miss tomatoes. And they seem to be in almost everything - avoiding tomatoes can be a real pain in the a**, especially this time of year. There are gorgeous tomatoes everywhere in late summer, you almost trip over them walking down the street, and I used to relish in the bounty of all of them back in the day. I used to eat tomatoes like apples, straight from my hand, juices running down my chin. I'd keep bowls of cherry tomatoes on my counter and eat them like candy. Big ones I'd stuff them with tuna salad and bake until warm and bubbly. A big juicy tomato slice with a fried egg is amazing (it also turns out I'm allergic to eggs). Tomatoes, avocado, sprouts and blob of hummus? Divine. I'd put tomatoes in chili, in soups, in kitchiri. The all-time favorite? Caprese salad, perfect in its simplicity.

And of course, marinara sauce. The good stuff.

Oh yeah, and ketchup. Annie's Organic Ketchup, specifically. I used to be quite the condiment freak, and would go through a bottle of ketchup pretty darn quick.

These days, I've learned to move past tomatoes, substituting other things for them in recipes, and giving up some recipes all together. I even came up with a pretty amazing fermented beet ketchup/BBQ sauce that I'm working on a hard and fast recipe for. But my heart still aches for them. I yearn to pick a warm, ripe tomato off the vine, feel its heaviness in my hand, and imagine how I will use it.

In my tomato elimination process, I came across a recipe for beet sauce in Paul Pitchford's Healing with Whole Foods. My love for beets is just as deep as my love for tomatoes, so I was immediately hooked. Beets make a great pasta sauce that works perfectly in lasagna (Tinkyada rice lasagna noodles are awesome), is beautiful over spaghetti squash or pasta, makes a good pizza sauce, and is awesome dumped over vegetables. Dip your favorite GF bread into it, and it will take you back to breadsticks and red sauce. Tomato free spaghetti sauce is awesome.
This is the version that has started emerging from my kitchen, adapted from Paul's with a few small changes here and there. Seasoned with the classic savory blend of onions, celery, and carrots, chopped garlic, and garden-fresh basil and parsley, it will made your mouth happy and serve as the perfect substitute for pasta sauce in just about anything. Tomorrow for lunch, I'm eating it dumped over some spaghetti squash and local ground beef...yum. Does it taste like tomato-based sauce? No. That's because it isn't made of tomatoes, it is made of beets. Nothing else tastes like tomatoes other than tomatoes. But it is good on its own for what it is; rich and thick and chunky, sweet and savory, and deeply ruby red. Lovely, flavorful, versatile, and fresh.
So, head over to your local farmer's market, buy yourself a big bag of beets, some carrots, celery, onion, garlic, and the last of summer's parsley and basil, and whip yourself up a batch. Support local agriculture and your tomato nostalgia at the same time. Heck, even if you can eat tomatoes, this stuff is still great. And it freezes like a dream, so eat some fresh and freeze or can the rest for leftovers. With sauce like this, tomato free living just ain't that bad.

Beet Sauce a.k.a. Tomato-Free Spaghetti/Pasta Sauce

adapted from Healing with Whole Foods by Paul Pitchford 

yield 8 cups
2 lbs beets (about 8 mediumish beets)
1 medium sweet onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, crushed and finely chopped
small handful fresh basil, minced
small handful fresh parsley, minced
1-2 T extra virgin olive oil
4 cups filtered water
1 Tbsp kuzu starch dissolved in 2 T water
1/2 tsp salt
a few turns of fresh cracked pepper

In a large pot, bring water to a boil. Leaving skins on, wash beets, and place in pot. Cover and let boil until beets are tender.

While beets boil, wash and chop vegetables.  Drain beets and place in a bowl of cold water, adding fresh cold water as needed. Let sit 10 minutes.

While beets cool, heat olive oil in a large, heavy bottomed stockpot over medium-low heat. Add onions, and saute for about 5 minutes. Add garlic and celery, and saute for a 5 more minutes. Then add carrots, and saute for a few more.

Once beets have cooled, slide off their skins. If having a hard time, run under cool water.Coarsely chop peeled beets and place in blender in batches with 4 cups of water. Blend until thick and almost totally smooth.

Add beet puree to sauteed vegetables, turn up heat to medium-high, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, and let simmer a few minutes. Add dissolved kuzu, and stir until thickened. Add basil and parsley, and salt and pepper to taste, let cook on low for a few minutes to season through.  Serve immediately or cool and freeze.
  • add cooked ground beef, turkey, bison, or chicken for meat sauce, or some kind of crumbled soy product if you do soy
  • add sauteed spinach, kale, arugula, or chard
  • add other vegetables, like mushrooms or zucchini
  • for a puttanesca style sauce, try adding red chili flakes, capers, anchovy paste, and extra olive oil
  • add a splash of red or white wine
  • add additional herbs as desired
  • add grated cheese if you do dairy



Homemade Buckwheat Honey Mustard (gluten free)

I love mustard, and have wanted to try making my own. I didn't eat mustard for a long time because of the ACD diet, and now I'm only eating commercial varieties made with apple cider vinegar. Eden Organics makes one, and oddly enough, the Roundy's store brand here in the Midwest also makes an organic ACV mustard that is pretty great. I have a recipe that uses whey and ground dry mustard from Nourishing Traditions that I'd like to try (especially since I now have a bunch of whey strained from my raw goat milk yogurt). But over the weekend, I came across a homemade mustard recipe on the fiercely awesome local food website Simple, Good, and Tasty, and couldn't resist trying it, especially after seeing their suggestion for honey mustard.

Why, you ask? Because I have a new jar of delicious local honey burning a hole in my apron pocket. This was the first honey I'd purchased in about a year and half, and I am thrilled that my body can finally handle a little bit of honey here and there. So, when I was at the farmer's market last week, I stopped at the Ames Farm honey tent, and participated in a little honey lovefest. Ames Farm is a local Minnesota honey producer, with over 300 hives across our great state. Their honeys are all single source, all raw, all amazing, and are my absolute favorite honeys on the planet. In addition to honeys like Dutch Clover, Basswood, and Thistle, they have a lot of unusual honeys varieties, like Melon Flower, Wild Bergamont, Milkweed, and Boneset, to name a few. Each single source honey has its own unique flavor, and each jar comes labeled with a hive number that you can track on their website to find the exact geographical source of your jar of honey. Depending on the year and the season, they have more or less of certain varieties, a true reflection of what bounty nature has to offer. I've been spoiled the last 5 years having access to so many amazing varieties; I've been totally ruined on most commercially produced honeys. The best part is visiting their booth at the market, because you can sample just about everything.

While I really love all those lighter colored honeys, there truly is a special place in my heart for buckwheat honey. Thick and dark, pungeant and unusual, there is something almost primordial about buckwheat honey. It makes me think of the La Brea tar pits, of cooling lava, of oil, of all those dark earthly materials that are rooted in the most basic processes of our ecosystem. Buckwheat honey is like black gold. The great thing about buckwheat honey is that it has such a strong flavor that you don't need much - a little goes a long way. This is especially great for those of us that need to watch our sugar intake! And to top it off, buckwheat honey provides the most antioxidants and is high in iron.

This year, Ames Farm has three varieties of buckwheat honey, all with their own unique flavor. After appreciatively trying all three, I purchased a little jar of the Blue Earth Buckwheat. The flavor really resonated with me, and the cute honey salesman seemed charmed by my wild enthusiasm for their product. What can I say, I'm an eager farmer's market shopper, and have an undeniable attraction to men selling agricultural items from tents and tables.

Okay, so back to the mustard. I decided to take an uncommon approach and use a bit of my buckwheat honey in the mustard recipe instead of a light honey, with some added allspice and turmeric. The result was an awesomely tasty mustard, with a whole lot of punch and just a hint of a dark, mysterious sweetness. The honey balances out the mustard's fire, and the pungent flavor of the buckwheat compliments the turmeric and allspice. I didn't add a lot of honey - only about 2 Tbwp - because I didn't want too much sugar. But if you like a sweeter honey mustard, go hog wild - Simple, Good and Tasty recommends mixing honey and mustard at a 1:1 ratio. Whether you add a little or a lot of honey, it is sure to please. The texture is rustic; it is nubby and grainy, like all those delicious French whole grain mustards. And while the flavor is so complex, the ingredients are remarkably simple. I was really impressed, and honestly, I've tasted a lot of mustards - trying out new mustards used to be one of my little culinary addictions. And let me tell you, this mustard definitely, uh, cuts the mustard.
I know, I know, that was terrible. I promise, the mustard is better than my corny sense of humor. I smeared some of my fresh mustard on a turkey burger, and used a little more mixed with flax oil as a sauce on roasted pattypan squashes and brussels sprouts. It was divine. And better yet, it is wildly, wildly, wildly simple. If you can run a blender, you can make your own mustard. Make it as directed below, or throw your own spin on the recipe - it could handle any number of variations on spices and flavorings. I'd love to try something with dill. Or maybe something with fruit - what about raspberry mustard? And I have this great concept for something I'm calling "mistard" - a miso-mustard fusion. Stay tuned.

Want plain mustard?
No problem! If you prefer to make mustard without the honey, feel free to omit it.  Add spices as desired, or leave plain. Plain mustard with only mustard seeds, water, and vinegar is still totally delicious, and how I make it most of the time.   

Tell me, what kind of mustard do you like?

To find out if you can get Ames Farms honeys in your area, check this list of Ames Farm retail locations.

Homemade Buckwheat Honey Mustard

yields about 12 oz

If you want plain mustard, feel free to omit the honey and spices. It is delicious!  

1/2 c whole yellow mustard seeds
3/4 c raw apple cider vinegar (Bragg's or Eden Organics)
1/3 c water + 3 T water
2 T buckwheat honey (or more if you have a sweet tooth, or none at all if you want plain mustard)
1 1/2 tsp turmeric (optional)
1/4 + 1/8 tsp allspice (optional)
1/2 tsp Herbamare or sea salt (optional - I generally do not add it)

Place mustard seeds, apple cider vinegar, and 1/3 c water in a jar. Cover tightly, and let sit on the counter for 2 days.

Dump mustard mixture, honey, turmeric, allspice, sea salt and 1-2 T of water in a blender. Pulse a few times, then mix until it reaches desired consistency. Add additional 1 T of water if needed, and adjust seasonings to taste.

Store in a well sealed jar in the fridge.



Basil and Garlic Scape Pesto (gluten free, nut free)



Okay, so my garden is growing like crazy, and I've been harvesting herbs non-stop. My crisper drawer overfloweth with basil, and thyme, and rosemary, and savory, and tarragon, and parsley, and lemon balm. The basil, however, really seems to be pulling out ahead of all the others. It is taking over my life.

Therefore, I have been making pesto like a madwoman. Each time it is a little different. Sometimes I'll throw in other herbs, like parsley or mint. Other times I add garlic, or garlic scapes. I've added sunflower seeds in place of pine nuts. And sometimes I'll keep it simple, and just use basil and a little garlic. Pesto is endlessly forgiving and flexible - as long as you are using good olive oil, you really can't go wrong. And, as this photo on the right shows, I am in love with olive oil (I am also in love with vintage aprons and my blender). My current favorite is Spectrum Organic Mediterranean Extra Virgin Olive Oil - especially when it is on sale at the co-op, like is is right now. : )


My friend Lauren is getting married in August, and I am in the bridal party. My friend Becky (another bridesmaid) and I threw her a bridal shower yesterday. When we were recipe planning, I thought that roasted vegetables with pesto sauce would be the perfect addition to the buffet table. So, I whipped up this wickedly garlicky version, which used garlic scapes from the farmer's market, and a little pecorino romano cheese. Pecorino romano is a hard Italian sheep's milk cheese, resembling parmigiano reggiano. Salty and sharp, it is the perfect addition to pesto. If you are dairy intolerant, feel free to leave it out - but if you can eat it, I'd recommend it.

The pesto was a hit at the bridal shower, nestled in the middle of a platter of rosemary roasted carrots, onions, asparagus, and baby scallopini squash, raw pea pods, and crispy rice-flour breaded eggplant slices. Everyone left with garlic breath and a belly full of vegetables. Now that's my kind of party. HINT OF THE DAY:
Freeze leftover pesto in ice cube trays (the bendy plastic ones in funky shapes from IKEA work like a charm). Measure how much liquid each cube holds so you know how much pesto is in each little chunk. Freeze until solid, then transfer pesto cubes to freezer bags for longer storage. Pre-measured pesto in a flash! It is an awesome way to have pesto on hand for whenever you want/need it.

BASIL AND GARLIC SCAPE PESTO (gluten free, nut free)

yield: about 2 1/2 cups

3 c packed fresh basil leaves
1 c chopped garlic scapes
1 1/2-2 c olive oil
1/2 c grated pecorino romano
1 tsp salt
fresh cracked black pepper

  1. Wash and dry basil leaves. I use a salad spinner to dry them in a flash!
  2. Wash and chop the garlic scapes.
  3. Place basil and scapes in a blender, along with half of the olive oil and the grated pecorino romano. (If you bought your cheese in a chunk - like I did - pulse chunks of it in a food processor until finely grated).
  4. Pulse a few times, then blend. Gradually add remaining olive to reach desired consistency. Add salt and pepper, and blend a few more times.
  5. Serve immediately, or place in a jar to store. To keep it from turning brown in the jar, pour a little olive oil on top - it protects it from the air!

Millet Taboulli with Roasted Red Pepper and Olives (gluten free, vegan)
Plum Apricot Tart (gluten free, egg free, low sugar, vegan option)



Fava Bean Zucchini Salad with Dill Garlic Scape Pesto (gluten free, vegan/vegetarian)


Every year, one of the stylists I work with and her husband throw a fabulous garden party. Their yard is beyond beautiful - large and sprawling, with lush green grass, mature trees, and well-tended flower gardens. The variety of colors and textures in their gardens is breathtaking - almost as breathtaking as the ivy covered arbor that divides the upper gardens from the lower gardens. And that is almost as breathtaking as the beautiful lakefront view from the edge of the lower garden. No matter where you look in their garden, you are met with beauty and grace of the best kind.

The guest list is large and diverse; they invite all of their friends and bunch of people from the Minneapolis commercial photo industry, of which I am a part. I look forward to the garden party each year because the people in this industry are just lovely - there is a true feeling of commaraderie among everyone, and I feel lucky to work with so many great people.


With my list of dietary restrictions, potlucks seem to more closely resemble obstacle courses than a carefree party. But despite this, I still love them dearly, and get excited every time one pops up on my social calendar. What can I say, I'm a sucker for anything with a great communal spirit.  So, I always bring something I want to eat to share with everyone, supplement with a few other goodies in my purse, and scavenge whatever else I can from the buffet line. Then, I pig out. And I love it.

My dad was in town last weekend, and we came up with a great salad to bring to the garden party on Saturday night. Layers of fresh, soft lettuce leaves topped with crispy kohlrabi matchsticks and a melange of fava beans, roasted zucchini, and carmelized onions, finished with a dose of dill and garlic scape pesto. On the side, we had small bowls of Hungarian sheep feta and crushed pistachios for optional garnishes. We gathered most of our ingredients from the farmer's market that morning and the rest from a local Middle Eastern market. Nothing makes for great food like high quality, fresh ingredients!


This salad was really fun to make. We had never used fava beans before, and that was a fun adventure. Our spontantous dill and garlic scape pesto turned out really well; I found a lovely deal on fresh garlic scapes (see photo below of a scape!) and dill at the farmers market.  I found myself sneaking spoonfuls of the pesto and spreading it over crackers and caviar for a mid-afternoon snack, yum! And we found the most amazing Hungarian sheep feta, bought in bulk at one of my fav Middle Eastern markets - this cheese is creamy, not too sharp, and unlike any feta I've ever had. In the end it looked beautiful, bright green dotted with creamy white and hints of deep purpley red.

While everyone else had plates full of the requisite coleslaw, seven-layer bars, and potato salad, I had a plate filled to the brim with this salad. I relished in the mix of textures and fresh flavors, and went back for a big second helping. It tastes like summer.  
ONE NOTE: The ingredients are simple, but honestly, this salad is a little fussy and not exactly quick to prepare.  But it is delicious, and worth the effort.



yield: enough for a potluck or a big dinner party.  In other words, A LOT.

2 lbs fava bean pods (yields about 1 c shelled, peeled beans)
6-7 small zucchinis
2 large red onions
2 medium kohlrabi
2 small heads lettuce, or 1 large (I used 1 head each red and green)

2-3 Tblsp dill-garlic scape pesto (see recipe below)
optional garnishes: 4 oz. crumbled sheep milk feta***, 1/2 c crushed pistachios
  1. Remove beans from pod.  Each pound of bean pods yields roughly 1/2 c of shelled pelled beans.
  2. Bring a large pot of water to boil.  Blanch the beans for about 1 minute.  Drain, and transfer immediately to a bowl of cold water.  Let sit a few minutes to cool - this helps loosen the skin from each bean.
  3. To peel skin, pinch the skin to loosen, or use a small knife (photo at right).  Pinch the bean, and it will slip out. 
  4. Bring water to boil once again, and let shelled, peeled beans cook for about 3-4 minutes, until bright green and tender.    Drain beans.  Too cool quickly, if desired, place in a large bowl of cold water.   
  5. Set beans aside.
  1. Preheat oven to 450* F.
  2. Slice zucchini on an angle in 1/4 inch slices, and transfer to a large roasting pan or baking pan.  Drizzle with olive oil and stir to coat.
  3. Roast for 25-30 minutes until softened and slightly golden, stirring every 10 minutes.  
  4. Remove from oven and let cool.
  1. Half onion lengthwise.  Then slice each half crosswise in 1/2 inch slices.
  2. Coat a large saute pan with oil, and heat on low-medium.  Add onions, stir to coat, and cover.  Leave covered and let cook for 20-30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes or so, and recovering.  If onions start to burn or brown to quickly, reduce heat.  
  3. Once onions are soft, transparent, and brown, turn heat up slightly, remove cover, and saute for about 5-10 minutes.  This will add a great sweet flavor.
  4. Remove from heat, and let cool slightly.
  1. See the recipe below for the pesto recipe.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together a few tablespoons of pesto with the zucchini, onions, and fava beans.  Stir gently to coat vegetables evenly.  For ultimate tastiness, let sit in fridge for at least an hour, or for as long as 1-2 days if you want to make in advance.
  1. Wash and peel kohlrabi, and slice into matchsticks. 
  2. Wash and dry lettuce leaves.  If really large, you may want to tear them slightly.  Layer leaves onto a large platter.
  3. Arrange kohlrabi matchsticks on top of lettuce leaves, leaving a border of lettuce leaves around the edge.
  4. Pour zucchini mixture over kohlrabi, leaving a border of kohlrabi around the edge.
  5. If desired, sprinkle with crumbled feta and/or crushed nuts.  Or, place cheese and nuts in charming little bowls, and serve on the side.
  6. Serve immediately, or cover with saran wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve.
  7. Enjoy!

DILL GARLIC SCAPE PESTO (gluten free, vegan)
yields about 1/2 c pesto


1/2-3/4 c c packed dill
1/4 c packed Italian flat-leaf parsley
2 garlic scapes (or one garlic clove if you don't have scapes)
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 tsp agave nectar
1/2 tsp salt
about 1/2 c olive oil

  1. Wash dill and parsley.  Remove parsley leaves and dill fronts, measure, and place in blender with other ingredients.
  2. Blend until smooth, adding more olive as necessary to reach desired consistency.  Adjust seasonings as your taste buds dictate.
  3. Use for salad, and store and leftovers in fridge for up to 5-6 days.  Freezes well in ice cube trays for longer storage!
***A note on feta: Traditionally, feta was made with sheep milk, not cow milk. Most high quality, imported fetas will still be produced this way. Domestic fetas, on the other hand, are generally made with cows milk. These are fetas used at most restaurants and found in most grocery stores.  For those of us that do not tolerate cows milk well, sheep or goat feta is a great choice.  If you want to find sheep or goat milk feta, there are a few brands that sell at higher quality grocery stores and co-ops - just check the labels and you are bound to find it! In my experience, French sheep feta is the most common and easy to locate at a regular grocer. However, a trip to a good natural foods shop, middle Eastern market, or cheese store would yield many additional varieties, all made the traditional way with sheeps milk - like Greek, Hungarian, or Bulgarian. Like all cheeses, each is unique in its flavor and texture, and stand out miles ahead of cows milk feta. You may even find the opportunity to purchase in bulk, and sample each variety!  Just make sure you ask on the source of the milk before digging in.



Jicama Collard Slaw with Creamy Sunflower Seed Dressing Recipe (vegan, gluten free)

jicama & collard slaw with creamy sunflower dressing

Tasty, crunchy, creamy, perfect for backyard barbeques. I came up with this recipe to serve as part of the Pre-Memorial Day backyard family get-together! This slaw is made of collard greens, crunchy jicama and sweet carrots, covered in a creamy, mustard-spiked sunflower seed dressing. Delicious! It went really well with mesquite-smoked grilled chicken and roasted vegetables. Quick to prepare and very tasty, this slaw packs protein and lots of great vitamins and minerals!



yield: 8 side servings

8-10 leaves collard greens
1 large carrot
1/2 large jicama

Creamy Sunflower Seed Dressing:
1/4 c + 2 T sunflower seeds, lightly toasted or raw
2 T olive oil
1/3 c water
1/2 tsp dry mustard
1 1/2 tsp dry tarragon
1 T apple cider vinegar or coconut vinegar, or 1/4 tsp vitamin C crystals dissolved in 1 Tbsp water
1 T prepared spicy brown mustard (made with apple cider vinegar if possible) or 2 additional tsp ground dry mustard
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp fresh black pepper

  1. In high power blender, combine toasted sunflower seeds, water, dry mustard, tarragon, apple cider vinegar, prepared mustard, and salt and pepper. Blend mixture on high until sunflower seeds until smooth.
  2. With blender on high, add oil in a steady stream and continue blending until mixture is totally smooth and oil is well incorporated. If mixture is too thick, add a little more oil or water to reach desired consistency.
  3. Wash the collard leaves, pat dry, then cut out the hard center stem. Stack leaves, and roll into a long "cigar". Thinly slice cross-wise in a chiffonade, to end up with thin, long strips of collard leaf. Place in a large bowl
  4. Peel the jicama, and cut into thin matchsticks. Add to collards.
  5. WAsh and peel the carrot. Using the vegetable peeler, create long, thin strips of carrot until all the carrot has been peeled down. Cut strips into 1"-2" pieces, and add to jicama and collards.
  6. Toss ingredients together. Right before serving, stir in creamy sunflower seed dressing, transfer to a serving bowl, and garnish with freshly cracked black pepper.